Welcome to the exciting fantasy world of Corwyn, a world of intrigue, mystery, powerful magic, strange beasts, great empires, noble heroes, and tyrannical despots. In short, it is a world like no other. This guide is designed to familiarize players with the exciting setting of Corwyn as a backdrop for role-playing in either the Dungeons & Dragons® 3rd/3.5 Editions or Pathfinder® Rule Set. The continent of Corwyn is home to giant mountains and rolling plains. It is home to vast forests and arid deserts, and to freezing arctic tundra and steamy volcanic wastelands. Corwyn is the name of the setting and the name of its central continent. The Continent of Corwyn is the largest of the five continents of the world of Oris. Below Corwyn is the enormous continent of Avokhar, to the west across the Wyn Myr Ocean are the Unknown Lands, and Iskandar, and to the east across the Vhan Myr Ocean is the dark and strange continent of Za'Har.
Only the continent of Corwyn is dealt with in this volume, with the exception of the cultures of Avokhar that had influence on Corwyn’s regional history and continue to influence events today. The various sections deal in order with the following topics; culture and society, races and groups of men, dwarves, and elves. Next there is a section on role-playing and character creation in this setting. Next are sections on organizations that characters can belong to, and also a section on the various religions of Corwyn’s major races and the deities of Corwyn. There is a detailed section on the geography of Corwyn by specific region, including political divisions, cities, fortifications, and important geographical features such as mountain ranges, hills, forests, and marshes. Next is a section on the lands and places beyond Corwyn, such as the island kingdoms, and the four other continents of Corwyn are touched upon briefly. Next is a section of general history, as well as a timeline and entries on significant historical events that have shaped Corwyn’s history. Next, there are sections on lost civilizations and ruins that can be explored and unique Corwyn monsters that can be encountered. There is a section dealing with important NPCs, random encounter tables, and other role-playing aids. Finally, a brief pronunciation guide to help players with the myriad of strange terms in this book, and various appendices with additional charts and player and Dungeon-Master information. Once again, welcome; prepare to explore the unique and colorful game setting of Corwyn!
How to Use This Site
This site is designed as a reference for role-playing, using the Dungeons & Dragons® 3.5 Edition or Pathfinder rules combined with the Corwyn Game Setting. The site is primarily for use by the Dungeon-Master, who will use the various sections to develop backgrounds for his adventures. The site can be also be accessed by players as well. The sections on Role-Playing, character development, and religion are essential when the players develop a Corwyn setting PC. All are encouraged to at least skim the Guide to the Lands of Corwyn, Chronology of Corwyn and Encyclopedia sections for basic familiarity with nations and rulers and why each has developed into their present alignments and cultures. You will need to use this site in conjunction with the Official Players Handbook, Dungeon-Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual to achieve the most satisfactory gaming experience. So get out the dice, roll up your sleeves, and enjoy!
The Corwyn Game Setting
The Corwyn setting can be fun for both the DM and the player characters. For players, Corwyn offers a rich diverse setting where you can play many different races, classes, and have many different origins. For DMs, there is a rich history and a wealth of detailed information for plots, subplots, and rumors, and hopefully, a thousand adventure ideas as well. Below are some tips for both players and game-masters when they set out to play in the Corwyn game setting.
Notes for the Role-Player
Across this broad expanse of Corwyn merchants ply their wares, aristocrats rule their lands and domains, and craftsmen create their works of trade, warriors patrol in search of bounty, fame, and adventure. Priests spread their faith and dutifully worship their chosen deity, bards and minstrels travel the lands entertaining for a night’s lodging and a free meal, rogues skulk through the night on a thousand errands of mischief and mayhem, barbarians roam the wilds, savoring the freedom of answering to no one, and finally wizards and sorcerers practice their dark arts in secret, either for their own ends or as members of secret societies so powerful and influential they cast a shadow on everyone in the realms. It is in this bustling medieval setting where you will play, so choose your PC wisely, for your skills will be challenged no matter your class, and you will find danger, intrigue, and adventure around every corner. Players should consult the Player's Guide to Corwyn, for more detail on role-playing.
