The Giant’s Glen

In the far northeast, in a quiet valley, the people live with the footprints of giants. Houses and huts are built beside tremendous structures from a bygone era. Snow and nature spirits dance alongside bridges that once supported more than mere mortals.

The giants left their lands long ago – but they also left their curios. Here in the shadows of giants and the fringes of the Wyld, a giant girl’s playthings have come to life. Some are here to protect the people of the glen. Some are here to take advantage of them. Still others would prefer to purify them.

They may be dolls, but their stories say that they are more, too. What secrets will you find? What strange allies will you gather, here in the Giant’s Glen?

Introduction

Long ago, before the First War, a race of gigantes ruled much of eastern Creation. Many of them were fractious, warlike, and foolish, but not all. There were also architects among them, sages, alchemists, wise women and clever men who had much skill with their hands. While the rest of their race died or was driven out of Creation, one clade of these clever giants survived for many centuries in a wooded valley in the far northeast. It helped them that this place was so close to the Wyld. Years could sometimes pass by in the outside world while they and their human servants slept through the night.

One of the giants was the leader, and her eldest child was given many gifts by an artisan amongst the giants. None of these gifts was more valuable than a cleverly made set of dolls. Each was the size of a grown human being. They were not alive then – not at first – but they were so cleverly made that even the Fair Folk gazed on them in wonder.

The child told stories about the dolls: that they were wise, or strong, or foolish, or funny. The child invented worlds, as children do, and had tea-time with her dolls, and went to war with them… and then she was gone.

Whether it was sorcery, fae magic, the sheer skill of the artisan, or the love of a child, her dolls came to life. They came to live amongst the people of the glen. Did they truly travel here from elsewhere, or do they only think they did? Some know that they are dolls, and some believe their own stories, too.

Now the tides of the Wyld have receded. Those who would come here seeking the giants’ power, or pursuing a fugitive, must decide what they will make of the glen and its natives, including the ancient dolls of a lost culture.

Physical Geography

glen-map-500

This glacial valley is listed as Giant’s Glen on those few maps that mention it. It is larger than that name might indicate, longer than it is wide, with many crevasses and rivers. As is common across much of the east, the trees here are gigantic, with leaves that can be the size of a horse. Both the deciduous leaves and the needles of the pines and spruces turn colors in the fall – a legacy of the Wyld’s presence. The leaves and needles litter the ground, and are occasionally used by the mortals who live here as craft supplies.

With these trees, the giants built tremendous longhouses, log cabins, and palisades. They built huge bridges over deep canyons.  Many have fallen into disrepair. There was even a wooden manse fit for a titan, with double-notch construction, now lying rotting and haunted.

In addition, there are signs of an even older, and larger people: mammoth stone buildings, huge ruins, and foundation-stones that speak of a truly daunting size of individuals who must have lived here in ages long past. Their only remaining legacy is a series of “singing stones” across the northeast, ten stories tall, that whistle and moan as the wind blows through them.

Winters are long, though milder than one might expect for how far north this land is. There are deep ravines and caverns where the snows never melt all summer. Fish can still be found beneath frozen rivers, and the people here often cut holes in the ice to get at them.

Local animals commonly include trout, moths (and their caterpillars) in a great variety of sizes, bears, rabbits, juncos, cardinals, and caribou. These last range from twenty-foot-tall monsters to miniatures barely larger than a lap-dog.

Almost the whole glen is a borderlands for the Wyld. The tides of chaos have been retreating from this place for some years, and it will be years more until they are finally gone.

The southwestern townships are the largest. Stonewall has nearly six thousand inhabitants. The villages and hamlets across the Glen are smaller. Pinedeep and Chestnut Ford are the largest, neither over 400 individuals.

The People of the Glen

There are few immigrants here in the glen, and the people have little variety in their base features. Hair is almost always black, with an occasional throwback of white from somewhere else in the North. Eyes are brown. Nearly everyone has light-brown skin with faint bark-like striations. They would be prone to sunburn if the sun were ever to breach the leafy canopy far above. The locals speak Skytongue with a Low Realm accent.

Families are differentiated in their mutations. The people at the southwestern end of the glen tend to be less touched, but the rest of the families have ancestors who were exposed to dangerous levels of Wyld. Each family has its own oddity: one has plaid eyes, another vestigial wings, another grows claws that must be trimmed for safety. There are tails, odd tufts of hair, and even a hermit with eyebrows of shifting water. Children typically trend toward the father or the mother, rather than being a blend of both. The northeastern families are more used to their strange appearances, but are also nervous when outsiders arrive, knowing how they are viewed elsewhere in Creation. Those in the southwestern townships look down on their more “uncouth” cousins.

Wood and stone make up most of the useful materials here. Weapons are typically spears and bows. Armor is either leathers from the caribou, or a lacquered lamellar made from the cones of the giant pines. Swords come from outside. None of the smiths here have much to work with in terms of iron.

The glen has much more obtrusive spirits than most places in Creation. They will often materialize to speak with travelers. Inquisitive sky-sprites sweep in ahead of a storm. Each campfire spawns a little red flame-person who helpfully sweeps away things that might unintentionally catch fire. Sleepy snow-spirits hide in the ice-caverns all summer and come out to play in the winter. Most common are the helpful forest-spirits still bound by an ancient pact to the giants. These various spirits rarely enter the places where humans dwell. They say that the mortal denizens here are the caretakers of their land, and should be left to their business… but they do like to hide in the edges of the forest and observe.

The people eat a fair amount of meat. Root vegetables are also common: potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and celeriac. Wild mushrooms are plentiful and delicious. The local specialty is a bear stew. Sweets are common as well, with birch syrup and spruce gum holding together acorn-flour treats studded with pine nuts. The elderly sip peppermint liqueurs in the evening, and the young prefer mead.

Using the Characters

If one ignored the fact that they were dolls, most of the characters in this set could fit in well in many areas of Creation. A Storyteller looking for a random NPC could easily pluck one of these characters and place them in her own game.

However, if they are to be encountered together, these characters are somewhat tied to this particular setting. The players’ characters will need a reason to come to the Glen. A few options are:

  • The circle might need magical ingredients to craft a particular artifact, or to repair a manse. The bones of giants are buried here, and they may still have potent magic within them for such a purpose.
  • The circle could be seeking a manse to call home. The enormous wooden manse of the gigantes might be just functional enough for the circle to repair – if they can convince some of the local NPCs to work with them.
  • The circle might be pursuing a fugitive Fair Folk, guilty of crimes against their nation, who retreated toward the Glen and is hiding amongst the people here.

It is this last option that is assumed in the descriptions here.

Some Fair Folk can hide via possession, live within someone’s dreams, or attach themselves as a parasitic mutation to any living creature. That includes the dolls. No one character is pointed out as the “default” host for the Fair Folk. Several are good options, and any of them might host it in their dreams. The process of hunting for this quarry and interrogating the people of the Glen without losing their leaders’ goodwill is sure to be a challenge.

Depending on the skill of your characters, the Fair Folk might hide itself more or less discretely. It might even leap from one character to another (especially if they slept in close proximity or made physical contact with one another), making the circle accuse a previous host while the creature attempts to escape. Regardless of pursuit, it will not go further into the Wyld. Certain deaths are preferable to others.

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