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A Shining Paragon of Virtue and Law

Alignment: LG

Capital: Matharyn (105,000)

Notable Settlements: Ghastenhall

(82,000), Daveryn (59,000), Havelyn

(21,000), Farholde (9,500), Aldencross

(1,800), Varyston (1,200)

Ruler: King Markadian V called the

Brave, Protector of the Righteous

Government: Religious Monarchy

Languages: Common, Dwarven

Religion: Mitra, the Shining Lord

The Rise of House Darius

Talingarde may be a peaceful and prosperous kingdom

at the start of the campaign, but the nation has certainly

had a troubled past. Only eighty years ago, the

kingdom weathered a bitter war of succession fought

between the largely half-elven nobility of House Barca

and the human dynasty of House Darius. Both had claim

to the throne and their supporters amongst the fractured

nobility of the isle.

On the Plains of Tamberlyn just north of the capital

city, two great armies met and decided the future of this

dominion. One army was commanded by King Jaraad

of House Barca, a great half-elven hero mounted on a

griffon, the symbol of his house. The other was led by

Markadian of House Darius, a young upstart paladin

who would not bow before all the gods of the Talirean

pantheon (in particular Asmodeus).

The Battle of Tamberlyn remains the most famous

conflict in all of Talingarde’s history. House Darius was

gravely outnumbered but far more fiercely committed to

their holy cause. Much of House Barca’s army was paid

mercenaries fighting for nothing more than gold.

The Battle was fought between two large stone spires

(the so-called Lords of Tamberlyn) that rise from otherwise

level ground. A small brook splits the spires

crossed only in one place by an ancient stone bridge.

The brook is not deep but still would be difficult for men

in armor to cross.

Markadian took to the field first, seizing the bridge

with his knights and positioning infantry on both his

right and left flank. The famed archers of Barrington

and Embryl, with their mighty

longbows of yew, were positioned

behind the infantry.

Outnumbering his foe many

times, King Jaraad hoped for a

quick victory and sent his mercenary

crossbowmen forward

to bombard the knights on the

bridge. The hope was that a few

volleys of crossbow shot would

kill many of the knights and paladins

of House Darius. Deprived

of their leadership, the rest of the

soldiery would likely flee from the

battlefield when the king moved the

bulk of Barca’s army forward.

However, the crossbowmen advanced too

close and the infantry on Darius’ right flank performed

a surprise charge. The charge caught the mercenaries

off guard and they fled with hardly a shot fired.

So disgusted was the knight commander of Barca

behind the mercenaries that he ordered his knights to

charge forward through the “cowardly retreating rabble”

to attack the relatively exposed Darian infantry. The result

was a chaotic muddle of panicked mercenary and

tangled knights. It was then that the Darian archers begin

to fire their volleys. The arrows rained down on the

knights and took a princely toll on the Barcan force.

King Jaraad saw the muddle that his left had become

and ordered the other pincer of his army forward. They

moved swiftly at first along the banks of the brook but

soon found themselves equally bogged down in mud.

They too began to receive a hail of arrows.

Where is Talingarde?

Purposefully, the “Way of the Wicked” campaign

is set entirely on a single island. The

mainland near the island is talked about but

never described. Further, the gods (besides the

plot crucial Mitra and Asmodeus) are also never

fleshed out. This is done to make Talingarde as

easy as possible to incorporate into your favorite

fantasy setting. Talingarde is an island about the

size of England. Where is it located? Wherever

you would like it to be.

79

Talingarde: A Gazetteer

Finally the Barcan left pushed through the mercenaries

and charged the bridge. It was here that the heaviest

fighting of the battle took place. On the bridge of Tamberlyn

the knights of Darius met the full might of the

Barcan army and held the line. The Barcan army was

packed in so tight trying to cross the bridge that there

rear ranks were at the mercy of the Embryllian archers.

King Jaraad could watch the slaughter no longer. He

flew his elite personal command – a dozen knights on

griffons to the other side of the bridge hoping to flank

the defenders and break their line. What he encountered

instead was the young Lord Markadian and his personal

guard.

