Qarac is vast mountainous region that lies to northeast of the sweltering jungles of Mysteria. Qarac is composed of six ecological regions: the Apu Council, the High Apu Plain, the Palco Straths, the Cloud Forest and the inland Sea of Origin. For such an unforgiving terrain, travelers are often surprised by the population density, the agricultural intensity and the majestic uniqueness of its inhabitants.
Qarac Empire Edit
The Qarac Empire is a vast, multi-ethnic/multiracial empire that spans the entire Qarac region. It comprises of over 130 separate nations that live high in mysterious mountains, deep in the lush river valleys, in the vast Apu Plain and the around the high-altitude Sea of Origin. Humans make up the largest bulk of the empire's population, but are largely its sedentary, taxable peasantry. Qarac is the common language of empire and commerce within the region. The Empire is ruled from the imperial city, Qaracyuan by the empress, known as the Qarac (from which the empire takes its name). The empire is considered a curiousity to many, because its army has so successfully dominated its surrounding nations without the use of metallic weapons or armor. Many scholars posit that this due to a subtle, but very powerful nature-based sorcery practiced by its warrior caste. Also, for the degree to which it has successfully stitched together various cultures, ethnicities and races into one imperial society over the short span of 500 years.
The Apu are a mysterious race of mountain dwellers who dwell in the craggy, glacier-capped ring of mountains, known as the High Apu Council, which surrounds the High Apu Plain. "Apu" simply means "Lord" in Qarac. This has led to a profusion of legends among the peoples of the High Apu Plain that the Apu people and the Apu mountain ring they inhabit are one and the same. Each of the peaks has been ascribed a different name, personality and attributes, resulting in the myth that the ring of mountains is actually a council of great Apus, or Heavenly Lords gathered around their great table, the High Apu Plain. While the exact nature of the Apu remains the stuff of legend, their actual existence is fact. They are a tribute paying people under the sovereignty of the Qarac. They are few in number, according to imperial census rolls. Qarac carvans regularly ascend into the Apu Council and conduct trade, so they are known to be fantastically wealthy. They are also known to possess powerful magic and are rumored to supply the Qarac's army with equipment.
The Falkyrie, also known as the Bird Men, are a race of demihuman that are descendants of early humans who inhabited the Apu Council and the Raptor Spirits that inhabit the Sky Realm of the Qarac Cosmology. They are humanoid in stature, with beclawed hands and feet and powerful set of wings folded across their back. Their faces have the appearance of an eagle, or other bird of prey - with sharp eyes and a wicked beak. Plumage varies in color and style, with a wide variety throughout the populations that inhabit the empire. Plumage and color tend to be distinct to each clan, though this distinction has began to break down with the great social intermixing brought about by the Qarac Empire over the last few centuries. The most common plumage colors are blue, black, tawny brown and gold. The Falkyrie are small minority of the empire's population. They tend to live and farm in terraced mountain communities closely connected to the lower altitude settlement of humans throughout the empire. Humans practice terrace agriculture which covers most mountainsides within the empire - another feature that tends to impress outsiders. Human's vary what they plant by altitude, but will only plant to a height of about 11,000ft. A clan Falkyrie will often inhabit the top of a mountain and farm the rest of the mountain top. The Falkyrie clan and the human clans below typically live in tight economic symbiosis. The Falkyrie are also overrepresented in the imperial army - prized by the Qarac as ariel shock troops and deadly in combat in mountainous terrain.
The Panythrie, also known as the Puma Men, are race of demihumans that descend from the original human inhabitants of the cloud forests which rise up out of the jungles of Mysteria and the Puma Spirits that inhabit the Mist Realm of the Qarac Cosmology. They are also humanoid in stature, possessing the head of a great jungle cat, broad chest and shoulders and powerful be-clawed hands, and strong, grasping tail. Panthyrie are one of the largest racial groups in the Qarac Empire. Their population tends to be centered around the fringes of the Qarac heartland, based in the river valleys, Cloud Forests and tropical foothills that feed the torrential watercourses of the Mysteria. The Panthyrie rely on a combination of fishing, terrace agriculture and shifiting agriculture. Their agriculture is famous for the fruit and spice it produces. Panthyrie can be spotted throughout the empire - comprising a large share of its merchant and artisanal caste. They are also heavily represented in the imperial army - making up the backbone of the imperial life guard. Panthyrie tend to come from two population stocks, one Puma appearnce and one of jaguar appearance.
The Vypyrie are a race of demihuman that are descended from the early human inhabitants of the Qarac river valleys and the Serpent Spirits of the Underworld in Qarac Cosmology. They are human in stature with scaly skin, forked tongues and vertical pupils. They also possess silky, jet black hair that it is traditional for them to grow into long manes. The Vyperie still form a princely caste within the multitude of lush river valleys which flow through the Qarac mountains, known as the Palco Straths. Most large farming communities that work the flood plains and low altitude terraces have a chiefly clan that is comprised of Vypyrie from which its leaders - both religious and political are drawn. Although a minority within their communities, the Vypyrie make up a sizable portion of the Quarac Empire's population. They are also overrepresented in the army in positions of command, at the imperial court and in other positions of power within the Empire.