Notes for the Dungeon-Master
You will be challenged with a virtual world of history, facts, locales, and important characters. You can set your adventures in any major country, but you may want to start small, with a local freehold, or even a small barony you made up yourself. The Corwyn game setting is designed to give you the ‘broad-strokes,’ but you as the DM fill in the ‘fine-strokes’ yourself. In the entries on this website, you will not find detailed information on every barony and small settlement in a given kingdom. This is intentional, for you to put in your own, or even plug in an official D&D adventure. Your only constraints will be major historical events and general climate restrictions (i.e. you cannot play an arctic adventure in the Myr Gelyn Desert, it must be in either Marundi, the Northern Wastes, the Khorlann Steppes, or the north coastal region of East or West Corwyn). Likewise, you cannot alter events in the official chronology, but there are many gaps, and smaller, less significant events that may not be included; those are the ones you invent! This book is merely a detailed framework for you, but your adventures are your own, and only you will decide the outcome of how things can and should turn out. Please be logical, though. PCs may desire to overthrow the kingdom of Alveron and put themselves on the throne, but ask yourself as DM, how could they? Didn’t the king of Alveron put safeguards into place to prevent such attempts? Doesn’t he have powerful mages and bodyguards at his service? Doesn’t he have a large army? Doesn’t he live in a well designed, spell-protected fortress immune to destructive spells? The answer to these questions is: of course he does! This is a very large world, and it cannot be upset in any real fashion except by literally world-changing events, and only very high level PCs will have the abilities to attempt such feats. A simple method for putting reality in your fantasy as a Corwyn DM is to ask yourself a simply question when PCs want to alter the world or affect some other drastic change: "Why is it, that no one else tried this before, and if they did, how did these kingdoms and rulers last this long, if it was this easy to simply destroy them?’" The answer is simply, it wasn’t that easy, and it shouldn’t be for your players either. If they want to overthrow some local baron, or murder the magistrate of some city; let them try, but make them pay the consequences (see the section below on Law and Order). The most important point is to let everyone have a good time and enjoy the game setting, and make it your setting as much as the next guy.
A Time of Troubles
It should also be remembered that the present is a dark time for all the races of Corwyn. As this book is written the present time is the year 1247/6. The tranquil peaceful kingdoms of the West are not secure, and people are suspicious and frightened. There have been ominous rumors for the past twenty years that the Dark Lord Sorimmar the Necromancer; the supreme ruler of the realm of Morgoth has once again begun to stretch forth his hand to assail the lands of the West. These reports have usually come from the Grey Watchers, who for millennia have kept vigil on the evil lands east of the Saugreth-Muir Mountain range. The baronies and freeholds of the Borderlands region are pleading for help from the western powers, as they are besieged with constant orc raids, marauding wolf packs, and brigands of every description. These signs and portents are surely the forebears of Sorimmar’s intentions to destabilize and then invade the West. Moreover, as 1247/6 begins, the West is not at all united. The kingdom of Elyria is on the verge of collapse because of back-stabbing nobles and political intrigue, with a usurper around every corner. The northern kingdoms of Ammarind and Marundi are at each other’s throats, the Southland kingdoms of Rennsfar and Serathyr constantly threaten each other with outright war, and in the Heartlands hostility is present everywhere. The kingdom of Eldara is preoccupied with threats of incursions by Vilzari warbands along her southern borders. Even the dwarves of the North are not immune. The great Dwarf-realm of Orrek has its own problems with constant warfare underground with armies of goblins who share their mountain home. Finally, there are racial rifts. Elves and dwarves mistrust each other over injustices done so long ago that history itself has forgotten them. Thalari and Amari folk bicker in the north, the Thannish kingdoms spar with each other, and the Westvalians; the Iskari folk of Cyrendar, seem no longer to take interests in the plight of other kingdoms. Only the stalwart kingdom of Alveron is preparing for eventual war with the East, along with her staunch allies of Derianor and Erindar. Will their efforts be enough to withstand the coming storm? The storm will be terrible indeed. Sorimmar has marshaled the armies of Morgoth, which are hundreds of thousands strong. If that were not enough, he has used his dark influence over the other eastern realms to make alliances with him. The Far Eastern kingdom of Kurand has sworn allegiance, as have the realms of Üthrar and Thûle. Sorimmar is suspected as stirring up the troubles in both the North, through the King of Marundi, and far to the South, through the King of Vilzar. With enemies on all sides, there is little hope. But not none, for as if by divine intervention, the legendary Orenthir has been found, the greatest weapon the West has ever had with which to fight evil. If the great orb cab be recovered and used by the allies in the West against Sorimmar’s hordes, then perhaps Corwyn will not be covered in darkness forever. It is against this fearful land violent backdrop that the PCs will begin their adventures.
