Realm of the Mammoth Lords
Realm of the Mammoth Lords – Lost Land of the Distant North
Realm of the Mammoth Lords at a glance:
- Alignment: N
- Capital: None
- Notable Settlements: Hillscross (8,400), Icestair (11,300), Tolguth (3,900)
- Ruler: Mighty Kuldor, Herdsman of the Bearpelt Following
- Government: Loose alliance of primitive, mostly human, tribes
- Languages: Hallit, Giant
- Religion: Gorum, Minderhal, Rovagug
On the far northern side of the Kodar Mountains stretches an ancient land where prehistoric beasts still roam. It is a savage noman’s-land, a wilderness as yet unclaimed by would-be conquerors. The hostile nature of the realm and its natives has so far kept those who would seek to do so at bay.
As befits its name, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords is best known for its great beasts — creatures that have died out in other, warmer realms to the south. Here, explorers can find several varieties of mammoth and mastodon, and herds of aurochs, bison, and short-horned deer graze on the windswept prairies. Armored glyptodons and giant ground sloths browse on the tough, woody brush, stalked by sabertoothed lions and smilodons. Even dinosaurs occasionally range the Tusk lowlands and the freakishly warm canyons at the base of the great ice shelf that forms both a glacial wall and the region’s northern border.
Incredible rumors suggest that the beasts that make the realm famous somehow emerged from an impossible underworld with its own false sun, a savage microcosm in which the dinosaurs never died and humans never emerged from their primitive origins. The Pathfinder Society has mounted five expeditions to this rumored inner world, but none have ever returned from the country alive.
The Tusk Mountains divide the land, and this snowtopped range is notable for its myriad passes and passages. To the west, the land is cold and snowy year-round, all the more so since the arrival of the Witch Queen of Irrisen. The lands to the east of the mountains are free of snow most of the year, but they are dry plateaus rising from endless grasslands, broken by deep canyons and arroyos carved by the melting snow and ice to the west and north.
Despite its remote location, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords sees a great deal of travel from other lands. From the south come the orcs of Belkzen, seeking to capture mammoths and other great beasts for sale to the decadent kingdoms of the south. From the west come ice trolls, servants of the hated Witch Queen, who form a living, regenerating barrier against the Mammoth Lords. The greatest danger lies to the east, where the Worldwound pulses and slowly expands the borders of its Abyssal taint. The exact border between the two realms is inexact, but is known in the native Hallit tongue as hrungara — the point beyond which the mammoths do not go willingly.
Yet it is from the north that the realm sees its most traffic, for the Icestair forms a passage to the Crown of the World. Strange travelers from Tian Xia, exhausted from the travel across the polar wilderness, arrive here to find tribesmen — some of them venerable old men and women no longer able to hunt — who act as guides. These elder guides bring the Tian visitors south to warmer lands. Oddly, the safest route out of the Realm is to make the pass at Hillcross, then skirt the eastern side of the Tusk range through the no-mans-land of the eastern Worldwound, and from there into Ustalav.
The Mammoth Lords do not possess a central organization. Their tribes gather along family lines, combining with other tribes to form “followings” of powerful warriors and leaders. Upon the leader’s death, a following chooses a new leader, breaks into smaller tribes, or seeks to join another charismatic leader. Leadership is determined by great and risky deeds, guile, and acts of heroism, so the turnover is high.
The most powerful of the Mammoth Lords is Mighty Kuldor of the Beltpelt Following — which boasts several thousand tribesmen. Kuldor makes his winter home in the ranges west of Hillcross, and his followers profit greatly from the trade that comes down over the Crown of the World. Mighty Kuldor is a muscular giant of a Kellid, even in a land that requires brawn to survive. It is said that no human can match the heroic strength of Mighty Kuldor, who lords over his savage followers from atop his woolly rhino mount.
Other important groups are the Greattusk, Ice Chasm, Raptorscale, and Slothjaw followings, and tribes like the Night Hunt and now-deceased Six Bears. There are anywhere from 10 to 30 major followings at any time, with about 200 smaller followings that range from outcast family clans to bandit groups. Tribes and followings travel on foot, although they do haul their fur tents and possessions on travails pulled by mammoths and other domesticated beasts. When dealing with such groups, wise travelers best remember that a Mammoth Lord’s word is both bond and law, and the Lords are particularly suspicious of magic that outstrips their traditional shamanic ways.
A sign of the power among the Mammoth Lords is the possession of enslaved giants. Heroes among the Mammoth Lords raid south into the Kodar Mountains, seeking glory through destroying the giant tribes found there. They do not kill all they encounter, but rather take the young giants they meet and enslave them, teaching them the ways of the great open plains and treating them as revered brothers. In time, these giant foundlings come to see their captors as their family, and fight to the death to protect them and their leaders. The more giants placed into a lord’s service, the greater the lord’s power. Mighty Kuldor has nearly a dozen such beings in his thrall.
The Mammoth Lords have no capital city, nor even a cultural gathering-place. Instead, the natives of the land follow the various herds of great beasts and return to what passes for civilization only when they must. The Realm of the Mammoth Lords has few towns, and most of those exist as a concession to travelers. For the Kellid tribesman of this land, home is only a temporary camp, to be abandoned when prey moves on.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting