The Mystmountain Raiders are a group of clans that are most concentrated in northeastern Ravenstern, although they can be found throughout that kingdom.
The term Mystmountain as a description of the ethnic group of northern raiders is a misnomer given to them by the Pendorian settlers of Ravenstern, who percieved them to have lived within the Cloudmist mountains. In fact, the cloudmist mountains are as strange to the Mystmountains as they are to the Pendorians. The lands north of the Cloudmist mountains are inhospitable and empty, unfit for raising crops and far too barren for even large scale pastoralism as was possible for the d'shar. As such, the cultural development of the ethnic group referred to in Pendor as the Mystmountains was heavily stunted by environmental factors. Prior to the travels of Stagfoot the Pathfinder, Mystmountain society was defined by the 64-year Mooncycle, a term used by Mystmountain Shamans to term the ebb and flow of the Mystmountain population. Overpopulation during the Full Moon would lead to the inability of what little arable land and herds that remained to sustain the mystmountain population, leading to famine and wars that would dramatically reduce the population until the horse and elk herds had replenished and returned to its preoverpopulated state, at which the population would rise again and the cycle would repeat--as it had for countless centuries, more than most shaman would care to count.
For Mooncycle after Mooncycle, the Mystmountains had seen the cloudmist mountains as an impenetrable barrier. Stagfoot the Pathfinder was the first to change that. According to mystmountain legend, Stagfoot the Pathfinder, a mere hunter, was hunting at the base of the cloudmist mountains when he caught sight of a mountain cat that led him south over the mountains. While many a shaman would argue that Stagfoot, as a non-shaman, could not see Vejovis, none could argue with the trail he had found over the mountains. The news of new, arable lands in the south coincided with the waxing of the Mooncycle, and many mystmountains fled potential war over the mountains, where their entrance coincided with the settling of Ravenstern by early Pendorians. Having hailed from warmer, more fertile climates, the cold lands of Ravenstern seemed like hell to the Pendorians, and early Ravenstern suffered from terrible famines. The Mystmountains, who had walked through hell to get to Ravenstern and knew how to extract the maximum crop yield from what they saw as Ravenstern's blessed soil, helped transmit what they knew of agriculture of the Pendorians, and the two ethnic groups coexisted in intermingled, with most Mystmountains primarily inhabiting Senderfall and most Pendorians living in Ravenstern, with a large overlapping population in Rane.
The abrupt disintegration of the Pendorian Empire could be argued to have started in part in the far north. Several years of grand harvests had steadily increased the population of both Ravenstern and north of the Cloudmyst mountains in a period the Shamans optimistically referred to as the Eternal Full Moon. Several poor harvests in the past had been ameriolated by the import of grain from the Mystmountain-Pendorian settlements in Ravenstern, and the onset of famine in the North in the year 198 (by the Pendorian reckoning) was not initially met with much alarm. However, the Red Plague which had ravaged Pendor proper had also creeped into Ravenstern the past spring, and with many fields left only to the dead, the men of Ravenstern had little to spare. For the first time in three mooncycles (180 years), the full moon had began to wane once more, and the lands north of the Cloudmyst were consumed in war. The mystmountains of the south, who had by then considered Ravenstern their home, were in no mood to jump back into the savage land they had departed. It was not long before, surrounded by bloodshed, the Mystmountains to the north of the Cloudmyst mountains looked to the lands of the south as part of the Mooncycle. Lured by rumors of hoarded grain and fertile lands in the south, the Mystmountains descended south in 199. Paralyzed by famine and disease and unrest in Pendor proper, the Knight orders of Pendor were understrength and incapable of responding. With no help incoming from the south, Earl Gregory of Rane raised his own army of Pendorian bannermen from Ravenstern and, with the help of the Mystmountain Highlanders of Senderfall and the hero Cliff McManus, routed the Mystmountains of the north, driving them back across the mountain.
Today, the term Mystmountain is no longer truly applied to the ethnic group, as the original race of men from the the Cloudmyst mountains have long since divided. In the south, the mystmountains of Senderfall have long since interbred with the Pendorians of Ravenstern, forming one nation under one king, Gregory IV. Senderfall, in particular, maintains a large mystmountain population, and the Ravenstern highlanders under Duke Alaric (of some mystmountain blood himself) and the Bearclaw Berserkers they fight were once of the same blood. Mystmountain in modern terms pertains only to those of the North, who continue to descend and raid the Southlands of Ravenstern.