Palco Straths Edit
The Palco Straths are as vast network of lush and fertile river valleys deep in the Qarac Mountains. Most, are tributaries - or at least within the greater drainage basin of the mighty jungle waterway, the Mysteria. The source rivers of the Palco Straths descend through the Cloud Forests on the rain side of the Qarac Mountains, draining both glacial melt from the Qarac Moutains and rain runoff from the tropical downpours. Once the watercourse enter the wide straths below, they wind deep in the Qarac Mountains carving out broad, lush river valleys known as the Straths. These river valleys are densely populated by sedentary human farming communities. The watercourse serve as arteries of transport and commerce, shipping agricultural product deep into the Qarac Heartland and also down into the Mysteria tropical basin. Commerce and transport between communities is carefully regulated by the Imperial Court and is tightly monopolized by Panthyrie clans that reside in the Palco communities. By ancient tradition, each strath is governed by a princely clan of Vypyrie. The Vypyrie of the Palco aligned themselves with the Qarac during a series of wars of conquest against the communities deeper in the Qarac Mountains. Because of this, the Imperial Court retained them as a sort of petty nobility in the Palco, dividing up the straths between their clans. The Vypyrie of the Palco, still receive an imperial annuity from the Qarac Court and glean taxes from river commerce and a portion of the harvest tribute - as they are the imperial agents in charge of collection within the Palco. Furthermore, the Vypyrie tend to be appointed by the Imperial Court to local positions of authority within the Straths, in accordance with the traditions of these communities.
High Apu Plain Edit
The high mountain plain is a vast, high altitude savannah that is intensively farmed in areas within a week's journey from the Sea of Origin. The High Apu Plain is ringed by jagged frost-tipped mountains (known as the Council of Apu) and serves as a great drainage basin for all the glacial runoff. This forms a network of small brooks and streams that ultimately feed into the great high-altitude Sea of Origin. Because of the intensity of the sun in this clime, the weather is moderate on the High Plain despite the extreme altitude. Villages dot the brooks and streams, as locals have developed the a sophisticated network of stream-fed irrigation canals and resevoirs which as assist these small communities in ekking out a living through intensive year-round agriculture. The intensity of the sun on the High Apu also leads to harvests of over-sized produce. A trait the region is famous for. A significant part of the High Apu is drier and is grazed intensely by communities organized around the herding of sheep, goats, muru and alpaca. The fishing communities around the Sea of Origin, the farming communities in the springfed plains and the semi-sedentary pastoral communities are pre-dominantly human. They are comprised of a multiplicity of people groups and cultures which the Qarac Empire stitched together through war, bribery and shrew marriage and trade alliances. Most of these communities are governed by an elite caste of princelings, and lordings - which have enthusiastically adopted the noble culture imported by the Qarac Court. This has formed a pan-ethnic noble caste that governs the High Apu Plain. The nobility of the High Apu Plain, jockey for position and rank in the imperial court and send the scions of their houses and clans to study the secret arts the nobility use to maintain their power and position at a secret community deep in the Qarac Mountains. The Qarac State Religion views the human people groups of the High Apu Plain as descending from a common ancestor, Huari. The official origin myth states that Huari called his people from the Sea of Origin in three waves. First came the Golden People - created by the Sun (the ancestors of the Imperial Houses), second came the Silver People - created by the Moon (the ancestors of the nobility of the High Apu Plain), and those made of copper, made by the Earth (the ancestors of the peasantry). The secret community in deep in the Qarac Mountains is charged with raising the scions of the nobility in the secret arts given to the nobility by the Sun and the Moon. The nobility are considered demigods upon their return to Qarac society and seem to possess demigod like qualities. Likewise, members of the Imperial Houses study and run this secret community as well, and come back with godlike qualities.
This region is the population center and heartland of the the whole empire, producing most of its agricultural output, filling the ranks of the legions through the imperial levy, and toiling on imperial public works through by paying tribute through the form of labor tax. Most of their labor and military service is served in postings deep in mountain communities - developing infrastructure, such as citadel cities, temples, roads and bridges to support the expansion of the empire. The Imperial Court follows a careful campaign of developing remove regions on its fringe for settlement and forcibly relocating population groups within the empire to hasten their absorption into Imerpial Qaraci culture.
Cloud Forests Edit
The Cloud Forests are an extensive region of foothills and mountains the rise up from the steamy Mysterian drainage basin. Perpetually covered in mist, these stifling forests create a unique ecosystem replete with biodiversity. Mainly populated by semi-sedentary populations of Panthyrie, which practice hunting, gathering and slash-and-burn agriculture. However, with the rise of the Qarac Empire, drove demand up for the exotic herbs, spices and remedies contained deep in these Cloud Forests. It also connected the Panthyrie communities of the region into the trade complex which runs through the Mysteria Basin and the Qarac Empire. This trade in exotic herbs and spices have made these communities prosperous and fiercely protective of their control over these resources. Factors and Agents from various empires have established trading posts within the lower slopes of the Cloud Forests, only to see them wiped out by the Panthyrie. The Amyran Federation dispatched a Legatus to the region to negociate directly with local Panthyrie clans and with Qaraci Imperial officials. They were able to win a trading concession to trade directly with Imperial Trading Houses in the region. Other empires, have had less success. The Imperial Trading Houses include a network of fortified complexes that reach down from the Cloud Forests to the tributaries of the mighty Mysteria in order to control unsanctioned trade - but also to ward off marauders. The tribes of Mysteria are constantly on the prowl for the easy trade in riches which flows through this region.
