Winter's Edge unfolds on the 100% completely original world of Arol. All theme, cities, deities, and areas are completely from scratch and created by the staff here. We are using familiar races and classes, as well as some of our own creations, so that players can readily play and enjoy themselves and still enjoy the thrill of discovery and uncharted waters.
The following theme files are available for review. The files on this page will be kept as up to date as possible.
Winter's Edge is set primarily in the City of Vintermor, capital of the nation of the same name, a member-state of the Taldaran Empire. The flavor we are aiming for with Vintermor is a mixture of pre-norman england and nordic culture (and, considering Danes were overlords of England until defeated in combat about a week before the Norman invasion, that's not too tough a mix) against the backdrop of Empire, and nestled in an apparent pocket of stability.
Vintermor (the nation) is bounded by The Mists, a bizarre manifestation and remnant of an extradimensional prison created by the gods to hold immensely powerful dragons who attempted to become gods themselves. These dragons later escaped with the help of mortal pawns, and in the ensuing wars, some managed to seize portions of divinity. Though trapped in the Outer Planes by heroic actions, the three Primordial Dragons and their cults are still an insidious threat to the world.
Vintermor is largely pristine wilderness, with settlement and agriculture largely remaining near the large central fjord that runs some hundreds of miles inland from the sea, as well as other smaller fjords, rivers, and lakes. The climate is sub-arctic, with summer a short and mild growing season, and heavy snows much of the rest of the year. Much of the landscape is taiga forest, and home to predators, game, and even humanoids of more monstrous types, and the centuries have left many a ruin and cavern not as abandoned as some might hope.
Life in Vintermor is often harsh, and never boring. The bitter cold that envelops the city eight months of every year, if not more, means that much of the city's activity, both social and professional, occurs indoors.
The street markets' booths are often built around small clay chiminias, portable fireplaces that keep the merchants warm. Heavy tarps and hides serve as windbreaks, and more often than not, one will see 'folding booths' or tents that can be easily broken down at the end of the day. This need for protection from the elements also means that groups of merchants will often combine resources and share a tent, chiminia, and selling-space. This leads to a much more cooperative sales environment, and a merchant's guild that encourages slight discounts on combined sales to help keep these small merchanter groups afloat. These groups are recognized formally within the merchant's guild as 'Knots' -- most often, a Knot will be known by either its location or its eldest or founding member. Usually they will include between three and twelve merchants Knots aren't limited to just the street peddlers, though -- the drop-front stores so common throughout the rest of the city often form these small bands as well, offering recommendations to one another's shops. Common trade items include hides and furs, whale oil (for waterproofing), hardwood and coal (for fires), steel and metalwork, and eisvines and meads. Steel items are slightly cheaper in Vintermor than in more temperate climates. A smith's job is much less unpleasant in the frigid climes of this metropolis than in the warmer regions, and thus, elaborate and artistic metalworking is part of the norm here. In addition, metal resources in this region are rich, and quite productive. Wrought iron is a far more common decoration on the homes of the wealthy than lattices or vine-racks.
The food in Vintermor tends to be heavy and filling. Stews, roasted meat, sharp or soft goat cheese, and dark breads are common fare. Fruits are more often used to make eisvines and meads than as a dietary staple, and the short growing season means that vegetables are often more pricey than meat. Winter berries grow on a hardy bush, and serve as an exception. They are well-liked as dessert, or as a component of fancier meals. Winterberries are green-white, purple, red or deep blue in color, and each has a distinctive flavor. Meat is plentiful and cheap. Mutton and buffalo are the staple meats of the Vintermor diet, with fish a close second. Semi-domesticated fowl is less common, though pheasant is well-regarded as well. Fish is as often fresh as dried and smoked; both varieties are widely eaten. Beef is something of a luxury, as is pork. Both can be found, but at a higher price than mutton, buffalo, or the gamey goat-meat some favor. Wild boar is popular, as well; when a group of hunters manages to bring back boar, they will always find that any meat they do not keep will be quickly sold at a tidy profit. Horse meat is uncommon, as the sturdy equines of the region are better used for travel, pulling sledges, and carrying things. It is far easier to find milk and cheese from goats in Vintermor than cows, as cattle are not nearly so impervious to the unrelenting cold of the area. One benefit to the area is that the cold helps to preserve food longer, and thus, smoked meat is common, but fresh meat even in the winter can be had. In a tavern, a poor man's meal sells for a copper and consists of day-old bread and meat dripping, with a hunk of goat cheese. A common meal sells for two copper and usually features a hollowed-out bread loaf filled with roast meat or stew, with cheese and perhaps some berries alongside.
