[Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

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roerich
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[Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:51 am

Idea: A text briefly describing the various holds of Skyrim, their rulers and whether the ruler is decided hereditary or by moots. Thinly veiled pro-Thian propaganda, painting Thian's rule and rise to power in a very favourable light, and the old ways of the east as backwards and stuck in time. Divided into two or three volumes and written by a Breton, Nord or Imperial historian.

I will post finished and semi-finished chapters here. Everything is up for discussion, placenames etc. so feel free to post comments and critique. TBU


Volume I
Being a historical account of the hold division and a contemporary guide to the rulers of Skyrim. Skyrim is traditionally divided into nine holds. Haafingar, Dawnstar, Winterhold, Eastmarch, The Rift, White Hold, Falkreath, The Reach and Hjaalmarch. The northern schism between East and West, old and new, is also seen in the practice in which the rulers of holds are decided, and thus contributes to a long list of cultural and political differences between the two [...]

Eastmarch
The Eastmarch, bordering Morrowind at the end of the Velothi Mountain range, and cut off to the north by the river Hirsa, to the south by the great Rift, and to the west by the Ysgeir's Stand mountain pass. The kingseat is the ancestral fortress of Kynholm, whose gargantuan stone walls and wooden fortifications have never been breached. Traditionally, Kynholm was the capital city from which the High King of Skyrim ruled, but that honor has since passed to the great western city of Haafingar. [...]


Volume II
The Hjaalmarch
The Hjaalmarch Hold is mostly dominated by a lowlands area of salt marshes, dotted with an intricate network of more or less dry islands. It is located on the northern coastline, between Haafinheim and the Northshore. The area is populated by the Hjaal tribes, descendents of some of the earliest Atmoran migrants, who settled the lands well before the first stone hall of Sarthaal was raised. Because of this, some Imperial archeological scholars like R’jhal the White suggests that Hjaalmarch can be considered one of the Old Holds, despite the region being geographically located in the western cultural sphere. This claim is supported by the backwards and barbaric customs perpetrated by the marshfolk.

In recent years, the once so-called free tribes of the Hjaalmarch have been incorporated into King Thian of Haafingar’s ever expanding realm. Before the annexation, the hold was formally ruled by a congregation of elders from the largest tribes and clans, with no formal leader or king. Annexation of the hold is no recent idea – it has been invaded countless times by kings of Dawnstar, Markarth, Haafingar and others, most usually with little or no success. The treacherous, marshes have devoured warbands time and time again, and the marshfolk have developed a cowardly form of guerilla warfare, where they utilize their environmental surroundings in a way where they only attack when they have their enemies outnumbered and split off from one another. In times of war, invasion or larger clan feuds, a form of war chief, the Master-of-Hunt, is chosen on the Horn-Moot. The leader is usually decided by a series of bloody duels. When the strife itself has been solved, or the invaders pushed out of Hjaalmarch, the Master-of-Hunt steps down and goes back into obscurity.

According to legend, the marshfolk were granted their free status by the legendary Atmoran King Ysgramor, in gratitude for the ambush and massacre of a Falmer army passing through the marshes, and for serving him in a number of battles, amongst others the Battle of Solstheim. These claims have little or no historical accuracy, though – at least none that have been proved to exist. The famed freedom of the tribes is said to exempt them from ever serving a king against their will, answering only to themselves and the gods. As previously stated, this has not stopped the surrounding kingdoms in their attempts to subjugate the Hjaalmarch. One might wonder why these attempts were made, as the hold is exclusively made up of worthless swamplands, and a scrawny population of degenerate and treacherous rebels.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by Yeti » Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:33 pm

Great stuff, roerich. I love the world building you've given the Hjaalmarch.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:06 pm

Glad to hear you like it. The Hjaal are obviously heavily based on the Frisians, a good inspiration if I can say so myself. I've set up possibilities for future questlines in the area, concerning rebellions against Thian and an early outlook on ancient Atmoran culture, if we never make it to the proper eastern holds. I've made a concept exterior cell of the Hjaalmarch as well, outlining the look I have for the region which I can post if you want to have a look

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by Luxray » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:41 pm

Finally remembered to read this. Have you done any more? This is great stuff so far.
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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:08 pm

Thanks! Nope, not yet.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by Luxray » Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:45 am

I had a crack at the example for Falkreath, let me know what you think:
Falkreath Hold is a southern hold in Skyrim, ensconced by the Jerall Mountains on the Cyrodiil-side and the Holds of the Reach to the West, White-Run Hold to the North, and the Pale to the east. The land is one of hilly pine forests, lakes, and mist. Formerly part of the Colovian Estates during the time of the First Era, the Hold swallowed up vast stretches of land as the fleeing Ayleid of ald-Cyrod sought protection with the expanding Direnni Hegemony during the pogroms of the early Alessian Empire.

