The Snow Kingdom of Gersh

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The Snow Kingdom of Gersh

The Snow Kingdom of Gersh is a place one has to see to believe. Fortress-Cities are carved from glaciers and stone in sizes that befit giants more than the Snow Goblin people. The ancestral dead walk openly under the baleful moon – one lifetime being inadequate for their plans – and are petitioned for their counsel and blessings. Savage civil wars erupt between the Houses and Clans regularly and give oathsworn samurai opportunity to at last show their quality.

Gersh is a place of Oriental sensibilities, blood operas, secret police, fierce principle, and open worship of the Dark Three. Law is a mixture of tradition and Noble fiat, and life in the frozen north is sustained through rigid caste obedience or treacherous cunning. Gersh is the home of the Snow Goblin people – weaponized Elves from another era - and these people are driven by a cultural spite towards the “warmlanders” to the south. Everything is extravagant in Gersh: The wars, the wealth, the dress, the titles, the tortures, the celebrations, the monsters, the narcotics, the honors, and the schemes.

Ancient History

Snow Goblins were dropped into the icy north of Novitas after the War of the Gods. Out of scorn or fear, these warriors could never decide. Even this manufactured race, cultivated from native elven stock and perfected by Darkness’ own will, struggled mightily for the first 900 years of its existence. Originally using a rigid military doctrine, Snow Goblins embraced tribalism as the race barreled toward extinction. They warred with each other over dwindling resources and isolated arable lands. They fought over herds, females, and fortified caves. They sacrificed to the Dark Three, calling to them for orders and purpose, but no response came. They died by the thousands, but it wasn’t until the Storm that they faced genocide.

In 985NL, the weather goddess of the Sept hurled a mighty storm at the remnants of her ancient enemies. The winds were too strong to allow fires to burn. The cold so bitter that it flash froze the old and the young alike where they stood. The Snow Goblins endured for a year, the storm never abating, and the people of Gersh were forced to commit terrible acts to survive. The storm continued as the Elemental was determined to see them exterminated. In the end, the storm broke what war and suffering had never been able to break: The pride of the Snow Goblin race.

In defeat, in humiliation, they migrated south, to beg help from their former enemies. They were denied, and were sent back into that same storm once more. Only the warmlanders had made a terrible mistake. They had given the Snow Goblin people a renewed purpose: to never be weak again.

Two more years the storm raged, and finally, it abated. The Elemental is said to have gasped at what she saw. Beneath this punitive storm, the Snow Goblin race had built the first fortress-city of Gersh. The Fissure, a military city of canyon alleys, stone redoubts glistening with weapons and defenses, and beautiful ice facades adorning warren-homes all defended a singular massive ice temple to the Dark Three. And within that temple, as the moonlight touched the Fissure for the first time, the Bitter Mikado arose and seized power over his people. Order and purpose was restored with aid from the Quv, the death-speaker priests of the Snow Goblins giving advice from generations past. For two hundred years, they rebuilt and reorganized.

In 1180, the Snow Goblin people were found worthy once more, and the Dark Three anointed Erdarusk with power. War preparations began. To enforce the society, the Bitter Mikado created a nameless secret police, to ensure that all were working towards the great challenge laid before them. They would not fail again. They would never know shame again.

It is said that in 1182, Erdarusk addressed the gathered host of Snow Goblin military might on the icy plains above the Fissure with a single word: “Nalbendel.” A mighty roar rose from the armies, and they marched south to deliver vengeance and destruction upon the warmlanders to the south. Glory was found in great destruction, and five of the Great Clans were established by valor on the fields of battle. When the elves finally destroyed Nalbendel in a last ditch attempt to repel the invading armies, three quarters of the Snow Goblin force was destroyed, along with Erdarusk himself.

