Ambria Players Guide
- 1 History of Ambria
- 2 Religion
- 3 Organizations of Ambria
- 4 Customs of Ambria
History of Ambria
The Green Lords
First there were the Green Lords, who lived close to the land and had mastered the magic’s of beast and leaf. The wielded weapons of bronze and wood and wore armor of bone. The raised mighty standing stones and groves of sacred witchwood and built forts inside of hills. Little else is know of them for their age is long past.
The Iron Lords
The age of the Green Lords ended in fire and blood, by hand of the Iron Lords. They sailed from southern lands and either killed or took in thrall those who lived in Ambria. They burned the groves and tore down the standing stones of the Green Lords, for their magics were helpless against the Cold Iron wielded by the Iron Lords.
Fearing the magic that was anathema to them, they used the secrets within their Cold Iron to break the Green Lords magics and to chop down their sacred groves. Soon, the Iron Lords spread across the land and the children of the Green Lord were either buried or had abandoned their heritage.
The Iron Lords split into numerous small kingdoms and principalities, each ruled by warlords, thanes or kings. Some unified into strong nations before splintering once again into many small polities. And then the Children of Morning came.
The Children of Morning
The Children of Morning first touched the shores of Ambria in A.F. 0; when the scout ships Sunfire, Dawnchaser and Glory of the Morning Lord dropped anchor off of the Eastern Coast. When they first landed they approached the warlords of the Iron Men, bearing gifts of gold, spices and sunsteel, saying that they were explorers and merchants from a far off land seeking new peoples to trade with. Explorers from these ships traveled through out the land, speaking with nobles and kings bearing honeyed words and rich gifts. Many of the Iron Lords came to view these envoys as friends and staunch allies. These explorations and Negotiations continued for over a year before the Dawnchaser departed from its anchorage at Kor and sailed east, her cargo holds laden with riches.
The next year, the fleet of the Children of Morning arrived of the coast of Ambria. The fleet was over a thousand ships strong, ranging from small coasters to massive three mast war galleons. Through the use of magic and subterfuge, the great cities of Kor and Avennar fell before the majority of the Iron Lords even knew of the existence of the fleet.
Duke Huron Ersinger, who would later be know as Huron the First and Huron Sun Bringer, led the forces of the Children of Morning in conquest after conquest rapidly snapping up many of small principalities in Ambria. Within the year, everything west of the Stormfell Mountains was under his control. In the next ten years, all of Ambria south of the Pale Forest was under King Huron’s control.
Only two things spoiled Huron Sunbringer’s victories. The first was the treachery of Admiral Heinrich Stormborn in the year A.F. 4, when he took the majority of the warships of the fleet south to found the merchant nation of Valhedar, forming a close alliance with the peoples of the Alizan River. The second was King Huron's consistent failure to defeat the Iron Lord Ozir Frostfell after his retreat to the Icehammer Mountains. Eventually, an uneasy peace was reached with the remaining Iron Lords but to this day the north remains independent.
Religion of the Iron Lords
The Iron Lords practiced a form of Ancestor Worship. The central tenet of their beliefs was that any warrior who died bravely on the field of battle would go to the feasting fields, there to be served by all of those they had personally killed in battle, and in turn, to one day serve the warrior who had slain them. With each man that a warrior of the Iron Lords slew, he would forge a link of a chain that hung from his belt, showing those who would serve him after his death.
Iron Men unlucky enough to die away from the honorable field of battle were cursed to forever wander the frozen lands, separated eternally form the glory of the feasting fields. To ensure a glorious afterlife, graying warriors led the vanguard in battle, charging fearlessly into the fray, struggling to kill as many enemies as possible before dying on the spears of their foemen. This was referred to as the Last Charge. Those who were dying of old age or illness might typically seek out their liege lord or another warrior they respected and challenge them to a duel, hoping to die honorably at the hands of one they were willing to serve.
The Iron Lords venerate the greatest of their fallen warriors as heroes and demigods, praying to them to strengthen their blades, or for guidance in times of trouble. The greatest of these ancestral heroes was Valag Wyrmbane, who died while slaying the great dragon Ice in the Frostfell Mountains. Many who revere Valag Wyrmbane wear a small pendant shaped like the talon of a dragon.
