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A bit of updated Vanch


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Prompted by Christopher Moody's note in the G+ forum


I will have to read up more on the Tunoralings then.

Related to my updated postings on Imther, here's some of my content on Vanch and the Vanchites/Tunoralings.

Tunoraling Charms

The folk of Vanch have a wealth of odd and diverse charms, fetishes, runes, and talismans.  They learned from Tunoral and Negalla the Green Woman how to take the odd bits and pieces of broken magics and spells they found left behind, whether by Dara Happan, Horselord, Orlanthi, Lunar, or other, and bind, transform, and weave them together into something similar but new.  The Yaztyr have their little talismans to the Golden Rider.  Queen Jannisia wears the Little Clouds of Molanni the Calm.  The Rugadyr have the 18 Rings, each fashioned from a different material whether gold or stone, wood or bone, and each with a different though minor magic.  And the Seeker of Farewell had his Fetish of Red and Brown Feathers that allowed him to see through the eyes of sparrows.  Though these insignificant charms are hardly equal to the powerful magics and rituals of the gods, or even the wild shamans of the nomads, somehow they seem to have aided the survival of the Vanchites. 

How Tunoral Found Food

When the land went dead, the people found that they could not get food as they had before.  Where before fruits hung from the trees, now only dead branches waved in the winds.  Where before bowls filled with food, now only dust gathered in the bowls.  The people felt hunger for the first time and were frightened.  The people asked Tunoral to find them food and he agreed.

Tunoral came to the Seat of Judgment where Heliakal sat.  He spoke before Heliakal and said that the people did not have food and that they felt hunger.  Some even died.  Heliakal judged this and found that this was not right.  So Heliakal said to Tunoral to go and search out other peoples and see what they did for food now that the land was dead.

Tunoral went first to the north, for this was where the Sun had gone before it fell.  He looked upon the Zarks and saw how the lions stalked and then killed the goats of that land.  When the lions slept after their feast, Tunoral went among them and took from them the Stalking Feet.  When Tunoral came back to the people, he gave them this gift.  And this is why men hunt but amongst the lions only the females can still stalk.

Tunoral went next to the west, for this was where the Serpent came from before it divided.  He looked upon the Nogs and saw how they called the fish together and then gathered them in with a hook before killing them.  When the Nogs slept, Tunoral went amongst them and took from them the Darting Hand.  When Tunoral came back to the people, he gave them this gift.  And this is why men can catch fish with their hands, but the Nogs must use nets to gather fish.

Tunoral went next to the east, for this was the home of the Green Lady’s before she slept.  He looked upon the Blood Queen’s Folk and saw how they gathered the dead seeds and fruits and brought them to life.  When the Blood Queen’s Folk slept, Tunoral went among them and took from them the Blackblood Berries and the Nightflower Scent.  When Tunoral came back to the people, he gave them these gifts.  And this is why women can gather these berries, but the Blood Queen’s Folk cannot find this food.

Tunoral went last to the south, for this was where the Dogs stood guard over the Last Path.  He looked upon the Jadam and saw how they hunted as a pack and stood guard while all ate of the kill.  Tunoral waited for the Jadam to sleep, but they did not.  At last Tunoral tired of waiting, so he used the Stalking Feet to follow the Longeared Squirrel, then he used the Darting Hand to catch the Longeared Squirrel, and then he used the Nightflower Scent to lure the Jadam.  When the Jadam came, Tunoral released the Longeared Squirrel.  The Jadam chased the Longeared Squirrel, even to the Crossways.  And while the Jadam were away, Tunoral picked over their kill and took the Face Mask and the Death Wish.  And this is why the Vanchites can both gain the secrets of others and curse those who rob from them, while the Jadam can only be the dogs they are.

[The Vanchites refer to the Jajalarings as Jadam, roughly meaning 'dog servant'.]

Edited by jajagappa
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To:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross

Fr: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, the Grey Court Inn, Bikhy

Dated: Dark, Stasis, Sea, 7/47

Once the rains let up in Harmonyweek, I readily found an Alakarma merchant, one Liritana who hails from the Laramite tribe, preparing to head north from New Lolon to Bikhy and who was willing to allow me to accompany her mule train.  Unfortunately, we took Tunoral's Trail instead of the Main Vanch Road.  The journey to Waterdog Crossing was uneventful, but the Aryael ran high and fast and no ferry, even with chains and winch, could make the passage.  For four days we sat waiting for the river to slow enough to allow the ferries to resume.  The locals regaled us with tales of thieving Tunoral, the great raider Gavaral, the blessed Green Woman, the fickle Aryael also known as Aryela, and the playful water dogs.   There were plenty of tales of the treacherous Saylyr tribe as well and how we best watch our wares, particularly when passing through the Traitor's Woods.  Liritana laughed them off, apparently well versed in both the customs of the Vanchites and the prejudices of the Afotharings....

