This is a sneak preview of the kingdom of Winterspire. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.
Towering in the center of Winterspire is the Spire of Ice, and the history of the area has revolved around this strange and powerful monolith. This crystalline obelisk stands in the center of the country, radiating both magic and intense cold. Some types of magic spells and enchantments are enhanced and often changed in its presence. The Spire of Ice also manifests zones of cold and magic in the forests of the land, and those who brave those areas and survive the trials found there can gain magical auras and boons from the Spire. The area has a number of factions that have historically fought over control of the Spire and its environs.
The rulership and safety of Winterspire is largely in the hands of a knightly order called the Knights of Winter. Although the order was formed in response to the raids of the orcs of the region, twenty years ago the knights marched into Winterspire, drove back the orc clans, and took control of the Spire of Ice and the lands around it. The Winterspire King, Kylan Argales, was elevated by the captains of the order and has ruled Winterspire since that war.
The king’s stronghold, the Coruscating Hold, is a fortress of white stone and ice that overlooks the Spire. It is the capital of Winterspire, and it is the home of the Knights of Winter. Although the intense cold of the Spire of Ice prevents the area immediately around it from being fortified or settled, the Knights guard the Spire and the lands around it.
The Snowcrown Elves inhabit the forests east of the great river. Allies of the Knights of Winter, the elves aided the Winterspire King in his war to take the Spire of Ice from the orcs who held the land and drank from its power. They are, these days, few in number but their lords and ladies are allowed to visit the Spire of Ice as they did in the old days. In return for their aid, the Winterspire King proclaimed that all land from the river to the sea would be theirs.
The forests of the north are held by the Frostrime Clan of orcs, the last and strongest clan in Winterspire. The Frostrime Clan once held the Spire of Ice, and grew numerous and powerful enough that their raiding was a serious threat to the southern kingdoms. Although they lost the war with the Knights of Winter and the Snowcrown Elves, the clan was not destroyed but rather driven into the northern forests, sustaining heavy casualties, and away from the Spire of Ice. They have, in the time since the war, built forts and halls in the northern part of Winterspire where they hunt.
The Frostrime orcs have an uneasy truce, for the most part, with the Winterspire King. Old hatreds occasionally flare up as incidents of violence, but there is no ongoing war in Winterspire. As part of the truce the Coruscating Hold will feast with the Frostrime clanlords in some neutral place, but the orcs are not allowed to approach the Spire of Ice and drink in its power as they once did. The Spire of Ice changed the orcs physically and made them stronger, at least for a time, and King Argales is concerned that they would be driven to war once again if they were allowed to draw from the Spire.
The Knights of Winter wear white and silver, even when they are armored, and they are generally layered against the cold. Sensible and warm garb of linen, wool, and leather is common, including collared shirts, long surcoats, and cloaks. The original order of knights were drawn from many different countries, so some Knights still favor styles of their original kingdom, though they still tend to wear those styles in whites, greys, and silvers. One common practice the knights have adopted is, not surprisingly, wearing white fur trim. Many of the Knights are heavily armored, although there are some Knights that invoke cold and ice through their weapons and instead armor themselves in magic.
The commonfolk of Winterspire tend to dress in wool and leather during the winter months, and they use simple linen clothing during the summer months if they are far enough away from the Spire of Ice that the seasons turn away from winter.
The Snowcrown elves have been changed by the Spire and its influence on the land. Their skin in more pale that usual, with white or frost gray lips, and their faces are marked with wide white, grey, or silver stripes of ice. Their skin sparkles with ice. They favor long flowing clothes of gray or white, though some will also incorporate light and pale greens, blues, or violets.
The Frostrime orcs are almost all dark or light gray; the Spire has washed the brown or tan from their skin. They wear various combinations of leather, chain mail, and fur over warm linen clothing. They favor natural colors, and many wear white because their environment often favors that color. Their outfits have been described as barbaric or savage looking by visitors. Orc shamans tend to wear robes.
The Frostrime Clan has recently expanded, and now includes among its number many Wolf Shoathri. These newest members were once drawn into the control of a great beast called Kenninir. When that beast, a child of Wyrlok, was slain by one of the warlords of Khoros many of the Shoathri that were once under his control left Khoros and joined the Frostrime.
