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DENAGOTH (Kingdom of)
Location: Continent of Brun, north of Wendar and west of Norwold and the Heldannic Territories. NW
Area: 125,000 sq. mi. (323,750 sq. km.).
Population: 272,000, roughly 25% human and 75% humanoid; estimated demihuman (elf) population: 3,000.
Languages: Denagothian (a human language not closely related to any other spoken in the Old World), Orcish, Gnoll, Goblin, Bugbear, Heldannic, Elvish (Geffronell, Genalleth and Alfheim dialects).
Coinage: Gold (gp), silver (sp); barter common.
Taxes: 30% income tax, collected yearly.
Government Type: Theocratic dictatorship.
Industries: Hunting, raiding, mining, agriculture (grows barely enough for its own use).
Important Figures: Landryn Teriak a.k.a. the Shadow Lord (Overlord, vassalich, male, M14), Grumann (General, human, male, F13/T10), Durifern Widefarer (Clanmaster, elf, male, R16), Beasthunter (Clanmaster, elf, male, F13/M13), Sylarion (Clanmaster, vampire elf, male, F9/Pr7 of Nyx).
Flora and Fauna: The area known as Denagoth comprises a great oak forest to the east that dates back to the old Blackmoor era and another forested region to the west mostly made of dead trees. Throughout the whole region the terrain is rocky and difficult to cultivate, if not impossible. The Avien Plains, in the central part of Denagoth, is the only area where the soil is somewhat able to produce crops and where cattle can be tended without particular problems. The northern zone is basically a rocky waste that gives way to swamps and frozen tundra. The animals commonly encountered in Denagoth are moose, elk, bears (all species, especially grizzlies), wolves (even dire wolves), wild boars, snakes and mountain lions. The land is a haven for humanoid races, and many tribes of orcs, hobgoblins, goblins, bugbears, gnolls and some ogres live in the foothills and on the highest peaks of the mountains, as well as in the forests. The Mengul Mountains are home to a vast variety of monstrous species, such as: snow apes, white apes, giant bats, dragons (white and blue), harpies, giant ferrets, sasquatches, and unicorns. Black dragons abound in the swamps and forests of the entire region, unchallenged masters of the draconic race inhabiting Denagoth.
Further Reading: X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord, previous almanacs.
Description by Christopher Dove.
I am writing this report not of my own free will, but because I have been charged by Denagoth's high priestess to let you, dear readers, know of Denagoth's magnificent landscapes and shed some light on its inhabitants. I have been told to reassure all of you, who live in the southern nations, that Denagoth has no will to cause mischief in the Old World, but that it is a land with an ancient and proud history that only deserves to be acknowledged by the other important nations of the world.
In this brief commentary I will thereby describe the western region of Denagoth, what is commonly referred to as the Lothenar Forest, where I have been allowed to travel escorted by a small group of soldiers gladly provided for my own sake by the Most High Priest of the Church of Idris.
[Even this year the report arrived in perfect shape, even though persistent rumours coming from the north say that Professor Dove in the hands of the dangerous forces of the Shadow Lord. We do not know how much of this has been written by his quill and how much has been later added or modified for propaganda by the Church of Idris. We only advise you, dear readers, to take everything written here with the benefit of doubt until we find out more. For more information on the Forest of Geffron, the Avien Plains and the overall region, please refer to the previous Mystaran Almanacs, AC 1015 and AC 1016. Ed.]
If you enter Denagoth following the road that goes from Gylharen's Pass in Wendar up to the Denagothian Plateau, you will find yourself in the middle of the verdant Forest of Geffron, now fallen back into the hands of the Shadow Lord's troops. Going north from this spot, the forest gives way to a huge grassland that is called the Avien Plains after the tribe that settled it a long time ago. It is here that the great majority of the Denagothians live, humans and humanoids alike. Here the soil is good enough to plant a few crops and breed different species of animals. Venturing further westwards, after some days of travelling the windswept grasslands give way to a different landscape of ash grey twisted trees and tall shrubs: the Lothenar Forest.
This is more a wood than a forest, but the Denagothians kept the elven name of this area in sad tribute to the fate of the thousands of souls who once lived here. The forest is made of high twisted trees whose bark has strangely turned ash grey. Birches, ash trees, firs and a few oaks (now deprived of their former majesty) grow in the area, but their number and size is not as imposing as those of the trees of the Great Forest of Geffron. The paths across the forest are hindered by the thick underbrush of thorny bushes that grow lush, thanks to the bleak sun's rays. In fact, the canopy of trees that tower above the forest floor is not so thick to block out the sunrays, allowing the underbrush to grow and spread, like the coils of a mighty snake slithering on the ground. The atmosphere inside the forest is that of a dreary albeit sunny place, with the grey bark and the dull white sunrays enveloping the landscape in a dead shroud. Mist usually rolls in during the first hours of the day, and fog banks are constantly present in the northern tip of the forest, near the Malor Swamp, lowering the temperature and the morale of every traveller not used to the place.
Animals do not abound in the Lothenar Forest, as if to testify this is a place where death holds sway. The few specimens I encountered during my travel included common rodents, some wild boars, the ever present packs of wolves [although these were sickly, lithe and ravenous. C. Dove.]. and many nocturnal avians such as owls, white owls, bats, woodpeckers and hoopoes. I also noticed that insects and arachnids abound in these environs, both normal and large species, while I saw no signs of snakes or reptiles [probably due to the cold temperatures of the area, which is however quite humid. C. Dove.].