Tunoral's Trail rises up from the Aryael Valley to wind its way through the Last Rest Hills.  It's unknown whose "Last Rest" it was, but at the Ridgeline sits the Saylyr village simply called Farewell.  At first glance, it seemed no different than any stead or village of Imther with a typical ditch around a wooden palisade to protect it and gates at both the east and west ends where Tunoral's Trail passes through.  But the main stead of the clan chief here was of stone caked with mud and straw, reminiscent of a Penkrathos villa though still retaining the form of a long house.  The doorway of this great hall was decorated with many raccoon tails as well as an old stone mask of a grinning and antlered man with shells for eyes.  The locals named this figure Ralvan the Scavenger.  Other steads proved to be equally odd mixtures of stone, wood, and thatch, some decorated with furs, others with feathers, one with some great crab shell of unknown origin.  Despite this mishmash of construction, the village was carefully aligned along three straight east-west paths and three straight north-south paths.  The villagers said these were the Spears of Elmharth, a great warlord of the past.

The Saylyrings are exemplary Vanchites.  Their tattooed eye masks of black, red, and gold dots are said to acknowledge their rich heritage and their many skills though I found it very unnerving to look at their faces after awhile.  The men kept their beards oiled and braided in an old Dara Happan style but their hair long and wild as if they were Orlanthi.  Short red togas were worn over rough spun tunics and woollen pants and belted with short ropes.  When it rained, as it was prone to do during my brief stay, they added cloaks of beaver or otter skin.  The women wore single, long and intricate braids, bound with green ribbons to gain the favor of the Green Woman.  Short dresses, of varied hues of green, were worn over leggings.  They said this was the style favored of Velhara, the Lady of the Wild.  Many wore scarves of varied colors (blue and red seemed to be preferred), most simply tied at the front, though the wives of thanes favored copper pins and clasps adorned with the face of their favorite goddess....

The Saylyr King was far more hospitable.  King Gavlyral was an older man in his 50's with greying hair and a long full mustache, but no beard.  A scar on his left cheek gave his smile it's distinctive look.  The king was boisterous, calling for good ale to welcome our arrival in the village.  Liritana was well-known to many, including young children, and Gavlyral asked her which dances she would favor them with this visit.  She indicated she had learned a new dance, the Passage of the Little Sun, that she could perform for them later along with other old favorites....  My gift of a bronze cup decorated with Jannisor wearing his coonskin cap and triumphant at Einar's Farm was well received.  Apparently, there is a tale among the locals that Jannisor was raised here as a boy and gained a raccoon as a friend, which is how he became such a wily hunter.

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Since I seem to like triads, here's a third piece related to Vanch.

To:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross

Fr: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, Temple of Knowledge, New Lolon

Dated: Crescent-Come, Disorder, Sea, 7/47

I received your letter but two days ago, undoubtedly crossing with my own last dispatch.  Apparently it was delayed by weather and the sacred time events, though I suspect it may have been intercepted in transit.  I gather from King Wearomon that there are many who seek out such correspondence, though I dare say there is little in ours to benefit such intrigue.  While I had hoped to rejoin my brethren in Mirin's Cross, I understand the needs of his most excellent general and shall depart for Bikhy shortly to begin my survey of the lands of Vanch, though King Wearomon counsels me to be cautious around King Gormoral.  In advance of my new journey, King Wearomon kindly allowed me to read some of the Annals of the Kings of Vanch, part of the famed New Lolon Gospel, though these annals clearly reflect a view from northern Vanch.

Yours, Galacrustus

The Vendorsvalings

1544-1547 Vingoryal Farseer, son of Torgaval and grandson of Vendorsval

1547-1568 Hastormal, son of Vingoryal and Zarissa the Golden-eyed Lioness

1568-1572 Angtiryal, son of Hastormal and Cynixa Red Woman

1572-1585 Tantaral, son of Hastormal and the Cynixa Red Woman

1585-1592 Ismaril, son of Tantaral

1592-1602 Pelramal, brother of Ismaril

1602-         Gormoral, son of Pelramal

Comment: The current dynasty of Vanch, the Vendorsvalings, called the Redwings or the Lunars by many in New Lolon, came to power when Vingoryal the Red seized the throne of Vanch in 1544 after the turbulent years of the Little Suns. As with many nobles of Vanch, the Vendorsvalings claim descent from the Red Emperor and the old royal family of Vanch, as well as from Hwarin and Ingakotum through Brenakotum of Terarir, and had much support from Sylila.  A number of nobles, including King Wearomon, are related to the Kings through Vingoryal's brother Tundarkal Stormcleaver and his son Brentaral Starcrown....

Vingoryal Farseer, wielder of the Blackspear, was ever vigilant and ever wise.  With the aid of his brother Tundarkal, the loyalty of the Red-winged Eagles, and guided by the wisdom of the Sun and the Moon, Vingoryal reunited the mighty Kingdom of Vanch, drove back the wild mountain men of Imther, and secured the border against the onslaught of chaos.

Comment: Though Vingoryal carried the Blackspear and wore the famed Wire Cloak, it was his father King Torgaval of the Fenarth tribe who slew the Elder Horror of Tork, found the treasures of the Three-feather Nest, and married the Green Woman, Asdrestya, of New Lolon.  Vingorval lived long enough to stabilize the kingdom by marrying Zarissa the Golden-eyed Lioness and fathering a strong son, and by favoring the Crow's Bane in the Pond Land. Unfortunately, he was assassinated before he achieved any great deeds.