In the decades that followed, the Bitter Mikado solidified his rule, raised up the Great Clans and the Minor Houses, built new cities, and grew his Kingdom. He engineered complicated games of intrigue and politics to keep the Snow Goblin minds sharp and to cull any weakness from his people. Minor wars between the Houses were encouraged to keep the swords of Gersh sharp. Trade was established with the other nations, beginning primarily with the new Gershen ally of Vlean, which grew the wealth and influence of the nation. In 1371 he agreed to the Treaty of Ghage so no nation could have possession over the site of his people’s ultimate victory. It amused him to do so.

Recent History:

For the last two hundred years, matters have been static within the Snow Kingdom of Gersh. Samurai fought wars, peasants harvested food stuffs and raw materials, artisans crafted, slaves served, the Quv advised, the secret police prowled, the Nobles moved for advantage, Liches and their entourages pursued their own agendas, and the war machine that was Gersh prospered.

Prosperity would not last long. Floods came to Gersh. The first was of thawing ice, the second was of blood. After centuries upon centuries of frozen waste, a great Thaw began to take the southernmost lands within the Kingdom. How this thaw came about is rumored to be tied into the death of the legendary Daizo of Brushogun, a hero of the Quv, said to be their secret leader. Others say it was the wrath of the Elemental come again. Whatever the cause, the result was disastrous. Hundreds died in the great raging waters, and in the aftermath there was a terribly bloody land-grab as peasant collectives seized and held new wide tracts of arable land and the Lords rushed in to take it from them in a horrifically bloody civil war even by Gershen standards. It is said that when the Court of the Bitter Mikado was presented with a handful of loamy earth sprouting grass, that they went into recess and have yet to reconvene. Even now, the lines of property have not stabilized and Snow Goblins continue to add blood to the muddy expanses.

Cultural Values

Snow Goblins have many competing social values, and within those spectrums, there is much differentiation. Before beginning, it's necessary to gain a sense of context about the Snow Goblins of Gersh. There are a number of events that have shaped them to be who they are today, beginning with their very creation. There is little that Goblins suffer more hotly than the knowledge that they were once elves, who are now some of their bitterest enemies. To have "Elves" be at the root of that long chain of events is difficult for proud Snow Goblins to accept.

These are a proud people, who have cut an Empire from the most uninhabitable place on Novitas -- they embrace savagery, and revenge is perfectly reasonable. But likewise, they value each other and create elaborate caste systems and politenesses to allow each other to coexist. After all, there are many Snow Goblins sharing minimal habitable space. The rules of etiquette, the ways they get along with each other for mutual benefit, are critically important. Where in the warmlands a social slight may be merely annoying, in Gersh it threatens the whole of their communal survival. Such does not go unpunished. A sense of defeat also drives the peoples of Gersh. In the first war that destroyed Vargainen, the Snow Goblins were the weapon-race of the Dark Powers. They were elite, well armed, well (if brutally) trained, and deadly. In essence, everything from their minds, bodies, and society were geared for unrelenting war, Yet they lost.

The Snow Goblins themselves were discarded. Despondent and shamed they begged succor from their conquerors: The Elves, the Humans, The Earthkin.

They were given none. Indeed, the worst of this great shame was that these warmlanders would not kill them. Not even that small mercy was to be had. They were cast back into their frozen abyss, damned to suffer for as long as they would before they died -- of starvation, of frostbite. It mattered not to these so called "good" nations. The Snow Goblins walked back to their prison, carrying their shame with them.

Shame claimed many of them. but in many others, shame turned to hate. Hate drove them, hate sustained them, and that hate has since become a cultural touchstone for the species. They mastered the ways of warfare by fighting wars against themselves, culling the weakest from their own ranks. They studied the anatomies and languages of their enemies well before studying their own -- the death of their enemies came before their own preservation. They organized themselves into strict roles within their society. Warriors fought, Nobles led, slaves served, peasants produced raw materials, artisans produced tools and weapons, and merchants established trade with other nations and learned of their ways.