The Continent of Corwyn
The actual continent of Corwyn is over 1500 miles from east to west and over 1200 miles from north to south. Corwyn’s terrain includes rolling grasslands, towering mountains, rocky hills, gigantic dark forests, icy arctic tundra, and burning desert. Throughout the continent, travelers of every size, shape, race, and description make their way. There are few paved roads, and even these are often in poor repair. But even well-traveled roads and trails are not necessarily safe. Outside the cities, seaports, towns, villages, and hamlets lay the open wild places of Corwyn. In these vast expanses, roaming monsters frequently prowl, and other villains make their homes. The geography is varied with every conceivable climate and terrain. Hearty adventurers will see and learn much about the wide ranging places of the continent, and see more in a few weeks and months than many see in a lifetime.
The People of Corwyn
Corwyn is a land of thousands of intelligent creatures, but a few races, and one in particular, dominate the continent. Corwyn is a land of men primarily, with the elves, dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes a distant second. The race of men has evolved into the supreme master of every land save a few, and has influence even in those secluded places. Over thousands of years, humans have gained more and more dominance, while the races of elves, dwarves have faded more and more into obscurity. The great elvish and dwarvish empires are long a memory, and the halfling and gnome races live with humans in small enclaves with no kingdoms of their own. It can be said that the race of men learned from the mistakes of the elves and dwarves, and have prospered from that knowledge. Although the older races, as the others are commonly called, are essentially friendly to mankind, they harbor resentment and fear that men will eventually encroach upon their last territories and reduce them to complete dependence on outsiders for support, food, and shelter. It is only in time of war that the older races and the race of men truly band together. Old grievances and slights are temporarily forgotten as a common foe enters the fray.
A Rare Magic World
There is one aspect of the Corwyn game setting that sets it apart from all others; the lack of magic. Players and DMs can use all of the spells, magical items, scrolls, potions, and wands that are normally available in D&D, but the DM should use them sparingly. Except in a very, very few selected locations, magical items such as weapons, armor and other devices cannot be bought and sold. Further, most players will not be able to convince a local spellcaster to enchant their items. This is due to the utter control of magic on Corwyn held by the Veiled Society. It should be remembered that in Corwyn’s history, the misuse of magic and the powers associated with it almost destroyed the entire continent on one occasion, and led to the downfall of the greatest human civilization in history. Because of these twin tragedies, the Veiled Society has clamped down hard on the proliferation of magical training and magical items. Players will find that magical treasure is one-third as common as in the standard D&D rules, and usually only high-level NPCs will possess even a single magic item. For balance in game-play, enemies will have little magic also, and enemy spellcasters are equally rare. This rarity of magic will ensure that when the DM does indeed grant a magical item to the party, it will be truly appreciated. The only exception to this is in the realms of Cyrendar and Derianor, where magic is much more common. Conversely, magic items are much more common in the southern Continent of Avokhar.
Magic in Society
The ‘Art,’ as it is called by common folk on Corwyn is both rarely seen and restricted in its use. Most local nations have laws regarding the use the magic in the open, for safety reasons, and the use is very strictly regulated by the Veiled Society. This is largely due to the misuse of magic throughout the history of Corwyn. It is common knowledge that Sorimmar nearly destroyed the West, and succeeded in destroying the Great Ravinian Empire, so the fear of powerful mages grips society tightly. The general public fears magic, especially in rural areas. Because of the rarity of magic, there is an acute shortage of magical items as well. Due to the scarcity, magical items can sell on the market for twice or three times normal prices. And most magical weapons were lost in the Cataclysm many thousands of years ago. Still, there are mages, sorcerers, and adepts on Corwyn. These folk are few and far between, and in rural areas there may be only one practitioner out of several thousand people. Only in the great cities and seaports does magic exist on a wider scale, and even there it is heavily regulated. Most major cities have enacted laws restricting the use of spells on the streets without permission. Violations of these laws will result in punishment ranging from fines for minor offenses to imprisonment and\or execution for major offenses, especially those resulting in either harm or death to another. Magic-using PCs will draw attention to themselves on sight of their art, and if they misuse their skills, can and will draw the wrath of the Veiled Society.