Hastormal the Walker brought peace throughout Vanch, never resting in his efforts to repair the land from the ravages and drought of the Little Suns.  Hastormal married wisely, uniting Vanch with the strengths and magics of the ever-glorious Red Moon, and aided both Tarsh and Sylila against evil usurpers.

Comment: Hastormal became King of Vanch after his father's assassination.  With the aid of his uncle, Tundarkal, he purged the Three Traitorous Tribes and raised the Blood Man and Shargrin tribes to power in the Ash Land.  Hastormal was famed for his many Tours through the land, staying as often amongst the many clans of Vanch as he did in Bikhy, and wore the Mask of the Forager.  Hastormal married Cynixa Red Woman, called the Voracious for her love of food and jewels.  He gave his support to Philigos in reclaiming Tarsh and later aided Phargentes and Algaratum Errio against the heirs of Hwarin in Jillaro....

Pelramal, Master of War, studied the many arts of battle and strategy and learned from the greatest generals and the warriors of the Sky.  His knowledge was legendary and he easily defeated all foes.

Comment: It is said that Pelramal was the greatest scholar of war of his day, and could readily quote from the works of Murharzarm, Urvairinus, Mahzanelm, Elmexdros the Conqueror, and even Kastok the Rider.  When his brother was killed he took the Mask of the Dutiful and mustered the northern tribes to avenge Isramil's death.  Pelramal followed the ancient rituals and strategies exactly in the manner of the greatest generals.  Surprisingly, he broke the Confederation of the Bull and gave rule to the Bright Eyes.  But uprisings and rebellions continued when Pelramal returned to his library.  The Provincial Administration was forced to act against the Governor of Thernan and lands were given to the Satrap of Sylila and the Queen of Holay to rule.

Gormoral, blessed son of Pelramal, has chosen the path of the Gatherer.  To him have come the wisest of the realm, and he has been granted great knowledge and prodigious skill.

Comment: Gormoral the Gatherer has proved a stronger ruler than his father, and has taken advantage of the civil war in Imther for his own benefit.  His favorites, men such as Elmenides Longbeard, Kestindoros Goldentongue, Urbayan Redcoin, and Laram Cooncloak, have all had their plans and schemes, but perhaps have not proved quite so wise as suggested. 



Edited by jajagappa
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  • 3 months later...

Given recent discussion on another thread, here's some further bits and pieces on Vanch.  This first is one of the myths of Tunoral.

Tunoral's First Mask

Tunoral was a minor figure at the great court of Heliakal and Negalla.  He was dutiful and tidied up after his betters, but no one paid him any attention.  He was never known to say a word and few knew he was even there.  He hoped that the maids of Negalla would give him some attention, but they didn't, preferring the company of the companion dogs.  Tunoral envied the companion dogs, for they accompanied their mistresses everywhere and curled up beside Negalla's maids when the latter slept.  Tunoral wished to be one of them so that he could receive the maid's affection and also satisfy his desire for them.

In the days after the shadows were revealed, Tunoral was tidying up when he found the discarded shadow of a companion dog.  Tunoral had his own shadow, but he picked this discarded shadow up and tried it on, putting it even over his eyes.  He went on his way, wearing this new shadow.  Others greeted him as if he were a companion dog, too.  Tunoral then got an idea.  When all the maids of Negalla slept, Tunoral, wearing the dog shadow, stole into the room of Negalla, one of the maids.  She awoke briefly as he lay down next to her, but she was comforted to see that a companion had joined her.  She stroked his fur and scratched his ears before she lay down to sleep with Tunoral beside her.  She thought Tunoral slept, too, though he was fully awake.

Tunoral's desire came upon him then.  He stroked the sleeping Negalla as she had stroked him and stirred her desire.  Then Tunoral entered her.  Negalla came awake then and cried out, for this was not the action of a companion!  Tunoral fled, though not before Negalla seized the dog shadow.  The shadow was torn from Tunoral, leaving only a ragged bit covering his face.  Other companion dogs heard Negalla's cries and came barking after Tunoral.  Tunoral climbed into the trees that then covered the land and made his escape.

Tunoral found a quiet place away from the dogs high in the branches of the trees where he could rest and sleep.  When he awoke, he found that the ragged bit of shadow still clung to his face, a dark mask across his eyes.  He tried to remove it but while it would stretch and shrink making new shapes, it would not come off.  Thus, did Tunoral gain his first mask.  And the children which Negalla bore were also marked with the mask of Tunoral--thus they were called the masked dogs or raccoons.

Edited by jajagappa
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Tunoral, Savior of Vanch

In the Golden Age, when Heliakal ruled the land, Tunoral was a minor figure at the court of Heliakal and Negalla, always following after his betters.  Sometimes he picked things up that others dropped.  Sometimes he offered or presented items to those above him.  In those days, he was a dutiful follower.  As the land fell apart, though, Tunoral found ways to survive through flood and drought, through winter and darkness.  Others joined him.

Tunoral established the ways for his people to live after the disappearance of their greater deities.  He taught them to climb and swim and forage for food, to build stockades to protect sites, to pick up and use things which others lost or forgot, to escape the dogs and darkness beasts which hunted them, and to get around without light. He met Negalla again, and together they gathered and acquired various masks from other gods, which they used to both aid and conceal themselves.  They acquired various skills, magics, and rituals that they used to help their people.  Together, Tunoral and Negalla were quite willing to adopt and adapt new ideas or to throw away or abandon those things that were no longer useful, including names, titles, and masks.

Tunoral has had many titles and masks.  These include:  the Gatherer; the Finder; the Hope in the Darkness; the Bright Eyes; the Fish Catcher; the Climber; the Surehanded; the Collector of Food; the Biter of Foes; the Bearer of Masks; the Consort of the Dream; the Speaker for the Folk; the Watchful; the Blesser of Villages; the Shining Eyes; Bearer of the Spear of Hope. The usual depictions of Tunoral include:  the Raccoon; a human with Raccoon Head; a human wearing a mask; the Raccoon's Paw; the Eyes in the Darkness.

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Another piece from the Annals of the Kings of Vanch, this in the period after the Dragonkill.

The Annals of the Kings of Vanch and commentaries thereon.


The Helganvarings

1154-1177 Helganvar of the Seven Secrets

1177-1184 Tunvarlanth Quickhand

1184-1192 Normakt Deathwalker

1192-1193 Tarelmal the Cursed

1193-1200 Orserian the Vanquished

Comment: When the first boys after the Dragonkill came of age, the four wives who ruled the ancient nests quarreled over who would marry, who would rule, and who would throw off the yoke of Dara Happans.  Though they were touched by the Dragonshadow Fear, they were of the same mind when the next tribute takers came south.  They quickly slew these men and then overthrew the old men of the Sun who had been left to rule.  But amongst each other, they could not agree and the Broken Nest War erupted.

In the south, the Young Sons and the Golden Shards rebuilt the Sun Dome temple.  In the river valley, the Whiskered Fish gained control.  In the Pond Land, the Boneman came from the Barrow of Kaltavus to compete for a wife, a nest, and a crown.  Near Bikhy, the Hungry Lion stalked the land slaying all boys and men who came to challenge it. 

But while the Broken Nests fought their war, others came to feed off the land of Vanch.  Emperor Alenvus reasserted rule in Terarir against the Whiskered Fish.  King Alpin of Imther raided and sacked Bikhy and even to Alornik, though he could not catch the Hungry Lion.  That one continued to strike fear across the northlands and into Tork, Hilltown, and even into the mountains for ten more years.  And the sons of Withan stirred up trouble wherever they went until they were finally caught and slain at the Battle of Honvir’s Pond. Finally, after a generation of war, the Pergeshi below the Hill of Gold, the Irkithum near Bikhy, and the Jomagetho towards Jord united to crown a new King of Vanch, Helganvar the first of the Black-Mask dynasty.

Helganvar found the Black Mask hidden in an ancient pond.  Through it, he learned the first of his seven secrets.  He used the secret to gain the Spear of Hope and formed the Beggar’s clan.  He brought down Jakatello the Hound of War and gained his second secret.  He used that secret to gain the Three Dog Servants, the Sword of Pain, and the Fisher’s Net.  With these tools at his hand, he reknit the land that was broken, made peace amongst the Broken Nests, and reforged the Transforming Copper Tool into the Crown of Eyes.  Vanch rose again beside the Oslir.

Comment: It is unclear from which tribe or nest Helganvar came, the stories do not agree, yet within several years, he brought an end to the wars that had plagued Vanch since the Dragonkill. That he was a Tunoraling seems to be certain though for all the stories about him make great fun of haughty Yelmalions, stormy Imtherians, and shifty river folk.

Tunvarlanth Quickhand, son of Helganvar, brought many laborers, master masons, and the finest sculptors to Bikhy.  The remains and debris of the old palace was taken apart and the Yellow Palace rose in its place.  Quickhand restored trade across the land and merchants and tribes called him wise.

Comment: Tunvarlanth knew the value of a coin and placed great faith in merchants from all lands.  The Great Market of Bikhy with its shrines to Issaries, Lokarnos, and Alakarma, as well as the Yellow Palace, dates from his rule, though I am told it is now run by the temple of Etyries.

Normakt left the Yellow Palace to give aid to his brethren against foul kinslayers.  The Deathwalker brought down all those opposed him and then pursued the kinslayers into the Halls of Hell.

Comment: Where Tunvarlanth sought peace and trade, Normakt sought war and death.  Tribal feuds erupted again and Normakt’s sword was ever present.

Tarelmal was cursed when the Face of the Devil appeared amidst the day of Great Storms.  His face withered, his soul was rent, and would have slain his entire household in his madness had not Orserian lifted the curse.

Comment: 27 years before the birth of our glorious goddess, the provinces were struck by dire omens and prophecies.  But Tarelmal was already mad.  Whether he was cursed by some earth witch from the kinslaying tribe or victim of some shaman’s evil spirit, no one shall ever know.

