Erica grinned at the troubadour, clearly enjoying needling her fellow priest. "Does calling it Liberation rather than Freedom make you feel more comfortable?" she asked, posing the question with an air of false naivete.

Ser Fundin took a long swig from his tankard to give himself some time to think. He had expected the Montanian to be poorly educated in the ways of Virtue and he was rather regretting under-estimating the woman. "It doesn't matter what we call it" he finally responded. "The point is that we wish to liberate and restore those who have been trod underfoot by the Druj, not to conquer them."

"Oh I rather think it does matter what you call it. But lets not argue semantics like a pair of Urizeni stargazers considering the heavens. Let's talk about what you actually mean to do. You're here to liberate us, and in truth we're not ungrateful. It's definitely an improvement on last time... no-one can deny that. So - when are you going to do that? When will we get liberated?"

The Montanian priest's voice was light and friendly, her hands spread out in a gesture of open inquiry, but there was a note of steel in her voice that made Ser Fundin nervous. "Erm - well we've defeated the Druj - everyone is free from their rule now." he responded unsure of what more he could say.

"Not everyone!" Erica was quick to correct him. "The Druj are still terrorising your people in Murderdale and our allies in the Heart of Peytaht. But lets not argue warfare like a pair of League Bravos brawling in a tavern. Let's agree that we're free now - so that means I can preach the tenets of Freedom throughout the Barrens can I? That means my friends in the Great Forest Orcs can return to their homes and reclaim the Eaves of Peytaht can they? We're all free, so the Black Wind won't have to pay taxes to your Empire? The Rahvin can keep living in the Fangs and keep the mithril?"

Ser Fundin was definitely regretting coming to the tavern this evening. Ser Dindrane would surely have answers to the Montanian's question, but the questing knight was elsewhere and the young troubadour was suddenly aware of how out of his depth he was. "I assume the Imperial Senate will issue a ruling." he finally responded realising how lame the words sounded even as he said them.

"Excellent!" Erica responded with mocking delight. "Lets ignore the question of whether you can ever really be free if you need someone else to give you your freedom for a moment. Liberation means - the return of our freedom... the right to govern ourselves. Not to be subject to the rule of others. So your Senate is going to give us our lands back are they? We won't be forced to live under Imperial rule?"

"But Imperial citizens are free" Ser Fundin protested.

Erica smiled at the troubadour. "Our people left the Empire half a century ago... and then we left them. If we had the faintest desire to be Imperial citizens we could have made that choice at any time in the last fifty years. Do you think the Rahvin want to be Imperial citizens? Or the Black Wind? We convinced them to make peace with your Empire so they could fight the Druj. We made an agreement, and then you broke it and sided with the Druj. They hate you even more than they hate the Druj if such a thing were possible. Do you think they want to become Imperial citizens?"

She shook her sadly. "Words matter... a great deal... If liberation means anything, it means Freedom. And Freedom means the right for living beings to choose for themselves. There can be no Freedom where our choices are made for us by others. It's not Freedom if our only choice is to live by your laws. If you force us to be part of your Empire... then you're no better than the Druj.

Not to conquer.jpg
"Pride exalts and uplifts those who have been laid low by the wicked; we come to the Barrens not to conquer, but to liberate and restore those who have been trod underfoot by the Druj."

Pride exalts and uplifts those who have been laid low by the wicked; we come to the Barrens not to conquer, but to liberate and restore those who have been trod underfoot by the Druj. We send Ser Dindrane with 50 doses of liao to urge Dawnish citizens not to settle beyond Dawnguard, but to rather put their words, steel, and coin to the cause of protecting and aiding the many inhabitants of the Barrens who have thrown of the yoke of the Buruk Tepel.

Ser Dindrane, Dawn Assembly, Summer Solstice 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 233-46)

In peerless kinship, Highguard wishes to support our glorious siblings in Dawn.

Jericho, Highguard Assembly, Summer Solstice 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 980-36)

Dawn asks Highguard to support them in the Barrens in peerless kinship.

Zadkiel de Coeurdefer, Dawn Assembly, Summer Solstice 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority 171-0)


The Barrens has been contested territory between the Druj and Dawn for centuries. The orcs who live there have been caught in the middle between the two powerful nations. They have no love for the Druj, but they also have no love for Dawn. Recent events, since the death of Empress Britta, have cemented that dislike and in some cases turned it into open hatred.

During the conquest of the Barrens, the Dawnish armies embraced the words of the Imperial Synod, committing themselves to a campaign of "liberation" rather than "conquest." They went out of their way to avoid harming the orcs who call the Barrens home, and focused their attention of removing the yoke of the Druj from their necks. However, the Imperial Military Council chose to focus on supporting the Dawnish people in the west rather than freeing the Rahvin and turned its attention elsewhere rather than bury the hatchet with the Great Forest Orcs. This strategy ultimately led to the Dawnish uprising, and the final conquest of the Barrens. The Imperial Senate assigned the territory to Dawn - a move guaranteed to spark celebration in Astolat, Semmerholm, and Weirwater, and to outrage the orcish septs of the Barrens.

Last summit, the Dawnish National Assembly chose to embrace Ser Dindrane's policy of working with the orcs rather than flooding the territory with settlers. Those Dawnish who had hoped to return to lands lost when they fled the Barrens and regain their estates in Dawnguard are doing so, but new settlers are holding back while Imperial representatives approach the various factions of the Barrens. The focus is now on appeasing the angered septs, and finding ways to create opportunities for the Dawnish to help and support the various faction. This endeavour is complicated by the history of Imperial and Dawnish relations with the Barrens since Winter 377YE - the occupants broadly hate, fear and distrust the Dawnish. The perspective of many orcs in the Barrens is that the Dawnish are indistinguishable from the Druj.

Fortunately, in these initial contacts with the orc septs, the Dawnish have received much needed aid from the people of Highguard. Using their peerless kinships, Highborn priests serve as mediators, speaking to people who do not trust the Dawnish. They're also able to parley their cautious relationships with two of the Barrens factions - the Vendarri surrendered to the Highborn and a number of Great Forest Orcs have worked with the Highborn in Therunin and Brocéliande in the recent past. Their support has allowed the Dawnish (and the Empire) to skip over the first lengthy phase of negotiations - getting the septs to actually talk to them - and has helped to get to the root of the problems.

All these negotiations take place under the shadow of the Druj. The Thunderous Tread of the Trees they unleashed still rampages across the territory. While the Towers of Dusk stand ready to protect the Barrens from aggression out of the Mallum, there are no armies here. Everyone is on edge, and everyone is aware that a wrong word in the wrong place at the wrong time could cause the entire fragile situation here to collapse.


This Wind of Fortune has a large number of moving parts and is probably the most complex wind we've ever put together. We've kept it as short as possible, but the situation in the Barrens is incredibly complex, due to the size of the territory and the ten year game history of player interactions with the people who live there. As part of trying to keep it to a manageable length, we've cut down the amount of background and scene-setting we would normally include. There are two pages that provide additional context to this wind - Conflict in the Barrens lays out the historical situation, both before the game began and after.

The situation is complex in-character as well. It contains a number of potential actions, but it is not intended to be definitive. Many of the options here provide only guidelines about what will happen if they are taken. In particular, if the Empire does multiple things that all change the situation it's impossible to predict in advance how those things will interact with each other. There's also the potential impact of individual characters on the relations between the Empire and the Barrens factions to bear in mind, which might further skew things toward the chaotic. For now, though, each of these "levers" is presented with the best guess of the people involved as to what it will do.