The Iron Cult
The ancestor worship of the Iron Lords was deemed barbaric by the Lords of Morning and outlawed, making it illegal to display the iron chain or to participate in the Last Charge. Many of the Iron Men who bent knee to the Morning Lords continue to worship their ancestors in secret.
Religion of the Children of Morning
The Children of Morning worship the Morning Lord, who is also referred to as Fire Bringer and the God of Man. The Church of the Morning Lord is not monotheistic, instead teaching that He is only one of many divine siblings. Each of these deities has rulership over a specific portion of the world. The Green Brother rules the forests, the Storm Queen commands the oceans and Grandfather Grey is as eternal as his mountains.
However, it is not the place of men to worship these deities; instead they are worshiped by those creatures native to their domain, the deer and dolphins, badgers and eagles. While men are taught to respect the siblings of the Morning Lord, worshipping and sacrificing to them is strictly forbidden. Despite this proscription, it is not unknown for people to leave small offerings to the Morning Lord's siblings when dealing with their domain (i.e most sailors drop small coins in the ocean before beginning a voyage).
The church of the Morning Lord teaches that it is man's proper place to spread the Light to all around them. The tenets of the Church hold that all learning and art are sacred, being the creations of man, inspired by the Morning Lord.
Symbols of the Morning Lord
The Morning lord is depicted as a man in his prime, typically wearing some from of ornate but archaic armor, with an enameled sunburst on the breastplate. In his right hand is a long spear with three phoenix feathers hanging from the head. The Morning Lord's left hand is missing its smallest finger and holds The Book of Dawn.
The symbol of the Morning Lords is a stylized sunrise with nine great rays of light. True light contains within it all of creation: All divine light will break into a rainbow when broken by a prism, any light that does not shine rainbows through a prism is at best not divine and at worst profane and evil.
The Nine Fingers of the Sun
The Nine Fingers of the Sun are the chief catechisms of the Morning Lord, the central tenets of the Sons of Morning.
- The First Finger: All Life springs from Light – All that is good and living in the world, owes its existence to the Light of the Morning Lord. This can be seen in the fact that all plants need light to grow, and that beasts of the fields eat of the plants to live, and that Man eats of the beasts so that he may live. And thus all that shuns the Light also shuns Life.
- The Second Finger: As Light Reveals, so too should you Seek Truth – To deny Knowledge is to deny the Morning Lord. All who worship Him should seek to learn and spread the Truth. Conversely, those who deceive or seek to destroy Knowledge must be combated, for they are of the Darkness.
- The Third Finger:Beauty is the Reflection of Light – All things beautiful are to be valued and worshipped as a creation of the Morning Lord. The creation of art is therefore a sacred act.
- The Fourth Finger: All Light must be Kindled from Within – While the Light from the Sun is Eternal, it can not be with us through the Night. And like the Light of Day, the Morning Lord can not be there at every moment to aid us in all of our endeavors, so we must pray for His guidance or speak His True Name only when our need is true.
- The Fifth Finger: As the Dawn will always come, so to is Hope Eternal – A new day will always rise, and despair must never be given in to.
- The Sixth Finger: All Light takes on the Cast of its Lens – When a flawed lens is used to view the world, deception can enter. All followers of the Morning lord must strive to keep themselves Pure, so that they may be a true lens for the Glory of the Morning Lord.
- The Seventh Finger: True Light does not Waver – As Light cuts through the Night, all should seek to stand steadfast against the Dark. Fear is no more then the dampening of thy Inner Light.
- The Eighth Finger: The Light of Morning warms all It touches – The Sun will drive away the chill of Night with the Break of Dawn. All should seek to the warmth of their Light with their fellows, to succor them in their times of need.
- The Ninth Finger: To Truly see Light there must be Darkness – Without Night there can be no Morning, Without Death there can be no Birth. For there to be renewal and growth, there must be death and decay. To deny the Dark is to deny the Glory of the Morning Lord, but to worship the Dark is to turn thy face from the Sun.