As much as the settlements are numerous in the Avien Plains, so they are rare inside Lothenar. I have visited a couple of villages in the south, both military garrisons manned by the Denagothian army and with the usual civilians living nearby, but no other significant settlement exists to my knowledge [and this only adds to my idea that the Lothenar Forest is indeed the largest open air mausoleum in the Known World. C. Dove.]. The only place of note is the seat of the political and religious power of Denagoth, Idris Tower, a fortified keep in the northeastern corner of the forest. Idris Tower comprises a stone walled keep, the tower itself and a ring of buildings that surround the walls around the keep and that house the families of the soldiers and priests living in the compound. The tower proper is the holy cathedral of Idris, where only the priestess of the goddess and her most trusted servants have access. Here lives the High Priestess of Idris, a woman whose real name is never spoken [as the priests have told me, once the new High Priest is chosen, he or she simply becomes referred with this title, his or her former name and life becoming irrelevant. C. Dove.] and who rules the theocracy with an enlightened spirit. Those who serve her, the bureaucrats and the officers of the army, also live in this keep, although not in the tower itself, so they can consult and report to the High Priestess when desired. Idris Tower is garrisoned by more than a thousand of the best Denagothian elite soldiers, as well as by a cadre of warlocks (battle wizards) faithful to the Church of Idris. To my knowledge, the only place I could compare it to would be the faraway capital of Hule, the exotic temple-city of Greatrealm.
Not much to say about the people living in Lothenar Forest, since next to nobody lives here. The soldiers manning the two villages in the south are typical Denagothians, deeply loyal to Idris and always following the orders of their leaders and priests. They have a strong sense of duty and of national unity that borders on fanaticism. They are not hostile towards strangers, although they are always suspicious of them and frequently ask questions to determine whether they are a possible threat or an ally. They share the same written and spoken language, which uses the old Essurian alphabet [Essuria was an ancient kingdom that encompassed the whole Denagothian Plateau in the last five centuries. C. Dove.], and also have old traditions and habits that reinforces their sense of unity and greatness. They know they are the descendants of a proud race of conquerors and great warriors, of honourable fighters and true believers, and that the humanoids living alongside represent what they were in their early ages [although I have spotted next to no humanoids in these villages. C. Dove.]. The inhabitants of Idris Tower are another lot, however. Racially they belong to the same Denagothian stock, but they are all literate and many are fluent in at least three languages [usually Denagothian, Heldannic and a humanoid dialect. C. Dove.]. They possess a dignity that borders on haughtiness, and the sages and bureaucrats are pedantic to the extreme in showing off their vast knowledge. It is said the Church of Idris has amassed a huge library with thousand of tomes coming from the southern nations as well as from the fallen kingdoms that once lay to the north [particularly the Kingdoms of Essuria and Ghyr, and the Principality of Alinor, these last two unknown to me. C. Dove.], and this explains the great deal of information the high ranking followers of Idris possess. Were it not for the constant presence of the army, one could easily assume by walking the streets of Idris Tower that he was in the core of an enlightened nation like Thyatis or Darokin.
A final note about the former inhabitants of this forest is due. The rumours about the fate of the Lothenar elves that circulate in Wendar and in Denagoth as well are many and contrasting. Some say they were slaughtered by the Shadow Lord in his attempt to conquer the whole of Denagoth. Others say they were killed by the priests of Idris because they refused to embrace Idris' perfect faith. Others still insist they abandoned the place once the Essurian troops came down from the north, cursing the forest out of spite. Whatever the truth, no living elf today remains inside the Lothenar Forest, which is far from being a woodland paradise.
The Church of Idris is responsible for rebuilding the nation after the fall of the Essurian Kingdom at the beginning of the 10th century. The rumours that portrayed the Shadow Lord as the sole ruler of Denagoth are false, since it is in fact a perfect theocracy ruled by the most wise High Priestess of Idris. The Shadow Lord is only the commander of the Denagothian army, and the rumours about his violence and ruthlessness have been exaggerated by the nearby Wendarians, since they still remember the wars made in the past centuries with the Kingdom of Essuria and blame the current Denagothian Kingdom for those. Aside from defending itself from the elven invasion of last year, Denagoth didn't attempt any invasion of the nearby lands during all these decades and only now it's trying to end its isolation by sending emissaries and ambassadors to its neighbouring countries to establish political and economic ties.
Idris Tower is a jewel in the heart of a dead forest that really deserves a visit in order to truly understand the wisdom and power of Idris' teachings. However, in order to access the inner streets one must first get the army's authorisation, and this means every weapon must be left behind to the guards at the keep's gates and no spell can be uttered unless you are a disciple of Idris. These are not unbearable terms after all, since many southern cities enforce the same law.
The northern area of Lothenar, at the border with the dreary Malor Swamp [which will probably be the topic of my next report, together with the northern Denagothian Wastes. C. Dove.], is a fog enclosed woodland that harbours many dangers in the form of quicksand and unseen entities. You are advised to keep away from it if you value your life.