Isle of Snowdown

Overview

The Isle of Snowdown was once full of wonder and mystique, over time that special connection to nature has been lost and now the Isle of Snowdown more closely resembles a frontier land in Faerun than it does one of the Moonshae Isles.

Timeline

  • 500 DR: Year of the Flame Tongue: King Edmynn Kincaid of Snowdown named Regent of the Kingdom of Callidyrr.
  • 956 DR: Year of the Crooked Finger: The Dress Mirror of Cymrych Hugh is given to King Eadwain Kincaid as a gift.
  • 1028 DR: Year of the Wistful Nymph: Bryn Kernwyld pens the text Earthmother’s Weapons
  • 1278 DR: Year of Many Bones: The Cult of the Bloodied Horn slaughters half the Circle of Snowdown including the Great Druid Marath Haldewn.

Life and Society

Life on Snowdown is a lot more sedate and less dangerous than the others Moonshae Isles. In the last few centuries; as the royal family of Snowdown retreated from public life and the kingdom fell into the hands of the increasingly avaricious Closed Council members, the lands of Snowdown have seen the natural wilds tamed and the resources exploited to enrich the coffers of the nobility.

The last of the firbolg was slaughtered nearly a century ago, much of the forest that once covered Snowdown have been logged until it is a fraction of its original size. The land of Snowdown is now filled with fields and farmland, sheltered by mountains on the northern side, and warmed by ocean currents from the south.

The people in Snowdown work the farms and fish the seas like the ffolk in other kingdoms, but they have little to fear from the world around them (except for the occasional pirate raid), and so have become lazy (and a little fat), content to live on the plentiful supply of food they can easily grow, and caring little for the struggles of others.

Clans: The clans of Snowdown were originally part of the Talffolk tribe, and as a result were often overshadowed by the power of that island during any councils. When the Kingdom of Callidyrr was founded (and soon after the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles), Snowdown was considered part of that kingdom by the laws of the Talffolk until Cymrych Hugh appointed Drydn MacOghlarr as King of Snowdown.

With the King of Snowdown holding power according to Clan Law, and his accession made by royal appointment (the High King’s Law), the delicate balance between clan and king in the other ffolk kingdoms did not exist in law, and so as the centuries passed the King’s of Snowdown appointed more hereditary nobles and the clans became lesser nobility in the form of families of leasing land holders.

Farmsteads: As much of lowland Snowdown is now relatively flat grassland, the ffolk have turned it into farmers fields stretching from Pengram to Harloch. These fields tend to be a patchwork of fields centred around a central fortified manor owned by one of the Lairds of Snowdown and provided to the workers for storage and protection in return for a tithe of their produce.

The concept of clan loyalty has been all but abandoned in Snowdown, instead the 14 Lairds of Snowdown each govern a single settlement and claim ownership of the lands around that settlement for a days ride, which the lesser gentry (former clans) pay a lease for their manor and collect a tithe from the ffolk that work the farms around it.

Economy

The Isle of Snowdown is still a subsistence based economy, with farmers in the south growing crops, while ffolk in the north are fishermen and miners. Trade into and out of the island is in small volumes as the larger ships cannot berth in the shallow bays of Snowdown.

The warmer and less volatile climate of Snowdown, coupled with a longer growing season means that farms on the Isle of Snowdown are much more productive, even than those in Callidyrr. As a result the population of Snowdown is relatively high compared to the other ffolk kingdoms (accounting for its much smaller size), and its people are lazier, able to grow more food than they might need with much less effort, and therefore able to survive sudden shocks to their living standards.

With the growing success of the Kingdom of Callidyrr as a trading nation between the Moonshae Isles and mainland Faerun, many trading powers have sought to gain a trading monopoly among one or more of the ffolk kingdoms. The kingdoms of Moray and Corwell are far too insular and mistrustful of foreign influences to allow large scale manipulation by mainland trading organisations, but the Isle of Snowdown, with its unique (among the ffolk nations) ruling council.

A number of minor merchant families from Amn have established themselves in Snowdown due to the weak central authority of the largely absent Royal House of Kincaid. They have manipulated (through wealth and luxuries) individual members of the Closed Council, to allow themselves to establish shops and warehouses in the larger settlements of Snowdown.

Currently there are no docks on Snowdown large enough to allow the bigger Calishite and Amnian galleons to make port, instead goods have to be ferried between ship and shore using the locals and their coracles. This lack of shipping facility is the primary barrier to trade in Snowdown growing to rival Callidyrr, but the foreign merchant families are planning ahead and preparations are already in progress to dredge the silt beds around Westphal to expand the docks.