The battle between Markadian’s knights and the griffon

riders has been immortalized in several songs and

plays. Suffice to say that after a great battle, a dozen

dead griffons littered the field and only Markadian of

Darius and King Jaraad of Barca remained combatant.

They fought fiercely and in the end, Markadian slew Jaraad

upon the banks of the Tamberlyn brook and claimed

the throne of Talingarde.

At the end of the day, the battle had proved to be a

slaughter. The military might of House Barca was broken

and House Darius came to power. It would have

been easy then for House Darius to seek revenge against

their former enemies but instead King Markadian I called

the Victorious showed mercy.

He allowed the nobles of House Barca to keep their

lands if they would only swear loyalty to the new king

and bow before the great god Mitra. The offer was accepted

and peace once more came to Talingarde. The

crisis of succession was over and the religion of the isle

was decided. Mitra the Shining Lord became head of

the Talirean pantheon.

The Victor upon the Throne

When Markadian I came to power there was great uncertainty

of how capable a king he would prove. While

he was a great warrior, he had never ruled and there was

reason to doubt this young paladin could control this divided

land. He soon put those doubts to rest.

Markadian I called the Victorious (usually simply The

Victor these days) was the sort of ruler that only comes

once every thousand years. At the battle of Farholde

he dealt the bugbears of the north a savage defeat and

scattered them for a generation. He confronted the pirates

who had made the western coast of Talingarde their

stronghold and burnt them out. It seemed that the Victor

was undefeatable upon the field of battle.

So fearsome was his reputation that by the later years

of his reign, he merely sent a letter to a rebellious warlord

in the west that read, “Must we meet on the fields on

war?” The warlord relented and became a loyal subject.

By the end of the Victor’s reign, almost all of the island

south of the Watch Wall was firmly a part of Talingarde.

Only a few parts of the great and trackless forest, the

Caer Bryr, remained wild and unmapped.

More than a soldier, he also proved a great builder

and statesman. He raised the capital Matharyn from a

small city into a great metropolis. He reinforced the

watch wall, commissioning three new fortresses. He

eased tariffs bringing merchants from the mainland to

the oft-isolated isle once more. He personally visited

the Lands of the Yutak tribesmen in the north and made

peace with their great chiefs. And though the paladin

spread the religion of Mitra and discouraged devotion to

Asmodeus he tolerated the Prince of Nessus’ temples as

long as they were discrete.

For forty six years the Victor sat upon the throne

bringing a golden age to Talingarde. Today, his statues

are to be found in almost every town and hamlet throughout

the kingdom. He did have his faults though. Like so

many great rulers – he was a great soldier and king but

a poor father.

The Scholar and the Monster

After the death of the Victor, his oldest son Martius

ascended to the throne as King Markadian II called the

Learned. More a scholar than a king, Martius proved

largely disinterested in affairs of state. He commissioned

the great library at Matharyn and began renovation of

an old family castle into the great palace known as the

Adarium. As the first wing of the Adarium was completed,

he retreated there and was rarely seen in public.

The other son, Prince Hallen, was not so reserved.

Though he had no official power, he often ruled in the

king’s absence and commanded great loyalty from the

knights of the realm. This might have been an acceptable

arrangement. After all, Prince Hallen was a soldier

and an heir of the Victor. He could have become the

de facto ruler while the official king sat in his distant

pleasure palace and library. Alas, that Prince Hallen was

also mad.

Prince Hallen became convinced that his mother (who

had died in childbirth) was not the queen but an angel

of Mitra. He believed himself a demigod and incapable

of wrong. At first the Prince’s madness was subtle. He

often dressed all in white and even had a magic set of

wings made for himself that allowed him to soar over

the capital.

80Book One: Knot of Thorns

But in time the visions began. He communed with

these so-called angels and they whispered that he should

replace his brother and become the true and immortal

master of Talingarde. The king received disturbing reports

of the prince’s madness and plots but refused to

believe them. “My brother but jests,” is famously what

Markadian II replied to the reports.

