Curse of the Neverborn's Blood
The Kingdom of Renardy
- Capital – Louvines (pop 32,000).
- Population – mostly Lupins, some Humans, Demi-humans, and Tortles.
- Ruler – King Louis IV “Le Cabotine”, son of Gaston de Clairvault.
- Typical NPC – bourgeois or peasant.
- Patron Immortal – Saimpt Renard.
Known to its inhabitants as the Royaume de Renardie, Renardy is the kingdom of the canine Lupins. The kingdom’s coat of arms shows a golden fox rampant in the 1st and 4th quarters, and fleurs-de-lis in an azure field in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, with royal crown and golden crest overhead.
Early Lupins were nomads, tribes of hunters who roamed the Yazak Steppes and the southern central plains. Then, the goblinoids of the Yazak Steppes captured much of the Lupins’ hunting grounds, scattering many tribes. About 1,000 years ago, five tribes regrouped to the south and formed an alliance to defend their lands against the goblinoids; they are hailed as the founders of Renardy. Over the next 10 centuries, the tribes developed into typical medieval dominions under the authority of a king, who built his capital on the site of an old lupin camp. This site became the city of Louvines, on the Dream River. Most recently, the inhabitants of Renardy have begun imitating the clothing and fighting styles of the Savage Baronies.
The Dream River (or River of Dreams) flows into Renardy from the Plain of Dreams, a vast field of amber lotuses whose pollen induces sleep. To prevent the lotuses from plaguing their lands, lupins installed a water lock whose sole function was to strip out all debris floating on the river (particularly plants) before the water flowed further south. Construction was possible due to the help of lupin clerics, who protected workers against the effects of the plants. Eventually, the water lock grew into the mighty fortress, Château-Roan.
Sleep-producing plants also infested lands nearby, so clerics directed a purge about five centuries ago. They systematically destroyed the plants and scorched the earth, slowly gaining territory to the east and north. This infuriated the Kappa, who thought their conquered territories were being threatened, so they launched a brutal campaign to slay all Lupins. Fortunately, the valiant dog-people held their ground. The war led the lupins to build border fortresses, and most towns and villages erected walls. The late King Gaston de Clairvault ordered the construction of le Grand Mur (the Great Wall) to protect his subjects from the Kappa hordes and halt the spread of the cursed plants. Today the wall is complete, and the Plain of Louvines is a lush, fertile valley dotted with hamlets and farms.
Within the last hundred years, the lupins have been strongly influenced by the humans of the Savage Coast, especially the people of the Savage Baronies. Renardy has close ties with Torreón and gets along well with Almarrón, Saragón, and Gargoña. The Renardois have even adopted the swashbuckling style of people of the Savage Baronies, and duels are quite popular in Renardy.
The Renardois are at peace with most of their neighbours and have a non-aggression pact with Eusdria. King Louis IV (“the Theatrical”) of Renardy has held formal talks with King Sigismund of Eusdria, occasionally discussing an alliance against the goblinoids. King Sigismund is also willing to trade an undisclosed amount of red steel for the lupins’ ancient, secret protection against the cursed plants in the Plain of Dreams. Both kings dream of conquering wide swaths of the northern plains—Sigismund to gain imperial power, Louis to recover ancestral lupin hunting grounds.
The wine trade is of particular importance to Renardy, affecting many things in the Renardois’ daily life, from business to political power. The existence of the small châteaux (country houses and estates) and vineyards have a greater significance than most outsiders might think. Nobles and bourgeois
(members of the self-employed middle class) commonly own such châteaux and seek prestige for the quality of their wines. Châteaux range from small fortified manors to well-defended towers. Most have armed guards.
Bourgeois commonly settle north or west, outside the limits of the kingdom on lands that are not part of the established nobility’s domains. For a fee, a bourgeois’ claim on the land is registered at the Palace of Louvines by the royal bailiff (Bailli du Roi). This practice angers the goblinoids, who see the fringes of their immense tribal land being nibbled away. Renardois nobility defends the bourgeoisie, who are slowly regaining the race’s ancestral lands.
Each winter a jury of wine-tasters, the Brotherhood of Vintages, judges which wine in Renardy is the best. The king, bourgeois, and nobles are allowed to present samples, which are numbered but otherwise unmarked to preclude cheating. The winner receives a golden vine leaf from the Brotherhood. A bourgeois who, over time, receives seven leaves is elevated to nobility. The king recognizes the bourgeois as a baron. In exchange for the title, the new baron swears fealty to the king, and the estate becomes a dominion of the kingdom.
