Damryn was the former seat of the High King of the Realm and the perceived birthplace of modern human civilisation. The home of a war-like people harnessed into a steadfast and loyal vehicle for unity and warfare, it was a rich land of myths and heroes, of magic and great deeds. Damryn fought the Legion longer than any other nation in the War, and was the last nation to fall before the retreat to Andermark. Once proud and determined people, self-appointed champions of humanity, the Damryans have been left perhaps more shaken than any other nation by the events of the past twenty years, and as a rule either now fight staunchly to return the world to what it was, or have been left broken by their experiences.
- 1 History
- 2 Cultural Overview
- 3 Lifestyle
- 4 Arts and Entertainment
- 5 Fashion
- 6 Economy
- 7 Naming Conventions
- 8 Geography
- 9 Religion
- 10 Military
- 11 Magic
- 12 Perspectives on Other Races and Nations
The Birth of Damryn
At the dawn of legend and recorded history Damryn was a splintered land, inhabited by many scattered tribes ruled by their chieftains. Territorial conflicts were the norm as groups vied for dominance through a want of land and resources, or power and influence. It was thus inevitable that unity would only come from bloodshed.
A man named Tewdyr was the son of the chieftain of one of the largest tribes. When he and his brother were ambushed on their way to peace negotiations he was the sole survivor, and thought dead for a long time as he hid in the wilderness from his enemies. When he returned he did so a changed man, filled with a new determination, and set about reinforcing and strengthening his father’s lands. He would oversee the construction of Caer Brennan, the first stone castle in the land, and a fortress that would over centuries be seen as impregnable.
Upon his father’s death Tewdyr assumed control of his tribe and made his bold declaration: that he was, in fact, a son of Aethon. The Sun God himself had spoken to him during his escape from death into the wilderness and imparted to him his great destiny: to unite Damryn.
A United Kingdom
Within six years the greatest tribes of Damryn were brought under the control of Tewdyr, the High King. He was more than just a great warrior, leading his men in battle with brilliant tactics and an inspiring presence. He was also a cunning politician, ready to make sturdy peace accords as quickly as vengeful war. To those who did not oppose him he offered advantageous political marriages and trade agreements, and such chieftains were allowed to remain in control of their own lands, albeit under his overall rule. Those who stood and fought were inevitably defeated, and replaced with those sworn to him. Thus through encouragement as well as fear did he inspire his loyalty.
There were centuries of peace after this as the Kingdom of Damryn found its feet. They developed their infrastructure, their form of rule, the homogenisation of the different tribes, and inevitably did the war-like people become restless. They turned their eyes outwards, watching the ways of their neighbours, their culture, their technology. In true Damryan fashion they then adopted and improved these to better suit themselves; fashions of the south, philosophies of the south - even Lancesian chivalry was adopted, and then turned into something harder, more implacable, than the pomp and circumstance of their neighbours. Stone castles of the ilk of Caer Brennan sprung up across the land, though these days those the former chieftains, by now local lords, wished to defend against were not each other. The savage Norlish raiders from the north were ever a threat, and the Demonblooded monsters of the depths of the land always needed watching.
Conquest of the Realm
Damryn was secure and developed, and made up for what it lacked in cultural or technological sophistication with a strong social hierarchy and effective government. King Bairne said by all to be the spitting image of Tewdyr. This, perhaps, went to Bairne's head, and he aspired to make a mark on Damryan history that Tewdyr would have been proud of. Inevitably, the attention of he and his restless warrior lords fell on their neighbours. Lancereaux to the south was a large, powerful nation, and had proven quick to take to arms to defend themselves in their historical conflicts with south-western Andermark. A successful campaign by the Damryans against the Norls sent them packing back into their mountains - and was swiftly followed by a strong presence on the southern border. It did not take too long before a jumpy Lancesian army and a war-hardened Damryan one came to blows.
The Lancesians had reputedly the finest cavalry in the world, made up of knights drawn from the ranks of their nobility, but their footsoldiers were merely untested and poorly-trained and equipped levies. The Damryans had seen battle and their culture made for the expectation that every man, even the lowliest peasant, was a warrior. It was not long before Lancereaux fell. The king was murdered by a rival lord who turned loyal to the Damryans, and in turn he was elevated to rule the nation. But Bairne would suffer no king but he, and Lancereaux would be now forever ruled merely by a Count, the line of kings ended as Lancereaux became a vassal state of Damryn.
This would set in motion a spiral of expansion that would last fifty years, Bairne's successors keen to prove themselves just as worthy High Kings as he. Andermark and Calavria quaked at Damryn’s conquest; it did not take long before the Andermen reinforced new borders with such fervency that this was seen to be a threat, and the Lancesians egged on their new overlords to put the old enemies of Andermark in their place. This conflict was briefer. Instead of fighting to the last man, the Andermen fortified heavily and managed to bring the Damryan army to a standstill. Here King Donan, son of Bairne but not quite the warrior his father was, demonstrated his ancestor Tewdyr's political cunning. In exchange for their surrender, for the Andermen knew they could not win, they kept their king and a modicum of pride. In practice they were still as subject to the laws and rule of Damryn as their Lancesian neighbours, but Andermark's loyalty was won with mercy and respect, rather than treachery.
