This name refers, primarily, to the area of deserts north of the Bron Mountains and south of the area called the Damanlave Forest. Politically this also refers to the areas once controlled by the Empire of Harad, ruled by the Coraxan Throne.
On the whole, the area generally referred to as “Harad” encompasses the southern half of the continent Magnus Terra, from the Damanlave and the delta of the Great River to the southern tip of the continent. The area can be divided into several different ecological zones, created primarily by the mountain range which bisects the continent, blocking moisture from the southern areas from reaching the northern parts of Harad:
The area directly north of the Bron Mountains consists of a vast sea of dunes. This exceedingly dry and inhospitable area is known for its treacherous sandstorms, dangerous wildlife (particularly the dune wyrms) and deadly sinkholes. Though nomadic tribes called bedine have lived in the area for countless ages, travel in the wastes was impossible, though due to the development of dune skiff technology and the construction of the King’s Highway allowed for much faster and safer movement across the area.
Correctly pronounced ‘aisel-len’, the area directly south of the Bron Mountains is made up of swamps, fens, bogs, and moors. Moisture moving north, unable to cross the 7,000 foot peaks of the Bron range, is dropped nearly constantly on this area, creating vast tracks of sodden turf. The area, bounded by the Starbrook Forest to the west, the Taint to the south, and the Dry Hills and Spine of Avud Khatsi to the east, accounts for nearly 1/4 of Harad’s inhabitable land and nearly half of its inhabitants.
This arid hill-scape makes up the eastern boundary of the region. Once home to the moguhl it became heavily contested between the Empire of Harad and the Jyhad. The area is made up of savannas and semi-arid grasslands/steppes, as well as badlands near the eastern end of the Bron Mountains.
Following the events in the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Moraon ha Rapha, an eldritch ‘incident’ changed the face of the the southern tip of Harad. What had to that point been uninhabitable swamp and dense jungle was transformed into a bleak scorched landscape, tainted with raw eldritch energies. The result varies from one location to the next, but the unadulterated magics seem to have fundamentally changed the make-up of the soil itself, causing some area to flowery, and others to split and crack, producing only fields of thorns and poisoned grasses. Little exploration has occurred in this region, but it now, for the most part, resembles a vast steppe, punctuated often by anomalies in both flora and fauna, hence its common nomenclature, the Taint.
Harad tends to be populated primarily by humans and demihumans. There are large communities of elves and dwarves, but these tend to be restricted to the kingdoms of Aneeliel and Azd Gardt, respectively. And with the arrival of the Kingdom of Shadows, a new race called the Migrated now also figure into the picture
The predominate race of humans are the Haradi, who have strong racial ties to the bedine of the deep Wastes. Both the Yuni and the Moguhl are thought to be extinct as independent ethnic groups, though recent evidence seems to suggest that the Moguhl may have re-emerged.
The fourth human race, called Trogk, are enigmatic. After the Eldritch Storm, the Trogk, a race bred for battle at the hands of the Mistlord Cormacht Dorchadas. It is thought that, after his fall, that the Trogk, corrupted by his fell magics, had followed him in death and risen as the fearful Eldritch of Tir Aflan. But more recent excursions into the boundaries of that forbidden realm have suggested that the race survived in some form, gathering together in loose-knit clans in the Cursed Land. What happened to these scattered communities in the aftermath of the ‘incident’ is not known.
It would not be a stretch to say that Harad is a war-torn land, frequently disrupted by ethnic cleansings and holy wars. The result of these conflicts has been the constant blending of disparate cultural and racial groups, leading to the eventually consequent of mixed races. These are most often seen in the form of half-elves and half-gobs/half-orcs. By and large, the Empire protected these persons from discrimination, though this has not been the case since the fall of the Empire, at least in areas controlled by the Creliam Alliance.
Drau (prounced ‘draw’) are surface-dwelling descendants of a schism within the Drow society. What caused this schism is unknown, but for whatever reason, two clans of dark elves ascended into the light, eventually settling in and around the ancient ruins which would later become Bayth Rapha. In fact, it is from the language of the Drau that both the Emperor and the dun were given the name Rapha, or “Great One”.
They are roughly the same height/build as high elves, with skin ranging from deep grey to purple, and their eyes glow with a yellowish incandescence. They are have the ability to move through shadows, shifting between spaces in this world and a shadowy other, an ability they call obfuscation.
Migrated refers to those who have been made undead, or Embraced, by the Kingdom of Shadows. During the initial stages of conflict the practice of crucimigration was used as a weapon by the Kingdom for putting down revolts in troublesome areas. Now the act of Embracing is performed only on those who have rendered exceptional services to the Umbral Throne, and the Migrated form the first caste of true citizens of the Kingdom. In other areas Migrated tend to be treated as monsters, and often go to great lengths to hide the truth of their identity from those around them.
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Empire of Harad
Before the breakup of the Empire in 55 A2 following the death of Moraon ha Rapha, the empire was ruled by a council of dukes. These dukes represented and gave guidance to the numerous tribes and kingdoms which made up up the Empire. The three prominent positions were Dux Haradarius, presiding over Bayth Rapha and Pen Cath to the Emperor, [[Dux Graevanus, presiding over Caer Graevanus, and Dux Arcadius, presiding over Caer Arcadius. A fourth “duke” was added, under the direct oversight of the Duke of Harad after the trouble in the Occupied Territories began in 25 A2 (also called the “Year of the Long Night”). This post, called the Provost Marshal of the Occupied Territories, helped to keep the troubled region under control by presiding over Kittering and the surrounding townships.
