(Ors, Orsan, Orsans)
Ors was established in 2419 PN by Eskalld, an Oread Bard. One of the Ulfcursed, Eskalld's Oread folk had fled Naduum after its destruction. For centuries the Ulfcursed fought for Tigraen as mercenaries. After thousands of years of conflict, Eskalld and his band were sick of pointless fighting. They fled Tigraen, but Sarmatti would not have them. So they settled in Ors, a hard land between two great rivers - war torn land, constantly invaded, which no other people wanted.
Ors is tough country; hard packed red-gold earth with short, twisted trees. A few ranges of rugged hills lie to the north and south. The great rivers Afal and Ufal mark the northern and southern boundaries - wide, deep, powerful rivers which join at Ors eastern border and flow into the Seleuc Fjord.
Summers are hot, but humid, with regular rainfall brought in by massive thunderstorms. Winters are often cold, but dry.
Ors has no coastline. The folk who live there know little of the sea.
Ors is a nation with a long history of being invaded and conquered by others. Rather than resisting, the folk of Ors merely surrender, and allow the invaders to take over. Ors is poor country, populated by hardy folk who seem to be the only ones who can wring a living from such ground. It costs more to patrol Ors than it generates in tax revenue. The climate is unpleasant. The common folk are clever and crafty, but so clever and crafty that they are are experts at appearingly stubbornly stupid, and so are impossible to govern. First, they only speak Ors (a variant of Terran) as a native tongue, and their command of High or Black Valean suddenly deserts them the moment they are being given orders. The intent of such orders will almost always go awry once left in the hands of the Orsans. Many of their neighbors tell jokes about the 'rock headed Orsans' ... but every invading force has eventually abandoned Ors to their own devices.
The common folk are industrious, tough, frugal to the point of cheapness, and deeply stubborn. They do not take orders well, and the more they are pushed, the more stubborn stupidity they exhibit. When left alone, however, Orsans are remarkably clever and productive. They just dislike being ruled.
Ors has no formal government as such. However, the country is well traveled by Bards, who pass the news in the form of stories, carry greetings from widespread families and clans, and guide traders who attempt to scratch a living moving goods across the windswept plains. These Bards seem like mere storytellers on the surface, but are actually the government. One among them is secretly elected as the Mummer King every sixteen years, and the Mummer King works tirelessly - with his fellows - to keep Ors free and prosperous. All Bards owe loyalty to the Mummer King, and some among them are always moving among the people as his agents.
Though Ors has been conquered repeatedly, they always regain their freedom. Moreover, every conqueror leaves something behind. There are Aasimar families settled here - along with Tieflings, Dwarves, Gnomes, Goblins, Elves, Orcs, Firbolg, Oread, Men, and Flen. Most came in with a conquering army but did not leave. Eventually these folk learn Ors and become just as 'rock headed' as their neighbors.
Folk in Ors help one another out. No person in Ors is allowed to go hungry, and no household of Ors will refuse shelter to a traveler. The Bards of Ors tell everyone who comes there that they are welcome to stay - as long as they like.
Leathers are the most common dress, supplemented by rough homespun wool and linen. Though hot, the sun will burn in summer, so long sleeves are worn despite the heat. Wide-brimmed hats are common, and folk in hoods and cloaks are distrusted.
Ors is spoken fluently, but is difficult for outsiders to learn and has wildly varying regional and local accents. One Orsan can make himself unintelligible to another Orsan who lives in the next town ... if he wishes. High Valean and Black Valean are also understood, but rarely spoken. Wise travelers speak Terran when they can, which most Orsans can understand some of, if not speak themselves. A handful of other languages might also be understood, but the folk of Ors have no interest in learning foreign tongues.
The Ancient languages of Skos and Naduum are almost forgotten here, and languages from far nations are almost totally unknown.
Ulf is a popular god here. The original Oread setlers were Ulfcursed - minons of Naduum who offended the Earth god during the fall of Naduum, and were turned to living stone by Ulf's wrath. Instead of lamenting their fate, these followers were awed by Ulf's power, and turned to worship him. Grudgingly pleased, Ulf still sometimes aids their descendants.
Shalokar is popular in his aspect as the trickster god, though not openly worshiped. Bors and Shyla have many temples, as does Ianadale, as the folk of Ors need much aid to bring in decent harvests and scratch a living from the land. Braeya is also popular, with many shrines in the north. Dra and Alyssa have strong followings in the south.
Being a poor nation, and not wishing to offer targets to looting, temples in Ors are simple wooden shacks, often with a small wooden statue of the temple's deity.
The most important religious figure in Ors is Suumal, immortal Oracle. An ancient half-celestial struck blind by Kronarr, Suumal is an Oracle, soothsayer, and storyteller, half priest and half bard. An utterly ordinary looking old blind man, Suumal has been 'killed' a hundred times by invading armies, but always comes back to life and begins wandering the countryside again. He is full of old stories and dirty jokes, and has an earthy wisdom and deep understanding of the country itself, which he passes on to his folk.
Ors is barely governed at all, but what government they have consists of a loose-knit organization of Bards who follow a secretly elected King.
Locally, every town has a Reave; the local town guard or law enforcement. They put out fires, combat bandits, and guard the walls at night. Every adult who can fight is a Reave, and the Orsans have an inexplicably complicated method of determining who does what, and when.
For the most part, Orsans pay foreign affairs little mind, concentrating on making a living from their own harsh land.
The Mummer Kings may make agreements or treaties with foreign lands from time to time - learning of them through their extensive travel. Often this is part of whatever plan the current King has for relieving whatever oppression Ors is currently enduring.
Every settlement has a Reave, which will defend the settlement against monsters and the occasional bandit. Organized conquerors are not resisted, so long as they don't intend to murder everyone.
Magic is fairly common in Ors, but public use of it is kept as secret as possible. Those with arcane or divine powers rarely admit to them, and go to great lengths to conceal them. Even the Bards, the most public spellcasters, all claim little real power or skill. There are a few very powerful arcane and divine casters, but they are very, very secretive about their powers.
There are no major cities; the land isn't rich enough to support a large concentration of people. The small settlements of significance are:
Javalk in the north, which has a large tannery. Vaama in the east, where the rivers join, which manages a good deal of grain farming. Oum in the southeast, with their many small fishing boats. Finnal in the far west, a dusty herding town, and little Kappi in central Ors, a dusty shepherd's village.
Ors is a very live-and-let-live kind of place. Many races of Valea have settled here, and more trickle in from time to time.
Rogues, Bards, and Druids are the most common classes, though only Bards will admit to publicly being what they are. Most Rogues and Druids spend a lot of time pretending to be something else. Spellcasting classes and quite secretive, and so are martial classes with any magical abilities. Few people will admit to being anything more than a farmer or herder or fisherman, though they may actually be a Ranger or Wizard.