One other thing to bear in mind is that the Imperial Synod, its statements of principle and mandates, is of only limited use in the Barrens. While a judgement can be used to influence Imperial citizens, it is unlikely to move any of the factions. They are simply not open to Imperial priests coming to them with liao and attempting to tell them what they should do. So while there are mandates here, they are about actions Imperial citizens take, and not about influencing the factions directly by sending missionaries. This is intentional, and proposals for alternative mandates that rely on trying to convert the factions, or influence them with auras, are unlikely to be accepted.

Black WindBarbarians
Great Forest OrcsForeigners

Foreigners and Barbarians

  • There are several factions in the Barrens that are either foreigners or barbarians
  • The legal status of some factions is unclear

The first complication to be considered in the Barrens is the legal status of the various factions within it. The Senate has explicitly recognised the Karass as foreigners, but the situation with the other factions is a little less clear.

In Winter 379YE, the Senate declared war on "the Barrens Orcs that are currently laying siege to an Imperial fort" which included the Rahvin, the Black Wind, and the Great Forest Orcs. While they later made peace with the Great Forest Orcs, there seemed little need to alter the situation with regard to the Rahvin as they were believed to all be dead. The Imperial Senate has declared that the Karass are foreigners. It's not entirely clear what the situation is with the Vendarri is; they are presumably covered by the Winter 379YE declaration, but took no part in the actual attack on the fort, and have since surrendered to the Highborn (and by extension the Empire). Likewise, the status of the Montanians is also unclear. The Empire historically declared war on the Freedom Heresy forces in 325YE, and in theory the Montanians are still covered by that declaration. They apparently claim that their grandparents cut ties with the rest of those resident in Montane prior to its destruction, but this would not automatically change their status. However, the peace treaty with the Great Forest Orcs explicitly applies to "the humans that the Great Forest recognise as members of their nation." The Great Forest Orcs have said that they consider the Montanians active in the Barrens to be as much part of their nation as those who have been living in Therunin, but this doesn't necessarily have a legal bearing on the status of the faction as a whole.

With all this in mind, the Civil Service have requested two administrative motions be raised on Friday evening at the Autumn Equinox. Neither of these motions prevents the Senate changing the status of the faction at a later date, but would clarify the position of the Vendarri and the Montanians and their relationship with the Empire.

The first administrative motion states that "The Winter 379YE declaration of war on the orcs of the Barrens includes the Vendarri." If it passes, then the Vendarri are barbarians; if it is defeated they are foreigners.

The second motion is "The provisions of the peace treaty with the Great Forest Orcs that relate to their briar allies also apply to the members of their faction active in the Barrens." If this passes, the Montanian faction will be foreigners and will be assumed to be bound by the same provisions as their members living in Therunin. If it is defeated, any Montanians not living in Therunin will be barbarians. Obviously, this motion has implications for relations with the Great Forest Orcs both those living in Therunin and the Barrens as a whole.

More generally, the Senate can use a single suitably worded motion to declare war on, or peace with, all of the Barrens factions at once much as they declared all the orcs in Ossium to be foreigners following the conquest of that territory. If they want to change the legal status of a single faction, or a group of factions, that would require a motion for each faction.

Barrens Map.jpg
Political map of the Barrens created by Gancio di Catazar.

Liberation, Conquest and Negotiation

  • The Montanians, the Rahvin, the Great Forest Orcs, the Vendarri and the Karass believe that "liberation" means ceding their lands to them
  • All of the septs are aware that their negotiating position is weak, some more than the others
  • Their demands have been presented in strict order of the things most important to them

The Imperial Synod has repeatedly claimed that they have come to liberate the Barrens, not to conquer them. This has translated into clear strategic costs for the Empire, making it significantly harder for their armies to operate in the territory, but that choice has minimised the casualties among the septs who live here and has been noted by all of them. Most have responded positively to this approach, and while the Empire remains hugely unpopular in the territory, it has created the opportunity for dialogue with most of the septs which otherwise would not have existed.

What it has not done is clarify in legal terms what the Empire actually means by "liberation." The point is rapidly approaching where the Empire will have to make clear to the Barrens what "liberation" entails given that none of the occupants of the Barrens have shown any inclination to become Imperial citizens bar the possible exception of the Karass.

The Montanians have eloquently expressed that liberation means nothing less than the right to govern and rule themselves, outside of the Empire. They have actively encouraged the other septs to view liberation in these terms and to demand the Empire deliver this. The recent decision to assign the Barrens to Dawn, who are deeply unpopular in the Barrens, has not been well received by anyone other than the Dawnish themselves. However the impact has been mitigated by the timely intervention of the Dawnish Assembly who have encouraged their people not to settle the Barrens until the situation with the septs has been resolved.

This has created an opportunity for further dialogue which has caused most of the septs to state their case to the Dawnish and Highborn priests sent to talk with them. This wind presents the extent of their demands but is clear that the septs are aware that their negotiating position is weak. Some of them are more aware of just how weak their position is than others. Where relevant, the Civil Service has tried to list their demands in the explicit order that they are most important to the sept, to support any potential negotiation of a compromise. The first bullet point is the demand that is most important to them in each case.

It is genuinely impossible for even the best Imperial prognosticators to say if any common ground is actually possible in each case. Only the heroes at Anvil can determine that. What will categorically not work is to try to persuade the various factions to abandon all their goals. The Empire is in a position to force any resolution they like, but resentment will only grow in any sept that does not win any concessions from the Empire. That will almost inevitably spell trouble down the line.


Who are the Rahvin?

Communication with the Rahvin can be achieved by sending a Winged Messenger to Jannik, The Fangs, Bitter Strand, The Barrens.
  • The Rahvin currently control the Fangs
  • They are still legally barbarians following the declaration of war in Winter 379YE
  • They are regarded positively by most other septs other than the Karass and the Black Wind

The Rahvin are now the smallest sept in the Barrens, and arguably the weakest. For years it was assumed that they had been exterminated by the Druj. In Winter last year, however, it became apparent that the orcs of the Mallum had not been entirely truthful. Survivors - possibly the last members of the sept still alive - were discovered to be enslaved at the Fangs, forced to work in the mithril mine on the shores of the Barren sea. Supported by the Imperial Orcs of the Winter Sun, the slaves freed themselves and turned on the Druj overseers, slaughtering them, and claiming the mine for themselves.

At their peak, as one sept, the Black Wind and the Rahvin were the most powerful sept in the independent Barrens, and were at the forefront of the attempt to secure independence for the territory. Now their situation is very much reduced, but they still appear to be committed to a vision of a Barrens ruled not by the Empire, nor by the Druj, but by the orcs who live there.

What do the Rahvin Want?

  • They want the Empire to recognise them as foreigners and cede control of Bitter Strand, the Carmine Fields, and Murderdale
  • They want the Empire to acknowledge its role in the death of Rahvin and the slaughter of their sept
  • They want to reunite their sept with the Black Wind
  • The Rahvin want a free Barrens that is independent of both the Druj and the Empire

The Rahvin want to be free and they are clear that that means freedom from the Empire every bit as much as it means freedom from the Druj. Recent actions by Imperial Orc, Highborn and Dawnish armies have made them open to the idea of negotiation with the Empire, but the prospect of a settlement looks remote.