Against those events, we now turn to the culture of Gersh. Like the physicality of the Snow Goblins themselves, the cultural mores and priorities of the Gersh are varied and distinct. There are regional differences, clan differences, caste differences, and religious differences to account for. In this way there is enormous differentiation within the culture. Gershen culture is a storm -- thunderous malevolence amidst the most remarkable patterns of dazzling lightning.

Of all the races, it is the Snow Goblins who best celebrate their lives with seemingly reckless abandon. They know how close death lingers at all times and a celebration is a chance to taunt the enemy. When celebrating, it is not merely a matter of saying the right things and gesturing appropriately. Snow Goblins indulge in every way they can when permitted to do so. Sake flows, opiates are passed, dancers quickly grow less and less clothed, drumming erupts, and wildness commences. Public intercourse is expected, males and females mark each other with ownership bites, the expulsion of too much alcohol is met with wild cheers, and duels long repressed are fought to bloody conclusions. A Snow Goblin street party is well funded madness, for tomorrow they all may die.

Of all the races, it is the Snow Goblins who have the widest array of taboos. Commonly, only the Quv may touch or speak to the dead. Knives and forks are considered barbaric, and chopsticks are instead employed as a display of delicate control.

Etiquette

Certainly though, the one unifying cultural doctrine the Snow Goblins share is etiquette. There are limited places in Gersh that can support Snow Goblin life, and thus a complex system of etiquette has formed to facilitate easy relations. Ironically, it is a Civenite by the name of Miles Castigus who has chronicled this system of honorifics, understandings, and traditions in his seminal work Musings on the Cherry Blossoms. For more information on Snow Goblin etiquette, the reader is advised to turn to that work.

Honor

What honor is depends greatly upon what an individual Snow Goblin holds as sacred, what caste of their society they come from, and how independent they may be from the whole of society. Warriors consider themselves already dead, and act thusly. To act decisively, without pretense, is proper. Any other action shows fear, or the denial that the warrior is already dead. Snow Goblin samurai often think of themselves as acting as the arrow from the bow. That is, they are direct, fast, and lethal. But honor does not stop with warriors. All Snow Goblins are expected to speak the truth, for lying shows fear. Losing one’s sense of politeness shows a lack of self-control. A lack of obedience shows audacity and an unwillingness to serve the greater war machine.

Common Snow Goblin Taboos

  • Drakes as harbingers of ruin. They are a degenerate people, and they are therefore drawn to disease, loss, and impending tragedy.
  • Sunlight as blindness. In many places throughout the Kingdom, Snow Goblins will remain indoors on days when the sun is at its zenith.
  • Faekin are creatures who are torn between two worlds and thus cannot be trusted. It is best to shun them, as they are inherent betrayers.
  • Sweets are poison. They encourage addiction. The peddler of sweets is an evil thing and must be killed.
  • Buzzers are terrifying, and must be avoided at all costs. They are a race doomed to know only joy. No matter the tragedy, death, and loss about them, they may only be joyful. They are

incarnated insanity, and evidence of the Sept’s cruelty.

Religion

There is a war at the heart of Gersh that has been raging for generations. The war is a war of philosophy, and for a people trained to make violence at the slightest provocation, this war has been fought with enormous restraint and tolerance overall. Religion in Gersh is dominated by two ideals that share a common root: the origins of the species.

Many Snow Goblins believe that it is to the Dark Gods that they owe fealty. They who made the Snow Goblins for war, who perfected their very blood and bone, who established might and cunning as the ultimate rules for mastery. These are not milkblooded gods of the south, these are hard gods for a hard people. They demand sacrifice. Obedience. Hate. And the smashing of all enemies utterly until the world is over-run with Goblinkind.