Culture & Society
In the world of Corwyn there are many cultures and civilizations, with many races of men, elves and dwarves. This section deals with the basic social fabric of Corwyn’s culture, such as the calendar, festivals, the role of government, and the differences between urban and rural settings. The following is a brief synopsis of these groups for your basic player knowledge. The following section deals with various aspects of life on Corwyn, so that players can have a better understanding of the fabric of the world around them and the people in it. DMs are encouraged to read these sections carefully so that their game will have the correct ‘flavor’ of western life on Corwyn. It is assumed that every kingdom, realm, freehold, and geographic region has a distinct set of values, cultures, ideals, and traditions. Such details are not included in this volume, and the DM may improvise to give distinct flavors for various countries and regions, as long as alignment guides are followed. For example it would not do for there to be a tradition of human sacrifices every full moon in a small Barony in the kingdom of Alveron, not would it be appropriate for there to be a strong tradition of charity and compassion in a harsh and evil realm such as Üthrar. There are many categories of life and society, so for the sake of clarity, the entries are listed alphabetically, rather than by subject category.
The most common form of government throughout Corwyn is the feudal monarchy system. A country called a kingdom is ruled by a king or queen and their royal family, supported by the nobility who own or control nearly all of the kingdom’s lands. The nobles agree to support the monarch with taxes and military contingents in return for limited autonomy. In the West, this system is enlightened with the ideals of benevolence brought down from the Ravinian period and still used today. A noble lord who mistreats his peasants and local subjects doesn’t last long before being removed. All nobles must swear allegiance to their monarch, and these oaths are taken deadly seriously by other kingdoms and the Veiled Society who serve as a watchdog over western political systems. The real power of the monarch lies in the national army, which all nobles must contribute annual troop levees to or face severe sanction. Although the local dukes and barons may have their own men-at-arms, they cannot withstand the forces of the monarch, and thus are forced into obedience. Below the monarchy in every western kingdom are powerful dukes who control vast regions of the kingdom called duchies. Below each duke are between four and ten barons, who rule the smaller local rural areas called baronies, which make up the duchies. Below each baronial ruler are between five and ten local leaders of towns and villages, which make up the baronies. These small communities are normally ruled by a burgomaster (mayor), assisted by a small council of local aldermen or elders. Each level of governmental ruler answers to his superior lord, and all lords answer to the royal monarch and his family. The barony and town governments are the types of local authority that most low-level PCs will usually encounter. Only as PCs rise to very high level will they interact with upper nobility and royalty, because until they achieve fame and level, most will simply not be important enough to meet or interact with those individuals in most cases.
Although the most common from of government is the monarchy system, not every nation on Corwyn has adopted that form of government. Notable exceptions are the dwarvish realm of Kharos-Thûngol which is governed by a council of merchant elders, who are not royalty or even nobility, and the Elf-realm of Antharë, which is governed by a ruling-council of Grey-Elf mages. Still another form of government is a theocracy; a government by the religious leaders of a region. The strongest and most influential theocracy on Corwyn is the realm of Derianor. The Grand Bishops of Derianor wield absolute power, but do so with a caring and even-tempered hand. Corwyn is also home to tyrannical governments. These dark lands are ruled by fear through a single absolute power. The realm of Morgoth is a prime example of such a power. The Dark Lord Sorimmar the Necromancer controls absolute authority over all his subjects in his realm, and his subjects live in fear and oppression because of it. There are also tyrannical overlords and despots found throughout North, East, and South Corwyn.
Religion in Society
Spirituality is very important in Corwyn, and religious tolerance as far as the lawful Gods is widespread. The Dark Gods are a different story in the West. However, the reverse is true in the east and north. Generally across Corwyn, people respect and fear the divine powers. Most deities so not take an active part in everyday life and are content to observe, although it is not uncommon for them to manipulate mortals to their own petty aims. Most folk of Corwyn zealously worship a single deity, and will make offerings to them to avoid misfortune, illness, or death, and most will honor their deity with gifts in gratitude for any good fortune or blessing they have perceived. In general, most folk believe in a deity that is most closely associated with their particular circumstance and station in life. Atheism is rare on Corwyn, but it does exist. There are those hardened souls who scorn the Gods, and the rituals and superstitions they believe accompany them.