Orserian, son of Normakt, prepared the land for battle for all signs pointed to the return of evil from the north.  Yet when the Shadzorings poured forth from Hell and razed the land, Orserian could not halt them.  Orserian fell, Bikhy fell, and the great land of Vanch was vanquished by the drums of Henjarl.

Comment: Orserian might have been a great king, but it was at this point the Alkothi rose to form their own empire of Henjarl.  Vanch quickly fell before the might of the Red God.

Edited by jajagappa
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A couple fragments of historical chronicles of some events from 3rd Age Vanch

Broken Nest War

When the first boys after the Dragonkill came of age (1125 ST), the four wives who ruled the ancient nests quarreled over who would marry, who would rule, and who would through off the yoke of Dara Happa.  Though touched by the Dragonshadow Fear, they were of the same mind and all slew the next tribute takers who came south.  They quickly overcame the old men of DH who had been left to rule. 

In the south, the Young Sons and the Golden Shards rebuilt the Sun Dome temple.  In the river valley, the Whiskered Fish gained control.  In the Pond Land, the Boneman came from the Barrow of Kaltavus to compete for a wife, a nest, and a crown.  Near Bikhy, the Hungry Lion stalked the land slaying all boys who came to challenge it. 

But the Broken Nests fought for another generation.  Emperor Alenvus reasserted rule in Terarir against the Whiskered Fish.  King Alpin of Imther raided and sacked Bikhy and Alornik, though the Hungry Lion continued to strike fear across the northlands and into Tork, Hilltown, and even into the mountains.  And the sons of Withan stirred up trouble wherever they went. 

Finally, the Pergeshi below the Hill of Gold, the Irkithum near Bikhy, and the Jomagetho towards Jord united to crown a new King of Vanch, Helganvar the first of the Black-Mask dynasty.


Rise of the Blue Deer

The King of Vanch joined Jannisor’s fight against the Red Moon, though many tribes disagreed.  When the king fell at Glamour to the treacherous Sables, the Black-Mask dynasty came to an end.  New confederations emerged to lead Vanch.  The strongest of these were the Blue Deer Confederation who drove the Wilktar higher into the Imtherian hills; and the Green Serpent Confederation who tamed the Jomagetho and the Vankaldor tribes.  Jenrik became King of Vanch, founding the Deeproot Dynasty. [Comment: in reality a short-lived dynasty in the period between the Helganvarings and the Garvengathings.]

Andanti the Antlered, one of the strongest of the Blue Deer Princes, was known for his great raids striking deep into Saird, Sylila, and even Aggar.  The Butterfly Princess challenged him three times with another way, but always Andanti returned to what he loved best.  In 1293 ST, Andanti the Antlered Prince raided Cafol and brought back Kevrenava the Beautiful, starting the Fast-Running Wars.  These raids between Sylilan and Vanchite continued through Terarir until Hwarin made her First Challenge which Ingkot Axe-and-a-Half won when he killed Andanti in the Ghost Wood of Borditch and returned Kevrenava to Cafol.

The brothers and sons of Andanti continued to plague the lands until they invaded and burned Jillaro.  Hwarin and Ingkot responded in force hunting down all the Blue Deer Princes.

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An HQ:G Cultural Overview of the Vanchites.


The people of Vanch are widely considered thieves, a people who will eagerly take whatever is of use to them without concern for their own traditions and others’ rights, whether a god, a city, or a treasure.  The Vanchites themselves know better – survival and a ready adoption of new ideas are actually central to their tradition, taught by their wily raccoon god, Tunoral, and the nest-building Green Woman, Negalla.  Many gods and peoples have conquered them, but they have always survived and come through the experience somehow richer.  They are like raccoons: nocturnally successful, omnivorous, opportunistic, and mean and ornery as hell.  Neighboring peoples were all robbed of survival traits useful to these people.  The result is a culture made up of such a blend of bits and pieces that it has gone beyond imitation and created something new.

The Vanchites are a largely rural folk that have acquired a mish-mash of cultural relics over the centuries.  They live in family groups in stockaded villages (traditionally called ‘nests’ that were without gates and used only ladders only to enter and exit, though that practice has been largely superseded).  At the center of each village is a wooden seat, grown into or from a living tree, which is called the Seat of Judgment. These villages are usually set close to the rivers and streams in Vanch, sheltered from exposure rather than set on hilltops. 

The village communities are often led by a headman and a women’s council.  The latter are called the Keepers of Dire Secrets and are the women who know the true women's mysteries and can interpret dreams and omens and interact with the local spirits.  Another important village figure is the Seeker, the person who leads the men out from the village to hunt and raid and to find signs and manifestations important to the village, including spirits, signs of physical dangers, or useful tools and magics.

The villages are loosely organized into tribes following an Orlanthi style with tribal kings.  In some cases, the tribal kings are chosen by a consensus of villages.  In others, they are dominated by a single important village.  Over these tribes, the rulers of Vanch have organized various confederations, districts, or governors that come and go depending on the whims of such leaders.

