In the North of Creation, in the mountains between Whitewall and Fortitude, lies a beautiful valley surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. Farmers work the land, lumberjacks cut trees for hearth and home, hunters travel by foot in the summer and by sled in the winter. The five glaciers that flow down the mountains once gave the land the name of Snow’s Hand. Now it is known as Slumber’s Grasp. A king’s foolish bargain has taken his once-peaceful kingdom and set it on the edge of civil war.
A prince, angry that he will never be king, has thrown the gauntlet against his family. He raises an army to besiege his own castle and take by force that which is not his by right. His family, divided, is frozen by indecision and argument. And more frightening is that the prince may not be acting alone. The kingdom has powerful enemies who see it ripe for the picking. What has the prince promised them – or are they pulling his strings?
Forces of darkness move in many ways against the throne. Slumber’s Grasp has defenders, but they are divided. There are Chosen here, but they are uncommitted. This is a land that will become great again, or fall into chaos and darkness.
This is a land that needs champions.
(Click map to enlarge)
Slumber’s Grasp is a round valley about 40 kilometers wide, surrounded by high mountains. Five glaciers flow down the mountains around the valley, each melting as it reaches the lower altitudes. The runoff streams from these glaciers lead into the Lake of the Sky, a freezing-cold lake 16 kilometers long in the center of the valley.
To the west and north are many kilometers of mountains, likely with other occupied valleys. To the south is the Vale of the Clockmakers. To the east is unclaimed land for some distance downriver, and eventually dozens of small kingdoms that make up the more fertile lands of the North.
Each of the glaciers has its own name. Clockwise from the south, they are the Glacier of the Raiton, the Glacier of Clarity, the Glacier of Travail, the Glacier of Splendors, and the Glacier of Exile. The Glacier of Splendor is particularly important, as it and the surrounding mountainside are a pocket of Wyld nestled within Creation. The wise in the valley know to avoid this area. Sadly, not all are wise, and the Wyld can be quite addictive.
Pine trees dominate the skyline. The ground is as likely to be moss as grass. In the areas that are not cleared, the forest is often old growth, untouched for centuries. Woodland spirits are common and generally without rancor, as long as the proper prayers are given before chopping down trees. There are no manses in Slumber’s Grasp, though legend says there is one deep at the bottom of the lake.
Game is plentiful, and the Lake of the Sky provides fish year-round. The people often dry a portion of their catch to help them survive through the bitter cold winter. The growing season is short but bountiful, and the land is especially good at providing hardy foods that will last through the winter – kale, sweet potato, parsnips, mustard, mushrooms, and exotic ice peppers brought untold years ago from near the Pole of Air. The fields grow oats and rye well, and wheat with a little coaxing. In the summer one can find cloudberries and wild strawberries in the woods. Horseradish, garlic mustard, rosemary, and caraway are common spices. Liquor is served strong. One has not truly lived until one has drunk a shot of horseradish rye.
110 years ago: King Thenor the Ancient makes his bargain and falls asleep.
90 years ago: Prince Galor, later to be known as the Never-King, is born.
70 years ago: Galor marries Uma, who gives birth to Athela.
60 years ago: Galor is discovered in his plot to kill Thenor and is deposed. Athela becomes child regent.
45 years ago: Athela marries Jako and gives birth to Voana.
27 years ago: Voana marries Selno. Voana gives birth to Ralia.
25 years ago: Voana gives birth to Kalestra.
22 years ago: Voana gives birth to Jasper.
18 years ago: Voana gives birth to Klara, but dies in childbirth.
12 years ago: Selno, Ralia, and twenty soldiers are killed in an avalanche on the northern peaks. Their bodies fall into a ravine and are never recovered, buried under tons of snow.
Earlier this year: Prince Jasper declares his bid for kingship, and begins raising an army to overthrow his family.
The People of Slumber’s Grasp
The population of Slumber’s Grasp is almost entirely Northerners. Fair skin is common, and blonde hair and blue eyes are common enough to not be notable. Tanned skin can sometimes be found amongst trappers, farmers, and fishermen, but the tall mountains shield the valley from the sun’s rays, and many more people are pale.
The natives speak Skytongue as their native language. Some folk know “the river-tongue” or Low Realm. Names tend to be short and percussive. Family names are uncommon, generally indicating a heritage from beyond the valley, and most people use their homes as surnames (“Pekka from Tava Village” or “Vilo from Od-town”).
Few travelers come through the valley, though there are traders a few times a year who haul their goods upriver with yeddim. The Guild doesn’t consider the trouble of getting to Slumber’s Grasp to be worth the investment.
Using the Characters
This setting has supports two main types of play: a political approach that can be taken by heroic mortals or by more subtle or diplomatic Chosen, and a more aggressive approach guided by supernatural might and overt action. Play at the political level focuses on the inner circles on the relationship diagram – the royal family and their allies. The issues in Slumber’s Grasp can be addressed entirely through political means, but if the players decide to throw around their characters’ supernatural might, then the supernatural NPCs around the outer circle of the diagram will start coming into play.
The scenario pivots around Prince Jasper. The default assumption is that Prince Jasper’s rebellion is backed by one of the characters on the outer circle of the relationship diagram – the “true foe” of the scenario. This character will either be using him as a tool, or providing him with the power he desperately wants, depending on the desires of the GM. Careful diplomacy, and perhaps some threats, will be needed to avoid a confrontation with this foe. However, recruiting the help of one or more of the other outer-ring characters can obviate the need for a fight. Each potential foe is also a potential ally, with the possible exception of Galor the Never-King – and even he might be an ally if the characters side with Jasper.
The challenge level in this setting adjusts nicely to groups with several combat-ready characters. Discovering that not just a single foe, but three of them are backing Jasper may give any group reason to pause (or simply a good fight). Remember that all of these characters except for Silent Feather have the ability to recruit or create multiple dangerous followers, and Silent Feather’s assassination skills can create issues of their own.
If you’re not interested in using Slumber’s Grasp as a cohesive setting, the characters farther from the center of the relationship diagram will be easier to pluck out and use in your own game.