Vintermor's inhabitants drink mead, eisvine (ice wine), or the clean mountain water most commonly. Conventional ales are common as well as a default, but more of the natives of the city prefer the headier, spicier, beverages.
Vintermor's eisvines and meads are thick, sweet, and very potent. The quick-freeze to fruit crops during the changes of season mean that the sweetness of grapes and other fruits are trapped within the fruit itself, making the beverage both sweet and potent when fermented. Eisvines and meads can be served cold, or heated in a mug with spices.
The vineyards and orchards of this region are tended with great care during the short four-month growing season. Many of the druids of this region are somewhat Bacchanalian in temperament, as they are the primary tenders of the vineyards and the fields of grain and wheat.
Unlike most cities, Vintermor also has a nearly constant source of fresh water -- the snow. Snow is collected in vats and heated over fires to melt it into water for drinking, cooking and bathing. As a result if this process, many of the impurities of the water are removed, leaving it clear and mineral-rich.
The commonfolk of Vintermor tend to dress similarly. Here, women commonly wear wool leggings under their long skirts, and in many cases, they forego the skirt entirely and replace it with trews of tanned hide, treated with wax and oil to repel the water. Both genders most often wear a layer of soft-spun wool (leggings and a short, hip-length shift) under all of their other garb. Over that is usually a shirt, covered by a tunic, a pair of trews, and boots. Boots are usually fur-lined, and trews that are not made of heavy hides may be as well.
The most common fabrics are hides, wool, and furs -- fox and rabbit are very common cloak-linings, and the heavy coats of the mountain goats are often woven into almost blanket-like wraps that are kept on hand in case the wind gets extraordinarily bitter.
Private homes in Vintermor tend to be small and open. The average Vintermore house has two stories, each with a single large common room. In most cases, the the entire second story is set up as a large communal sleeping area. As a result, children are usually aware of the intimate facts of man and woman at a young age, and consider it no more shameful than eating or sleeping. The main room of the house usually has a hearth at each end, one used for cooking and the other, simply for warmth. The house's common room is the heart of family life, the place where families eat, work, play, and spend most of the time when they are not working outside the home.
Houses tend to be made of the evergreen wood types, with mud bricks, tar, and hide used to line the inner walls for warmth. The windows tend to have wooden shutters rather than glass, as glass is a luxury, and doesn't keep out the fierce chill. Furniture tends to be wooden and sturdy, with pieces passed down from generation to generation. Dried flowers and woven goat-hair tapestries are often used to make a home more cheerful.
Daughters and sons are raised in more or less the same fashion. Both genders learn the necessary skills for survival -- hunting, cooking, cleaning, building, mending, and so forth. More often girls will concentrate on the home arts while boys focus more on the external ones, but it is not uncommon for children to go against these loose gender roles.
At least some of the children of a family usually end up in the same profession as their parents. Others will move on to other things, and often a child who shows promise in a different profession will be apprenticed to another family, with a child from that family 'traded' to the first.
Familial ties are strong, but blood kinship is not the only measure of family. Some Vintermor natives will consider themselves as part of a handful of families: the one into which the child was born, the one into which he was apprenticed, the one into which he was married, and perhaps even the family of his closest friend. As a result, the folk of Vintermor have large extended 'families' upon which they can rely.