Those who question the Dark Three are encouraged to look to the shame of the Long Walk Back. To look at how the gods of the blinding light shamed them so profoundly. Snow Goblins who fled south are considered traitors, weak, deserving of the shame and grief they suffered. Gershly worship of the Dark Three accepts endless open warfare, the necessity for thought police and whisper collectors to save Gershians from their own distractions. Gershians accept that they were made for death, and the farther a Gershian strays from that purpose, the greater the toll exacted from the whole.

Ancestor Worship Among the Snow Goblins

Gershian Ancestor Worship is vexing to outsiders, and is best understood through the teachings of an unnamed Quv Jaitle ‘No (Koov yatle Noh, Honored Speaker for the Dead):

“Once, we were a savage people. Shamed, destitute, apart from each other and reduced to tribes and cannibals. We were the losers in a war that was made for us to fight. And we came here, to this place, in defeat, and were left with nothing. Nothing save ourselves. We remember.

“These selves, these Snow Goblins ancestors, struggled to create the buildings we live in, the roads we travel upon, the words we speak, the celebrations we remember, and the ideals that make us strong. They found and forged iron into blades. They cut stone and made mortar of ice itself. They dug deep and found the hidden warmth within the ground. And in these discoveries, many died, offering up their lives to take our understanding a single step forwards. Powerful Goblins, wise Goblins, dedicated Goblins carried the rest forward inch by tortured inch. They learned what cut of meat nourished and which killed. They discovered the signs of avalanche and frostbite. They mapped the borders of our kingdom and the places where hungry things dwell. We remember.

“They built and struggled under the spite of the Sept. Cold winds blew goblins from peaks and into valleys. Bitter frost stole the lives from our spawn and their mothers. Wild seas swallowed fishergoblins whole. But our forefathers struggled forward, and earned a different kind of glory. A glory born of defiance. A glory that came from pushing back the borders of ignorance. A glory that defiantly endured. We remember. “Today, we have a Kingdom. We have roads. We have armies. We have enemies. Inch by inch, our people have become mighty. And the progress does not stop. Today we push forward still. We master new arts, new understandings, even as we put new enemies into the afterlands. We build new fortresses, ships, weapons, and agreements. We continue the work of our fathers and grandfathers. We abide by the traditions they developed, we continue the works they started. We honor the past in ceremony, in sacrifice, in song, and most importantly in deed. We remember.

“One day, we shall be gone ourselves. And our spawn, and our scions, and our descendents will carry on our work. They replace us, they supersede our broken hands, our addled minds, and when the afterlands comes to relieve us of our woes at last, they shall remember us as well. They will remember us as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest of our kind who came before. And we will be counted as equal to them, and we will be proud once more. We remember. We always remember.”

Gershen Ancestor worship entails many completed rites of birth and death, of ritual cleansing, of Pure Truth, of Endless Vengeance, and others. None can hope to understand these in the same way that a Quv could, but needless to say, Gershen Ancestor Worship is one utterly unique unto itself, and found nowhere else in Novitas.

Animism

This is the religion of the outcast, the insane, the wildgoblin living alone in the tundra wearing furs, or the incarcerated who knows only chains and has named every link. Animists live outside of civilization, be it willingly or otherwise. Animalists are very often skilled herbalists, tinkering with fungi and flowers, creating deadly poisons and potent narcotics. Animalists find their peace of mind in nature, listening, observing, becoming one with a land determined to kill them.

Secular might

Secularism acts as a belief system that puts forth that the gods — all of them — are cowards. And the gods — all of them — are weak. And Gersh does not tolerate cowards. And Gersh does not abide the weak. It acts as a belief system that puts forth that it was mortalkind that made the gods, and not the other way around. The gods are scorned for their weakness in settling their disputes, their capriciousness in fleeing Novitas, their cowardice in sending Avatars. The members of this belief system seem to be pressing at revolution – calling for a smashing of the temples, an execution of the secret police, a slaughtering of cultists.