In similar kind was Calavria brought to heel. The nation was renowned for its mercenary companies who would at least make conquest costly. Ultimately, an aged Donan drew them in through economics and trade agreements, crippling their commerce with civilised humanity unless they joined it - and bent the knee to it. Within fifty years of the fall of Lancereaux the four kingdoms were united under the High King of Damryn in a unity christened 'the Realm'. Ostensibly self-governing they were still expected to bend the knee at Caer Brennan, obey any laws issued by the High King and pay him their taxes, and answer any calls for war.
The first of these calls would bring great unity, for edicts from the church soon issued the declaration that the goblins were heretical followers of dark gods. The Damryan kings, with their claim of descending from Aethon, were quick to answer, and set about gathering a great army of the new Realm to be brought to bear upon the nearest bastion of goblin strength: Occupied Ibarran. As a campaign it was rivetingly successful, and Ibarran was seen to have been brought into the Realm through liberation rather than conquest. But it made one thing clear to the High King: nothing united this alliance more than war against a foreign foe.
Wars Across the Seas
The War of the Narrow Sea thus came within another fifty years. First contact with the elves had been just short of disastrous. The Iron Empire considered themselves too powerful to be deferential to Damryn; the Damryans, in turn, were too proud to let themselves be subservient.
The rulership of Damryn at that time was in the hands of the first woman to hold the throne, High Queen Guinnear. Proving herself as canny as any of her male ancestors, she goaded the elves into a conflict before launching a sudden strike which had Damryn seizing a large portion of elven land known as Carnthor. Guinnear made Carnthor a Duchy of Damryn, dispatching one of her generals to rule over the land in her stead, but within generations the region fell subject to rebellion and invasion.
This was a conflict that consumed the whole of the Realm, but it was the High Kingdom which carried the bulk of the burden of warfare. Disputes over Carnthor would last for centuries until one decisive battle some hundred years before the Fall saw the death of the High King Shiel and many of his generals. The heir, High King Aedest, young and inexperienced, rapidly accepted the peace accord offered by the elves. Although he would pay for this politically so sorely that skirmishes and other minor conflicts would spring up in an effort to reaffirm his reputation as a ruler, open warfare with the Iron Empire had come to an end.
The Holy Crusades against Sahradia were primarily a matter of the United Church. But religiously fervent Damryn was eager to fight for their Gods, and for the Realm as a whole to have someone to fight. The High Kings encouraged the edicts from the Church that declared action must be taken against heresy, and always answered them by sending as many troops of the Realm to Sahradia on holy warfare. The last of these Crusades ended some three years before the Legion became a concern for the Realm.
Of the kingdoms of the Realm that fell in the Fall, Damryn was the last to do so. When the Legion struck the Iron Empire, the Elves did not ask for aid until their own capital had fallen - and even then, High King Riagon refused it. Only when the Legion began pouring into Norlundar did the Realm send troops and supervise the signing of the treaty that would form the Alliance of Carnthor. By then, however, it was too late for them to do anything but be beaten on the shores of the Empire and be driven back into the sea along with the elven survivors.
Damryn dispatched its troops both into Norlundar to defend those who had once been their most vicious enemies, and to the south to stop the main march. But when their neighbours all fell, the Legion attacked Damryn on two fronts. Although they had held off the Legion even while the other three, and even Ibarran succumbed, they could not defend themselves against the entire bulk of the army.
When Caer Brennan fell, the Damryans and the many foreign refugees who had come to the heart of the Realm went to flee through the mountains into Andermark. With a Legion army in hot pursuit, High King Riagon - thought to be a broken man with the loss of his wife and children in the war - rallied his royal guard, who were fighting to defend the rear. In a gesture that was immortalised in song within months, and is considered one of the finest displays of Damryan honour and courage, these elite soldiers of the High Kingdom turned and charged the Legion army.
It was assumed that they all perished, but not before cutting such a bloody swathe through the Legion and causing such chaos that the refugees and military survivors successfully fled into the mountains, and through to Andermark.
After this the Damryan presence in the Alliance was much weakened. They played a predominantly perfunctory role in the rest of the conflict; the High Elves were considered the driving force of the refugees fleeing to Andermark, and the Andermen themselves, not whittled down by war, led the charge of the Last Stand.
Since the end of the war Damryn has been quick to attempt to re-establish itself as an important presence amongst the refugees, and remains one of the driving forces to encourage the re-establishment of the Realm.
Before the Fall
- Capital: Caer Brennan
- Head of State: High King Riagon
- Legislative Body: The King's Council
- Population Density: Dense
- Religions: The United Church, Olcan, Ferodir
- Primary Language: Common
- Demonym: Damryan (a Damryan)
Damryn was a rugged land of harsh people steeped in mysticism and strength. The very soil itself was said to be soaked in the power of the Gods and the hum of magic, and these strengths bred natives with streaks of individualism and stubbornness. It took years for the High Kings of old to unite the tribes and, though their dominance has never been anything but absolute, generation after generation of rulers have had to be strong in order to win the respect and admiration of these uncompromising people.
Of old they lived in separate tribes under local chieftains, and although the unity of Damryn by the time of the birth of the Realms was strong, a Damryan tended to have a very acute connection with their place of birth, and a particular pride in their heritage, be it local or national. There was a commonly-held belief that the land and the people were linked - and the High King of Damryn was connected above all.