The leaders of the Rahvin are clear that if the Empire really means to "liberate" the Barrens, then that means giving control of the territory to the people who live there. Before the sept split, the Rahvin and the Black Wind dwelled in Bitter Strand, Carmine Fields, Murderdale and parts of what was once Dawnguard. They want the Imperial Senate to recognise them as foreigners and to cede these regions to them.

At present there are little more than seven-hundred-and-fifty Rahvin gathered at the Fangs. The initial rebellious slaves have been joined by Rahvin orcs liberated by the Imperial armies from other parts of the territory especially the Plains of Teeth. They believe that more of their people are likely living as slaves in the Salt Flats of Sanath, and perhaps the Forest of Ulnak but they have no way to reach them.

The sept split when the Empire and the Druj made common cause to put down the Barrens Orc rebellion. Those who preferred to go down fighting for the cause kept the name of Rahvin, those who chose to surrender to the Druj became the Black Wind. The Rahvin hope to open negotiations with the much more numerous Black Wind sept in the hope of reuniting with their kindred if the situation allows. They anticipate that the Black Wind will share their ambition to gain control of their former lands in the Barrens.

For now, they control the Fangs which they are mining using the primitive equipment left behind by the Druj. They would dearly like to use the precious metal to arm their sept and the other septs in the Barrens, the better to resist Druj and Imperial domination. Even armed, the Rahvin would be too small to provide a credible military threat, but the same would not be true if they were able to arm the other factions. At present they lack the means to forge weapons and armour in bulk, and are seeking for ways to resolve that shortcoming. Mostly, they treat the Fangs as a stronghold; keeping the Empire out. They refuse point blank to leave the Fangs. They have received support from the Winter Sun, and some Imperial Orcs continue to supply them despite their technical status as barbarians.

Priests from Dawn and Highguard and members of the Imperial Orcs have all spoken with leaders of the sept. Their assessment is that the orcs are Proud, Ambitious, and Courageous, but Wise enough to understand that their best hope at present is to negotiate with the Empire. They will never give up control of the Fangs, they see the mithril as crucial to ensuring the Barrens has the strength to defend itself from future attacks by the Druj and the Empire, but their demands are negotiable. Crucially, they are realistic enough that they don't expect Dawnguard to be handed over to them - most think of the place as being Dawnish anyway.

In addition to land, the Rahvin are bitter about the Empire's role in the death of Rahvin, the charismatic orc who once united the septs of the Barrens against the Druj and the subsequent war against the Rahvin that enabled the Druj to enslave and kill the rest of the sept. If the Empire found a way to acknowledge their role in these events and communicate that to the Rahvin it would improve diplomatic relations and make them less openly hostile.

Leaving the Rahvin in control of the mine while their attitude to the Dawnish, and the Empire as a whole, is one of hatred is extremely risky. Their sept demonstrated in the past that it was prepared to take on outrageous odds in its ambition to free the Barrens from outside control, and there is no doubt they would do so again once they had armed and armoured themselves. If other Barrens orcs rallied to them it is not impossible they could raise an army, given enough time to do so.

Senate Opportunities : Rahvin

  • The Empire is formally at war with the Rahvin; the Imperial Senate could recognise the Rahvin as foreigners
  • The Senate could cede one or more regions to the Rahvin, they want Bitter Strand, the Carmine Fields, and Murderdale in that order
  • The Senate could formally recognise Rahvin control of the Fangs
  • The Senate could issue a statement accepting Dawnish or Imperial responsibility for the destruction of the Rahvin
  • Any one or more of these conditions could be submitted for ratification as a single treaty by the Imperial Senate if signed by the Imperial Consul

The first step towards engaging in diplomacy with the Rahvin is likely to be for the Imperial Senate to recognise them as foreigners. The Rahvin understand enough about Imperial law to understand how precarious their current position is while the Empire remains formally at war with them. The Empire declared war on the Rahvin in Winter 379YE - ending that conflict will provide a stable basis for better negotiations going forward.

The Rahvin are adamant that they will not accept Dawnish or Imperial suzerainty. They have made clear that they want control of the Bitter Strand, the Carmine Fields, and Murderdale in that order. If the Empire were to cede one or more of these regions, then relations would improve accordingly. At present they do not trust the Empire enough to send a delegation to Anvil - last time they came and negotiated in good faith with the Empire at Anvil it did not augur well for the Rahvin. If the Imperial Senate ceded one or more regions of the Barrens to their control it would create enough trust for them to be prepared to send an official delegation to negotiate with Imperial representatives (or receive such a delegation).

Ceding the Bitter Strand would mean giving up the Fangs, a valuable mithril resource currently controlled by the Rahvin. Rather than cede the whole region, the Imperial Senate could recognise Rahvin control of the mithril mine. This would be less effective in improving relations than ceding the entire region, but there are frankly insufficient Rahvin to control the Bitter Strand fully at this time anyway. If this were done, they would still begin arming and armouring themselves, but it would not make the Barrens easier for an outside force to conquer. But if Dawnish citizens do begin to settle in the Barrens, they would eventually establish estates in Bitter Strand outside the area controlled by the Rahvin which would likely lead to friction between the two groups unless relations had greatly improved by then.

Of all the factions in the Barrens bar the Black Wind, the Rahvin are perhaps the most furious with the fact the territory has been given to Dawn. They blame the agreement between the Dawnish and the Druj to split the territory between them for the failure of their ambitions. The Highborn grudgingly suggest that a clear statement by the Imperial Senate accepting Dawn's culpability for the destruction of the Rahvin and the slaughter and enslavement of their people by the Druj will go some way toward improving their attitude toward the Empire - although it will do little for their dislike of the Dawnish. Unless it is supported wholeheartedly by the Dawnish National Assembly, it is likely to offend the people of that nation. An alternative would be to downplay Dawnish culpability, and instead have the Empire as a whole take responsibility for these actions. If that approach were taken, it would improve Rahvin attitudes to the Dawnish slightly, but at the cost of making them more suspicious of the Empire as a whole.

Given the formal way this set of demands have been presented, it would be legally possible for the Imperial Consul to submit a treaty for ratification by the Imperial Senate that met one or more of these demands with a single Senate motion.

Military Opportunities : Rahvin

  • The Empire is currently at war with the Rahvin
  • A single Imperial army could attack the Rahvin to disperse them in a single season taking less than fifty casualties in the process
  • A single Imperial army could besiege the Fangs and starve them out in two seasons without loss

While the Synod has called for the liberation of the Barrens, the Imperial Military Council could take an altogether different stance. The Rahvin are preventing the Empire from claiming the just rewards for their labour, and the Empire is still at war with them - a war that started when the Rahvin led an attack on Dawnish lands. There are less than a thousand Rahvin in Bitter Strand. It might not be pleasant, but a single Imperial army could move into the Barrens and defeat them. The general would need to issue an attacking order, and make it clear that their intention is to seize the Fangs and drive out the Rahvin. The orcs would likely fight, and it would be necessary to kill their warriors, but there is no way they could stand against an Imperial army, even one depleted by casualties. Civil service estimates that the forces involved in attacking the Rahvin would take less than fifty casualties, but they would not be able to engage in resupply. The Empire would claim the Fangs, and the involvement of the Rahvin in Barrens would be permanently ended.