The virtues of all Vanchites derive from their survival in the darkness.  Of primary importance are: loyalty to the village, fidelity and hard work for their family, and a willingness to adapt and survive by whatever means available.  Tradition and honor have little importance to the Vanchites, and they readily integrate other practices that they find and use them as best they can.  In a sense, they are scavengers of the worst sort, and are often called thieves by their neighbors.  Their mythic thefts included:  fishing and farming practices (including the fish net, the heavy lod-plow, and the ox), goats from the Zarkosites, the Black Stone of Urar Baar, and the Transforming Copper Tools (including the theft of the copper hair of Verhil Earthwielder).

Vanchites usually wear leather, furs, and linen.  Wool clothes are less common and considered ‘Imtherian’ or ‘backward’.  In the countryside, shirts, trousers, cloaks, and coonskin caps are typical dress.  In the cities, many men and women wear long linen robes covered by cloaks and scarves.  Most people have some sort of dress clothes for rituals and other special occasions.  Jewelry is common, with the locals favoring bronze, copper, and gold sometimes in a Dara Happan style, sometimes an Orlanthi style, or even odd and ancient draconic fashion.

The Vanchites show many Dara Happan features.  They tend to be lighter-skinned (ranging from pale to olive), with brown to blonde hair, though their hair often greys early. Brown and blue eyes are prevalent. While orange hair and eyes occur, those with those traits are often suspected of being ‘foxy’, or tricksters. Men traditionally grow full beards and trim their mustaches, although many who follow the Lunar cults have short beards or are clean-shaven. Women often have braided hair, though left long.

Originally, the Dawn Age Vanchites tattooed masks on their faces, typically around the eyes.  As the Vanchites had to adapt and avoid obvious discovery, particularly after Mahzanelm's conquest, the tattoos were moved to other body locations and ceremonial masks were adopted instead.

The Vanchites speak a language called Vanchite, heavily influenced by both Dara Happan and Old Pelorian. Most Lunar Vanchites speak New Pelorian as well.

Cultural Keyword: Your Village.  You are a member of one of the Vanchite villages.  Your village and its neighbors are the focus of your life; it forms your kin, your family, and your extended relations; in short, it is your community. You can always turn to your village for help as they have many skills. They would die to defend you and you would die to defend them. You are marked with the tattoos of your gods, though never on the face.  You are a shrewd, cunning, and pragmatic folk who know how to take advantage of what others would throw away; your survival is most important and you will repay debts when the time is right.  You know how to fight with weapons or your fists, with the village muster with ranged and melee weapons.  Your folk are farmers, fishers, herders, and hunters; you know how to stay alive, to find what’s useful, and to eke out a living when needed.

Common Elemental Runes: Air, Dark, Fire (men), Earth (women), Moon, Water (both)

Common Background Occupations: Bandit, Crafter, Farmer, Fisher, Godtalker, Healer, Herder, Hunter, Merchant, Priest, Scribe, Skald, Spirittalker, and Warrior.

Sample Female Vanchite Names: Afriya, Bezrith, Brygense, Harpatia, Hwareena, Kevenna, Krendatha, Malteeva, Negeena, Nervenalda, Peleen, Ruvallena, Sorayoth, Verendena, Vingara.

Sample Male Vanchite Names: Angathis, Angkaval, Elgormal, Gavaral, Grestaval, Hastormal, Ismaril, Jannsal, Tantaral, Tundoral, Verendel, Vensdorval, Vingoryal, Yeleris.

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  • 1 month later...

Something new for the New Year:

To:  Iridascius, Aide to Quinscion, His Most Excellent General of Procurement and Disbursement, Mirin’s Cross

Fr: Galacrustus, Geographer, Sage of Irripi Ontor, The Grey Court Inn, Bikhy

Dated: Dark, Stasis, Sea, 7/47

The Rugadyr are a large and turbulent tribe, and larger now with the addition of the Hesperite clan.  While the tribe is outwardly peaceful, and diligent in paying their tribute to King Gormoral, the turbulence has turned inward and clans regularly quarrel, particularly divided based on their preferred Lunar deity.  Oddly, the king is supported by a tribal ring of 18 members which they say is based upon the First Tribe Ring.  I gather from Liritana many of the members are godtalkers and priests who are more inclined to debate the nature of diverse omens than achieve anything practical.  For instance, the Chief of the Making Clan is Charissa UlErrio, a devotee of the Conquering Daughter, while the Chief of the Marks-on-Bark Clan is a Seeker of Tunoral named Old Therm, and the Chief of the Help-Everyone Clan is Naumestra Youngsoul, who tends the Teelo Norri shrine at Ketarin's Loss.  King Huranth himself favors Etyries and all steads and villages have a statue or shrine to her.  Liritana complained that they are a greedy tribe, requiring coin to use their spell-favored markets, but few of the steadfolk would trade outside the marketplaces so there was little she could do, even with the blessings of Alakarma or Issaries.


The Rugadyr Tribe

District:  Lark

Governor:  Ithisla Wans

Size: 6,500

Clans: 8 (includes the Hesperite, formerly of Imther)

King: Huranth Hardhand

Tribal Seat: Bull Crown

Earth Temple: Ketarin's Loss

The Rugadyr King married Yantira, great-granddaughter of the Lawspeaker Yamsivas.  They supported the claim of her son, the Little Sun Yeleris, last of the Yamsiving Kings. Though they capitulated to Vingoryal Farseer, they rebelled when Vingoryal fell and rose against King Hastormal.  But they gained no aid from other tribes, and their rebellion was quickly quelled, their king executed, and the Belkotling clan called the Red Hammers raised to power.  They've turned their skills to peace, and dominate trade along the Singing Trail. 