As such, it was perceived that if one wished to pay homage to their liege, then one must respect the land and the people. It was a symbiotic relationship; the pride of the Damryans would accept nothing less. The High King ruled the country through the word of his Dukes and Earls, the lords of the kingdom, who ruled over their fiefs on his behalf. Just as the High King's word was absolute, so was the word of a lord in ruling over his land; in turn, they were expected to show just judgement and nobility of spirit.
Such lines were hereditary, for it was expected that the son of a strong man would not just be strong himself, but would be taught admirable virtues by his father. As such, there was not an especial amount of social mobility. Peasants born as such would tend to die as such, right the way up to the knights of the land, the lords, and the High Kings themselves, whose line was unbroken since the first High King Tewdyr until the death of Riagon. However, the right of inheritance was not considered so strong that a Damryan could not be stripped of their rank and title and cast down.
Damryn, however, was long been considered to be thick with mythology, and its people believed in the power of destiny and fate. This meant that, despite the social hierarchy and laws of inheritance, an individual of great achievements but low birth was able to reach great heights, and was assumed to be thusly blessed by the Gods. Many a Damryan tale tells of a hero of humble origin who achieved greatness.
Women were expected to run households and be mothers. That said, Damryan stubbornness was never thought of as extending solely to the men, and the ideal woman in Damryan tale is one full of fire and vigour who is won over by a warrior man - and is not necessarily tamed in every tale. Similarly, women were expected in many corners of Damryan society to train the young boys in combat as the men worked and fought abroad, and take up arms to defend their homes if trouble came when the men were away. Damryan legends have too many warrior women, and history too many recorded examples, for them to be dismissed entirely. A woman who showed aptitude and overcame the doubts of her peers could become highly regarded, and this influenced the rest of the Realm despite the patriarchal attitudes of most of the kingdoms.
Damryan worship of the United Church was fervent, though they followed Aethon above all, even Tyaus. Aethon’s war-like and competitive nature was one a country like Damryn, somewhat fixated with masculine pride, respected intensely. It is perhaps because of these teachings that every man in Damryn was expected to be a warrior, from the High King himself to the lowliest peasant, who would be taught how to fight should he ever be called upon - and then promptly be sent back to toiling in the fields. But this training, along with the near-fanatical devotion to their rulers, was what allowed Damryn the military might to ascend to its role as the High Kingdom.
After the Fall
- National Leader: None
- Advisory Council Representative(s): Lord Loghlin, Duke of Geitrim
- Religions: The United Church, Olcan, Ferodir
- Primary Language: Common
- Demonym: Damryan (a Damryan)
The Damryans suffered hard at the hands of the The Legion. They thought of themselves, more than anyone else perhaps save the Iron Empire, as unbeatable in warfare. As the Legion drove back army after army, and conquered nation after nation, much of the Realm in general and Damryans in particular were under the belief that they would never take Damryn, that Caer Brennan would never fall.
This illusion was most harshly shattered, and many Damryans were unable to cope with this. That High King Riagon, instead of fleeing with the refugees to Andermark when Caer Brennan fell rallied his royal guard and led them on a suicide charge against the Legion army to buy the retreat more time, is testimony to both the Damryan pride and despair. There were many who thought it better to die in battle than to live to see their country fall. The survivors, then, are a shaken people. Even those who hold a devout belief that Damryn will be reborn have still had to come to terms with the fact that it fell at all.
However, Damryans are known for nothing so much as for being stubborn, and the survivors who are emerging through the bleakness of despair have rallied themselves. Their pride is somewhat satisfied in that the Legion needed to surround Damryn to take it; many have conceded there is no dishonour in defeat against such an unstoppable foe. As such, they are of the belief that the Realm needs to be rebuilt, and if they wish for Damryn to return to its position as the High Kingdom, then they will have to work to make sure this is so.
Damryans are thus some of the most full-hearted members of the refugee society within Andermark. The peasantry remain rural, embracing alongside the Andermen the challenges of reclaiming much of the lost territory and wilderness for agriculture. The ruling classes who have survived are overwhelmingly military, and so have integrated themselves with the officer class of the Alliance military, involving themselves with politics from their positions as generals rather than simply as lords.
Class and gender roles within the Damryan culture have taken something of a body blow from the Fall. The war proved an excellent opportunity for those of low birth to prove themselves as worthy of regard. At least one officer and surviving lord of a lost fiefdom is an elevated commoner who was awarded such status for brave deeds. Similarly, there are many tales in the war of the wives of lords and knights having raised the banners in the absence of their husbands to defend their homes, or even to mobilise openly as military commanders when the Legion came to Damryan lands whose lords were lost years before. Several survivors of such stories remain, and widows who now hold the offices of their late husbands, even without an infant heir whose responsibilities they play guardian to, are not an uncommon sight in the Damryan ranks. As of yet these positions have not been revoked without specific cause.
Damryn is one of the few refugee nations which has not officially acknowledged any acting leader. The refugees tend to argue that the law of the Realm remains, which demands that the sovereignty of an individual nation should be respected. As such, they take the view that Damryan citizens in Andermark fall under Andermark law - which is especially convenient since Damryn has had a massive role in shaping Anderian law over the past several centuries, and so the Damryans find themselves more at home than, for example, might a Norl.