Economy

Gershians view economics as a silent war, and the products and services of the Snow Goblin merchants are thus diverse and tailored to their particular victim. In places where slavery is condoned, Gershen slaves are regarded as the best in all of Novitas. These slaves, broken and rebuilt by the master SlaveMakers, are all at once diligent, strong, quick-witted, and without hope – fetching a price far higher than slaves raised elsewhere. In the west, the gem-faced dabble in heady narcotics and lie with Gershen slatterns trained in the Path of Moans, and thus chain themselves to the pleasure dealers. The Elves wish nothing to do with the Goblins, though even there they have need of Goblin Iron, sold at high prices. Negotiations take weeks, and usually in achingly minimal amounts (all while Fae allies of the Snow Kingdom send pawns into the Elflands to raise havoc with impunity, of course).

Gersh is a frozen icefield, with only patches of arable land in the deep south or surrounding volcanic vents in the north. Agriculture is mostly an unknown in the Snow Kingdom, and it is for grains and vegetables that Gershens trade for the most.  

However, in this frozen hell, there are still native flora. And in order to survive such harsh conditions, they have grown in strange ways and carry strange properties. Most mosses and mushrooms and flowers in the Snow Kingdom are either poisonous or narcotic.  Early on in their exile, the Snow Goblins discovered which was which, usually by virtue of creating corpses. As they spent their early years suffering under the weight of winter, they learned how much opiate a Snow Goblin could entertain before addiction was formed. They learned how to render these posies into chewable form. Then into smokeable form. Then into drinkable form. They measured and catalogued the tolerances of their own people, and in the years that followed, they experimented similarly with the other races tolerances and behaviors. This happened as folk wisdom, more than with any sort of House or school’s interference. Indeed, many Snow Goblin alchemists debate hotly on how much poppy slurry a warmlander can tolerate and still remain functional.

Narcotic plants are always split into two breeds:  a weaker, but longer, effect-granting variety for the Snow Goblins themselves to enjoy, and a stronger. Shorter, more addictive variant for sale to the warmlanders. Usually, mendicants market these substances as assisting with healing arts. Which they do, certainly, by distracting a user’s mind from pain and roughly throwing it into the seas of blissful pleasure. It is not long after however, that the saved becomes a victim, and is soon hunting for more of that merchant’s particular product. Clever merchants will always camouflage their product to be unlike other Snow Goblin merchant’s products: by altering the taste, or texture, or smell through various additives. In this way, each merchant keeps ties on their individual customer’s attentions.

Military

The military of Gersh is the most prepared and battle hardened force on Novitas, simply because the Snow Goblins never seem to allow themselves peace. From raids against the Elves and Dellins, to the numerous and constant civil wars it fights against its own, to a cultural identity that encourages the whole of the species to know its part in whatever great war they await, the Snow Goblins forces are never in a period of drawing down. Peace is merely a pause until the next conflict.

The various forces deployed within the Gershen military:

Ashigaru

Ashigaru are typically spear or bowgoblins pressed into service from the peasant (and sometimes artisan) populations. Slaves never serve in the ashigaru – to have a need to do so would mean that the situation is incredibly dire and would shatter Snow Goblin morale. Ashigaru are kitted in leather or lamellar, issued weapons, and receive minimal training. They do have great numbers and a primal frenzy to not be killed, however.

Samurai

Samurai are the warrior caste. Trained in the arts of the sword, the bow, the naginata, the tetsubo, the war fan, and battle magic, the Samurai are in a constant state of training when they are not actively engaged in combat. As such, they are both the most effective combat unit on the field as well as being the most highly prized targets. Ashigaru typically will only wound Samurai, as it is considered above their station to slay a samurai.

In combat, Samurai will seek to meet their objective in a way that provides the most opportunity for glory. In this, the samurai is typically without guile. Banzai charges are common, attacking the hardest point of an enemy line is common, earning glory by number of dead slain or by the individual merit or rank of the target slain is a matter hotly debated by samurai both before and after a battle. They seek the challenge, and in less orderly armies, may even contest who gets the honor of slaying the enemy general. Such matters are usually settled by duels unless the Gersh general intervenes. Such is usually the content of a worthy general’s second order to his troops: No duels until the war is over.