We followed the main fork of Tunoral's Trail to the Singing Trail bringing me back to Hesperite lands.  Southeye Stead now holds Hesper's Eye, a change since last Stormseason.  Apparently during their Sacred Time rites, Zinlaram Hespersson aided by a missionary of the Seven Mothers found the Eyestone in the Dreaming Cave and returned with it to relight the Transforming Fire in the Southeye Forge while Nabok Quickblow of Northeye was lost in the darkness and barely survived the return.

While Liritana conducted her business at Hesper's Eye, I climbed the great spiraling stair to reach the shrine called Above the Eye by some and Hwarin's Third Eye by others.  The shrine keepers were busy preparing for the Run of the Silver Stallion, but allowed me to pray at Hwarin's statue for inspiration and guidance.  I don't know if her blessing will last long, but that evening I found an old report by Ludoxus of Jillaro called "The Singing Trail" buried within the lengthy Annals of the Reaching Moon.  Unfortunately, as with Ludoxus' other work, I found the report to be full of inaccuracies and errors.  The text clearly mislabels the shrines of the Conquering Daughter and even places the massive arch of Imther Gate a full 6 miles west of its actual position.  Some sites are labelled only by reference from Jillaro such as 5th Vanch Marker, when in fact all the shrines are named.  I have provided a corrected account of the sequence of shrines here for your reference.

Ludoxus was not completely wrong when it came to the details of the road itself, so he obviously saw it somewhere, though I suspect only around or outside of Jillaro.  It runs some 90 miles from Cafol to Hilltown and travellers can complete the pilgrim's journey in about four days.  The main roadbed, the Imperial Road, does rest upon arched supports though on average they are five to six yards above the ground at their maximum.  The Imperial Road is eight wagons wide, though as Ludoxus notes, part of that supports the upper road, and the roadway is edged with foot high stones to keep wagons from tumbling off, though I gather children of the local clans often dare each other to run along the edge stones.  The shrines are roughly six and a half miles apart with ramps and stairs descending there and at halfway points between.  Local inns and brothels reside beside the ramps by the shrines catering to pilgrims, merchants, and regular patrols of the Vanchite Guard.  There is a toll of 1 lunar per person, 2 lunars per animal, and 5 lunars per wagon to go on or off the road.  I gather from Liritana that many merchants will descend alone to the inns, leaving their goods, animals, and bearers on the road to avoid paying these tolls.  Liritana herself avoids this by staying on the roads below, but claimed that delays were common as wagonloads of bronze, copper, and marble had to work around the merchant's camps.

The upper or Sacred Road is another ten yards above the main road on the southern side.  It is strictly for ceremonial and ritual use.  The stones supporting this roadway are carved with many marvelous scenes.  Some show the rise of the Red Goddess and her victories, some tell ancient stories of the Earth Queen and her glorious Garden, but most are carved with pictures of the Conquering Daughter's triumphs over the Kynnelfing Alliance and the tribes of Vanch or her meeting and alliance with King Memnon and the dwarfs of Imther.  The shrines themselves extend up from the lower road to the upper, sometimes as little pyramids, sometimes as great cubes.  At Above the Eye, the curving stairway rises from the ground below the road, past the Imperial Road, and on to the Sacred Road where Hwarin's statue rests gazing upon all who come to glory in her strength and wisdom.

Yours, Galacrustus.

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An earlier version of this appeared in TotRM #16.

The Shrines of the Singing Trail

Though occasionally referred to as the Daughter's Second Road, all locals know the massive and magical roadway as the Singing Trail.  It begins at the Singing Gate in Cafol, proceeds through Jillaro where it intersects Hwarin's other great road at the Bridge of Phirmax, and then crosses the mighty Oslir River.  Regular shrines mark her victorious journey through Vanch.  At Pergeshi's Fall, she conquered and enslaved her first foe.  At Stone Break, she shattered open an ancient earthen tomb to bring forth the long lost Flower of Seriasin.  The tribal alliance of the Hidenni, Osseri, and Bentanni with the Bison Kings challenged her below the Hill of Gold, but her forces and magics easily crushed them, binding the Hidenni and Osseri to break the stones and build the road while giving the blood of the Bentanni to road to drink.  At the crossing with the Main Vanch Road, Hwarin set a great statue of a helmed woman looking east to the Dawn but pointing west to Jillaro to guide travellers from afar.  The road climbs from there to Hill's Edge, now the western extent of Rugadyr lands.  The last of the Vanchites assembled against her there, but she drove them back with spear and shield and finally faced Ketarin, last King of the Sharigoi, in single combat.  His ode is easily heard there, a tale of sadness and longing.  At Bull Crown, Hwarin raised and crowned Venlakar as King of the Durevalings, though they are gone, with the Bull Crown now held by the Rugadyr.  Hwarin rested Above the Eye and looked into the Three Worlds beyond.  She drew power for her final quest there and continued.  At Daughter's Rose, she bound the winds that blew against her and fashioned a shrine of pure crystal and glass, ever open to the moon above.  And at Imther Gate, she made alliance with King Memnon of Imther to gain the favor of the dwarfs.  The temple at Hilltown, called Song's End, completed her journey and quest, and freed her from the grief of her many personal losses.