However, the Duke of Geitrim, Lord Loghlin, is considered to be the de facto leader of the Damryan survivors. He is a respected soldier with a large body of men at his command, and assumes Damryn's seat upon the Allied Advisory Council when in Starkholm. He is a distant cousin of the late King Riagon by marriage of a royal princess into his family some generations at past, and of the officially listed survivors of Damryn holds the strongest claim to the seat of the High King. He has, however, refused to declare himself the successor of Riagon unless Caer Brennan is recovered with no indication of the survival of any heirs with a greater claim.
The lifestyle of a peasant who lived in a rural area was very different to that of one who lived in a town or a city. The rural areas were steeped in the traditions of the old clans, which subtly provided variation from region to region. Villages were usually made from wood and thatch rather than stone, and were the hubs of the local industries, such as farming or lumber. The inhabitants either worked in the fields or provided some service for those that did. But these were very close-knit communities, not often exposed to outsiders, and although visitors were received with not unpleasant hospitality, the customs of such being stringent, it was easy to fall foul of Damryan pride.
There was rarely a formalised leadership. If there was a local clergy they would at least advise the villagers, and sometimes consequentially lead them. Local lords viewed over an entire region and so did not involve themselves in everyday matters; even if a village fell under the purview of a landed knight or an appointed reeve, such individuals would be responsible for a wide area. As such, a village would often defer to the authority of whichever figure was charismatic enough, wise enough, or simply forthright enough.
In the towns and cities life was similarly without luxuries. Houses were made of at least wattle-and-daub, and were thus more secure against the elements, but they were smaller and living conditions were more crowded. Peasants worked as labourers or servants performing simple tasks for those above them in society. Some fortunate few might have found themselves working for artisans from whom they could learn a trade, and move up in the world.
A child grew up being taught the craft of their parents. How much combat training they received would depend upon their family and the local lord, but the traditions and expectations of Damryn guaranteed at least a basic competence in martial matters. Peasants were otherwise uneducated, rarely learning how to read and write, and knowing little of history or culture beyond bardic tales and the storytelling traditions. It was a rarity for a local lord to see to their education, though some of those who trained their peasants more thoroughly in warfare might also have them educated more widely - or a knight or man-at-arms doing the training might do so of his own accord.
Training in warfare was the easiest way for any youth to move up; if they displayed talent it was not unusual that they be summoned to serve their lord as a standing man-at-arms, which was a more stable and luxurious way of life. In some, extreme circumstances, knights would select their squires from the peasantry if they saw particular talent. There was a tradition amongst knights who had started in such a way to draw their own students from the peasantry, continuing to give chances to those born as low as they.
Merchants within Damryn were not an especially well-regarded class. They were not the nobility, nor did they have the honour of living a life of warfare. Even peasants in rural areas were viewed as being people of the land, and thus treated with respect. Merchants were thus not as well-regarded in Damryn as they were in other nations, but they still enjoyed a considerably more comfortable lifestyle than the peasantry.
The foremost amongst them were the peddlers, who travelled from place to place selling their wares. Usually they would see to the smaller towns and villages, and so they were better regarded as they brought more exotic goods that could not be otherwise acquired, and were also a source of news. It was not too uncommon for them to keep the company of travelling bards and priests on the road, and so the peddler sunk into the subconscious of Damryans as being a respectable wayfarer in histories and tales.
Those in the city were often ignored, on the other hand, but certainly more prosperous. Damryn enjoyed bountiful natural resources, and the merchants benefited greatly from harvesting it. They would see to the weaving of sheep's wool from the local farmers, the shipment of surplus of grain to neighbours. They would also see to trade with the other nations, especially prosperous Calavria. As such it was not too uncommon for a merchant to find themselves more wealthy than even a noble or a knight who had fallen upon hard times - but such a person was considered exceptionally distasteful by society, jumped up and not knowing their place and attempting to earn their status through money instead of courage and deeds. Such individuals would usually be forced to hide their wealth, reside in neighbouring Lancereaux or Calavria and conducting their business from there, if they did not want to simply suffer the slights of those around them.
An exception were the craftsmen - at least, craftsmen whose work was valued by the warlike Damryans. A talented tailor might make fine clothes for kings and queens, but they would receive less respect than an honest blacksmith whose swords equipped the lowly men-at-arms. Weaponsmiths, armoursmiths, shipwrights, siege engineers, and the like were accepted as necessary, and were as well-respected as any non-warrior of Damryn could be. The blacksmiths in particular were highly regarded, and the smithing of weapons and armour is one of the few areas where Damryn blazed the path for the Realm on developing better techniques.
The class was often well-educated; a merchant needed to read, write, and count to maintain a successful business and so their children would also be educated. It was not uncommon for a younger son or daughter of a merchant to become a tutor to other families, even noble families, and those who wished to do business abroad or with the nobility might make sure they were educated in Damryan or foreign culture and history.
Merchants were usually born into merchanting families. However, sometimes an enterprising peasant might be able to make some money and progress further into the world if they were ambitious enough to start a successful enterprise; perhaps by finding a precious vein of ore in the mountains and exploiting it, or establishing an efficient trade route. Merchants, too, would often seek out noble, but poor households, and endeavour to join their families in a marriage which would benefit both sides.