Finally the “angel” prince would wait no longer. He

flew to the Adarium and with a flaming sword slew his

own brother amidst his books and proclaimed himself

Markadian III called the Immortal. His brother’s six

year reign was at an end.

For a brief time, it was possible that Markadian III’s

claim of kingship might have been acknowledged. His

brother after all was little loved and tongues wagged that

getting rid of the absent king was a blessing. Maybe the

new king was a divine messenger of Mitra’s will. But

within days the mad decrees began from the Adarium.

The king decreed that Mitra’s high holy day would no

longer be the summer solstice but instead would become

his own birthday. He ordered the military to prepare

to invade Hell and commanded his wizards to research

opening a great gate. First, he explained to his flabbergasted

advisors, the army would go through the gate to

the shining realm of Mitra himself to call forth an army

of angels. Then he personally would lead the host to

invade the nine hells and overthrow Asmodeus himself.

Finally the people had enough of this madness. Officially,

the histories record that after only five months in

power Markadian III called the Mad tried to fly from the

highest spire of the Adarium without his magic wings.

More likely, he was thrown from the spire by paladins

who would tolerate no more of this madman’s blasphemies.

Whatever the truth, his reign was over.

Blame the Devil

Fortunately for Talingarde, Martius (Markadian II)

had a son -- Marcus. The grandson of the Victor was

neither mad nor a recluse. He had been clever enough to

avoid the Adarium and the capital during Prince Hallen’s

angelic rampage. Marcus was a handsome knight twenty

nine years of age and closely resembled his grandfather

the Victor. Thus was Talingarde spared another disastrous

war of succession.

Marcus returned to the capital and was crowned

Markadian IV called the Zealous. The new king quickly

realized that he needed to solidify his power and explain

away the difficulties of the last six and a half years. In

short, he needed an enemy to unify this fractured Talirean

nation. He found one – in the Temple of Asmodeus.

King Markadian IV blamed the cult of Asmodeus for

using their black magic to summon a devil to possess

the former king thus driving him mad. It was a brilliant

political solution (though an utter fiction). It removed

blame from the royal house of Darius and instead placed

guilt squarely upon a small, unpopular, marginalized

cult. This was the beginning of the Asmodean Purges.

The Knights of the Alerion took the lead in destroying

the temples. High priests were burned at the stake and

the sect was driven underground. For twelve years, the

Zealot sat upon the throne and during that time he did his

best to annihilate the cult of Asmodeus. He very nearly

succeeded.

Markadian IV died comparatively young, only 41

years old of a mysterious illness. There were rumors that

the Cult of Asmodeus had placed a curse upon the king.

These rumors only fuelled the purges further.

A Brave New King

Markadian IV was followed by Markadian V, his son.

Twenty-two when he took the throne (the same age as the

Victor), he has ruled for sixteen years as a capable, energetic

king who has done much to put bad memories in

the past. Beloved by his people, he has proven again and

again he is the true heir of the Victor. Early in his reign,

he personally led the army to relieve the Watch Wall after

another bugbear incursion. It was on the watchtower

walls that he earned himself the title The Brave

Markadian V has continued the prohibition against

the cult of Asmodeus but does not pursue the purges

with the same vigor as his father. After all, that battle is

largely won. No one has heard of an Asmodean cultist in

Talingarde for years. Instead, he turns his attention to the

west and the north hoping to be the king who brings the

entire island of Talingarde under his dynasty’s dominion.

He has failed in one duty however. He has failed

to yet produce a son. Instead, he has only one child

-- a beautiful, brilliant young princess named Bellinda.

Twenty years of age, she is already a prodigy of arcane

magic. If her father produces no heir it is an open question

whether the men of Talingarde will follow a queen

instead of a king. Her story is yet to be written.