Exports

Food: Snowdown’s greatest export is the food it produces. While it may not yet be able to export large quantities due to the limitations of its natural coves and lack of sizable docks (forcing all imports and exports to be transported by coracle to the larger trading ships anchored off shore), they still export enough high quality goods to earn merchants a profit.

Snowdown produces barley, wheat, alfalfa, potatoes, apples, grapes, and most other fruits and vegetables. The apples are often used to make a sweet cider with a rich blossom taste that is prized in mainland cities.

Government

The Isle of Snowdown is governed by a hereditary monarchy similar to the other ffolk kingdoms of the Moonshae Isles.

In recent times, since the collapse of the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles, the Kingdom of Snowdown has all but withdrawn from the politics of the Moonshae Isles, refusing to help its neighbours and former allies even when threatened by norl invasions (an affront that the Kingdom of Moray has not forgiven in over 10 years).

The kings and queens of Snowdown have similarly withdrawn from all contact with the outside world, refusing to meet with any but the most essential of courtiers. 

Since about 1000 DR, the Kings and Queens of the Kincaid Dynasty have taken little to no active part in running the country or making any policy decisions. The noble Lairds of Snowdown formed a council to rule the kingdom themselves with the Kincaid Dynasty as titular rulers only.

The five most powerful Lairds of Cantrevs Brannoch, Harloch, Llandrain and Pengram form the King’s Closed Council, here they decide upon matters of policy and how to govern the Kingdom of Snowdown. Otherwise those Lairds are able to govern their own lands as they see fit, while the remaining lesser Lairds must obey the laws set out by the Close Council.

The Closed Council: This group of the four most powerful Lairds of Snowdown each meet once a month at Caer Westphal to discuss matters of policy. The Royal Seal sits between the four Lairds who are seated around a round table with 5 chairs (the fifth belonging to the King). Only when a majority of the Council agrees upon a decision is it written onto parchment and the Royal Seal applied. Due to noble intrigues an agreement between 3 of the 4 nobles is incredibly rare and is the main reason why Snowdown has not rendered assistance to any of its ffolk allies in their wars or domestic troubles.

The Royal House of Kincaid

Formed in the aftermath of the War of Moon and Shadow, High King Cymrych Hugh granted the first of his Bonded kinsman, his most loyal retainer, and guardian, and childhood friend, a kingdom of his own to rule.

Caydern Sneacc of the MacOghlarr became the first of the Royal House of Kincaid.

The banner of the Royal House of Kincaid is a plain white background with no other emblem or decoration. It is believed this banner was adopted around 1000 DR, as it does not align with the traditional clan banners of the MacOghlarr.

Geography

Cantrev Brannoch: This small, isolated cantrev sits on the south eastern corner of Snowdown, only connected to the rest of the island by a small, muddy road that winds its way around the marshy Maloren Sods.

Broadleaf Manor: This fortified manor lies a half days ride north of Brannoch Town amid the rolling moorland. Broadleaf Manor is a hunting estate owned by the venerable Miles Broadleaf; a knight from Silverymoon who retired to Snowdown to indulge his passion for hunting.

Miles Broadleaf loves the folklore of the Moonshae Isles, he has spent a decade stocking a superb library that rivals those of the ffolk kings. Miles is a patron of the bardic arts and allows any bards to stay with him as long as they wish in return for a copy of any songs or stories they possess.

Cantrev Westphal (Population, 3000): Cantrev Westphal is the capital of the Kingdom of Snowdown, home to the Royal House of Kincaid in Caer Westphal.

Caer Westphal: Caer Westphal is a great castle built using the tethyrian style of architecture in homage to Caer Callidyrr. Caer Westphal is not as grand as Caer Callidyrr, but it is rumoured to hold much of the wealth of the High Kings (having been spirited away by courtiers during the chaos of 944 DR.

MacUllan Estates: This large wheat farm is lease by the MacUllan family who also own a bakery in Westphal Town.

Westphal Town (Town, 700): Westphal Town has gradually grown around the outside of Caer Westphal, covering the western and northern sides of the castle. The majority of the ffolk in Cantrev Westphal live in this town servicing the needs of the King and the Closed Council.

The Singing Angler Inn; an old, rundown, single story building that sits near the edge of the natural cove, catering to the merchants that come here to trade. It has a low ceiling and a lot of support columns that create a large number of small spaces for private conversations.

Harloch (Village, 160): This village lies upon the Snowdown Ride, the major road between Caer Westphal and Llandrain. Harloch is little more than a stopping point for caravans and riders between the two settlements, and is named after the major water body that it sits adjacent too.