The warriors of Damryn were, by the time of the fall, the knights of the land. Most were born into such a position, sons of knights themselves or perhaps the younger issue of nobles. They would be sworn into service to a lord, living either within his keep or on some land granted to them by him. Some would be responsible for overseeing an area on his behalf in governance; others would have the duties of training his men-at-arms or his peasantry, and seeing to the safety of the land. Those who were not sworn to a lord might travel the land seeking a worthy cause or, more practically, anyone who might hire them. Some sought permanent work; others would prefer to move from place to place, task to task.
A knight was expected to be able to read and write; to know the history of Damryn, and the tales of Damryan heroes. Most knights ensured their offspring were well-educated, though Damryan knights were not expected to be as culturally accomplished as Lancesian ones.
Knights were well-regarded by Damryan society. Tales of their prowess and bravery inundated the whole of society; every Damryan youth wanted to be a knight. They have, however, less history of indulging in the trappings of knighthood that Lancereaux was obsessed with; tourneys are almost unheard of in Damryn, the knighting ceremonies are simple, religious affairs, and a humble knight on the road, travelling from place to place, is accepted as a reality rather than being romanticised in story but rejected in reality.
The knights were often rather more accountable to those around them than in the south, too. The common people expected a knight to be a man of bravery and honour, and any knight publicly acting in a way contrary to this could expect disfavour. This could range simply from receiving poor hospitality, to public opinion driving a noble to take action against the knight. There are even some tales - all unproven - of knights being physically driven out or even killed by angry mobs of peasants whom they have wronged. Disgust at the breaking of honour outweighed the fear of their social betters.
Damryan history does not recall all of its warriors as knights, however. The first warriors were men of strength rather than just birth, who united the kingdom through their force and determination. Such individuals and traditions would mould into knighthood in the future, but some have eschewed such progress. A strong man-at-arms might receive social acclaim through such fortitude, though such examples are rare. Most mercenary companies of Damryn were viewed as either being glorified men-at-arms at best, or honourless thugs at worst, but the cannier amongst them painted themselves as being like the bold warriors of Damryn of old, not needing to be lauded or be given ceremonies to prove their worth. For most of Damryn the knight stood supreme, but there were those who remembered and lauded the old ways.
The High King of Damryn was seen as a descendent of Aethon himself, and tied to the country. As such, his word was absolute law and the people regarded him as unquestionable in his authority. So the nobility were seen as his voice stretching across the land, responsible for ruling over the region - and the Damryan regard for the land made this a double-edged sword, for the nobles were expected to respect the land they ruled, and the people upon it.
It was unheard of for a Lord of Damryn to not make his home in some impressive castle. Some would keep themselves apart from those they ruled, near to a local town but with the castle itself as almost its own, independent and self-sufficient community. Others would build their keeps in the towns themselves, or perhaps the towns sprung up around them over the years. Either way, they would keep apart from the rest of society, and with more than just walls to enforce such a separation.
They would rule over the land, manage the economy, oversee disputes, ensure the safety of the region. They ate the best food, enjoyed the sport of hunting, were entertained by the best minstrels and were educated on everything from warfare and running a castle to mathematics and history. A noble youth was as expected to fight as much as any commoner, and most young lordlings would serve as knights before they inherited, to see the world and to get some experience out from under their father's feet.
Almost all nobles were born to the position. Some enterprising knights or merchants might have married into noble households needing money or otherwise so desperate as to marry beneath them, however. And just as Damryan history and legend is full of tales of the hero of common birth earning his spurs and being elevated to knighthood, there are also stories of exceptional individuals being awarded a title and lands. That usually required said individual to do something tremendous like single-handedly saving the nation, however, and is less common in history than story and song might suggest.
Arts and Entertainment
To be a travelling bard was to be respected. Whenever one came through any town or village they would rarely have to pay for the hospitality so long as they entertained the locals with a song or story. Be this in the village square, the local inn, or at the lord's manor, the same tales and songs tended to be told in all environs - perhaps adjusted only in terms of how bawdy they were.
The highest form of entertainment in Damryn was a heroic ballad. These were often long, drawn-out tales, chronicling the adventures of a particularly notable individual from legend or history. Being so long they were difficult to learn, and so bards who could do so were highly acclaimed. But they could often entertain a crowd for a whole evening. Any other form of song or tale was usually approved of, for a storyteller in legend-soaked Damryn was well-received, but no bard who wanted to be thought of as worth anything did not know at least one lengthy ballad.
Damryans marked the progression of the year with fayres. Spring, Midsummer, and Harvest would all see celebrations of varying sizes; some regions prized certain times of years higher than others, some were organised solely by one village while others might see a whole shire banding together and others still might be thrown by the local lord, which was one of the rare occasions when lord and fiefdom might mix. The biggest would receive attention from neighbours and merchants, and would see all manner of traders and entertainers joining in with the local revelry.
Damryan culture was not known for encouraging a great deal by way of physical artwork. But when Damryans turned their hands to paintings and sculptures, the depiction of legends and heroics of the past were held in the highest regard. Tapestries the like of which would be hung in the halls of lords and show the deeds of their ancestors were probably the most popular form of visual art.
Damryan fashion was, above all, simple - easily the simplest of all of the wealthy kingdoms of the Realm.