The Twilight Heresy
There are many heresies reviled by the priests of the Morning Lord. The gravest of these is known as the Twilight Heresy. This heresy holds that there is a dark counterpoint to the Lord of Morning, his brother the Lord of Twilight, who holds sway over the night and dark magics. Even the suggestion that the Lord of Twilight exists is sufficient to have a Son of Morning banned from the Church. The worship of the Lord of Twilight is punishable by death by torture. The Illuminators spend a great deal of their effort in rooting out believers in this heresy and confiscating any books that support the heretics' position.
Organizations of Ambria
The Starlit Isle
The Island of Witches. The Island Behind the Night Sky. The Green Home.
The Starlit Isle is known by all these names, and others, through the centuries. The legends about it are many: the ways into the Starlit Isle could be conjured at any fork in a river or stream by a witch with the knowledge. It is the last home of the Green Lords and their lores — the women who take the Oaths of the Isle are engaged in cunning and clever political manipulation, bloodline programs and other conspiracies.
Much is whispered about the isle, but little is truly known. It is known that only initiated witches of the Isle are capable of finding its shores. Though its location isn't definitively known, common legendry agrees that it is found at a fork in the Hound River. On a night where the stars fill the sky, a witch may "peel aside the night," revealing the island bathed in the glow of the moon and stars.
Young women who show a great deal of magical talent are brought here, but the practice has fallen away in recent generations, for the Whispered Word jealously guards that responsibility. Still, those families who don't have the pull to arrange for one of their daughters to attend a Chapterhouse, or whose daughters show talents in certain natural magics not recognized by the Whispered Word are brought here to learn. Mostly, though, mothers who were trained on the Isle usually bring their daughters who share in their talents here.
Not all who come here to learn to control their gifts are initiated into the full witchdom of the Isle. A few in every generation feel a calling, however. After their period of training is over, they seek additional lore and are brought into the sisterhood through secret rites, presided over by the Starlit Lady, the witch-queen of the Isle.
The Whispered Word
The Whispered Word is an order of savants and magi. Those who swear the Oaths as a Brother of the Whispered Word are taught great magics and sorceries, but in exchange they must agree to kneel in service to another.
The Brothers of the Whispered Word are sworn to neutrality, vowing to use their magics only at the behest of the one they have sworn an Oath to. Most of the nobles of Ambria consider it a mark of status to have a magus of the Whispered Word as an advisor. Some of the magi of the Whispered Word do not go into the service of a single lord, but instead swear to the Whispered Word as a whole, serving as teachers and mentors at the Collegia in Avennar. Others swear their Oaths directly to the Crown and do whatever the King bids them, acting as both advisors and protectors of the Kingdom. Those magi who have yet to swear their Oath are known as Unspoken.
The Whispered Word maintains Chapterhouses in Skyhold, Kor, Riversend, Saranor, Ebernath and Larakis. Each of these Chapterhouses not only acts as a school for the children of local nobility, but also functions as a place for those who wish to purchase the contract of a magus of the Whispered Word. A Chapterhouse typically has between four and a dozen magi living in it. The Whispered Word is run by the Council of Learned Voices, a group made up of the eldest magi serving in either the Avennar Collegia or who have taken Oath to the Crown.
The Silent Company
The Magi of the Whispered Word are served by a mercenary force known as the Silent Company. Trained in the use of the combative Arcana by the Whispered Word, each soldier of the Company is adept at resisting magic and fighting sorcerous threats. Though the Silent Company is responsible for the defense of the Whispered Word’s Chapterhouses, the greatest of the Silent Company's duties is the hunt for those magi who have violated their Oaths. Warriors of the Silent Company are dispatched to escort Unspoken to where they will swear their Oaths and to act as witnesses. Those members of the Silent Company that witness on oath-taking are referred to as Oath Speakers, and are the first sent to capture a Forsworn magi whose Oath they witnessed.
The Knights of Morning
Collectively referred to as The Rose and Gold Knights, the Knights of Morning are the premier chivalric order in Ambria. Sworn to the defense of Ambria, the Knights of Morning are filled with the flower of Nobility. The Rose and Gold Knights are the stuff of legend, slaying fell beasts from the North, destroying shadow wells and rooting out dark cultists.
Only those who truly distinguish themselves may petition for the right to join their ranks as an Aspirant. Those admitted as an aspirant spend a year undergoing rigorous training and a vicious weeding out process before they may become a Knight-Companion of the Knights of Morning. Once a knight has won the rank of Knight-Companion he spends the next two years in service to the Knights of Morning, living in one of their chapter houses and following the orders of the Knight-General of the order.