Law & Order
Every kingdom on Corwyn has a codified set of rules and laws. These laws are enforced by the king’s soldiers, and locally by city and town militias. The local monarch will appoint Magistrates to resolve disputes between parties and to judge those offenders of the royal laws. The Magistrates typically hear two types of cases; criminal cases, where one party is the alleged offender, the other the state and the victim. The second are civil cases, usually involving property and trade disputes, where money and compensation is awarded to one party from another. In most cases, especially those involving serious crimes or large monetary amounts, the decision of the local Magistrate can be appealed directly to the local noble lord, be that the duke of a large city, or the baron of a rural community, depending on where the crime took place or the dispute arose. In rare cases, the decision of the noble lord can be appealed before the country’s monarch. This only happens if the monarch agrees to hear the case. For adventurers, breaking the laws can have dire consequences. For example, killing someone without proper justification could result in long imprisonment or even execution. Any attempt to fight the local militia or soldiery would result in powerful reinforcements being brought in to simply destroy the party. There are several extremely powerful groups on Corwyn: notably the Veiled Society (an order of mages), the Silver Ravens (an order of paladins), the
Red Mood Synod (an order of monks), the Grey Watchers (an order of rangers and druids), as well as several powerful Mercenary Regiments; all of who can and will be deployed by local Kings, Dukes, and Barons (and by the DM!) to stop unruly adventurers (players!) who have simply become too much to handle for local militia and government soldiers.
The majority of the people of Corwyn live off the land in rural agricultural areas. These folk are predominantly peasant farmers, with the exception of a few trades’ people in local towns and villages who serve their needs. Most farmers live within a few miles of the local town, where they can access what they need. The townsfolk and the outlying farmers are protected a local militia, usually led a retired mercenary or soldier. These militias can call on the local noble lord or the national army for assistance in time of crisis. For added protection in dangerous areas, the local towns are walled and more heavily garrisoned with armed troops. It is extremely rare to find high-level NPCs of any class in rural areas or small towns, the only priests to be found are usually local Adepts or healers of the lowest level, and most rural folk have never even seen magic or a magical item.
Time & Seasons
The annual calendar used by the vast majority of the human populations of East, West, and North Corwyn is derived from a system invented during the Ravinian Empire. The Ravinian Calendar divides the Corwyn year into ten months of forty days each, and each month into four weeks of ten days each. The Corwyn year begins on the night of Midsummer’s Eve, followed the next morning by the start of the second week of Nieumont. The following nine months in order are: Klarmont, Ambyrmont, Felmont, Fyrmont, Kaldmont, Thaumont, Ladermont, Flaurmont, and Harthmont. Each week has ten 22-hour days, beginning with Eiryundain, followed in order by: Grômdain, Tserdain, Nyrdain, Rhëasdain, Enomdain, Moldain, Karmadain, Isildain, and Atordain. The Corwyn calendar also recognizes four seasons. Summer includes the three months of Harthmont, Nieumont, and Klarmont. Autumn includes the two months of Ambyrmont and Felmont. Winter includes the three months of Fyrmont, Kaldmont, and Thaumont. Spring includes the two months of Ladermont and Flaurmont. The Vilzari of the South use their own calendar, as do the Daroon of the Far East and the Eloysian peoples of Avokhar. All other human civilizations on Corwyn use the Ravinian calendar. The elves and dwarves of Corwyn also have their own calendars, from which humans have copied.
Most trade is controlled by local merchant’s guilds or trade costers. Merchant guilds are mercantile organizations that exist in every major city to regulate trade, set prices, and serve as a place to resolve disputes. Such guilds are very common and politically, can be very powerful. They are much more common and powerful in the West, but have influence even in dark realms such as Morgoth. In rural regions, it is quite common for bartering to take place over commodities, as monetary wealth is rare. In major cities, currency is widely used and prices are higher. The only exception is trade in magic goods; this is extremely rare and will almost never be seen outside a large city.
The most common mode of transportation is walking. A medium sized unencumbered human can walk 24 miles per day over open ground, a rider and horse can travel 48 miles per day, and cart or wagon can travel 16 miles per day. There are few good-quality paved roads, otherwise consider all roads a trail. Adverse weather, such as snow or heavy rain cuts movement in half. Overland movement without a road or trial reduces movement by the following: scrub or brush: ¾, forest\woodlands: ½, jungle, swamp: ¼, hills: ½, mountain: ¼, desert: ½. Usually in rural open areas, a traveling party can camp in the open, but there are inns located along most roads in every town and village for food, shelter, and rest. In urban areas, such lodging must be used. As for water-borne movement; sailing ships can travel up to 80 miles per day, warships and rowed galleys can travel up to 120 miles per day. Rafts and barges on rivers and lakes can travel up to 48 miles per day.