The Six Regions

Talingarde is an archipelago consisting of more than

a hundred islands. This archipelago may be divided into

six regions each with their own unique character: The

Cambrian Ports, The Heartland, the Borderlands, the

Caer Bryr, the Savage North and the Land of the Yutak.

81

Talingarde: A Gazetteer

The Cambrian Ports

This is the center of the nation of Talingarde and the

apex of its culture and power. This region is defined

by three great metropolises – the capital Matharyn, the

northern city of Ghastenhall, and the western port of

Daveryn. Each of these three cities will receive more

detail in later volumes of this adventure path.

The Heartland

This is where most of the population of the nation of

Talingarde lives and works. Seemingly one quaint village

after another, this is a land of endless farmlands broken

up only by small stretches of well-managed forest.

Those who truly understand the nation understand that

the Heartland is Talingarde’s strength. The cities may

create its riches and culture, but without the stalwart

yeomanry, country knights and hearty folk of the field,

Talingarde would be only a dream.

The Borderlands

Located between the Heartland and the Savage North,

this border region represents the limits of Talirean power.

Unable to fully conquer the north after centuries of incursion

and brutal conflict, it was King Accarius IV of

House Barca called the Architect who constructed the

first version of the Watch Wall. In more educated circles

it is still called the Accarian Line.

Accarius constructed nine castles guarding the border.

Later Markadian I called the Victorious would add

three more. Whoever controlled these castles could effectively

prohibit access to the Heartland from the North.

The Watch Wall was intended to contain the monsters

and savages so that eventually the rest of the isle could

be conquered and pacified. It was never meant to be the

permanent measure it has become.

The success of the Watch Wall has bred complacency.

Why invade the north when the south is so prosperous?

The Watch Wall does such a fine job of repulsing the illled

assaults of the barbarous humanoid invaders. Thus

today, the Watch Wall is little regarded as a pressing

military concern. The twelve castles are garrisoned and

maintained but little is done to capture the Savage North.

The Caer Bryr

The Western frontier of the island is dominated by

the massive forest that gives this region its name. Small

Talirean border towns flourish in the less wooded south,

but the north remains a land of mists and legends. The

Caer Bryr is reputed to be haunted and filled with monsters.

There are tales of dragons and ancient evils that

still haunt the woods. The only ones who are able to

travel here with impunity are the barbaric Iraen, a primitive

human tribe that reveres the spirits of the woods.

The Iraen neither revere Mitra nor pay homage to the

king, instead preferring their own crude animistic faith

and barbaric chieftains. Worse, in times of hardship the

Iraen can be quick to turn to banditry against Talirean

settlements. Thus their relationship with Talingarde is

strained at best. Still, beside the occasional raid or skirmish,

there has never been large-scale warfare between

the Iraen and theTalireans.

The Savage North

Beyond the Watch Wall lays the Savage North. Often

this land is said to be nothing but an empty waste of ice

and monsters. This is a complete fiction. The north is

dominated by forests and plains rich in life. Here dwell

three peoples long demonized or ignored by the more

civilized folk of the south – the brutal burabar (the name

the bugbears call themselves), the naatanuk (intelligent

polar bears) and the mysterious ice elves.

Though little is known about the North, this is certain

– it is largest unexplored region on the island. Many a

Talirean king has dreamt of conquering the North. So

far, those dreams remain unfulfilled.

The Lands of the Yutak

This chain of islands is inhabited by the Yutak, short

swarthy black-haired humans. These islands are cold,

inhospitable places unsuited to farming or grazing, so the

Talireans have left the Yutak to their own devices. Where

the southerners see wastelands, the Yutak see oceans

teaming with fish and seals. In their one-man kayaks

and larger umiaks, they ply the open oceans hunting for

fur and blubber. Occasionally, several small bands will

unite to hunt a whale.

Rarely, an umiak will appear out of the mist loaded

with ivory and furs. These Yutak umiaks will sail into

one of the western ports (a few have made it as far south

as Daveryn), conduct their business and then disappear

once more. The Yutak never trade for gold instead prizing

steel, leather and strong drink. Wise merchants keep

a stock of steel harpoon heads in case they encounter a

Yutak trader. The Yutak will trade much ivory for a

finely made harpoon.

