This page is not complete and the information here is somewhat out of date. Consider this information loosely appropriate.
Dunland, or the Dunnick Isles, are by legal rule the property and dominion of the Throne State of Rogalia, though the people of Dunland, calling themselves Dunnick, or Duns, are a culture all their own, entirely separate from the ideals and cultural norms of the Rogalian mainland.
Dunland is the dominion of House and Count Renett, whose land lies adjacent to the Strait of Edges that separates Dunland from Rogalia.
Dunland is twice blessed with both extraordinarily rich soil and some of the finest, most rich ore mines in the Throne. The plentiful resources of the area are both the Dunnick’s blessing and curse, for it is those resources that brings House Renett to so carefully maintain its rulership over the isles. For all its misty moors, hidden streams and brilliant green hillsides, the Dunnicks find little peace in their homeland. Since the conquest of Dunland in the earliest times of the Lion Age, the Duns have been Rogalian citizens and thus under the jurisdictional laws of their Count, and since that same conquest when the resources of the isles were discovered, the Dunnick have never been freely allowed to leave Dunland. The Dunnick must stay to farm the rich fields and work in the mines, extracting the precious materials for collection. The taxes that House Renett levies against its islander citizens are stifling, with fully four fifths of the years take being extracted from the Isles and returned to Rogalia for trade; truly, the food and goods produced in Dunland feed and supply much of the Western Throne. This proportion is ascribed by the size of one’s land parcel, not by the actual yield of their fields, so in particularily bad years, the tax on the peasants can be extraordinarily difficult to bear.
House Renett governs by naval power, using the easy access of the twisting water ways that interrupt the numerous isles to send quick, light boats up and down the plentiful coasts, as well as keeping a proper armada of warships in the Strait of Edges to ensure that no separatists or rebel factions are able to leave the isles for the mainland.
The Dunnick People
The Dunnicks try to keep to their old ways of life in whatever ways they can, vigorously educating their children about the way things were before the oppressive Rogalian rule that they currently endure. Truly, the Dunnick have a proud culture of highland warriors who many tales feature doing battle not only with amazing skill, but against long vanished magical beasts such as manticores and dragons. The Duns are not allowed to carry weapons of any kind, and those few Dunnick who do still own their father’s father’s moorsword keep it well hidden, usually in sacred sites to their ancestors instead of in or near their homes.
Even the Dunnick language is quashed, rendered illegal to speak at any time by Aemon Renett, the second Lord Renett, in the early Lion Age after a grace period to adapt to speaking only the proper Rogalian tongue of four years, long since passed. The Duns still speak it to one another, in private, away from the black-and-green tabards of the soldiers and watch, and always instruct their children in its speech, though as the penalty for speaking the Dunnick tongue is public lashing by their parents or next of kin, sometimes parents wait until the children are old enough to use discretion. The Dunnick have managed to convince their Rogalian rulers that certain songs are more closely related to Rogalt, the parent language of both the Rogalian and Dunnick tongues, and regardless of the validity of that claim, there are a scant few tales that can be publicly told in verse in the Dunnick speech.
The Dunnick people organize themselves and find identity in their clans: loose affiliations of families who, at some point in their ancestry, shared cousins or brothers with one another. Even though these affiliations stretch back farther than any sort of official records can attest, the relationship between those families identifying themselves of the same clan is very real, and the clans still have histories, both pleasant and unpleasant that they recognize among one another, complimented and complicated by old friendships and old feuds. Two families may have a disagreement with one another, possibly even escalating to a small scale war between those parties, but all are wary when doing so, and usually careful to point out that the issue is between individuals or single families, so as not to provoke the large scale clan wars that have occurred in Dunland’s pre-thronic history. Ancestry has always been very important to the Duns, and they refer to themselves by their first name, given by their mother, followed by Mac, which means son of, and then their father’s name. After that, what they consider their full name, they will often include their clan of origin. One example might be ‘Thorleif Mac Lochlain, of Clan Mooragh.’
In the earlier times, before the imperialism of the Lion Age, the Dunnick clans recognized certain families within each clan to be preeminent among that clan and those families rose to the fore as clan leaders. While the Rogalians have outlawed the organization and meetings of entire clans for any purpose, there is no way to prevent the Dunnick from remembering where they come from, as hard as their rulers might try. The clans do still meet, in secret if they must, to determine what needs exist in their clan and what must be done. House Renett does what it can to prevent any force other than itself from organizing the Dunnick, for fear that the constant small rebellions may turn into full-scale revolution, even pitting the clans against one another to continue old feuds and rivalries. Even with a nearly universally acknowledged foe, the disparate Dunnick Clans find it difficult to achieve solidarity.