A less bloody approach could be taken, closing a cordon around the Fangs and starving out the defenders. A single Imperial army could enter the territory and issue a defending order to besiege the Fangs. The general would need to be very clear in their orders that their intention was to starve out the defenders of the Fangs. The orcs would be unable to hunt, and their supplies would quickly dwindle. Once started, the blockade would need to continue uninterrupted, but would not require the same army to maintain it. It would take six months for the Rahvin to run out of supplies to the point they were forced to surrender or accept death by starvation. This would allow the Empire to claim the Fangs without risking Imperial soldiers. It would depend on the response of the Rahvin whether they survived as a faction in the Barrens.

Either of these approaches would send a message to the other factions of the Barrens that opposing the will of the Empire will be dealt with harshly. This would have both positive and negative impacts on relations not only with the septs of the Barrens, but potentially with some of the septs still under Druj control in the Mallum as news spread. It would make the septs less likely to want to cooperate with the Empire, but make any resistance or rebellion less likely.

If an Imperial army were to move into the Barrens and take a defending order, and the general specified that they were protecting the Rahvin, this would make it almost impossible for another Imperial army to either remove them or blockade them. In the case of an opposing Imperial army, Imperial soldiers will not fight without absolutely explicit instructions to do so.

Synod Opportunities : Rahvin

  • The Dawnish, Highborn, or Imperial Orc Assembly could use a mandate to send relief to the Rahvin in the Fangs

The Rahvin have freed themselves from slavery, but they are living in wretched conditions. The Imperial Orcs of the Winter Sun have provided basic supplies, and some continue to support the Rahvin, but their ability to do so is limited. Now that the Dawnish control the territory, they are in the best position to provide significantly more support if they want to do so, but the priests of Highguard or the Imperial Orcs could arrange for help if they wished. Such an action would challenge the sept's perception of the nation that undertook it.

If we are to be liberators not conquerors, then our Pride must be conveyed by action not by words alone. We send {named priest} with 75 Thrones to provide food and other vital supplies to the Rahvin in Bitter Strand. All that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it.

Synod Mandate, Dawn, Imperial Orcs or Highguard National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, the named priest must ensure the funds are in their inventory after the summit just as they would need to do with liao. Priests will gather food and other vital supplies (dried food, fresh water, warm clothing, healing herbs, oil, building materials and the like) and deliver them to the Rahvin. As long as they do not attempt to use this opportunity to convert or influence the Rahvin, their largesse will improve the sept's attitude of that nation. If Dawnish priests are involved then the orcs will be prepared to at least speak with Dawnish emissaries, and assume a measure of good faith. If Imperial Orcs are responsible it would cause the Rahvin to become more well disposed to the Imperial Orcs, prepared to speak with them directly and securing their ability to negotiate with the orcs on behalf of the Empire.

Providing these supplies will make it harder to starve the Rahvin out, increasing the time to do so by at least three months.

One thing that will definitely not work at this time is any attempt to convert the Rahvin to the virtues; they are on the verge of taking up arms against the Dawnish and the Empire. They will utterly reject any attempt to encourage them to embrace the virtues. Priests trying to do so will simply be turned away - or worse - by the Rahvin.

This act of charity is not necessarily a crime, while the Rahvin are barbarians. Provided it is clearly a mission of mercy rather than an attempt to support them against the Empire, it should not lead to a prosecution but Imperial magistrates may be able to give more detailed advice.

Rahvin Risks

  • If the Rahvin reunite with the Black Wind their power will increase significantly
  • If that happens, it might make it possible to negotiate with the Black Wind
  • If the Rahvin are left in control of the Fangs, they will ultimately supply weapons and armour to every sept in the Barrens

The Rahvin were once seen as liberators by the other Barrens orcs factions. While their situation is catastrophically reduced, the other factions will watch to see how they are treated with interest. If their strength were restored, they would certainly wield a great deal of influence in the Barrens for good or ill. Most notably, the Rahvin are keen to reunite with the Black Wind. If they are allowed to do that, it would restore much of the former power and prominence of the sept but it would create a basis for negotiations with the rest of the Black Wind.

Leaving the Rahvin in control of the Fangs would allow them to begin arming and armouring themselves and eventually the other septs. They lack the means to forge weapons at the moment, but that situation won't last forever. In the past, the Rahvin used the Fangs to arm themselves and the other septs, it is clear that they will do so again if given the opportunity. It would take time, but if the Rahvin remain in control of the Fangs then they could launch an armed rebellion in the future. Right now, that outcome is inevitable. It could only be prevented off by improving relations between Dawn and the Rahvin, or by seizing the Fangs from them.


Communication with the Karass can be achieved by sending a Winged Messenger to Anka Karass, the Centipede Stone, The Bleaks, The Barrens.

Who are the Karass?

  • The Karass are viewed with suspicion and hostility by other Barrens factions
  • A delegation came to Anvil during the Summer summit
  • The Senate has declared the Karass to be foreigners

The Karass have never had much contact with the Empire. They did not throw in their lot with the orc rebellion, maintaining a position as allies of the Druj rather than risk it all for a worthless cause. They mostly dwell in the Plains of Teeth and the Bleaks. They are believed to be related somehow to the sept of the Menrothat in Ossium, who apparently "enjoyed" a similar relationship with the Druj there. There is no doubt that the Karass enjoyed a better relationship with the Druj than any other group in the Barrens. The other factions of the Barrens are universally suspicious of, or even actively hostile to, the Karass.

During the Summer Solstice, a delegate of the Karass came to Anvil and met with Skywise Rykana, Aramis du Froste, and the Imperial Consul Jarrigk Orzel. Terms were provisionally agreed upon, and the Senate recognised of the Karass as foreigners. Shortly after their representative returned from Anvil there was a meeting in the Bleaks attended by representatives from most of their settlements. It was followed by a flurry of activity, and reports from the Towers of Dusk say that most of the Karass settlements on the Plains of Teeth now seem to be abandoned, their inhabitants having withdrawn to the Bleaks and into the Untrod Groves.

What do the Karass want?

  • The Karass want the Bleaks, the Plains of Teeth, and the Towers of Dusk ceded to them in that order
  • They want a peace treaty with the Druj

The Karass dwell in the Plains of Teeth and the Bleaks and want control of both these regions, including control of the Towers of Dusk. These requests were denied when their representative visited Anvil at the recent summit. Instead they were offered - and accepted - the status as foreigners.

During their meeting with the Empire, their representative claimed that they were innocent vassals of the Druj, and that they were worried about having a border with the Mallum. The regions where they live border two Druj territories, Sarangrave and the Salt Flats of Sanath, so it is difficult to see how that could possibly happen. However it appears that the Karass are very concerned about the threat from the Druj, and in particular about the certainty of reprisals by the Druj against any Barrens Orc sept that sides with the Empire. Their view is that these risks would be significantly reduced if the Empire agreed a peace treaty with the Druj. While they are certain to break the treaty at some point, agreeing an end to hostilities would reduce the risk of an imminent invasion and give the Karass cover to cooperate with the Empire.