The peasantry would dress much the same as anywhere else. Men would wear linen underclothes beneath woollen or leather breeches and woollen tunics tied at the waist with a belt, from which would hang coin purses and work tools. Over this they might wear a woollen or sheepskin overcoat, if the weather were cold, and a woollen hat. Boots were made from leather. A woman would wear similar clothing, though it would be a woollen dress, and the tunic sometimes sleeveless, and sometimes a wimple to cover her hair.
Much of what differentiated this from what a person of higher social class would wear was often simply the quality of the materials, and the colour. Colourful dyes could only be afforded by the rich, and so a peasant would be garbed in drab colours. Nevertheless, it was not in the Damryan custom to be too bright in colours, and so the rich tended to favour deep reds, deep blues, and deep greens rather than anything too light.
A knight would wear under-clothes of particular sturdiness as he would need to protect the skin against the roughness or chafing of armour. Over this he would again wear a simple woollen tunic and stockings, and then a sturdy arming coat, usually stuffed to make it padded. On top of this protection he would wear his armour, which usually consisted of both chain and metal, and tended to be devoid of too many markings or intricate decorations, and was traditionally simple and functional. Any decoration would only come from the surcoat, worn over the armour, and emblazoned with the device of the knight or the lord he fought for so as to identify them.
When not in armour, a knight or nobleman would dress relatively simply; woollen clothes, and on more public occasions a doublet bearing the device of the household. In warmer temperatures he might wear looser robes tied with a belt, but overall the styles remained conservative, much of rank being in the quality of the clothing, the bearing of the wearer, or any jewellery worn, which was almost unheard of amongst the peasantry.
A noble woman of Damryn was also dressed plainer than her counterpart from, for example, Lancereaux. The woollen dresses were fairly tight as to show off her figure, high-necked and reaching down to her ankles. These would be fastened at the waist and the wrists, rather than becoming ostentatious. Jewellery for both men and women was often of iron, bronze or, at most, silver; gold is considered ostentatious by Damryans.
Damryn was historically an economic powerhouse enough to rival Calavria. It was a country bountiful in natural resources; thick forests for wood, rich fields for farming, and plenty of good land for grazing cows, goats, and sheep. The wool and lumber trade were two of the most significant industries, and Damryn also enjoyed the biggest surplus of food from its farmers. At the height of the Realm, Damryn could maintain its dominance as the High Kingdom on occasion simply by exploiting the fact that other kingdoms would have to uncomfortably tighten their belts, or even starve, without them.
Much of the wool was weaved in the local villages of the sheep-farmers, and sold to merchants who would ship it to the towns or abroad. Lumber, however, tended to see more direct involvement from the merchants, as they would run the lumber yards where the local peasantry worked.
The hills of Damryn were rich in minerals, especially iron, and after years of work Damryan Steel was considered the finest in the Realm.
Damryans tend to only have one name, given by their parents. It is not uncommon for a Damryan of note to have some sort of title or nickname, perhaps formal, perhaps granted to them according to some deed, but this is simply a case of someone's renown having earned this as opposed to being a convention. If a Damryan wishes to identify themselves further, then they may refer to themselves as 'son of/daughter of' and name their father, or simply refer to themselves as being of their place of origin.
The old languages of Damryn can sound occasionally contrasting, veering between occasionally harsh consonants and smooth and lyrical vowels.
Sample Male Names: Cadarn, Gorthyn, Tegerin Sample Female Names: Ariana, Lynwen, Rhiain
Damryn was a place of craggy moors, thick forests, high peaks and rolling fields of green. The woods were fit for lumber, the mountains rich in metal, and the wildlife hearty enough that the people were able to lead comfortable lives.
Caer Brennan, the capital, was originally a castle built at the top of one of the craggier hills of the country, and before the Fall it had never been taken in battle. The city grew up around it, one of the largest in the Realm, and the centre of activity, commerce, and politics for all of the kingdoms, not just Damryn. There were plenty of other large townships in the country, and most of the lords enjoyed the prosperity of one town or city in their shire.
Damryn was an occasionally wet country, from warm showers in the south to snow in the north on the borders of Norlundar. That was the harshest part of the land; the terrain was less forgiving, and the locals more familiar with the Norls as raiders than allies and brothers. The duchy of Geitrim was the northern-most of these lands, and has sometimes been referred to as the last bastion of civilisation.
Overall Damryn was a land of vast differences. No other nation in the Realm could have you walk from the deepest, darkest forests, cross a babbling brook to wander across the greenest of fields, and then see you climb a craggy top to reach your destination - and all of this across a remarkably short distance. It was little wonder, then, that the Damryans believed the land itself was instilled with legend and magic, for they lived there for centuries and never considered themselves to have uncovered all of its mystery.
The Damryan people have long been worshippers of Aethon, first and foremost. They believed their High King to be a descendent of his, and he was the most honoured God in the entire country. The rest of the United Church were, however, held in high regard, especially Tyaus, who was respected as the head of the Four, the most powerful human God, and for the role he plays in leadership, which the Damryans respect. Gebrick's worship was quieter, but rather more fervent amongst Damryan peasantry than in most countries, for their regard for the land extended to the God who represents the land. Vaitera was no better regarded than anywhere else in the Realm, and though she was not disregarded, she had minimal role in Damryan society.