The average Dunnick is taller than most Thronic citizens except those of Gothic or Njor stock. Many, but not all Dunnick men are built muscularly and with wide shoulders, though as many are thin and wiry. Duns tend toward red and auburn hair, and often a splash of freckles across the nose and cheeks follows quickly behind.
Although most any kind of plant seems to grow in Dunland’s fertile soils, the needs of the rest of the Throne demand that Dunland’s fields be put to certain crops, and in so doing, dictate what much of the Dunnick diet becomes. Potatoes and grains are the staples of the Dunnick diet, and like their neighbors in Rogalia, sheep and goats are the herding beast of choice. Because of the strict laws on their behavior, as well as the relative isolation of the Isles, the Duns live up to their Throne-wide reputation as heavy-drinkers, heavy partiers, and heavy fighters. In Dunland, a few blows between friends is part of bonding, even with females, and fighting and scrapping are near daily occurrences, at least on some level. Since there are no weapons available to the Duns, fights rarely if ever get out of hand. Some of the strongest beers and ales come from Dunland, whose brewers are famous for their ability to join potency with flavor.
Common Fruits: Grapes, Apples, Oranges
Common Vegetables: Potatoes, turnips, radishes, cabbage, wheat and barley.
Common Meats: Lamb, pork, duck, large bass, channel catfish.
Common Dairy – Cheese, milk and butter (usually sheep and goat)
Common Recipes – Seaweed and Butter, Potato Bake, Mutton Stew, Oatcakes, Beef and Cabbage.
Sandy coves mingle with rocky cliffs to form the extensive coastlines of the various isles of Dunland. The isles themselves vary widely in size and elevation, some being as high and wide as some of the larger counties of Rogalia, while some being scarcely big enough for a single house. In the interior of the various isles, tall trees pick up almost immediately, with some salt-tolerant varieties even dipping their roots into the rocky shores, though the forests do not grow nearly as densely as those of Gotha or even Rogalia. The majority of the interior of the isles tends toward emerald fields of knee-high grass set on rolling hillsides. A ponderous tendency toward small clearings in the forests is one of the more notable oddities of Dunnick geography.
The water that circulates in the various channels that separate the isles is especially unusual, for nowhere else in the Throne is the water so warm. The flowing water throughout the isles area tends toward that of a cooled-off bath, just a bit warmer than the air. Because of this, Dunnicks bathe in the streams rather often, and despite their rowdy reputation, tend toward cleanliness. The warm water also makes it easier and safer to swim from isle to isle on ones own, as generally the channels between isles is anywhere from one hundred yards to a mile across, and would be difficult in more ordinary waters. The waters still do tend to move somewhat quickly, especially in some areas, and when swimming is too difficult or impractical, a wide variety of simple rafts are used to ferry people from one isle to the next. Most Duns own at least some kind of raft and are familiar with how to maneuver it.
Because of the rich mineral deposits, there are mines all over the isles, sometimes in the form of caves that twist and spiral downward, and sometimes in the form of great open pits that workers are lowered into. A great many mines are abandoned, either having dried up, become too unstable, or something worse. Tales persist of bogarts and goblins in the dark that eat the miners who invade their sunless homes.
Dunnick Towns and Cities
– The place where House Renett has their governmental structure and Dunnick rulership.
– The most Rogalian style city, lots of stone and wooden beams.
– The only real major port, and the home of the Renett armada.
– A town built around ancient stones that were left by elves, and used by their ancestors as a meeting spot, the locals believe.
– A lot of old folks who know lots of good stories about olden days
– The stones may hold mysteries and magic
– A settlement hidden in the highlands where clan law is the only law and the inhabitants do not suffer their Rogalian occupants lightly.
– In a secret location that is largely unknown
– Supposedly massing an army of Dunnick countrymen of Clans Mooragh and Cormac.
– A secondary Dextera Inflamatio tower on the farthest island toward the ocean.
– A research facility devoted to the understanding of some specific secret.
– Rumor has it that the tower’s remote location is either to maintain utter secrecy, or to punish upstart magicians with a reassignment to it.
Hazards of travel
Much of the isles is still very wild, and anyone wishing to traverse an isle overland should be prepared to navigate dense thickets and climb steep cliff or hillsides. Still, as a traveler is on an island, it is difficult to become too lost, as going in one direction will eventually produce a coast to follow. To that end, most established footpaths do stay near the coasts, and there are few if any real roads going through the central areas of the islands.