Likewise, seven leaves allow a noble to ascend a rank, such as from baron to count, with “Grand Duke” being the highest attainable title. A rank cannot be lost except by royal decree (a punishment for treachery). If a noble’s family is dispossessed or becomes extinct, the king divides the land into châteaux. The lords of the manors who administered vineyards for their noble master can purchase the land if they meet a price set by the king, thus becoming bourgeois. Otherwise, the land is auctioned. Until nobility rises from the nouvelle bourgeoisie (new bourgeoisie), the land remains with the king.
Monasteries often own vineyards. Should they win seven leaves, their territory would become a royal dominion under the authority of the Renardois clergy. Depending on the number of awards, the landlord could become an abbot, a bishop, or an archbishop. Although not shown on the map, many such monasteries within larger dominions eventually escape a noble’s authority, including taxation and other regulations. Clergymen cannot attain royalty. The first king of Renardy was put on the throne by allied tribal chiefs. Since then, the crown has been a hereditary title. Should the royal family become extinct, the noble of the highest rank and with the highest number of leaves would become the new king. Besides prestige, the wine trade encourages territorial and economic growth for the kingdom. The more “leaves” a wine is awarded, the more popular it is among the connoisseurs, and the more expensive it becomes. Legends state that some of the best vintages (seven gold leaves or more) have mystical powers, such as the abilities to heal, instil joy or sadness, enhance strength or bravery, or even compel truth (thus the saying “In Vino Veritas,” although simple inebriety often achieves the same results). Of course, winegrowing and fermentation techniques are utterly secret, invaluable family heirlooms never discussed with outsiders.
Competition among vineyards is fierce, if not outright sordid. Almost no guile or villainy is too low. Although lupins tend toward law and good, nearly anything goes when it comes to wine. Local bourgeoisie usually rush to bid for a fallen competitor’s land (they may even coerce the latter to sell out) or establish a new claim at the Bailli du Roi should all legal owners of the land be gone or deceased. This is often how nobles and bourgeois increase their domains.
Capital and Ruler
- Capital: Louvines (population 31,700 mostly lupins, some humans, demihumans, and tortles).
- Ruler: King Louis IV “Le Cabotin,” son of Gaston de Clairvault (an aged Beast Rider). The royal domain includes the communities of Daens and Saimpt Vézy.
- Patron: Saimpt Renard. Typical NPC: bourgeois or peasant.
Dominions of “Sa Majesté le Roi”
Each domain owes fealty to the king, whose word is supreme. However, daily operations are left to local rulers.
Baronie de Brégoigne.
- Capital: Rochefort (population 3,100).
- Ruler: Baron Philippe “Le Chevalier Sans Puce et Sans Reproche,” son of Grégoire de Rochefort (Noble fighter).
- Typical NPC: cleric. Patrons: Saimpts Mâtin and Malinois.
Comté de Marmandie.
- Capital: Mons-en-Plécy (population 7,300).
- Ruler: Comtesse Marguerite “La Soyeuse,” daughter of Gilles de Saimpt Gens-de-Bout (Local Hero ranger).
- Typical NPC: swashbuckler, adventurer, or explorer.
- Patron: Saimpt Clébard.
Marquisat de Noijou.
- Capital: Pertignac (population 6,300).
- Ruler: Marquis François “Le Hautain,” son of Fouques de Valefroi (Noble wizard).
- Typical NPC: wizard, sage, palace or cathedral architect, or wine merchant.
- Patron: Saimpt Ralon.
- Capital: Deauvais (population 8,300).
- Ruler: Duc Henri “Le Grognard,” son of Thibaud de Châtelguyon (Beast Rider).
- Typical NPC: Beast Rider.
- Patron: Saimpt Loup.
The Lupin Pantheon
Lupins refer to Immortals as saimpts, holy lupins who achieved ultimate greatness in this world. Over the centuries, many saimpts were authenticated, either genuine Immortals or heroes of the lupins’ history now long gone. Following are descriptions of some of the more popular saimpts.
Saimpt Clébard: Patron of loyalty, fidelity, and family.
Saimpt Loup: Patron of mercy, hunger, destruction, night, and winter. Saimpt Loup portrays both good and evil among lupins.
Saimpt Malinois, the Were-Slayer: Patron of hunters, revenge, courage, warriors, blacksmiths, and those who go to war.
Saimpt Mâtin: Patron of fortresses, guards, and those who died on the battlefield defending their kin. He is the master of safety and happiness at home.
Saimpt Ralon: Patron of life, good food, fun, health, wealth, farmers, merchants, and those who produce goods.
Saimpt Renard (Korotiku): Patron of wit, freedom of thought, wisdom, sense of smell, cunning, and trickery. The chief Immortal of the pantheon, Renard has so far guided the royal dynasty of the Clairvaults well. He is the only Immortal of this group who was not a lupin (although everyone in Renardy would object to this statement).