The Karass claim to be happy to serve the Empire, but their actions don't match their words. Despite the Senate declaring them foreigners, they've shown little interest in dealing with the Empire. Instead they've largely withdrawn from the Plains of Teeth into the Untrod Groves and the Bleaks, where they are not welcoming Imperial visitors. The few Dawnish and Highborn priests who are able to speak to some of them send less positive reports. They are described as Vigilant and Ambitious, and largely disinterested in bowing their heads to the Empire. The Karass seemed to have enjoyed a relatively close relationship with the Druj who granted them a considerable degree of autonomy. Whatever the successes of the negotiations at Anvil, when their delegate returns they claim that the Empire has told them they will be ruled by the Dawnish and offered them nothing. This seems to be broadly in line with what they expected - apart from those who expected the Empire to murder the envoy - they seem to believe they will get much more favourable treatment from the Druj.

It seems that if the Empire does want to win the Karass over, they would need to make significant concessions. At present they seem to believe they have more reasons to favour the Druj than the Empire. The clear risk is that if their loyalty to the Druj is anything more than purely transactional, then they might take whatever the Empire gives them and still side with the Druj when the opportunity arises.

If we cannot have the Bleaks, why would we differentiate the Dawn from the Druj? If our only choice is to be part of your Empire or to be nothing - then we aren't liberated, we're conquered. So why would we accept that? If you liberate someone, you cannot make them your subjects. And if you force us to pick between conquerors, we would pick the Druj every time. Not least because we know that the Dawnish and the Empire will always run away in the end. The Druj did not have to conquer Murderdale or the Carmine Fields, after all.

Anka Karass

Vendarri Claims

  • The Vendarri claim that the Karass will betray the Empire to the Druj the first opportunity they get
  • The Vendarri are deeply distrusted by all factions in the Barrens for betraying the rebellion

The Vendarri are the immediate neighbours of the Karass and claim to know them best. They allege that the Karass are largely indistinguishable from Druj - that the sept are closely allied with the Buruk Tepel and were treated well by them when they ruled the Barrens. Their proof of these claims are the rumours that the Karass control an entire Black Lotus plant - how would that be possible unless the sept enjoyed the trust and protection of the Druj? The Buruk Tepel take anything of value from their subjects - the only possible reason why they haven't seized a priceless Black Lotus plant is because they enjoy a close relationship with the Druj. So the Vendarri claim.

According to the Vendarri, the Empire should expect the Karass to be every bit as duplicitous as the Druj themselves are. They claim they will lie and say anything if they think they can gain thereby. According to them any offers of fealty or loyal service should be treated with the same scepticism that the Empire would treat the words of the Druj. According to the Vendarri, if the Karass have accepted their status as foreigners, it is nothing more than a lie.

It is difficult to know how true these claims are. The Karass utterly deny the rumours that they own a Black Lotus plant, but they are widely distrusted by the other factions in the Barrens. So little are they trusted that they were not invited to join the rebellion against the Druj. Unfortunately, to complicate matters further, the Vendarri are not considered much more trustworthy than the Karass. They did join the rebellion when it began, but they turned their coats and switched sides to back the Druj the moment it became clear which why the wind was blowing.

Senate Opportunities : Karass

  • The Senate could cede one or more regions to the Karass, they want the Bleaks and the Plains of Teeth in that order
  • The Senate could open negotiations with the Druj with a view to securing the Eastern borders of the Barrens

The Karass have been recognised as foreigners but the Empire has refused to cede any land to them. The Karass have claimed to be content to live as citizens of the Empire and vassals of the Dawnish, but the Vendarri claim this is a tissue of lies and the Karass are simply biding their time until the Druj return. At present the Karass appear to believe that they gain more from the Druj controlling the Barrens than the Empire. They have asked for control of the Bleaks and the Plains of Teeth in that order. If the Empire were to cede one or more of these regions, then that might be enough to change the calculation.

Ceding the Plains of Teeth would mean giving up the Towers of Dusk, a crucial fortification that guards the Eastern borders of the Barrens. The Karass claim that if the Empire cedes the region to them, then they will take over the operation of the fortification, saving the Empire the cost of running it.

It's clear the Karass don't expect the Empire to cede the Plains of Teeth (and thus the Towers of Dusk) to them, but they seem disappointed not to be granted the Bleaks. However there may be good reason not to cede any regions to the sept - if the Vendarri prejudice is correct and the Karass are allies of the Druj. While ceding the Bleaks would demonstrate the good faith behind claims the Empire is there to liberate them, and that might improve their attitude, it might also be the same as essentially giving a region back to the Druj.

Military Opportunities : Karass

  • Two armies could destroy the Karass before they become established taking less than one hundred casualties each
  • Declaring the Karass to be barbarians the season after declaring them foreigners would send poor signals to the other septs
  • If the Karass have a black lotus plant then it could be captured if they are attacked directly

The Karass are a large sept, and they seem to be reasonably well organised. They've withdrawn from the Plains of Teeth into the Bleaks and the Untrod Groves. They're clearly familiar with the terrain, and the longer they have to dig in and secure their position, the harder they will be to remove. Two Imperial armies on attacking orders, one dealing with the Bleaks and one with the Untrod Groves, would be sufficient to break the Karass. Both armies would likely suffer casualties - beyond those inflicted by the Thunderous Tread of the Trees - but it would be no more than a hundred apiece. Attacking only one region would weaken the Karass, but not neutralise them; most would simply flee to the other region.

This action would almost certainly be illegal unless the Senate declares war on the Karass. While there is no legal issue with the Imperial Senate declaring war on the Karass so soon after declaring them to be foreigners, it would send a very unfortunate message to the other septs in the Barrens. The Karass are almost universally unpopular - they have no friends or allies in the Barrens anymore. However, no matter how much the other septs may dislike the Karass, they would still look askance at such a dramatic reversal. If the Imperial Senate can change their mind so quickly - why wouldn't they act the same way towards the other septs? This action would negate any short-term diplomatic benefits to be had by declaring one of the other sept to be foreigners.

If both regions were attacked by an Imperial army and one of the attacking armies gave orders to conduct a daring raid or to plunder the region, they could seize the sept's Black Lotus plant - if it exists. Of course this will fail if the sept are telling the truth when they claim they do not possess a plant, but otherwise it should be possible to claim this legendary treasure.

The opportunity to deal with the Karass in this way is only available at the Autumn Equinox. After that, the sept will have secured its position in the two heavily forested regions and it will require additional effort to remove them should the Military Council wish to do so.

Karass Risks

  • The Karass have enjoyed a close relationship with the Druj, if the Empire doesn't convince them to support the Empire, they are certain to side with the Druj in any future conflict in the Barrens
  • If the Karass betray the Empire to the Druj, it would allow Druj armies to more easily seize any regions they control

There are significant risks in any concessions to the Karass. If the Karass side with the Druj after they have been given one or more regions of the Barrens, then Druj armies could cross into the Barrens without needing to claim a beachhead first. Even worse, if the Karass had control of the Towers of Dusk, then the Druj could claim them without a fight.

However if the Empire doesn't make any attempt to win the loyalty of the Karass, it may be just as risky. The Karass don't have an army at present, but they are securing their position in the Bleaks and the Untrod Groves. They are armed, with a superior knowledge of the forests than the Empire possesses or any of the other septs for that matter. They are also clearly disciplined as their abandonment of the Plains of Teeth suggests. They could prove a serious thorn in the side of the Empire for some time to come, especially if they were received arms and other support from the Druj.


Communication with the Vendarri is possible by sending a Winged Messenger to Garl Huonor, Pyroclast of the Vendarri, The Palace of Fire, Saltmarsh, The Barrens..