Large beasts roam the islands, which can be a blessing for an experienced hunter or doom to the unwary. The ferocious boars of the Dunnick Isles are famed for their seemingly mean-spirited surprise attacks, and they bear savage tusks that can tear a man open without much trouble. As well, on some of the cliff-side paths, large, burly mountain goats have been known to be highly territorial, on more than one occasion kicking or butting a traveler to their death on the rocks below. Furthermore, like all places in the world, no one really knows what is lurking in the deep dark of the densest thickets and woods. Rumors abound of horse-like monsters that steal bathing women down the river to eat them, or wicked faeries that will play games and tricks that are not only cruel, but deadly.
Furthermore, those Dunnick wishing to leave the isles themselves for the mainland find the enterprise a challenge in of itself, for the most carefully enforced edict of House Renett on the Dunnick isles is that no citizen of Dunland may leave the isles without a writ of passage signed by the Viscount of Renchester. Obtaining a writ is a complicated matter, both within Rogalian society and Dunnick. Because such a writ effectively allows the formalized ‘escape’ of harsh servitude in Dunland and the privilege to begin a new life elsewhere in the Throne under perhaps more gentle conditions, the Rogalian nobility is hesitant to grant these notes as they reduce the number of workers within their holding and effectively reduce the amount of resources that can be extracted from it.
As well, there is a substantial amount of social stigma in requesting or desiring such a writ of passage, as it effectively means the abandonment of their native people, culture, and families left alone to struggle without them. Because of this there is a large amount of peer pressure about the issue that prevents many Duns from leaving, either as individuals or as families.
To actually obtain such a writ, one must first attain an audience with the Viscount of Renchester or the delegated authority therein, and provide ample proof that the dismissal of the citizen or citizens in question would not cause undue stress on the production of goods or services in Dunland for the good of the state. This usually cuts the acceptable candidates down to the children of already well-off families that consistently produce enough to fill their quotas to the state, with or without the labor or assistance of the child in question, as well as the elderly who no longer directly contribute to the production of goods on the isles; though the latter seldom make such requests, usually preferring to spend their final years in their homeland.
The Duns put a high value on their traditional art because they are no longer permitted to create it under governance of House Renett. Traditional Dunnick art utilizes metal and glass and builds a variety of well-crafted and highly decorated objects, especially large cups and chalices. Dunnick designs use combinations of spiral patterns and interlocking knot patterns to create intricate designs that, in their own traditional way, tell stories and depict histories of family and clan.
Harps are the favorite instrument of Dunland, and many traditional Dunnick literature and art depicts them as symbolically representing Dunland. Harps have been used in Dunland for as long as anyone can remember, ancient mythical figures from the Age of Heroes like Fwyll Fweideiagnh were said to use magical harps to influence the minds of others. The harp is in actuality the one piece of Dunnick culture that has spread most successfully throughout the Throne, being used in high Gothic imagery of various angels, most notably Nuraniel, the steward of the dead.
Other instruments originating in Dunland include the hog-bladder pipes, an instrument created from the organs of a Dunnick boar or pig, squeezed as a player blows through one of a series of attached pipes to produce an extraordinarily loud and unique series of tones. As well, over the coarse of the Lion Age, the slow but steady cultural choke of Rogalian ways and ideas has shown itself in various ways on the Dunnick people and ways of life, and many Duns have taken to playing traditional Rogalian instruments such as the flute, the violin, and cello. A Dunnick innovation on the violin that uses a smaller bridge and sometimes tighter strings, called the fiddle by the Duns, has gained popularity steadily both because of the Dunnick notion that it is a piece of their own culture, possibly even stolen or perverted from their Rogalian adversaries, and the Rogalian’s general tolerance of the instrument as, ironically, their own way of life reflected upon the Duns, if they can tell the difference at all. Some Thronic scholars who study the interaction of the two cultures consider the fiddle to be an important symbol of their unification.
The worship of the world goddess Vecatra is on the whole stronger in Dunland than any other major province of the Throne. The largely unmapped and wild interior portions of the isles, especially the larger ones, is indeed home to several covens of Druids. Duns who are not actually Druids themselves but are still faithful to the ‘old ways’ of Vecatra frequently enter the woods looking for prayer, guidance and charms from the Druids of the woods, and on occasion, an old wise man or woman will pass through a given village dispensing blessings and charms.