Few Talireans speak the strange musical Yutak tongue

and few Yutak understand common. The Yutak, much

like the savage Iraens of the Caer Bryr, have their own

gods and their own way of life. Still, where the Iraen

are secretive and xenophobic, the Yutak are a gregarious

people. Travellers along the western coast tell tales

of Yutak who without invitation join Talireans around

a campfire. The Yutak share their seal meat and sing

strange but beautiful songs with strangers with whom

82Book One: Knot of Thorns

they share no tongue. It is said that if you are polite and

share your own food, the Yutak may leave a gift to mark

their passing.

Nine Places of Legend in Talingarde

These nine locations will not be featured in the Way

of the Wicked adventure path and represent potential locales

where a Game Master could develop their own side

quests.

The Lost Island of Taane-thak

The Yutak tell a tale of a lost island surrounded by

dangerous rocks in the far north. The island, it is said, is

the home of a tribe of frost giants led by a powerful giant

sorceress known in stories as Taane-Thak or She without

Mercy. Thanks to a curse lain upon them by good Talirean

wizard centuries ago, the frost giants sleep in their

hidden halls of ice appearing now to be little more than

frozen statues.

If someone could brave the breakwaters of the island

and solve the ancient wizard’s riddle it may be possible

to free Taane-Thak and coerce her into servitude. Can

you imagine servants more powerful than vengeful frost

giants and their merciless ice queen? Can you also imagine

servants more fickle and likely to betray you?

The Barrow of the First King

Somewhere in the south, long lost and forgotten is

the barrow of the first Talirean king. He reigned centuries

ago when the first settlers came to the island. Still,

he was said to be a great ruler and was buried with the

wealth of his ancient kingdom.

Surely this must be a legend. How could the barrow

have gone so long and still not be discovered? Still, if

it could be discovered it was said that the First King revered

all the gods and kept powerful relics to remind him

of their power. If that is true, then among his treasures

there must be a relic consecrated to Asmodeus. Imagine

what that relic could mean in our villains’ hands?

The Children of the White Spider

The barbaric Iraen tribesmen of the Caer Bryr whisper

tales of a lost valley in the heart of the trackless forest

inhabited by giant spiders wise enough to speak. These

spiders call themselves the Skis’raal and though they are

not evil per se, they are utterly alien and hostile to any

who invade their hidden domain.

These spiders are fanatically devoted to a female

priesthood of white spiders capable of using divine magic.

Supposedly these white sisters worship a mysterious

demigoddess known as the Queen in White.

The truth of this legend is only conjecture. Still, if

the Queen in White could be found, it is said cryptically

whispered whoever controls her blood controls her

brood. Imagine if the PCs could crack that riddle and

take control of an army of giant spiders!

The Mead Hall of the Ice Elven King

A powerful elven lord, tales relate, dwells somewhere

in the savage north and if you can find his hidden mead

hall you will find a true refuge amidst the endless snow.

The Lord it is said is a kindly soul who eagerly trades

space in his haven for a fine tale.

The truth is somewhat more sinister. While the mead

hall is real, it is now a ruin inhabited by a powerful banshee

who mourns her lost love. The elven lord is along

ago murdered and betrayed . Still, if the banshee could

be defeated, she guards the long dead king’s trappings

including his jeweled crown and enchanted sword.

The Lost Ansgarian Mine

Today the dwarves of Talingarde maintain few strongholds

in the great Ansgar mountain range that runs the

island’s length. They prefer to dwell in the cities of men

where food is plentiful and the weather more forgiving.

Still, once the Ansgar mountains were home to a thriving

dwarven culture now all but forgotten.

Dwarven tales speak of a secret dwarven mine of

mithral that the dwarven kings guarded so jealously that

none was allowed to enter there unless they submitted to

powerful magic that erased memory of the mine’s location.