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The following site is part of the woodlands north of the Aryela River west of Imther and is part of the Survey of Vanch by Galacrustus the Geographer.

Traitor's Woods

It's said the first traitor was the famed Jorganos Archer, who tricked and betrayed Ched Durkel to learn a secret path and left him for dead, and then after the raid upon the Great Green Garden refused to share the spoils equally with his kinsman Gavaral.  Jorganos was cursed for his deed and fell during a later raid on Alkoth, from which only Tunoral escaped.  When the Emperor Mahzenelm came here, he was refused by the Dazorda, but an Orlanthi named Hesper Quickhands sold the tribe for a bag of gold.  Hesper led Mahzanelm's soldiers into the woods where they found and hung the Dazordan King Esvaron, then slaughtered his folk.  After the Dragonkill, Afoth the Young, founder of the treacherous Afothar tribe, betrayed his Ergeling hosts and stole a prize bird, an ancient and wise Raven.  More recently, the Seeker claimed, King Ordonomon of the Afothar, Wearomon's father, secretly led a quest into the woods, killed his guide, and then stole a flint, a noose, and a hanged man from the Saylyr.  While it was not clear to me why King Ordonomon would do so or what purpose such a theft would serve, Talanus hoped the treachery would now finally be recognized and the Saylyr would recover what was theirs.  When I inquired as to why it would resolve now, the Seeker simply stated that with the new Governor living at Urganshall, he was sure to hear the matter and would bring the King's Justice down upon the Afothar.

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  • 6 months later...
4 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Are there still Tunoraling hunter/gatherers in Vanch?

There are still Tunoralings, since that name refers to their raccoon god Tunoral, but I don't believe anyone in Vanch is still at a hunter/gatherer level.  There are still folk who hunt and those who gather, but just like any other Orlanthi area.  They are a clan and tribe-based land.

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8 hours ago, jajagappa said:

There are still Tunoralings, since that name refers to their raccoon god Tunoral, but I don't believe anyone in Vanch is still at a hunter/gatherer level.  There are still folk who hunt and those who gather, but just like any other Orlanthi area.  They are a clan and tribe-based land.

Thank you for the information. I'm trying to identify all the hunter-gatherer cultures in Peloria. 

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Thank you for the information. I'm trying to identify all the hunter-gatherer cultures in Peloria. 

Do you include the weeders of the river marshes who practice some limited hunting along with fishing and gathering?

There may be other minorities on the fringes of Pelorian urban society who practice hunting and gathering besides offering odd jobs and begging. Some might have quite respectable specialisations, like honey gathering from wild bees. All of these would register as "fifths" in the Dara Happan society, the downtrodden equivalent to stickpickers.

Telling how it is excessive verbis


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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

Do you include the weeders of the river marshes who practice some limited hunting along with fishing and gathering?

I hadn't considered them, given the proximity to Alkoth.

My list of Pelorian skirmishers (people who don't fight in a line-of-battle):










Pastoralist and subsistence farmer Orlanthi


Thrice Blessed

Nomadic hunters, fishers, and reindeer herders



Dog People hunter-gatherers



Orlanthi hunters





Aggar, Brolia




Pastoralist and subsistence farmer Raccoon People


Garsting, Jarst, Zarkos

Pastoralist and subsistence farmer goat-herders

Edited by M Helsdon
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19 hours ago, jajagappa said:

The Imtherians of the Imther Mountains and eastern wilds (closest to the Elf Sea) would fall into the Orlanthi hunter and goat-herder categories as those lands are too rough for most agriculture.

Interesting. I assume these would be of the Laramite or Wilktar tribes, or perhaps a smaller group?

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4 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

I assume these would be of the Laramite or Wilktar tribes, or perhaps a smaller group?

Smaller clans.  The Laramite tribe is heavily influenced by the Sun Dome temple; the Wilktar tribe is more like typical Sartarite/Tarshite tribe.  Both tribes have reasonable agricultural/pastoral land with cattle, goats, and sheep (and lots of cheese).

Some of the clans are noted here: Bit of Updated Imther

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20 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Smaller clans. 

Thank you. Many of the poorer Orlanthi clans cannot afford or field a fully equipped fyrd, so this comes under necessity, instead of a cultural imperative. There are very few skirmisher cultures outside the mainstream. Imther is relatively wealthy because of its relationship with the dwarves of the Imther Mountains, so I have assumed the local Sun Dome can field a regiment decked out in a full bronze panoply, which many elsewhere cannot.

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16 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

I have assumed the local Sun Dome can field a regiment decked out in a full bronze panoply, which many elsewhere cannot.

I think that makes sense.  Of course, finding the right payment for the bronze armor is another matter.  And I'm sure the King of Imther extracted many promises from the Sun Dome regiment to help maintain his position....

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