The average Dunnick commoner believes to some extent in the workings of faeries and gremlins on the world around them, ascribing poor luck to the mischievous or downright malignant influence of sprites or spirits. A number of traditions exist to help stay on the good side of these external forces, such as leaving a mid-sized pile of crop out in the field, “the faerie’s share”, intended to appease the presiding wood spirits so that no ill will befall their land or families.
The presence of the Holy Benalian church has done much to lessen the beliefs in the worship of the land in Vecatra, but, especially in regards to the Church’s stance that the Throne is the holy manifestation of God’s will on earth, many Duns see the inclusion of the Holy Church just another way that the Rogalians attempt to change their culture, and some resist the church of Benalus out of spite, if nothing else. Still, like elsewhere in the Throne, the church has met with quite a bit of success in Dunland, especially in those sects that tire of the endless clan wars of the country’s history that, regardless of their feelings for their House Renett oppressors, the advent of Imperialism has put a stop to. Those Dunnicks that do embrace the Holy Church of Benalus find an easier time making contacts within the native Rogalians that reside within Dunland, and may have an easier time booking passage off out of the isles.
Finally, where normal methods of resistance against a staunch enemy fail and people grow desperate, there inevitably arises the influence of the crimson hand of Kuarl. Small packs of roving Kuarlites roam the country sides of Dunland, picking off Rogalian boats, skiffs, patrols and mining caravans, waging a bloody war against the Rogalian occupiers. The arrival of these packs of heretics has invariably called a series of Inquisitors to the isles who roam from town to town enforcing the rule of God and State on the people of Rogalia, punishing by iron and fire any sign of heresy that they find in this wilderness fringe of the Throne.
Dunnick favor browns and greens in their clothes which are usually constructed of heavy linen and wool, sometimes canvas. Most have one durable set of clothing that serves as both work clothes and relaxation clothes, and that set does not usually get replaced until it falls apart. Jewely is uncommon as few lack the wealth because of Rogalian rulership, and those few pieces of heirloom jewelry that do get passed down usually bear traditional Dunnick art and design, but using rings with complicated seals of twisted knot-like designs in metal rings in the past would denote clan affiliation and heritage.
As well, both men and women in Dunnick culture wear a personalized piece of cloth that is draped over the body like a sash and is a plaid design with intersecting lines of varying thickness and colors, in specific patterns. Called tartans, these designs denote a kind of code that those educated in Dunnick culture can read and understand. The minute details of the design of each tartan signify foremost the wearer’s clan of origin and from there becomes more specific with small modifications for family status and personal heritage.
Traditions, Superstitions and Holidays
Clans of Dunland
Clans emerge from the surname of a specific clan chief, the Ard Fear. People in the region take on the clan name as their surname to show fealty, so your character’s name may be shared with the clan – however, there are many individual families, called septs, that are part of the same clan by recognition so other names are acceptable.
Highland clans live more remotely, and tend toward rebellion against the Rogalians. Those clans that have “Mac” in their names are in open rebellion against the Rogalian oppressors.
Lowland clans occupy the shores and better land, but don’t have as much autonomy from the rulers and tend to be more complicit. The Rogalians mandate that they drop “Mac” from their Clan names.
Some Duns, the Travelers, have left Dunland altogether, and travel the Throne in wagon caravans in order to find a new homeland. Doing odd jobs or stealing to get by, they are often seen as miscreants and are chased away before they can set down roots or spread any heathenry. These are the Duns most commonly found in the rest of the Throne.
Clan Kirkpatrick was the first to join with the Rogalians and orchestrated a betrayal against the old King of the Isles, Alister, killing the king and his line. They’ve since become favored vassals of the Count Dunland, getting positions as Tackmen to help keep order.
Clan MacAlister was the reigning power in Dunland before the Rogalians came, and formed under Alister, King of the Isles. They are a far cry from their former glory, and especial care has been taken to annihilate their ancient castles and burial mounds. They now have mostly been secretly taken in by lowlanders, sought refuge with other highland clans, or fled Dunland entirely to live in exile or find some other way to bring an army back home.
Clan Crawford herds sheep in the lowlands and has done well under the Rogalians. They make more than enough to make up for the higher taxes, as long as the highlanders don’t take too many of their sheep in punishment, though they fend them off with expert marksmanship.
Clan MacCraig are highly religious but unlike many of their highlander brethren, for the Benalian faith. They believe that it is their duty, in Benalus’ image, to fight for freedom against oppression, and (without the blessing of the Lethian Church) declared themselves the Templars of Dunland. They come at odds with some other highland clans who feel that they give up their heritage to the Rogalians by acting as they do.
