|Bad-Ash||Date: Friday, 20 Dec 2013, 8:15 PM | Message # 1|
Count / Countess
Group: Past Members
Avalon is basically the United Kingdom, being England, Scotland and Ireland at various stages of history. Wales doesn’t really get a look-in, sadly. England is represented by the island of Avalon, and ruled over by a virgin Queen. If you imagine Elizabethan England with a touch of old folklore and a hint of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, you won’t be far wrong. The Highland Marches are what passes for Scotland – just imagine every Scots cliché you can, kilts, claymores, peat moss, whiskey, etc.. And Inismore is Ireland, and again, you’re looking at the mythical kind of Ireland here – not leprechauns and kissing the blarney stone, but the myths of old. Add in the usual British clichés, like the fog that blankets the land day and night, or plenty of Arthurian legends, Guy Fawkes, and more, and that’s Avalon in a nutshell.
Far north and west of mainland Théah lie the Glamour Isles, the United Kingdoms of Avalon. Three crowns linked by a single destiny and duty, Avalon is a place of mystery and fantastic reality. Visitors to the isles always remember how the dew makes the grass shine like emeralds, how the cotton-white clouds stretch across the cobalt-blue sky and how the forests are tall, dark and menacing.
As its visitors suggest, Avalon could very well be a living faerie tale. If you ask the Avalons themselves, they smile, wink and remind you not to walk alone at night – not without an iron cross around your neck or a four-leaf clover in your pocket.
The Lay of the Land
”If it isn’t raining in Avalon, wait a spell. It’ll start.”
What Théans colloquially refer to as “Avalon” is actually three island kingdoms: Avalon, Inismore and the Highland Marches. Each island has its own peculiarities, but in general, they are nearly identical. Avalon itself is not particularly mountainous, but has its share of rolling hills, glens, moors and marshes. The islands have more than their share of rainfall and the intense rain and warm weather make for good crops. Morning and evening in Avalon are always covered with a thick fog that seems to linger all through the night, a fog that even the chilly ocean winds never blow away.
To speak of Avalon is to speak of her Queen; the two are synonymous. When Elaine took the throne, an offer of marriage came from Castille, but she declined. “I cannot marry Castille,” she said. “I am already married to Avalon.”
Because of an agreement made four hundred years ago, a Parliament of Lords “assists” the Queen in matters of policy making. The Queen may make no new law without their consent, and they must gain her acquiescence if they wish to do the same. It is a tricky balance, but so far, Avalon’s young Queen Elaine has proven quite skilled at making deals with parliament.
Inismore is also a monarchy, but their King is very different. Hundreds of songs have chronicled the adventures and misadventures of “Mad Jack O’Bannon”, the Inish king. O’Bannon is reputed to be over a thousand years old, and anyone who looks into his ancient eyes will not dispute that claim. A “Mad King O’Bannon” has appeared numerous times in Inismore’s history, always appearing exactly as he did before and always disappearing as he did before. But the O’Bannon always makes one promise before he leaves: “I’ll be right back.” Then, he walks away with his traveling sack and his twenty-league striders strapped to his feet.
While the Highland Marches may be the least organized of the Avalon Kingdoms, no one can dispute its unity. The Highland Clans have elected on of their own – James MacDuff – to represent them as their High King. MacDuff has brought much to the Marches, despite his opponents’ claims he has become Elaine’s court fool. James’ support of the young Queen gave her the legitimacy she needed to hold the throne, and because of that confirmation, Avalon has given much back to the Marches.
Added (20 Dec 13, 7:15 PM)
While separated by seashores and prejudice, Avalon’s people are much closer than they would like to admit. Their trappings are different, but the deep truths that run through Avalon blood cannot be denied.
Avalon’s people are a hearty lot, made so by the rough life they have chosen. While her countryside is dotted with farms, her main occupation is fishing. So many fishing villages populate her shores that it is no wonder her people call the waters “Mother Ocean”. Water plays an important role in Avalon’s culture and spirituality, a role that was subdued by the Vaticine Church for nearly five hundred years. Long before the coming of the Church, the Avalons’ native faith taught a deep reverence for her waters. According to legend, the country’s streams, swamps and rivers are all guarded by a figure known as the Lady of the Lake. It was taught that the Avalons and the Lady made a sacred vow long ago, a vow that was symbolized by a cup called “the graal”. The graal represented this promise the Avalons made to the Lady, and it was the duty of Avalon’s true king to keep its water pure. A kind of spell fell over Avalon’s shores. It was called “the Great Enchantment”, and as long as the promise was maintained, Avalon would be a land of magic and wonder.