~ Be wary, for though the wise King Argales has made peace with the orcs, they hunger for the Spire of Ice still. Remember their raids and violent attacks on the southern kingdoms.
~ Be prepared for storms, both from the weather and from the potential enemies around us. We cannot know how long the peace will last, or when the Spire will send down winter storms upon us.
~ When winter comes unexpectedly to the forests nearby lock your doors, and expect any manner of strange creature to be roaming the storms.
As Snowcrown Elves
Like all elves, the Snowcrown Elves were profoundly affected by the Fading, when in ancient days all the elves in the kingdoms of their kind simply disappeared, never to be heard from again. The Snowcrown Elves came before the Spire of Ice and drank its power rather than joining the Faded Elves and forgetting the song of the Faerie Realm.
~ The song of the Faerie Realm has faded from the world. Rather than huddling before the remaining Fae lords and ladies, or becoming one of the Faded Elves, seize your own destiny and drawn on the power of cold and ice by calling on the magic of the Spire of Ice.
~ The war with the Orcs has been long and bitter. Be wary, for they are only driven back and the day will come when they will spill forth once again.
~ Do not forsake or forget the arts of the ancient days. Without our songs and crafts we risk forgetting what it means to be Elven. Whether you practice the way of war or the art of magic, you are remembered by the arts which you preserve.
~ There is a song in the whistling winter winds, if you know how to listen.
As Frostrime Clan Orcs
Since the Sojourn, the Frostrime Orcs have searched for a hunting ground to call their own. The lands of Winterspire have served them well, but as they begin to grow in numbers the northern hunting becomes strained. The shamans still thirst for the cold of the Spire, and in time the Frostrime warchiefs know they will have to either take this land or find a new land to hunt.
~ Respect those with strength and ferocity.
~ Do not show weakness. This land consumes those who are weak.
~ You are Frostrime. Ice and cold are in your nature now.
~ The shamans still dream of the Spire of Ice. The humans and their knights have earned that land through honorable warfare, but if they show weakness they do not deserve that land or the magic of the Spire.
~ The Wolves are now our kin, but there are many mouths to feed and in time the hunts may not be sufficient.
As Frostrime Clan Wolf Shoathri
~ The voice of Wyrlok can enslave you. Beware of any who follow that Beast.
~ The Frostrime Clan took you in. Remember their decision to accept you as kin.
~ Your wild nature demands that you be free.
~ The lone wolf dies too easily. Remember your pack.
The Pale is common in Winterspire. When the Knights first marched north to stop the Frostrime Clan from raiding, it was thought that perhaps the Spire was some ancient Pale artifact or the remains of a grove. A great many druids traveled with the Knights during the war, and even though they found nothing about the Spire that specifically empowers them or the Grey tree, their influence remains. Other religions can also be found among the people of Winterspire, though it is unusual for the Frostfire Elves to stray from the Pale and follow other paths of religion.
The Frostrime Clan has a number of shamans who act as advisors and aid the clan with magic. Other religions are not forbidden, but they are rare and some of the more brutish shamans question the strength of those of other faiths.
The Spire of Ice not only radiates cold, but it calls forth ice and cold in the magic of those who dwell in Winterspire. Knights that are Paladins find, after some time, that they call forth ice and cold instead of light when they use their abilities. Those skilled in Primal or Weald magics likewise find that it is easier to use their magic as cold or ice than to call other magical energies.
The royal house of Winterspire and all its noble houses were originally captains and Knights-Errant in the Knights of Winter during the war. The king rules with kind and – most agree – wise words, preferring to seek peace with his enemies and to set aside conflicts rather than starting them. His lords and ladies are all capable in both war and survival, and they meet in the great hall of the Coruscating Keep to advise the king.
The noble families of Winterspire include the royal line of Argales, House Gentris, House Candlos, House Trase, House Dlavric, and House Forlost.
Snowcrown Elves – The war between the Snowcrown Elves and the orcs that came to Winterspire spans centuries, all the way back to an event the elves call the Insurgence, when the orcs came to these lands. The Snowcrown Elves lost their original royal line when the king and his two sons were killed in the war with the Frostrime Clan over one hundred years ago. The war turned against them when a mysterious figure called the White Raven taught the orcs how to draw power directly from the Spire of Ice, and that magic increased the strength of the orcs.