Clan Deward is in (sometimes) open rebellion against the Rogalians, but their position in the lowland coasts of Ard Kreight, the largest island and home to the Rennets. Having only a small fishing village left, they have risen up many times, but have been threatened with annihilation.
Perhaps the most famous of the highland clans, the MacLeods are the sometimes-leaders of the highlander resistance against the Rogalians for a free Dunland. Their home, the Isle of Sky, has never been taken by Rogalians, and they have been under embargo for decades without relief. On their island, for those freedom fighters who can arrive, they are said to have training camps on the high cliffs where they still remember the old Moorsword techniques, and train for a final purge of Dunland.
Edmonstone performs most of the mining on Ard Kreight, and is a large and strong clan. They have been asked by the highlanders to join them many times, but they have seen what has happened to others who have rebelled, and given their location under the eye of the Rogalians, can’t be convinced.
Clan MacBain has a holdfast right on Ard Kreight, up in the high mountains. They’ve made the way up impassable, supposedly even taming the mountain lions that prowl the misty eyries. They certainly wear their furs, and attempts to breach their holdfasts have met with disaster for the Rogalians. It is said that once the Rogalians offered them an enormous bribe to switch sides, to which they accepted, and then butchered the entire delegation that brought their payment. Bain is said to have remarked “Don’t pet a mountain lion” before finishing off the Rogalian captain.
Fergusson has fully adapted to life under the Rogalians, and does a brisk business near Renchester taking in food, wood and iron that have not been commondered elsewise for private export to the mainland. While considered traitors by some clans, their wealth allows them to hire private soldiers, even out from under the clans that despise them.
Clan MacLaren has mastered the art of shipboard assault using only small swift canoes and skiffs, able to board, steal or sink enemy ships with great speed. When chased back to their island, Creag Torc, they defend it with the same ferocity as the boars which roam their island. Creag Torc has been lost and re-taken several times, but the MacLarens have always been able to flee on stolen Rogalian ships and take the island back eventually.
Clan Haldane sided with the Rogalians early on, because they allowed them to retain their pirate ways in exchange for military service. Raiding the other clans from their small island, Creag Sionnaich, the Haldanes are who the Rogalians bring in when they need to make an example of a rebellion.
MacMooragh has retreated to Dreihgna Moor, a secret location where supposedly all of the relics of old Dunland are being kept. Here, the clan is said to teach the old ways to keep them alive, and prepare young warriors for battle against the Rogalians. None of these young warriors that have been captured by their oppressors have revealed the location of Dreihgna Moor, going to their death crying out for a free Dunland. The Rogalians have condemned MacMooragh as callous and mad, brainwashing the youth to die in suicide missions.
Clan Cormac supposedly descended from Njordic raiders who landed on Ard Kreight hundreds of years ago, and still styles themselves as legendary warriors. They nominally are at peace with the Rogalians, but take each opportunity to remind them that they could go into open rebellion at any moment, unless they are appeased. Thus far, this has worked for them, and they get favorable treatment from the Count of Dunland if they serve in the military.
Clan Innes agitates for a free Dunland while still remaining on the inside of the law. Hailing from Creag Smàirde, the Innes farm for the Rogalians, but negotiate with them for better rates and better treatment. While they, like the other clans, have little power under Rogalian rule, they have been able to secure better treatment, though some – like their MacInnes cousins with whom they feud – insist it’s a meaningless concession to pacify others.
The MacInnes clan clings the hardest to the Old Faith, and holds on to the clan stones at Erskine Cairn. They are said to still know the greatest amount of rites of Vecatra, and hold on to the original vellums and waystones of the oldest druids that were on Dunland in the Age of Heroes. Their cousins, Clan Innes, have left the faith to work with the Rogalians, and there is great enmity between them.
Aine – Radiance
Brighid (Bried) – Exalted One
Cinaed – Born of Fire
Deirdre – Woman
Eana – Like a Bird
Fiona – Vine
Grania ((Grawn-ya)) – Love
Honara – Honor
Ide (Eeda) – Thirst
Juile – Like the Sea
Kiera – Black
Liadin ((Leedin) – Grey Spirit
Maeve – Intoxicating
Moira – Beloved
Niamh ((Neev)) – Bright
Orfhlaith ((Orla)) – Golden Princess
Padraigin ((PAW-dri-geen)) – Nobleborn