Who are the Vendarri?

  • The Vendarri are viewed as treacherous and untrustworthy by the other factions of the Barrens
  • Their major complaint with the Empire is the acts of Imperial Spring magic that destroyed their homes when the Barrens was flooded
  • Their legal status is unclear at present

The Vendarri are a secretive sept of orcs who dwell in Saltmarsh. They were known to have a relationship with the Druj that allowed them a modicum of independence and self-rule, and as a result are widely distrusted by the other factions who consider them to be self-serving and treacherous. They prefer to describe themselves as "practical" rather than "treacherous." They have little in the way of any effective fighting force, claim to be powerful magicians, and are known to be skilled scouts and spies. They took part in the rebellion when the Barrens rose up against the Druj, but joined late, and switched sides once it was clear the uprising would fail. The Rahvin hold them in particular contempt for this decision. On the other hand, they have the least reason to distrust or dislike the Empire, and when Saltmarsh was conquered by Imperial forces they surrendered en masse to the Highborn...

Currently, they are still dealing with the aftermath of the magical storms that battered the Bitter Sea, raised by Imperial magicians. The Bitter Sea has inundated Saltmarsh causing extensive flooding and destroying many of their settlements and washing away the dams and levees they used to make the area habitable. They are the most welcoming of the Highborn, and seem to have the least dislike for the Dawnish. Indeed, if not for the rumours they have heard that it was a Dawnish Archmage that sent the Bitter Sea flooding into their homes they might even be neutral to the new rulers of the Barrens.

What do the Vendarri want?

  • The Vendarri are willing to leave the Barrens if they are granted permission to live elsewhere
  • They would like the Empire to cede either the Morass in Holberg, or Rebeshof in Holberg or the Saltmarsh in the Barrens to them
  • They would need an escort from the Barrens into Holberg due to the dangers of the journey

Unlike the other septs of the Barrens the Vendarri are open to the possibility of leaving the territory and settling elsewhere. Their home, the Saltmarsh, has been wrecked. The floods of salt water have destroyed most of their agriculture, and many of the swamp animals have either died or gone elsewhere. Almost everything they have was destroyed when the Spring magic the Empire raised in the Barrens flooded the Saltmarsh.

Worse, the Saltmarsh is also the easiest route from the Barrens into the wider Mallum, which means they are very, very afraid of both a Druj counterstrike into the Barrens and the possibility their former masters will decide to make an example of them. They are convinced that any sept that cooperates with the Empire will face terrible punishments once the Druj return to the Barrens in force. None of them want to end up on spikes as a warning to other septs not to deal with the Empire. Like the other septs, they still want a region ceded to their control. The difference is that they would prefer that region not to be in the Barrens. After all, their neighbours will hardly be sad to see them go.

The Vendarri are aware of the mostly unsettled marshes of Holberg and consider that they would be perfect for them, specifically the Morass. When queried as to how they know about the Morass, they shift awkwardly and suggest that their guests change the subject. It's sufficient to know that they are making an informed choice about the matter. They'd also like an escort; the Barrens is dangerous not only because there are other septs that would see them come to harm, but because the Druj are still in control of parts of the territory, so they would need an escort.

Unwilling Neighbours

  • The Sand Fishers have made clear they would prefer not to share a territory with the Vendarri
  • The Vendarri are unwilling to live in Ossium while the Menrothat reside there

The League National Assembly has made several statements about welcoming orcs - indeed they have just welcomed several thousand Apulian orcs as actual citizens. It is not impossible that they would welcome the Vendarri, especially as they seem only to be interested in stinking marshlands. Unfortunately, there is a fly in the ointment. As soon as they get wind of the proposal, the Sand Fishers of Misericorde send a small delegation to Misericorde Market to make it clear that they have severe reservations against sharing territory with the Vendarri. Their reputation for self-serving treachery is not unknown to the orcs of Ossium and the Sand Fishers warn that they cannot - and should not - be trusted. Allowing the Vendarri to settle in Holberg will certainly sour the Sand Fishers at least a little on their neighbours in the League and may lead to further conflict.

Discussion of Ossium raises another possibility, which the Highborn discuss with the Vendarri. The priests of Highguard have recently been active in Ossium themselves, and some of them sound the Vendarri out about another possibility - the marshes of the Drownbark Forest. They are initially interested, but then they learn that the Menrothat sept still occupies part of the territory and their tune immediately changes. Regretfully, they argue, their situation would be little better in Ossium. The Druj of the nearby Forest of Ulnak would still be a threat. So Drownbark Forest is definitely out of the question.

Senate Opportunities : Vendarri

  • The Senate could cede one or more regions to the Vendarri, they would like the Morass or Rebeshof or Saltmarsh in that order
  • If a region in Holberg is ceded then they would want protection to escort them to reach the area safely

The Vendarri would like the Empire to cede them a region so they can live there and govern themselves. They would prefer the Morass in Holberg or Rebeshof if that is an option instead. If they must remain in the Barrens, they would like the Saltmarsh ceded to them.

If the Senate cedes either the Morass or Rebeshof, in Holberg, to the Vendarri, they will begin making preparations to move there. The Senate could arrange a payment of 75 thrones from the Imperial Treasury to secure mercenaries and sellswords prepared to escort the sept to their new homes, and they would not actually be able to take control of the region until this were done. This would significantly improve the Vendarri attitude to the Empire; once they are established they would likely wish to trade with their neighbours, and explore their new status alongside the Sand Fishers and the League. Doing this will lead directly to friction with the Sand Fishers who regard the Vendarri with considerable trepidation.

After some further discussion, the Dawnish and Highborn negotiators are of the opinion that ceding a region of Holberg is not the only option here. The Vendarri don't actually want to leave Saltmarsh; they just feel that they are in immediate danger from both the Druj and their neighbours, and they know they will struggle to thrive in the region in its current ruined state. If the region were habitable and safe from the Druj, they would be delighted by the prospect of living there if the region were ceded to them. While they have requested the Morass, as time goes on they will become increasingly prepared to settle for almost anywhere that is not close to the Druj - there has been more than one slightly regretful mention that they'd be happy to live with the Highborn if they had any actual marshes. It might be possible to negotiate a different settlement for the Vendarri.

The Vendarri are not especially Ambitious or Courageous, although they do seem to be Wise. While they're currently asking for a region of the Empire be ceded to them, they seem the least assertive of any of the factions in the Barrens. Some priests who have spoken with them seem to think they are more aware of the weakness of their negotiating position than the other septs. Others think the Vendarri are just more pragmatic and less inclined to believe Imperial claims that they have been liberated. If they were ceded a region that was safe from reprisals by the Druj they would become very positively inclined to support the Empire. If not then it might be possible to negotiate an arrangement similar to that the Great Forest Orcs have in Therunin; residence in an Imperial territory as foreign guests without giving them complete control of the territory.

Military Opportunities : Vendarri

  • The Vendarri could be destroyed as a faction by a single Imperial army taking less than a hundred casualties
  • An Imperial army could protect the Vendarri, improving their attitude to the Empire
  • If the Senate did cede a region to the Vendarri, the sept could be escorted to their new home by an Imperial army

The Vendarri would be the first to admit that they are not soldiers. A single Imperial army on attacking orders in the Barrens, whose general made it clear they were driving the Vendarri out, could shatter the faction entirely. Some of the survivors might flee to the Mallum but the faction would cease to be a factor in the Barrens.