The process of assimilation from staunch Aldmer territory to that of proud Nordic Hold was mostly completed during Ysmir Wulfharth's reign; a bloody scourge of the Elves drove them back to High Rock and beyond, during which the oppressed Nedes and men-of-'Kreath were more than keen to civilize the lands they occupied for their own. An outlawing of the Alessian ways attempted to cement the Hold's ways as Nordic, rather than Colovian; the modern-day result is a juxtaposition of the heritage of Colovia with an overarching Nordic identity the Hold's inhabitants embrace as their own. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, this has caused Nords from the rest of Skyrim to look askew at their kreath-brethren; often suspicious of their motives or motivation.

Being the most proximal Hold to Cyrodiil, and the oldest Imperial-heritaged Hold of the province, Falkreath has played host to numerous political intrigues of the past. Emperors from Kastav Cyrodiil onward have been keen to re-Cyrodify the hold of Falkreath, whether through plots and agents, or in the case of Emperor Cephorus Septim I, outright siege. Regardless, the hold of Falkreath has hitherto held fast under the rule of their King.

In the latest years of the Third Era, King [yyy] has found himself torn between the rest of Skyrim and the culturally-aligned Imperial administration. The populace of Falkreath-City, capricious but largely pro-Imperial, popularly support the reforms of the the Elder Council since the Imperial Simulacrum ended. At the start of the war of the Bend'r-Mah'k on the border of Falkreath Hold, King [xxx (yyy's father)] refuted the call of King Vyrnod for aid. Vyrnod, in response, turned a blind eye to movement of native Reachmen across their border, with them settling around the antiquity-conquest of Old Hrol'dan and other sites.

Recent increasing unrest in the Imperial Province and the eastern provinces has lessened the Empire's military influence. Neugrad Fort's legionnaires have mostly been recalled inward, the resident Nord troopers now said to be fortifying the valleys in Nibenay's heart. Those that remain fight mainly against the odd Horme raid as well as the actions of errant Reachmen or Orc raiders that dare to venture into the Hold. With fewer Imperial soldiers in the region, some whisper that it is only Falkreath's fortunate position buffered by other Holds and the imposing Jeralls keeping the people safe from any outside conquest.
Last edited by Luxray on Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by worsas » Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:14 am

On the Cyrod-side should be on the 'Cyrodiil-side'. 'the fleeing Ayleids of Cyrodiil sought protection' should be 'the fleeing Ayleids of Cyrod sought protection' ? I'm not 100% sure, though.

I like it. Nice work. This is all essential groundwork that should have been done a long time ago.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:32 pm

Good stuff, I wanted someone else to contribute to this, I can't remember if I told you. Perhaps Yeti could write the Reach chapter, if he has the time.

I'm not sure Falkreath should share a border with The Rift, I think White Hold is in between. Also, King Barda is technically the one turning a blind eye to the Reachmen migrations. This book should generally paint Thian in a very favourable light.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by Luxray » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:44 pm

I've updated it with your suggestions, as well as putting some suggestions in that Falkreath is ready for expansion into Thian's ever expanding realm!
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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:29 am

I started work on the White Hold chapter. This is mainly covering recent events.
At the onset of the War of Bend’r Mahk, King Bjarka the Fair responded the call for war, and sent a number of mounted warriors to aid the reconquest of Skyrim’s lost holdings.
...
Many would return with plentiful loot, but to burnt down homesteads and buried kin. The departure of the majority of the holds’ able warriors allowed the Hörme faction to grow strong, and gain a foothold in the region. The Potemaic rebels carried out many great raids, most notably the Massacre at Verknhal, where .... The increasingly aggressive raids eventually forced King Bjarka to recall the majority of his war-bound host, as well as call for aid from both his neighbours and the legion. King Eyrfinn of Haafingar never forgave him for forsaking a honour-bound war pledge, blaming him for the failure to take the Redguard fortress-city of (Helgard?), his troops abandoning the siege on the eve of victory. Diplomatic relations between the two kingdoms grew cold, and the aging King Eyrfinn never missed an opportunity to mock his former ally as Bjarka the Coward.