Organization and CultureEdit
Unlike the largely desperate invaders that were cast down at Rane a century past, the Mystmountain raiders of today are largely a product of careful deliberation in the Northlands. The North has changed little since the fall of Pendor, and its population is still severely limited by its limited agricultural capacity. In order to preserve peace within the Northland, the larger clans of the North systematically send the young men of smaller clans to raid the more fertile lands of the south. Second and third children of small clans are encouraged to organize raiding bands organized by a common familial bond and cross over the mountains, with those returning with great spoils often rewarded through marriage into the larger, more prosperous clans.
The average Mystmountain Raiding Clan is led by a War Chief, generally a son or daughter of the clan leader, but sometimes simply a great warrior in the clan (provisions exist where a War Chief deemed as ineffectual can be replaced by the raiding clan through a trial of arms). The War Chief is considered responsible for the lives of all the members of the clan, and is expected to pay a prohibitively large blood indemnity to their families on return following their deaths. As the Mystmountains are nowhere as well-armed as their Ravenstern enemies, these blood indemnities often accumulates into massive debts that are increasingly impossible for a War Chief with a reduced band to reasonably obtain. Because of this, many mystmountain war chiefs either eventually settle within Ravenstern for lack of a choice or turn renegade, devolving into mere bandits who live from day to day. Scattered bands of these isolated pariahs can be found in Ravenstern, largely ignored out of pity by other War Chiefs and left to terrorize the average village band or caravan.
By sending most of the manpower of the smaller (but far more numerous) clans, the larger Mystmountain bands clans down two birds with one stone, simultaneously ensuring a constant stream of spoils from the South and neutralizing the smaller clans by depriving them of most of their manpower. Because of the Blood Indemnity and the great disparity in weapons quality and organization between even a wealthy Mystmountain Warband and a Ravenstern ranger company, very few War Chiefs return to the Northland, and even fewer return with anything more than a modest profit after they have paid their blood indemnities. Through these warbands, the Mystmountain clans have kept peace within the Northland for over two Mooncycles. However, cold winds of change blow on the horizon - with the arrival of new Raiding Clans from the North comes news that the chief of one of the largest clans, Wolfbode, has slain the chiefs of all the other large clans and has now united the clans of the Northland udner his banner and is now riding south, with dreams of succeeding where his ancestors had failed and establishing a new Mystmountain homeland in Ravenstern. For the men of Ravenstern, Wolfbode is a barbarian king come to devastate their (not-so) tranquil lands, but for the mystmountain, Wolfbode is a savior. For the renegade mystmountain bands, Wolfbode promises a chance at salvation, a chance to regain the honor they had once lost by taking part in the cleansing of their promised land; for the Raiding Clans, Wolfbode is their chance to take more than they had ever dreamed of taking; for the women and children who wait for their sons and fathers to return, Wolfbode is the man fighting so that they will never go hungry again; and for the Shamans, Wolfbode is the chosen warrior destined to bring the mystmountains the lands under the sun, free of the mooncycle, where clan will never have to fight clan again. Nobody is quite sure what it is to Wolfbode--but then again, nobody has really dared to ask.
Of all the minor factions, the Mystmountain Raiders are probably the least dangerous, although they are still a cut above mere bandits. As their homeland cannot support powerful horses and have few mines, their armor and horses are peacemeal at best. Their foot unit, aptly named the Mystmountain Raider, is poorly equipped but often numerous. Mystmountain Warriors and Mystmountain Shamen are more dangerous, being mounted, but still have poor equipment and can easily be defeated by an equal force. All of these units can be recruited.
Although it is important to have a large army to endure the long battle, again, a Mystmountain Army is probably the easiest to challenge, and one of the first a player will want to attempt. Mystmountain Armies generally have about 750-850 men.
- 10-15 Hero Adventurers
- 20-50 Bearclaw Berserkers
- 5-15 Mystmountain Shamen
- 250-600 Mystmountain Warriors
- 200-300 Mystmountain Raiders
- 50-150 Bandits
Wolfbode the Slayer is the sole unique spawn of the Mystmountain Raiders.