Qarac Mountains Edit
The Qarac Mountains are vast body of high altitude mountains which which enfold the Apu Council, the High Apu Plain, the Sea or Origin and the the Palco Straths. It is a region that is known to be rich in mineral resources and exotic fauna and flora. It is also considered a frontier region of the Qarac Empire, as it wraps around the peripheries of the the Imperial heartland. Despite its reputation among the Qaraci for being untamed, it is far from unclaimed. There is a large and diverse population. There is a significant nomadic human population, known to the Qaraci as Runa Sacha. The social organization of the Runa Sacha is unclear, but they are known to be exotic beastmasters with extensive woodcraft and druidic knowledge. They tend to travel far and wide and live a solitary life, or travel in bands of no more than 4. They are also famous in Qarac folklore for their beast companions. Tales abound of tamed fantastical creatures, such as unicorns, wolfs, direbears, jaguars, anacondas, caimans, and condors. There is also a significant Wood Elf populations that populates the forested slopes and inner glens of the Qarac Mountains, known to the Qaraci as the Runa Huaca. The Runa Huaca are famous for fashioning the wild heights and crags of the Qarac Mountains into a scared landscape. Their religion is largely a mystery, but seems to center around place-bound spirits of nature, such as the Naiads and Dryads of the region. The Runa Huaca are secretive and stealthy, so rarely seen in the open, they have left behind a multitude of open air shrines to honor and commune with these place spirits. These shrines, called Huacas, usually involve manipulating the natural surroundings of a naturally beautiful spot, such as a vantage point, a glen, a waterfall or a geyser, or a mighty tree. Huacas can be found at every turn in the Qaraci Mountains and are generally revered by all passing locals and Qaraci alike. They often serve as waypoints and places of trade or shelter, due to their supernatural tranquilizing and restorative and protective powers. Many scholars believe it is the regenerative power resident in the Huacas that out the Runa Huaca and Runa Sacha to be such widely-roving peoples, because they are able to supernaturally recover their stamina and accrue additional pique as they visit numerous Huacas during their journeys. The Runa Huaca also have an undeciphered script used to etch runic instructions, wards, and charms along the natural faces of the holloways and ancient footpaths that wind through the glens and heights of the Qarac Mountains. The Runa Huaca are rumored to have a hidden realm within this region, but that level of social organization is unconfirmed within the Runa Huaca. There is also a small, but visible populations of Barbari, Billymen, and Locrian Elves in the region. The Barbari live in small, semisedintary tribal villages within the glens and jungle foothills that ascend up to the heights of the Qarac Mountains. The Billyman live high on the rock faces of the mountains right around the timberline. The Locrian Elves live on the slopes of the highest mountains and have built several impressive stone and timberwork redoubts which dot the mountain tops and form a defensive network around their main holdfasts and oppida. There are also several settlements of petty dwarves which live within the natural techtonic and volcanic fissures of the Qarac Mountains. These settlements guard the approaches to the great dwarven subterranian trading network, known as the Goldenway. These indigenous settlements of petty dwarves have allowed dwarven trading agents among them from such trading nations as Belegost and other dwarven nations that are a part of the Goldenway trading complex. For this reason, these settlements have become lucrative points for brokering trade from the Goldenway attempting to access the Mysteria River trading complex. It has also attracted the attention of the Locrian Elves, famous for their alphine reeving, and the Qarac Empire. It is also rumored that these Petty Dwarves have tapped the Underdark, as Drowe have been reported as welcomed guests in the midst of these settlements.
The Qarac Empire, which takes its name from these mountains, does have significant settlement in this region, mainly concentrated in the glens and mountain valleys. The Qarac Empire, with its characteristic industrial and economic pluck, has an ambition imperial program to settle, tame and cultivate the region. This involves the careful resettlement of refugee populations from its wars of conquest and the plantation of significant Qaraci settlements centered around facilitating the movement of trade and produce and troops through the region. The famous Qaraci labor tax ensures year-round public works to build canals, dams, bridges, road and terracing in order to open up the rivers to barge traffic and the slopes to intensive agriculture. The Qaraci Imperial Legions also have constructed an impressive network of fortresses, acropoli and ritual complexes throughout the mountains of the region. This had led to much stress and anxiety among the indigenous populations as they grabble with how to respond to such a relentless and coordinated Qaraci incursion. The Runa Sancha, Locrian Elves, Barbari and Petty Dwarves find the material wealth and culture of the Qaraci irresitible, but the change they inflict to the sacred landscape of the region, unconchinable. The Locrian Elves are especially wary as the Qaraci trade agents intrude on their trade with the Petty Dwarves.
Sea of Origin
Temple of Shamans
Qaracyuan, Imperial City
Place of origin
High Apu Council