Shinobi

The assassins, scouts, and spies of the Snow Goblin armies. These warriors are trained in very secretive schools and are incredibly costly to employ. These ninja can be either mercenaries or a secret part of an existing House. No Snow Goblin ever reveals that they are a Shinobi, as they are a necessary evil within the culture. No Shinobi ever earns honor for his acts, and are in fact scorned even by their own allies, should they discover their occupation The Samurai hate them because they eliminate many of the challenges and individual targets that the Samurai are hunting on a battlefield. The Ashigaru fear them because of their punitive role in both peasant uprisings and when employed by the secret police in behavior control operations. The Quv hate them for the disgraces they visit upon their victims’ bodies and Qempa. The general are loathe to use them as it is an insult to his honor to have to make use of them in an engagement. Snow Goblin sorcerers hate them because they despise anyone having secrets they are not privy to. However, these ninjas are rewarded with one singular honor: Of all the Snow Goblins that warmlanders must face, it is the Shinobi they fear the most. “Ninja” is warmlander mispronunciation of “Shinobi” – and a name that they have taken as their own to increase their prestige.

Quv

The Quv are a class of goblins who act as bridge between the dead and living, being able to speak with both. They ensure the voice ands experience of those goblins departed are heard. The priests of the Snow Goblins have their place in war, though they only attend a war if there is a greater matter at stake. As part of their curious place outside the Snow Goblin social hierarchy, The Quv typically do not fall into the chain of command, either. Though a General certain can (and has) interrogated the leader of the attending Quv for details and communication. Typically, the Quv merely reassures the general with “I am sure we will not be in your way.” Which, coincidentally, is the opening line in any piece of Snow Goblin street theater where the Quv do – in fact – get in the way (usually immediately).

Sorcerers

There are no two Snow Goblin sorcerers who behave the same in battle, and this is their function: To break the pattern of Snow Goblin war. The Ashigaru will always be herded and fight wildly. The Hounds will always be used recklessly. The Samurai will seek their glory. Enemy commanders will know this, will plan for it, will goad the Snow Goblin people into behaving according to their individual ways – and will use it against them. The battlemages of Gersh then are tasked with harming the enemy, but by corrupting their understanding of the art of northern war. They also serve as advisors and also often are skilled interrogators.

The Hounds

A generic term that covers the assorted lesser beings that the Snow Goblin will throw at their enemy. Originally, these ranks were comprised solely of the trained Kasvaks that many Noble Houses keep. However, over the years, other less-reliable berserkers were added to these ranks as well. Ogres, Orcs, Ettins, Boglurkers, Dellins, Slimes, trolls, waspoids... the list goes on and on. These ranks are used to create distraction, make a great noise to confound the enemy, attack the ancillary units of foreign armies (baggage trains, healing encampments, and the like), or simply thrown directly at the vanguard to test their resilience. These ranks are unreliable, and cannot be put in the direct path of certain destruction, lest they turn on the Snow Goblins in turn.

Healing Slaves

One of the few ways in which Slaves may earn a small portion of honor is to serve as healers to the Snow Goblin armies. In the north, healing is considered a banal form of magic and it is mostly taught as a primer for sorcerers – who soon abandon it in favor of other magics. The majority of Gershen healing practitioners are slaves. These slaves are always ones who have been broken and remade, and have proven their loyalty in other ways before being trusted to treat the Samurai and Ashigaru alike.