Llandrain (Town, 800): Llandrain rests upon the sparsely settled northern shore of Snowdown, high up in the mountains, in a valley between the lakes of Mal Feargal and Mal Sul.

Llandrain is a mining settlement that provides much of the ore and stone for the rest of Snowdown. It has a small harbour that is rarely used because it is surrounded by jagged reefs that frequently sink ships with inexperienced captains.

Treehome: This enormous pine tree is several hundred years old and still growing strong, with a trunk as wide as a man is long (at the base).

Formerly home to the Great Druid of the Ring of Snowdown, it was last inhabited by Marath Haldewn in 1278 DR when the Cult of the Bloodied Horn ambushed her (at the cost of half their number) and staked her to the ground before tearing out her entrails.

Since that time the Treehome has been uninhabitable by even other druids (who mysteriously go missing during the night). The last of the Ring of Snowdown has thus far been unable to gain entry to the Treehome, and so it remains isolated, the last tree of a great forest that once covered much of the island.

Important NPCs

Lady Erliza Daressin (Neutral, Human – Calishite, Expert 3): Lady Erliza Daressin is an important noble in House Daressin, one of the minor noble houses of Amn. In order to improve the fortunes and position of her House (and herself) she has taken it upon herself to open up trade opportunities in the Moonshae Isles and has chosen the Isle of Snowdown as the beginning.

Lady Erliz is often attended by her young granddaughter (who spends the summer months in the Moonshae Isles), also called Erliza, who is said to  have an uncanny resemblance to Lady Erliza in her youth.

King Pwylloch Kincaid (Neutral, Human – Tethyrian, Human 1): A quiet withdrawn man who rarely responds or interacts with anyone, silently observing everything.

Hessalo Avrein (Neutral, Human – Tethyrian, Expert 1): Hessalo Avrein is the bookish son of a merchant whose family business has been slowly failing over the last few decades as the Isle of Snowdown strengthens its ties with the merchant houses of Amn and foreign traders import goods at prices the Avrein’s cannot match.

At 12 years of age Hessalo is beginning to learn about the family business, but his real interest lies in the natural world, especially plants and herblore. Hessalo is considering escaping his fate as a failing merchant and the Moonshae Isles altogether by fleeing to the mainland on the next chartered ship.

Truach Kincaid (Neutral, Human – Tethyrian, Human 1): The youngest son of King Pwylloch, his was kept secret in a political power game by one of the Closed Council who keeps him locked up on his personal estate.

Important Organisations

Cult of the Dragon: This organisation is responsible for the steady supply of Ginyak Weed that comes into the Isle of Snowdown from Calimshan (but via intermediaries in Amn and Tethyr) which is then moved on to Callidyrr.

The cultists form part of the Scarlet Scale Cell that operates out of Tethyr and obeys the commands of Charvekannathor the Scarlet, an old red dragon that controls cult activity in Tethyr. Their operations are mostly concerned with smuggling and drug pushing to generate wealthy to appease their first Sacred One; Canthraxis, a blue dragon who has a lair amid the peaks of the Andover Heights mountain range.

Merchant House Daressin: A relatively new arrival in the Moonshae Isles are merchant houses from Amn and other trading nations that are seeking to open up the islands and exploit their mercantile potential in a similar manner to the Kingdom of Callidyrr on the Isle of Alaron.

House Daressin, led by the venerable but still beautiful Lady Erliza Daressin, is leveraging its influence over one of the members of the Closed Council and is using its funds to expand the docks at Caer Westphal and dredge the silt beds around the bay.

House Daressin used is access to exclusive luxuries to tempt the nobles of Snowdown into an alliance, and have provided huge, cheap loans to improve the relationship and stimulate the economy of Snowdown. Over time, Lady Erliza knows that trade will begin to slow and market events may crash Snowdowns economy, and at that point the nobles will be unable to pay back the interest on these loans, and at that point Lady Erliza intends to bargain the debt for actual political power (such as a seat on the Closed Council).

Important Items

Fauna

Firbolg: Unlike the rest of the Moonshae Isles, the Isle of Snowdown is conspicuously lacking in firbolg despite it being a perfect environment for them (plenty of hilly terrain with crags and caves). With the formation of the Closed Council, the council members took ruthless steps to eliminate any threats to their power and plans, including their growing need for mercantile power (in imitation of Callidyrr). As the firbolg grew in strength and aggression from 900 DR onwards, the Closed Council ordered the hills scoured clean of the giant menace (despite the protestations of the Ring of Snowdown). Today the firbolg are believed to be extinct on Snowdown.

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