The current Queen is the only heir of the new royal house, House Valais. Queen Selil is young, having originally lost both of her parents before she reached the age of rule. Her mother, Caldisil, was a warrior and mage-scholar, and it is said she found secret knowledge about the Fading. She left Winterspire for, she promised, one moon to pursue the lead. The cycle of the moon came and went, and although her husband and daughter awaited her return she was never seen again. King Felthrim succumbed to a mysterious illness not long after she failed to return, leaving the young Selil unexpectedly on the throne.
Although fewer in number than many cultures, the houses of the Snowcrown elves include the royal house of Valais, House Greenbough, House Farflight, House Ilythis, and House Kellyr.
Frostrime Orcs – The orcs that dwell in Winterspire were once more numerous, and many clans populated the lands. They came to Winterspire during an event the orcs now call the Sojourn, which, if the tales are true, brought the orcs to this land. Their number, and their tendency towards aggression, set them into a long war with the Snowcrown Elves which stood deadlocked for centuries.
The orcs grew in power when a great wizard named the White Raven taught the shaman of the Frostrime Clan to draw magic and strength from the Spire of Ice. With this knowledge the Warlord of the Frostrime, Drucos Thricecut, united the numerous clans under his banner. The orcs grew in power, and not only did they defeat the Snowcrown Elves but they settled the coast and built ships to raid southern shores. The orcs are proud, and although they have a truce with the Knights of Winter, their loss of the war and the magic of the Spire is a sore spot and can still incite individuals to violence.
The current Warlord of the Frostrime Hall is an orc named Gurgas Thricecut. His advisors are all warlords and leaders of their subclans. Many are descendents of the original orc clans that hunted and warred in these lands after the Sojourn. The orcs are loosely organized into smaller clans that claim various territories in the forests and the glacier to the north.
The central region of Winterspire is the location of the Spire of Ice. The winter season is longer here than even the northern forests, and the area within sight of the Spire knows winter all year round. The Coruscating Hold sits on a ridge overlooking the Spire of Ice, and the entire central region is dotted with human settlements and forts of people living under the Winterspire King.
The river that runs through the eastern part of Winterspire is called the Iceflow, and all the lands east of that belong to the Snowcrown Elves. Allies of the Knights of Winter, the two share an agreement that the elves have a duty to prevent any orcs from building ships or accessing the sea. The orcs raided the southern land by ship, and the knights are not eager to allow them that opportunity.
Forests dominate the northern reaches of Winterspire, and beyond that the towering ice walls of the northern glacier can be seen during the day above the forests. The humans call these northern forests the Orcwood, though the orcs call their forests the Tuskwood because of numerous boar they hunt for food.
His Sovereign King Kylan Argales – Also called the Winterspire King, King Kylan is fair to both his people and, when he can use his diplomatic skills, to those who were once his enemies. His wife, Hansea, has blessed him with three children and his young line looks strong.
Sir David Forlost is the king’s first knight. Knight-Vigilant, David is the brother to the Lord of House Forlost and a long-time friend and supporter of the King. Lord David is also perhaps the greatest of the Knights of Winter, and stories say he won six honor duels with orc champions during the war.
Lady Volasa Trase is a wizard and advisor to the king, as well as the head of her house. She has been a powerful mage, although her studies of the Spire of Ice have made it harder for her to use magic spells that do not call upon the elements of winter. This is concerning to both Volasa and the king, and recent discussions have broached the subject of whether she should spend time away from the Spire and the Coruscating Hold.
Her Radiance, Queen Selil Calais is the current queen of the Snowcrown Elves. Although she is surrounded by advisors from the other noble houses of elves, she is said to be headstrong and wise beyond her years.
Warlord Gurgas Thricecut is the leader of the Frostrime Clan of orcs in the north. Once the war leader of all of Winterspire, Gurgas watched his clan as it was routed and denied the Spire by the Knights of Winter. He sometimes attends the shared feastnight with the humans to maintain the truce, but as his orcs once again grow in numbers the northern forests seem a smaller and smaller space for their hunts.
Warlord Denris Whitefang is an advisor to Warlord Thricecut and arguably the strongest of the Wolf Shoathri that have joined the Frostrime Clan. He prefers his animal form and rarely changes to look more human. Denris is not only a warrior of great skill, but he is a skilled shaman as well.