The general decline of Whiterun was in effect well before the disastrous consequences of the Simulacrum, but the Hörme rebellion only pushed the downfall further. It even seemed as if the Nordic deity of Kyne herself had taken up ill will against the kingdom, sending drought after drought. By 3E__ the harvest had failed seven years in a row, and Whiterun experienced mass migrations for the neighbouring holds as well as Cyrodiil and beyond.

...

Conditions only grew worse with the arrival of the fanatic witch-priestess, J’Sashe. In times of hardship, the weak-minded are eager to forsake the customs of their forefathers, in favor of honeyed promises from charlatans and rogues, veiled in religion, trickery and magic. She appeared from obscure origins, and rose to power in the years between 3E ___ and ___, where her preaching gathered a popular following among the commoners as well as the influential Grey-Mane clan. On the 20th of Frost Fall in the year of 3E__, the same day the sickly King Hikald gave in to a lasting illness, a mob declared her to be queen of White Hold, thus sparking a lasting conflict with the rural chieftains who refused to recognize her as their ruler. Outraged, the various clans banded together, and attempted to enter Whiterun and displace the newly crowned J’Sashe. But the citizens of the city managed to withstand the siege, and, following a few minor skirmishes, the clan warriors returned to their homesteads. The relationship between the urban and rural communities has improved little since then, but both sides agreed to stop the open hostilities, and instead combine arms against external threats. Authority has been divided, with J’Sashe effectively only ruling Whiterun itself as well as a number of surrounding fiefs. The rural clan territories are ruled locally by chieftains and elders.

J’Sashe is a curious and dangerous character. The Lorkhanite deviant keeps a shroud of mystery on both her origins, motives and practices. She is closely guarded by her most devout followers, a small group known as the Gilded Snakes. Disturbing reports of increasingly abhorrent rituals and even mass suicides are most likely true. But even if not, the presence of the serpentine cult will only work to accelerate the continuous downfall. The people of White Hold will stand their test, for nothing implies that the hardest times have been overcome yet.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by worsas » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:25 pm

I have always thought that the 'priestress of Lorkhan' - thing from the 3rd pg referred to Shor from the native Nord pantheon, and Jsashe thus indeed being a priestress of Shor of some kind. The "priestress of lorkhan" could very well stem from a misunderstanding by an Imperial looking at the political affairs from uninvolved outside view.

But this text does not read like something written from such an uninvolved perspective. This writing style is quite nice, btw. I can perfectly imagine it being read with one of those fake-viking voices you sometimes get to hear in game-video sequences.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by Yeti » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:38 pm

The 3rd pocket guide says Whiterun was once considered the Imperial City of Skyrim. Because of this (and the city's central location), I think it would make sense to make the city a central hub of the province's Imperial administration, making it the home of the Proconsul (a provincial governor who reports to the Emperor directly and carries out his will). We could then contrast an Imperial enclave as stubbornly organized and detached compared to the larger city declining around it. It would serve as a subtle hint that even in Skyrim, the Empire is growing out of touch with its provincial subjects.

Great entries everyone. As pointed out by Worsas earlier, these broad world-building efforts are of the utmost importance. When I find the time, I will try to get around to commenting on each one, while also suggesting stylistic edits.

I can write the entry for The Reach. For whoever picks up the one for Dawnstar, do we want King Thian's marriage-alliance to Queen Macalla to take place before or during the events of our mod? It could make it an interesting quest line, full of political intrigue, I imagine, if we ever get that far.

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Re: [Book] Kingdoms of Skyrim

Post by roerich » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:22 pm

Thanks worsas

I'm trying something different for J'Sashe, it can always be altered. My first thought was to make her a priestess of Shor as well, but the witchy descriptions and the odd name speaks for something more. And it fits perfectly with the "Imperial City of Skyrim" narrative - weird cults causing trouble, decline from former glory, an empire slowly disentegrating (well, a kingdom) and everything. :mrgreen: I also wanted to paint a conflict between the local chieftains and the city dwellers. Whiterun was indeed the Imperial City of Skyrim once upon a time, a center of trade and Imperial power. These days are long gone. I like Yetis idea about an Imperial enclave. I still have a lot of unfinished stuff about the older history of the hold, its internal division and people, which I'm looking forward for you to read.

About the marriage. Now that you bring it up, it would indeed be interesting to have it as a questline.

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