It is clear that the Vendarri's greatest concerns is the threat of Druj reprisal, should they collaborate with the Empire in any way. An Imperial army in the Barrens could take defensive orders and specify that they are protecting Saltmarsh and the Vendarri. This would ensure that the Druj could not retaliate against the sept unless they succeeded in retaking the region first, but it is only a short-term solution at best. Vendarri attitudes to whichever nation that army represented would be significantly improved during this time, however.

Finally, if the Senate does cede a region to the Vendarri, an Imperial army could escort them to that new home. The army would need to start in the territory, take a defending order, and specify in their orders that they were escorting the Vendarri. They would then need to move to the target territory. This can only be done if the Vendarri have agreed to the journey. Doing this would prevent the Senate having to spend any money.

Conclave Opportunities : Vendarri

  • Conclave could provide an endowment of 120 crystal mana to the Vendarri magicians to use to mend their homes
  • Conclave could use an endowment to provide the Vendarri with a stipend of 50 crystal mana a season to cast Dripping Echoes of the Fen
  • Conclave could send a single Conclave order to investigate the Salt Marsh and see how they can help

Some of the witches and magisters talking to the Vendarri are of the opinion that the orcs don't want to leave Saltmarsh. It is their home, and has been for hundreds of years. It's just that the territory is wrecked. During the Summer Solstice, Dawnish magicians invoked Regrow the Land's Heart on the Barrens, and that has gone a long way toward repairing the damage caused by the tumultuous storms. Unfortunately, it isn't enough by itself to deal with all the problems the Vendarri are currently encountering. Their homes have been smashed by the flood waters, vital animals and plants killed, and the waters have still not receded as that the dams they used to protect key areas have been destroyed. The Vendarri are by all accounts magicians themselves however, and initial assessment suggests they are adepts of Night magic and competent Spring magicians. An Endowment of 120 crystal mana from the Imperial Conclave directly to the Vendarri would provide them with what they need to restore the Saltmarsh themselves over the coming months.

The other thing that troubles the Vendarri - that the Druj will seek to retaliate against them - might be addressed in a similar manner. The Vendarri have covens among them capable of performing Dripping Echoes of the Fen, but their mana sites have suffered from the floods alongside everything else. The Conclave could agree to endow them with 50 crystal mana each season for the next year, specifically to raise their own defences around the Saltmarsh. The Vendarri would do that, without a second thought. A single declaration of endowment would be enough to create a stipend for the next year. In theory, Imperial magicians could simply cast the ritual on Saltmarsh, but that would only help if the region were ceded to the Vendarri. Otherwise the magic of the ritual would work against the orcs, making life even more difficult for them to live there.

Either or both endowments would significantly endear the Vendarri to the Imperial Conclave, and to whichever nation the magician who raised the declaration was from. Another possibility would be to dispatch a Conclave order to Saltmarsh to support the Vendarri, or to find ways that the Conclave could offer greater assistance. Any order might volunteer, but only a single order can undertake this mission. The nature of the order would influence what opportunities they would discover.

Of course some critics point out that if the Conclave does get involved, it will simply encourage the Vendarri to stay in Saltmarsh. In this case, they are almost certainly going to petition for the region to be ceded to them. But of all the septs in the Barrens, they are the one that might be persuaded to accept Dawnish rule. On the other hand, there are some suggestions that some of the Vendarri are in contact with the eternal they call the Shimmering Fish. The Prince of a Thousand Foes has been quiet of late, but some magicians see the signs of his influence in the Vendarri proposals. After all, his creed is very clear on how to deal with conquerors: "If you cannot hide, run; If you cannot run, yield; If you will not yield, kill." Right now it seems the Vendarri are preparing to run, but if they are forced to the edge, they may decide they need to kill to survive.

Vendarri Risks

  • The "pragmatic" Vendarri are unpopular with other septs, a reputation that extends as far as the Sand Fishers in Holberg and the orcs in Ossium
  • Any perception of favourable treatment of the Vendarri may cause a negative reaction from other septs
  • The Vendarri have already demonstrated that they will switch sides to support the Druj if their lives depend on it

The Vendarri are notorious for their pragmatism - their reputation extends beyond the Barrens and they are unpopular with the Sand Fishers and some of the inhabitants of Ossium as a result. They are seen as treacherous and self-serving. Any attempt to find them a new home elsewhere in the Empire is likely to lead to problems as a result.

However there are problems if they remain in the Barrens. They are not popular with the other septs that took part in the rebellion against the Druj. The Vendarri joined the rebellion late and soon switched sides once it became clear victory was in doubt. That treachery left a bad taste in the mouths of those septs that fought on to the bitter end. The Vendarri are currently the most amenable of any of the Barrens factions to Dawnish rule, and they also seem the most open to negotiation. However there is some risk that if they reach a satisfactory resolution with the Empire that allows them to prosper it may cause rancour and bitterness with the other septs. That might make negotiations with other septs more difficult.

The biggest single risk is that the Vendarri betray the Empire at some point in the future. They openly speak of being "pragmatic" which is the Vendarri way they describe the decision to abandon the rebellion and side with the Druj. If the Vendarri were in a similar situation in future they would do the same again. If the Druj move into the Barrens in force and look set to take territory, then the Vendarri will switch sides if it benefits them.

Great Forest Orcs

Communication with the Great Forest Orcs is possible by sending a Winged Messenger to Chief Vallack, Great Forest Encampment, Lower Tarn Valley, Therunin..

Who are the Great Forest Orcs?

  • The Great Forest Orcs are foreigners and guests of the Navarr, most of them live in Therunin
  • A number of members of their sept are still held as slaves by the Druj

The Great Forest Orcs claim the Forest of Peytaht is the remnant of a great forest that once covered most of the Empire and the Mallum. Many of them fled the Barrens when the Druj finally conquered the territory, and now live in Therunin as guests of the Navarr. There are still Great Forest Orcs dwelling in the territory, however, mostly as slaves in the Heart of Peytaht (which remains under Druj control). These two factors make them one of the weaker factions in the territory, at least at the moment.

Imperial relationships with the Great Forest Orcs have slowly improved over time, not least because members of the sept are regularly seen travelling the trods alongside Navarr stridings. They remain deeply distrustful of the Dawnish however. An offer last Summer to participate in a ceremony of reconciliation was declined by the Military Council and so relations with the new rulers of the Barrens continue to be poor.

They are also one of the easiest factions for Highborn wayfarers and grey pilgrims to approach. There has been an increasing amount of cooperation between the Highborn and the Great Forest Orcs in Peakedge Striding and in Elerael, where a shared interest in healing and herbs has helped to secure cordial relations.

What do the Great Forest Orcs want?

  • The Great Forest Orcs want to control the Heart of Peytaht and the Eaves of Peytaht
  • The Senate expressed the intention to cede the region and the Weirwood grove to them but they remain under Druj control
  • They are willing to fight the Druj directly to reclaim their homes

The Great Forest Orcs of Therunin watch developments in the Barrens with interest, yet they are also somewhat confused. When they first settled in Therunin they disbanded what remained of their army, putting aside their spears to focus on hunting and securing homes. Yet they made it clear that all their hosts had to do was call and they would send their warriors to support the Navarr armies in a campaign to drive the Druj out of the Barrens. While their aid was solicited to fight in Brocéliande against the Heirs of Terunael, or to help the grand adventure into the heart of the vallorn, the call to fight the Druj never came.