The General

The leader of a Snow Goblin military endeavor is the General. This term tends to be a warmlander word for the position, of course. Great Goblins have great titles. What warmlanders may casually refer to as a General might be High Fist of the Smashing Northern Winds, or The Longing For Wails and Blood Glinting Edgewise On His Spear. The General is awarded an army by his superiors, but he retains it by his own might and cunning. Every Snow Goblin has an agenda, and with an army comes an army of secret desires, plots, plans, and dictates of the heart. Glory hunting. Reputation accrual. Wealth. Assassination in the chaos of the battlefield. The purpose of the General is as much to crush these individuations as it is to develop strategy to obliterate the enemy. Thus, the General must be as iron itself. Primal, uncompromising, and deadly when moved.

Government

The rule of Gersh is administered solely through the will of the Bitter Mikado, his minion Clans, and their constituent Houses. Collectively their combined will and willingness to punish the disobedient is known as “Heaven”, and the mandates of Heaven may not be denied.

Who is the Bitter Mikado?

There are very few facts known about the Bitter Mikado, and instead he or she is hidden in a sea of rumors and conjecture. Longevity, gender, identity, affiliation with the Dark Three, noted mutations – these are all the subject of rigorous debate. One rumor says that he possess a chained Avatar of Darkness whom he commands. Others say that she is a multibodied mutation – able to invest herself in several new incestuous bodies that she has been breeding for decades. Yet others that the Bitter Mikado is but a mythology. Even more that it is a Qempa that has somehow managed to survive the Afterlands. These are the tamest of theories.

What is known is that the Bitter Mikado rules through a series of regents and honored slaves who serve as his voice. Edicts from these body servants that go ignored or challenged are met with repercussions. Oftentimes invisible silent disappearances suffice, though ghastlier ends can be manufactured (and have been) when necessary. The Court of the Bitter Mikado is terrifyingly real, regardless.

The Great Clans of Gersh

There are five Great Clans of Gersh, each comprised of a number of individual Houses and families . In conjunction with the Regent of the Bitter Mikado, they provide advice, analysis and strategies for the Snow Kingdom. Then the Regent disappears with his or her retinue, bringing transcripts and analyses to the Bitter Mikado. Time passes, sometimes minutes, other times weeks. When the Regent returns, mandates are decreed and the Great Clans are expected to prosecute these edicts.

Every city, be it major or minor, within Gersh has at least two of these Clans represented in positions of local power. Edicts from Heaven are delivered by multiple means, with codes and ciphers pre-established so as to provide security.

There are a few dozen Lesser Houses that have some regional control but are not part of any of the Great Clans. These Houses, if they are wise, acquiesce to the demands of the more powerful Houses or Clans as is proper. Some years ago several of these Lesser Houses attempted to form a Lesser Clan, which insulted the Great Clans and resulted in their extermination. No Lesser Clan exists today, although the Daizan revolutionaries are considered as such by some.

While infrequent, Undead Ancestors are not unknown in Gersh. It is a widely held tradition that the Undead cannot attain rulership over their respective Houses or Clans. This is deliberate, to prevent stagnation and weakness within the Kingdom. They can, and do, give counsel.

The Great Snow Goblin Clans

House and Clan Wei

Largest and richest of the Great Clans, Clan Wei is respected and feared for its vast wealth alone. Clan Wei is ruled by a rotting creature colloquially referred to as Grandfather Wei. This Snow Goblin Lord is terrifyingly ruthless, and is at his worst when he smiles.

Clan Ishi

Always represented by a trio of females, Clan Ishi are known as Dark Three zealots. Clan Ishi are the sponsors of the majority of temples within Gersh, and it is a public secret that they direct the nameless secret police. Clan Ishi is the principal enemy of the Quv. Clan Ishi is represented by Ishi Naojo, Ishi Fumi (the night goblin herself), and Ishi Mao.

House and Clan Yhu

An incestuous cabal of sorcerers and Liches, Clan Yhu is unique in that it is comprised of only the single House and Clan. It is said that two of their Honored Ancients became liches under the direct gaze of Darkness itself. Clan Yhu are the lorekeepers, the sorcerous scholars, the ritualists of Gersh. They allow no rival schools to teach the Art.