Division of the Empire
Following the death of Moraon ha Rapha, the empire divided into disparate and often warring kingdoms. The new division are as follows:
The Harad Wastes from the western sea to the southern run of the King’s Road, and from the Bron Mountains north to the waters of the Salaan River are now controlled by the Creliam Alliance. This alliance of the Houses of Creliam, Flantair, and the re-born Dashow.
Allied Ducal Lands
The lands north of the Salaan and east to the King’s Road are controlled by an alliance between the ducal houses of Dux Arcadius Bhain Triath in Caer Arcadius and Dux Graevanus Celrendir of Oran Taur in Caer Graevanus. They stand united against both the Creliam Alliance and the Iron Fist Hegemony, and support the claims of Feydelius ben Ammon to the Coraxan Throne.
Iron Fist Hegemony
When the goblinoid Jyhad began it attacks on the outlying regions of the Empire around the year 52 A2, few could have imagined the scope of their claims to ancestral lands. Now, supported by the Kingdom of Shadows, the Jyhad, led by the Iron Fist clan, lays claim to all lands northeast of the Bron range and are engaged in a fierce battle with the Ducal Alliance for control of the King’s Road and it’s townships of Firn Dum and Dainsford and for the fishing villages surrounding Lake Ergg.
The dwarven city-state is carved into the base of the western-most of the Bron Mountains. It is unknown how far into the mountains and surrounding areas the dwarves have expanded, but it is likely that a vast and deep area have been cultivated in the dark roots of the range. Currently ruled by King Duerand Ironhelm.
The elven city, and the region that bears its name, encompasses all of the Starbrook Forests. Populated almost entirely by wood-elves, the area maintains tightly controlled borders (though they are known to offer aid to the efforts of the Raphan Empire). The area is currently controlled by Queen Talia Siannodel.
The Raphan Empire
After the death of Moraon ha Rapha and the seizure of the Coraxan Throne by House Creliam, the remaining members of Houses ben Rapha and ben Ammon fled to the ben Ammon holdings in Bayth Rapha. House ben Ammon still maintains that the votes of the nasiphs made Feydelius the new emperor, not Marcian Creliam. Supported by the warhosts of both houses, Feydelius now controls all the land between the Bron Mountains and the Taint from the borders of Aneeli’el on the west to the Auguan River on the east. The area is ruled from Bayth Rapha.
The Kingdom of Shadows
Following the invasion in 55 A2, the Kingdom of Shadows spread across what was then called the Occupied Territories and South into the Taint. The area was soon divided among the ruling clans of the Kingdom and is currently split into 9 duchies (not counting the tributary of New Haven. The whole of the Kingdom is ruled from deep within the ancient city of Stonecrest (colloquially christened the Necropolis) high int he mountains of Avud Khatsi.
The predominate language in Harad is Common. However, the lingua franca of the region remains a pigeon dialect of Common and Haradi. Haradi is an ancient tribal language of the bedine. It is very guttural, filled with harsh cadences, and punctuated with trilled tones.
The region also boasts a large usage of Smuggler’s Cant, which has grown in popularity with the rise of trade between the civilized western regions and the Dry Hills controlled by the Iron Fist Hegemony.
The region has no official religion, and contains shrines and temples to all manner of cultural and racial deities.
The predominate faith, however, is the worship of Yesuchi. The traditional Haradi faith is a monotheistic one. He is believed to be the creator of this and of all worlds, and that it is He who orders the lives of his creations and will bring about the end of all things. He is described as just, merciful, truthful, morally-pure, and righteous, and requires the same of his followers. The sign of Yesuchi is the eye of the peacock feather.
Also noteworthy is the introduction of Imperial cult by the Kingdom of Shadows who refer to their Dark Lord as the God-king. Before all likenesses of him and especially in his presence, all are commanded to render submission in the Kingdom.
Traditional haradi music tends to be driving music designed to lull listeners into dance and song. It combines lilting flute and pipe music with driving drums beats. Skalds, too, have a long tradition, keeping alive the myths and stories of the Haradrim.
Tobakh, or smoking leaf/weed, is also prevalent in Haradi social life. Alone they enjoy the smoke through pipes, but more common is the usage of a water pipe, called a nargilah. Usable by as many as 6 people, these pipes are central to any gathering. Also the introduction of tobakh rolled into long tubes, or chahga, by the DelaCroix merchants has become popular of late.
Finally, the introduction of dwarven blasting powder has changed the face of combat throughout Harad. It is thought that the first guns were an attempt to improve upon the design of the crossbow. The guns, as they exist today, are heavy and cumbersome, but allow for a level of lethality incomparable among similar weapons.
The essential design is a tube mounted on a stock. The tube, or barrel, is packed with a pre-measured charge of blasting powder, then sealed with a projectile. A special device, which the dwarves call a forgelock, ignites the blasting power sending the projectile flying towards the target. These weapons can be of any scale, from bombards to hand cannons and muskets, and have changed the face of battle in Harad.