Of the other Gods, Olcan was the most popular. The people of Damryn valued stories and storytellers so highly that he could not be otherwise, and since many of the well-regarded travelling bards were priests of Olcan, his name became synonymous with a large part of Damryan society. Ferodir was also quietly popular, for Damryn was such a scattered country that it was impossible to avoid travel at some point, and the land considered so attractive to travel in that it could not but be appreciated.
Most settlements, however, that had a church tended to have one of Aethon. Churches to Gebrick were not uncommon, especially ones further from the influence of the nobility, or more under the influence of the merchants. Most castles would have a shrine to Aethon, but some lords would have a shrine to Tyaus as well as or instead of. The biggest cathedral to Aethon in the world, however, was established at Caer Brennan, the second heart of the city after the castle itself.
There is a strong tradition of warfare amongst the Damryans. The original tribes of the country would do battle often over territory and resources; the unification of Damryn came more through conflict than through politics. Considering Damryn then went on to form the Realm through conflict and then engaged with the Iron Empire for generations in warfare, Damryans have not been lacking in experience of fighting.
All young men were expected to be warriors first, and anything else second. Even a young peasant boy was taught how to fight, though in practice he would only bear arms if his liege called upon the people of his fiefdom to fight. Unless a boy was born to the warrior class, noble class, or somehow proved himself particularly able or keen to pursue warfare as a lifestyle, he would likely have been trained in combat before going back to toil in the fields.
The warrior and noble classes would be drilled hard, however, with all Damryan rulers expected to also be soldiers. This exceeded the expectations of training even within Lancereaux, and that the peasants who made up the majority of the Damryan armies were still expected to know how to fight meant that the High Kingdom could gather an army that was peerless in its preparation, and often experience. This, combined with the unshakable belief in the High King, has contributed to their military success. The armies are unparalleled in their balance between martial prowess and steadfast discipline.
Knighthood originated in Lancereaux, but with such close borders it was inevitable that such a mentality would reach Damryn. The Damryans originally found this to be an almost laughable concept, witnessing how the code of conduct tended to do more for the Lancesian unswerving following of orders than producing men of honour. The virtues of honour were no oddity to Damryans, however, and as the more curious amongst them discovered more of the notion of chivalry, they began to see merit in the idea of codifying the ideals of conduct which the Damryans aspired to.
This is why chivalry is credited with having its origins in Damryn as well as in Lancereaux. As a type of social structure and means of social control, it saw its origins within Lancereaux. However, the idealised version of the knight who places his morals and goals above anything else was a highly Damryan construct - though the implication that a Damryan knight would ignore the word of the High King in favour of his honour is something of a misunderstanding. Damryan knighthood never explicitly stated that a Damryan knight would owe his king blind allegiance as the Lancesian codes did. Instead, there is an inherently Damryan assumption that the king is no less moral than the knight, and so the knight needs no explicit vow to serve him, because he would always believe in him.
Overall, the Damryans are considered to have the finest infantry in the whole world. No other nations can boast the size of their armies, and no other nation takes such care in training of even the humblest of foot-soldiers. Their knights are less numerous than the Lancesians, and lack the unit cohesion, and so they lack the international military renown of their neighbours. However, the capacity of the infantry to mop up after their charges, and the unparalleled skills of leadership that the knights and lords display, have guaranteed that nobody has been able to stand up for long against the Damryan army except for the Iron Empire, and the Legion itself.
It is unknown if the mysticism of the very land of Damryn was responsible for their people’s affinity for magic, or if the myths and legends of the nation simply encouraged Damryans to explore the arcane more than in any nation but Calavria. Either way, although many aspiring Damryan wizards would study in Antinori, Damryans had a tradition of wielding their magic in a far more instinctive and personal manner than the Calavrian scholars.
They were no more numerous in their mages than any other nation, but lacked much by way of organisation. A mage might find a role for themselves as an aide to a lord, and be called upon for advice or for more practical help in times of a crisis. These mages would habitually look over their local lands for any signs of children with an aptitude for magic, and shires where the mage's identity was broadly known might see the peasantry bringing such sons and daughters before them. It was certainly the easiest way for a Damryan woman to escape the confines of her birth.
Other mages wandered more broadly, practising their magic on the road and in the aid of either those who needed help or those who could pay. Sometimes they were on the search for apprentices; others were for some reason unsuitable for a lifestyle in a noble household, and some yet still preferred it. It was not too uncommon for a mage to settle down somewhere other than in a noble household; perhaps as the local magic-user of a village or town, and at least one mage of higher birth used their personal wealth to build themselves a sanctuary where they could practice magic in peace. Such locations were not uncommonly a focal point for local mages to rally around, and this could lead to the birth of mage's circles of varying degrees of organisation, and varying degrees of altruism of intent.
But mages were respected more than they were feared. A mage who caused trouble would often find themselves hunted down by a local lord and his knights, and so it was in the best interests of mages to either help society or to stay out of its way.
Damryan mages tend to find themselves touching elemental magic more easily than the pure arcane, for its inherent connection to the land the Damryan people thought they were so intrinsically linked to. They struggle with more abstract forms of the arcane, and are certainly more adept at staff magic than the more academic arts of wizardry. Although it is ridiculous to assume that a Damryan mage will not have a mind for research and for thought, for they are traditionally viewed as advisers and guides, they tend to lean towards more practical magic.