Courtship and Marriage
Young adults in Vintermor tend to choose their own mates in the non-noble classes. Often a young couple will arise from an apprenticeship to another family, where the apprentice will end up marrying one of the master's children. On rare occasions, marriages will be arranged between families, but that is uncommon.
Marriage is seen as the largest and most important choice a man or woman must make. The custom is for a year-and-a-day courtship. When a son asks the father of a woman for permission to marry, he has a year and a day from that moment to prove his worth to the father, and to his potential bride. If he does not satisfy both of them, the marriage can be called off without notice.
Most often, the male partner of the couple is the one who proposes the idea. One tradition is to leave a pair of acorns for the young woman with a small gift, as a promise of intention. If the woman returns the acorns to him, she is unwilling to marry him, but if she intends to marry him, her family will invite his to the house for a meal, and the two will plant those acorns on her father's land. This is usually the moment when the young man asks his prospective father-in-law for permission.
There is no dowry, per se; both women and men keep aside a portion of their wages and possessions in a 'promise chest,' which provides them with the new start they need upon marriage. Often, a sibling or two will move in with the new couple to help them keep house and prepare to build a family.
Parents of the newlyweds will give a wedding-feast, jointly, and those who attend will bring useful, practical gifts. Almost inevitably, one of those gifts is a puppy, who will later become the family dog.
In this region, the hardier animals are more common. Buffalo, mountain goats, heavy-wooled sheep, shaggy mountain ponies and hardy, squat draft horses are among the most populous.
Dogs in daily life
Most commoner homes have a dog, one with a thick coat, a powerful body and muscular legs. Some of the larger families have two or three. Sleek dogs are uncommon here, except among the nobility, because such animals must be imported. A family's dog is guardian, shepherd, hunter, and sometimes draft animal - the sight of dogs pulling sledges to market is quite common. Most of Vintermor's dogs have a strong strain of wolf-blood in their heritage. Among spellweavers native to Vintermor, wolf-dogs are highly-prized as familiars and animal companions.
As a result of this, dogs enjoy an odd status among Vintermor's residents. When a family's dog becomes too old and infirm to continue, a new one is acquired, and old teaches new. Once the new dog is trained, the older dog is generally given a swift death and buried near the family's property to serve as guardian in the afterlife as well.
It is an insult in Vintermor to mistreat a dog. Dogs are never killed for meat. Dogs are fiercely loyal to their families, and vice versa. To kill a family's dog is an offense punishable by death, or indenture to the family.
Because so many of the dogs are hunters, it is not at all uncommon to see the men of a household and their dogs taking down a kill together. Some dogs even hunt in small packs without humans, and bring their kills home. It is considered a mark of respect to be invited to a family's home to share in their dog's kill. To be given a pup sired by or birthed from a strong hunter is an honor among the commonfolk that binds families together. Many commoner families have resolved disputes spanning generations with the gift of the pick of a prime bitch's litter.
Dogs are usually given names similar to human ones. Rarely will one find a dog with a 'sweet' name. One names a dog for its qualities, if a human name is not used. Thus, the most common dog names in Vintermor are things like Hunter, Ranger, Guardian, Treeclimber, Chaser, and so forth.
The cold of Vintermor means adventurers have to be exceptionally hardy and well-prepared for nature's sharp bite. As a result, most of those who hunt bounties or monsters (or both) set up a base of operations within the city, and travel out on short trips to deal with the nearby issues. That standard (free) outfit every character gets is an Explorer's Outfit -- one simply cannot survive in Wintermor's harsh surrounding lands without the proper clothing.
In the First Age of the World, magic and form were one and the same. It was a mystical and wondrous time, a time before the humanoids walked the earth. The great dragons were the powers of the land, roaming and shaping life itself as they saw fit, as if they were gods. Their games and wars took eons to complete, and they were content. Most of them, anyway.
However, some dragons, mostly the chromatics, envied the gods, and wished to be considered their equals. These dragons secretly rebelled against the gods, and soon caused a massive uprising. Thousands of the wyrms traveled to distant planes, challenging the gods themselves on their own ground, hoping to replace them as the true lords of the multiverse.