House and Clan Mazubara

Chief rival of Wei, Clan Mazubara are the mailed fist of the Kingdom. They are chiefly concerned with expansion of the Kingdom into an Empire, and have been for three hundred years. The Clan Leader Mazubara Isamu famously committed suicide in protest on the floor of the Court of the Bitter Mikado when he was ordered not to retain the grounds taken during the War Toward Nalbendel. The current representative of Clan Mazubara is Mazubara Yotei, who forever insists on bringing his tigers with him to court.

House and Clan Preya

Another financial clan, Preya’s wealth is derived from its cultivation of excesses. Opiates, copulation houses, musician colonies, spectacle schools, and the training of slaves are its principle pursuits. It is also rumored that the slaves, bards, and sexual practitioners it exports are spies for the Kingdom.

Places of Interest

The Fissure

The fortress city is the capital of the Snow Kingdoms and the seat of the Bitter Mikado. This is where the politics of the entire Kingdom are discussed.

Dreadwall

A city surrounded completely by chiseled ice walls. Though the Thaw has destroyed most of the walls, the Snow Kingdoms have spent a great deal of resources to rebuild the wall as stone.

Yerjev

Home to the Udo Kazvak breeders. Buyers come from far and wide to purchase the Kazvaks that the Udo breed.

Relationships with other Countries

The Freelands

A lazy people polluting a place of triumph for the Gershian people. The day they forget the victory at Nalbendel is the day they are gifted with another lake.

Empire of Civen

Admirable organization, military, and a blossoming understanding of politics. Worthy enemies, and productive trade partners. Once they shed the nightmare of democracy, they may be a force to be reckoned with. Until then, they serve Gershen goals.

Dellin Tribelands

They make excellent whetstones for young soldiers to sharpen themselves upon. Occasionally, Dellins and Gershens are on the same side, but never allies. They provide the Gersh nation with heavy labor slaves, gladiators, concubines (once broken and washed), and mine workers. These are a race of animals masking as sentient creatures. Whatever is done to them is without concern.

Realm of Evenandra

Elves may prove useful as slaves, unwitting allies and dupes, or mercenaries -- however, as a people, they are the enemy. Still, whilst not at war, they are civilized enough to trade with. Though never fairly, for true Gershens must use every tactic to degrade them. One day, matters will be settled to Gershen satisfaction.

Great Forest

The mad elves of the woodlands are the pathetic descendants of a defeated people. They live in a state of joyful poverty, wresting no wealth from their jungle and dreaming of no conquest. Were it not for the wraithlike watchdogs and sap-drinking Druids who patrol the forest edge, Gersh would have conquered them long ago. As it is there is nothing they possess of such value that campaigning there would be worth the trouble.

Kingdom of Terra

Terra is considered to produce excellent quality goods, have a wealth of resources, and they are blessed with naturally defensible terrain. If Terra were conquered, Terran slaves would endow the Gershen people with remarkable wealth and room for expansion. Until then, Terrans are considered distant partners in trade.

Theocracy of Vlean

Allies. They alone have had the wisdom to make overtures to the Gershen people. They are respectful, obedient, and courtly when they choose to be. Of all the non-Snow Goblin races, they understand best how to entreat with Gersh. This wisdom must be cultivated and protected.

Other Information (Unsourced)

In the frigid north of Novitas lies the Snow Kingdom of Gersh, home to the Snow Goblins, a twisted and malevolent race. Their capital, known as The Fissure, is a hyperborean city built into the sides of an enormous crack in an immobile glacier. From there, their king, known as the Bitter Mikado, rules all with an iron hand. Murder, assassination, and poison are all commonplace in his court. It is often said by Snow Goblins that the fastest way up is by standing on the corpses of your enemies – and that it’s only a crime if you get caught.

Categories: Game Setting | Places | Nations

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