Thus when the last dwarven king died heirless centuries

ago the secret of the mithral mine died with him.

Still, there are dwarves in Ghastenhall and Matharyn

who claim to have royal blood in their veins. If this is

true, they may be immune to the amnesiac curse and may

be able to rediscover this priceless mine. An Asmodean

army equipped with mithral weapons would be unstoppable!

The Ice Troll Forges

In the savage north is found an ancient tribe of ice

trolls, the degenerate remainder of a once much greater

troll civilization. These surprisingly intelligent smiths

work strange rare metals and craft magic treasures they

trade with the bugbears. These are led by a great ice troll

king named Sigarth Iekenhart. Sigarth is a genius among

the ice trolls and despises the Talireans. He could be

a valuable ally to any who call Talingarde their enemy.

Still, he would have to be persuaded. It is said the trolls

value mithral (or ice-steel as they call it) above any other

metal.

83

Talingarde: A Gazetteer

The Sunken City of Aath-Aryn

Several miles off the eastern coast of Talingarde is

a colony of tritons that dwell amidst the ruins of a submerged

city. Aath-Aryn, it is said, was once the sister

city to the ancient city of Maath-Aryn (now better known

these days as Matharyn, capital of Talingarde). However,

its last king in his arrogance mocked the god of

the sea. Thus the city was hit by a great tsunami and a

powerful earthquake that permanently flooded the city.

Now the lost city of Aath-Aryn (or just Aath) is merely

a children’s tale remembered only in a nursery rhyme:

King Hoopa Loopa said to the sea

Aath’s not afraid of you! Are you afraid of me?

King Hoopa Loopa silly silly he!

He got dragged down to the bottom of the sea!

King Hoopa Loopa said to the sky

Don’t let me drown! Can you teach me how to fly?

King Hoopa Loopa silly silly guy!

Seven miles out and never ever dry!

For the clever, the nursery rhyme does hold a few interesting

facts. The last king of Aath-Aryn was named

Appalorius (no doubt the origin of the sing-song Hoopa

Loopa). He did forsake the god of the sea for worship of

a sky god. And there is a rock outcropping seven miles

off the eastern coast called the Appalorian Spire very

near lost Aath-Aryn.

Now, if only an expedition could be mounted with

sufficient magical resources to explore the lost city, who

can doubt it still holds ancient treasures ripe for plunder?

Of course, there are the pesky tritons and sea elves who

consider this a holy site. They will have to be exterminated.

What a pity.

The Wreck of the Dawn Triumphant

When a Mitran religious artifact was discovered on

the mainland, the Church immediately arranged for its

transport to their cathedral in Matharyn. The church

fathers contracted the merchant vessel “The Dawn Triumphant”

owned by a very pious sea captain.

Alas, that just before the entrance to the Cambrian

Bay the ship struck a reef and sunk to the bottom of the

sea with all her crew and cargo. The Cardinals of the Mitran

Faith have offered exorbitant sums to anyone willing

to brave the treacherous waters and reclaim the relic

but so far have found no takers. What are they so worried

about? What is it about this relic that seems almost

to terrify them? And if it were recovered, how could it

be used against them?

The Holy Caverns of the Naatanuk

Of all the intelligent races that dwell on Talingarde,

the Naatanuk are probably the most misunderstood. Regarded

as monsters by the Talireans, these intelligent

polar bears are often assumed to be slaves or trained

beasts in service of the bugbears. This is untrue. While

a few Naatanuk do aid the bugbears, most regard the

shaggy goblinoids with disinterest or disdain. The truth

is that the Naatanuk are an independent, proud people

who made Talingarde their home long before bugbears,

humans or any other race came to this once wild island

paradise.

The Naatanuk have an ancient druidic tradition and

it is in these hidden caverns that the rites and religions

of their people are carried out. It is also here that their

greatest treasures are stored. It would be only the boldest

of thieves who would dare violate these sacred caverns

and discover what the Naatanuk have labored so lonto

keep hidden from the two-legs.