The gods were angered by the presumption of the dragons... after all, didn't they have a world without threats, a world where they were supreme? The dragon uprising was crushed easily, the primordial wyrms that challenged the power of the gods trapped in a new realm, splitting the magic from the mundane. The Mists held the primordial wyrms, using their essence to power the little magic left in the world. Though the gods were angry, they did not punish the wyrms that did not fight, instead content to leave the rebels shrieking in helpless torment within the Mists. Then the gods came together, and made their new creations... humanoids. And thus did the Second Age of the World begin, or the First Age, if you ask any but a dragon about it.
The Second Age was filled with wonder and glory, though very little magic. The most powerful magics were concentrated among the ancient dwarves and elves, as they formed mighty empires that spanned continents. No one knows the cause of their ancient feud, some rumor it was a conflict between their gods that started it. It matters little now, save that the wars were fought. Terrible things, the dwarves using arcane machines and runic devices not seen in this day, the elves responding in kind with fiery destruction. Elementals, outsiders, and darker things fought at their sides, as both dwarf and elf sought to take advantage and achieve total dominance.
Fortunately for the world, there were still good dragons in the world. Kunnia daughter of Aurinko, and Lognare the Brass were the most powerful of the good dragons, and they convinced Skogen and Skadia to join them in fighting their evil brethren. The MistWar raged for over a hundred years, the entire world being reshaped by the conflict. Nations fell as the remnants of the mighty elven and dwarven empires fought together against foes, desperate to avoid their own extinction. In the end, Skadia slew her father Jhoral, ending his cycle of evil, though the power erupting at his death changed them all, changed them into almost something like gods themselves. The evil trinity left, Talvi, Sslira, and Korinthar, fled to other planes. The three remaining of the side of good and life, Kunnia, Lognare, and Skogen, were given places among the gods themselves for their sacrifices and efforts. And then began the Third Age, the Age of Man.
Human cities rose into prominence, the ancient elven and dwarven empires shattered into distant memory. The Mists were a difficulty at first, as they rose and expanded to the point of being almost physical barriers, insulating different areas from each other. Soon though, the magic was discovered to gain safe passage through them, and travel and trade commenced once more.
After a while, an empire arose within the center of a continent. Comprised mainly of humans, though all civilized races were represented, the city-state of Taldara started to dominate their neighbors, forming a self-declared Empire. Moving swiftly, they subdued other nations, expanding to become the dominant empire, though a far cry from the ancient empires of the Second Age. They encouraged belief in all the gods worthy of respect, the Pantheist Church and the freedom of individual belief it gave aiding them in controlling their subject kingdoms. Soon after controlling their neighbors, they set their eyes across the sea, hearing rumors of stable manifestations of these Mists, where travellers from far away lands could come, farther even than across the sea.
And so, in the year 5012 of the Third Age, the Taldaran Empire established the colony of Vintermor. And the rumors were found to be true, for there were a plethora of beings from not just other countries, but even other worlds. The wars fought were hard, as the northern barbarian tribes resisted the colonists, but soon were subdued or bought off by the Empire. In the year 5074 T.A., the colony of Vintermor was successful enough, and prosperous enough, that they became known as the Kingdom of Vintermor, a representative kingdom of the Empire due to the awesome potential that lay within the ability to possibly control and trade with other countries, far far from Taldara and Vintermor.
And that is where we are today, the Kingdom of Vintermor awaits. Adventures to be fought, intrigues to be discovered, and riches to be gained. Find your path through the Mists, wanderer... if you can.
This is a short listing of the various racially-specific terms on Winter's Edge. Many of these terms are simply the names the races have for themselves. In other cases, the racial origin of the term will be indicated. Right now, it's very short, but we'll be adding to it soon, and keeping it updated.
Elaidar: The 'Primal Elves', sometimes called 'Wood' or 'Wild' elves. Living in forested areas, they are often nomadic or semi-nomadic. Lumidar: The 'Fire Elves' or 'High Elves'. The oldest race of elves, and one-time rulers of the elven nation.