After these years of service, he may either leave active service with the Rose and Gold Knights or he may stay and continue to serve. The Knight of Morning wears a tabard of a golden sunburst on a rose field.
The Iron Guardians
Sometimes referred to as the Iron Wall, the Iron Guardians are responsible for defending the Northern border. Established by the Crown, they have been charged with guarding the border no matter what else is happening inside the kingdom. The Guardians maintain a series of small forts scattered along the border. Each of the forts houses anywhere from 10 men to nearly 200.
The Iron Guardians also send out ranges of 20 soldiers to patrol north of the border in pursuit of raiders and to locate blooming threats. However, the Iron Wall does not consider the combat of supernatural threats their duty. Should such a sorcerous danger to the Realm be discovered, the Iron Guardians do not hesitate to call upon the Knights of Morning to combat this threat.
The Iron Guardians are commanded from Firebrand Keep, where those who would join the Iron Guardians are trained. Firebrand Keep also maintains the summer barracks for several mercenary companies who escort caravans into the wild north. Other major Forts controlled by the Iron Wall include Deluge, Forestedge and Falls Point. However, the border forts tend to remain understrength in order to patrol the entire border; in some cases, having little more than a quarter of the barracks filled. The Iron Guardians also maintain small garrisons in the towns of Hillsmoor and Highgate.
The Mercenaries Guild
The Mercenaries Guild is responsible for the registration and Bonding of all mercenaries in Ambria. Any mercenary company of over 20 is required, by decree of the Crown, to be guild-bonded. Every bonded company and mercenary is required to give three months out of every year to garrison duty on the Iron Wall. Many of the major companies keep part of their forces in garrison year round while the remainder fulfills the contracts that the company was hired for. Even individual mercenaries commonly seek out a guild-bond, given that a guild-bond makes it easier to find gainful employment. Both the Jewelers Guild and the Silver Larks hire only bonded mercenaries as protectors, refusing to trust anyone who will not pay the bond price. The Guild will go to great lengths to enforce any contracts signed by bonded mercenaries, bringing the full weight of the Guild against any who would violate its rules.
The Silver Larks are the guild of bards and minstrels. Holding a crown appointment, any silver lark would find a warm welcome throughout Ambria.
The White Sisterhood
The White Sisterhood is an all-female order of knights. Their tabard consists of three blue roses on a white field. The White Sisters are sworn to three oaths in addition to those that all knights swear. These are: to defend the virtue of the women of Ambria; to act as champion for any Noblewoman in need; and to keep the Tabernacle of the Sapphire Rose pure.
Customs of Ambria
- Dowry: In Ambria, all women who marry leave their birth family and join the family of their husband, usually bringing with them a dowry fitting to their status. Those women strongly gifted with Arcana usually walk under the arch with a dowry that is little more than themselves, their wedding dress and the cords to bind them to their new husbands. If a woman has little gift with Arcana, she will usually have a dowry consisting of an appropriate amount of money and land to her status.
- Hospitality: The guest right is considered sacred in Ambria. Once a host has broken bread with a guest, it is their obligation to defend them against all who would harm them. Breaking the guest right is a taboo akin to cannibalism or incest.
- Knighthood: The majority of the nobility of Ambria belong to one of the knightly orders of the Kingdom. They are the Knights of Morning, the Crown Knights, the Iron Knights, and the White Sisterhood. While it is possible to be a knight without being in one of these orders, it is uncommon for anyone born into a noble or knightly family. Those knights who do not belong to a knightly order are commonly referred to as hedge knights. All male knights are addressed as "Ser" and all female knights are addressed as "Dame." Any knight has the right to request one night of hospitality from any noble in the land.
Laws of magic
- The use of Sorcery is punishable by quartering for anyone who is not a sworn magus of the Whispered Word.
- Arcana shall not be used to violate the minds of a Peer of the Realm, this crime will be treated no differently than mundane espionage.
- The use of Arcana to cause physical harm will be punished no differently than striking them with naked steel.
- To use magic on any person without their consent will be considered assault in the eyes of the law.