Unfortunately (the folk tales say), that promise was broken, and soon after Montaigne invaded and seized Avalon. When Elaine came forth from the mists and claimed to be the descendant of the king who first held the graal, bearing the graal in her hands as proof of her legitimacy, Avalon’s Enchantment returned.
Elaine has done much to return Avalon to its previous glory. She reinstated the ancient order of knights that once protected the High King. As she sits in council, surrounded by her knights, she hears the pleas of the people and distributes justice. Because of the empty coffers left to her by her decadent Montaigne predecessors, she has had to rely on mercenary fleets and militias to protect her shores. But the privateers have proven to be a great asset, filling those empty coffers with Castillian and Montaigne riches.
Inismore and the Marches have fared equally well from their alliance with Avalon. Both have reclaimed their lands and no longer live in fear of occupation. However, there are nationalistic voices in both Kings’ councils calling for independence, even if it means spilling blood. MacDuff usually dismisses such cries, reminding them how easy it would be for Montaigne to return and crush them. The O’Bannon just cuts off their heads or beats them until they apologize, depending on the weather. However, rumors persist that the mad Inish king is preparing for some kind of rebellion against Elaine, while rumors of an entirely different sort rumble about MacDuff’s relationship with the young and beautiful Queen.
Common Male Names: Aidan, Alan, Bran, Dwyer, Edward, Finn, Harold, Jerome, Keith, Liam, Luke, Malcolm, Michael, Morgan, Ossian, Quinn, Richard, Shawn, Thomas, Walter.
Common Female Names: Aileen, Alison, Bridgit, Caroline, Denise, Elaine, Grace, Helen, Jane, Karen, Leila, Maeve, Mary, Pamela, Sabbina, Sybil, Teresa, Veronica.
Added (20 Dec 13, 7:15 PM)
The Sidhe (“shee”)
”As terrible and blameless as a thunderstorm.”
– Lady Katerine, describing the Queen of the Sidhe
The Lady of the Lake is only one of “the Sidhe”, an ancient and powerful race that has only recently returned to Avalon’s shores. The Sidhe seem unique to Avalon (although one Vendel archaeologist has suggested a connection between them and the otherworldly Ussuran matriarch “Matushka”), and the Avalons themselves claim that they are the oldest creatures in the world. While Montaigne “faerie tales” have painted them as naughty sprites dancing around toadstool circles, Avalons know better.
There are two distinct types of sidhe (defined by Lady Katerine’s famous Book of the Goodly Folke): the seelie and unseelie. While the seelie are generally regarded as the less malevolent of the two, it is only because the unseelie are so wicked. All Avalons know the sidhe – seelie and unseelie – are not to be trifled with. When speaking of them, they call the sidhe “the goodly folke” for fear of calling them anything else. Almost all of Avalon’s etiquette and culture come from their superstitions of the sidhe. Avalons never steal horses (fearing that it might be a shape-shifted pooka), never walk off the path that leads through the woods (which are always dark and haunted) and always keep a penny in their left show (to protect themselves from seelie mischief or unseelie cruelty).
Well, if you want to play a sorcerer, Avalon Glamour magic is the most varied magic in the game and similar enough in that regard to Pathfinder/D&D magic (although still very limited in comparison). You begin as an apprentice and that grants you the starting choice of spells such as increasing your strength for a short time, shoot arrows slightly better, transform small objects into other shapes for a day, add bonuses to other players for a short time, and be able to detect/resist magic. As you gain experience, these powers can increase dramatically.
Generally speaking, people tend to find Avalon magic unsettling, as unlike most other nations’ forms of magic it is so unpredictable.
The Swordsmans’ Guild of Avalon specializes in a style of fighting called Donovan. It’s considered old-fashioned by everyone else but is effective nonetheless. It is fought with a small sword in the main hand and a buckler in the off-hand. It is one of the few fighting styles that uses slashes as opposed to only thrusts and so can be bewildering to defend against. However, the slashes leave momentary gaps in the user’s defenses which a wise opponent can exploit.
As an apprentice Donovan fighter, a player gets to use a shield in his off-hand without penalty and if he uses it offensively he gets a small bonus.
Some Character Ideas to Get You Started
- A rough-and-ready Highlander, an talented swordsman with the brutal claymore, but fairly uneducated, sent abroad to further his education.
- An Avalon John Dee-like sorcerer and court spy in the pay of Queen Elaine, sent to spy on another nation.
- An Inismore rebel infused with the blood of the mythic heroes of the past, who has fled his home country rather than be caught and tried for his rebellious ways, and is now seeking support from foreign sources.
- An Avalon privateer, famed and liked in the court of Elaine, but despised by Castillians and Montaigne because her pirate ship is constantly raiding their merchant vessels... but having lost her ship in a mutiny, the privateer is now seeking a new financeer to buy another ship.