Perspectives on Other Races and Nations
"They're good folk, taking so many in their borders and giving us land and a place to live. They're decent about it, for sure, so I'm happy we're still working with them, fighting with them, living with them. But, really, what else could anyone do? They've got another think coming if they reckon they're special; Andermark is still here because it's furthest away from the Legion, no doubt about that. We'll work with them to rebuild the Realm, for sure. They're more reliable allies than those Norl savages or Calavrian merchants - or, Four forfend, the bloody elves. Just if they think that the throne of the High King is going to be moved to Starkholm when we reclaim it from Caer Brennan, they're in for a surprise."
"They used to think they knew it all; thought that you could give a boy some bright armour and a sharp sword and that made him a warrior even if he'd never been up to his kneecaps in the blood of his friends and foes. But those boys became men against the Legion, and they fought for every inch of Lancesian soil almost as hard as we did for Damryn. Doesn't mean they don't still have their heads shoved up their arses, though, and they still think we ought to bow to to a man who's not done a thing save be born. They're learning what honour is; they just think it still comes with a tidy piece of paper."
"Force-feed a Calavrian a lump of lead and he'll shit gold. Give him an empty book and he'll fill it with a magic spell to turn it into a flock of birds. They're good at what they do, but what they do has them putting their faith in books written by men who never did it themselves in the first place, and the weight of a coin-purse. How're you supposed to trust a man who won't back up his beliefs or his goals himself, but will instead pay someone else to do that dirty work for him?"
"They're a strange lot, those Ibarriards. They clearly look after each other, which I can respect. And they know how to fight - hitting the Legion fast and then disappearing into the desert before they can retaliate's only smart when you're outnumbered, and it takes balls to do that for year on year. And they've led the fight against the filthy goblins for decades, and nobody's going to question their faith in the Four.
"Still. I don't know. They're awful strange, with their curved swords and odd ways."
"They might be one of the kingdoms of the Realm, but my grandfather still tells tales of those northern bastards coming out of their mountains to raid and pillage. And they can swing those axes of theirs bloody hard, but a thug's just a thug no matter how they fight. If they had any discipline at all then they could have used their mountains to hold back the Legion, and then Damryn might have not been surrounded. Let them sit in the Anderian woodlands and hills, but they'd better fight in the armies when we march again if they expect to see their bloody frozen wastes again."
The Iron Empire
"Elves! The High King did them a favour by sending them the help he did; we could have used that time to fortify the Realm against the Legion instead of taking the fight to them. And the bloody elves still complain it wasn't enough. No, we didn't run to save you the moment you came crawling for help. That's what happens when you dogs fight us for centuries and murder our leaders. Let's see you look down on humans now. If they learn their place, do their part, maybe we'll be kind and let their precious Empire become a part of the new Realm as equals instead of just a vassal state. And we'll retake that Damryan soil we fought and bled for."
Dwarves of Kordurren
"When trouble came, they hid, and you hear they left their rulers to die. Now they barely poke their noses out from underground. Hard to see it as anything but cowardice, even if they do fancy themselves something new. They're good craftsmen, and it's not like we don't need what they've got to trade, but they'll look after themselves first, and damn the rest when trouble comes. Hard to trust a race of people who lived by betrayal. I don't."
"Heretics. They follow their evil Gods who pronounce nothing but violence and cruelty; it's all they know, all they live by. The dictates of Aethon call them inferior. I hear they jumped on the Ibarriards when the Legion came, saw this threat to the world and still slipped the knife in between the ribs of the righteous. When the Realm is reborn and the lands are safe, we will come for them. They've been left untouched for too long, but the day will come when they and their filthy ilk are wiped off the face of the world."
"Monsters and brutes with no mind and no sense of anything but brutal bloody violence. Oh, you asked about the Yotunaar, not the Norls? Ha. Same thing. Hard to tell the difference, sometimes. Kill them before they can kill you. And learn how to dodge and duck."
"Don't know what the Andermen are so scared of. Things live in dark woods; it's the way of the world. You keep your eyes and ears open and you don't die. They're dogs and beasts, nothing more, and talking doesn't make them people. Use them the way you'd use a dog; collar them, direct them, beat them when they do wrong, and put them down if they're a threat. Without hesitation."
"The darkest, cruellest creatures in all creation. They will corrupt and warp you if you listen to their lies or those who spout them. Do not deal with them, do not listen to them, and unless you know what you're doing, simply kill them. But the Demonblooded monsters that live in our woods? Ha, the Andermen think they know of horrors that roam the lands. They've not seen nothing yet. Forget feral, this is just pure evil. And pure evil is beaten by nothing so much as the fury of the righteous."
"We would call them enemies, but enemies fight for land or reason; worthy foes show mercy and honour. We would call them beasts, but even beasts fight for food or territory. They are nothing but monsters. We made them choke on the bodies of their dead with every mile of Damryn they took, but if they think they have the measure of a Damryan knight then they are mistaken. We will return, and we will make them pay for every life they took, every home they destroyed; we will drive them back to the sea, and we will not make the same mistake they will learn to rue by leaving even a single enemy alive."