Over a year ago the Senate reassured the orcs of the Great Forest that they intended to return Peytaht and the weirwood grove there to them so that they could return to their ancestral home. Yet with most of the Barrens liberated, the Heart of Peytaht remains in Druj hands and it seems in the short term that the Empire may be content to leave it that way as they strike against the Salt Flats of Sanath. They know that the members of their sept still in the region are in terrible danger. A Druj scheme to slaughter many of the sept still in Peytaht was thankfully stymied by the Navarr, under the guidance of Travid Longest Path. Yet there is nothing to stop the Druj making another attempt to slaughter all the Great Forest Orc slaves they have currently working at the weirwood grove.

Synod Opportunities : Great Forest Orcs

  • The Highguard Assembly could ask the Highborn to partner with the Great Forest Orcs to enable them to retake Peytaht
  • The mandate would be in competition with any mandate attempting to name another peerless kinship partner
  • The mandate would improve relations between the Orcs and the Highborn, but impact relations between the Orcs and the Navarr

The Great Forest Orcs have become increasingly impatient by the failure of the Navarr to call them to fight alongside them to retake the Heart of Peytaht. They are bemused by the Navarr decision to disavow engagements with the Druj and frustrated by their lack of opportunities to take the fight to their enemy. After discussion with the Highborn priests, Chief Vallack has made a proposal. The kernel of their army still exists, and with sufficient support they believe they could deal with the remaining Druj and liberate their people themselves – just as the Dawnish did in Dawnguard.

The home of the Great Forest Orcs is still in the hands of the Druj, and their people are in terrible danger. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge the Highborn to aid them in their endeavour, offering whatever help is needed to drive the Druj from Peytaht. Do not fear to act; only be shamed by inaction.

Synod Mandate, Highborn National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, then following the Autumn Equinox the Great Forest Orcs will rally their remaining warriors and hunters and launch an attack against the Druj in the Heart of Peytaht. With the aid of the Highborn, they will be able to defeat the Druj, claiming the region and the weirwood grove for themselves (meaning the Senate would not need to cede anything – the region would belong to the Great Forest sept). The Great Forest Orcs will certainly be grateful to the Highborn, although what form this gratitude might take is impossible to say.

However, this aid will come at a price. The Highborn will need to focus their attention on helping the orcs at the cost of aiding one of their Imperial siblings – meaning they will be unable to choose an Imperial nation to support with peerless kinship this season. As such this mandate is in competition with any mandate attempting to name an Imperial nation in this manner.

Highborn aid to retake Peytaht would be greatly appreciated by the Great Forest Orcs and it would significantly improve relations between the sept and Highguard. However after a long wait, it would be clear indication that the Navarr simply do not intend to fight side-by-side with the Great Forest Orcs against the Druj. As a result, the majority would leave Therunin to return to their former home in Peytaht and the closeness that has existed between the two groups would fade. They wouldn't be angry with the Navarr, but it would be clear that the benefits of their alliance had run their course and it was time for the Great Forest Orcs to make new allies and new friends.

Herminius of the House of the Wanderer has offered an alternate mandate, using the Partner of Greatness power, to the Urizen National Assembly.

Clytemnestra of the House of the Wanderer once said "With our increased responsibilities comes increased obligation to virtue." Urizen, we drove the Druj from our lands yet others still remain under the yolk of fear, we must not abandon them. The home of the Great Forest Orcs is still in the hands of the Druj, their people remain in danger. We cannot let this stand. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge the Citadel Guard to drive the Druj from Peytaht once and for all.

Synod Mandate, Urizen National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then it will demonstrate support for the Citadel Guard in claiming the Heart of Peytaht. The army would receive a bonus of one tenth towards attacking into that region in the season following the Autumn Equinox 385YE, but a penalty one tenth if they did anything else. The Citadel Guard wouldn't be able to take the region on behalf of the Great Forest Orcs, so the Imperial Senate would need to cede it, assuming that was the wish of the Senate. The Great Forest Orcs could be expected to join the Citadel Guard in claiming the region, provided they were informed.

Maximillian Ankarien has offered an alternate mandate, using the Partner of Greatness power, to the Urizen National Assembly.

Urizen knows what it is to lose a home and for assurances of aid to go unfulfilled. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to call on the nation to aid the Great Forest Orcs and drive the Druj from Peytaht as they were driven from Zenith.

Synod Mandate, Urizen National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then it will encourage individuals in Urizen to journey to the Barrens in support of the Great Forest Orcs. It would not be sufficient in itself to aid the sept in claiming the region. The mandate would see the people of Urizen become invested in the Barrens.

Alternative Mandates : Great Forest Orcs

Under normal circumstances it is not possible for the Navarr national assembly to submit an alternative mandate in the Barrens. Given their close relationship with the Great Forest Orcs however, and the recent statement of principle of Nathair Autumngale, a member of the Navarr assembly could do so here. The alternative mandate would need to relate to the plan to seize the Heart of Peytaht and seek to inspire the Navarr nation.

Brynn Tendfallen has offered an alternate mandate to the Navarr National Assembly

The time has come for us to match our words with deeds and fulfil our promises to our friends and allies, the Great Forest Orcs. Their home still lies in the hands of the Druj, and their people are in terrible danger.. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge Navarri to aid them in their endeavour, offering whatever help is needed to drive the Druj from Peytaht.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

Nathair Autumngale has offered an alternate mandate to the Navarr National Assembly

For years now we have lived and fought alongside our allies the Great Forest Orcs. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to encourage the Stridings and Steadings of Navarr to send whatever aid they can to their reclamation of the Forest of Peytaht. Once more let our spears stand side by side as the Druj are ripped root and stem out of the land they blight with their presence. We will ensure the Great Forest Orcs have every tool they need to save their people and take back their ancestral home. We have upheld our deal with the Druj. But you cannot betray your enemy.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

Enis RootBloom has offered an alternate mandate to the Navarr National Assembly

For too long the peoples of Navarr have struggled to claim the entirety of their homes. Let us not sit idle whilst those who have stood with us suffer a similar fate. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to encourage the people of Navarr to help the Great Forest Orcs in the fight to reclaim the Heart of Peytaht.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

Corey Wayfarer has offered an alternate mandate to the Navarr National Assembly

As Navarr we hold stock in our Oaths. We made an Oath to aid the Great Forest Orcs in retaking their home in the Heart of Peytaht, we send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to call on our Thorns and Armies to hold to that Oath and push the Druj out, after all we consider the Great Forest Orcs to be Navarr and our homes are theirs.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

All of the mandates available to the Navarr National Assembly are competing. If any of these mandates are enacted, then any Navarr army in the Barrens can support the Spears of the Pines and help them conquer the Heart of Peytaht. The general of the army must take an attacking order, and explicitly target the Heart of Peytaht and mention they are supporting the Great Forest Orcs. The Great Forest Orcs will claim the region and it will not require concedence by the Senate. It will also put to rest any concerns the Great Forest Orcs have expressed around the Navarr reticence to fight in the Barrens.

Military Opportunities : Great Forest Orcs

  • Imperial armies could drive the Druj out of the Heart of Peytaht
  • The Great Forest Orcs will contribute a 1000 force to any Imperial army attacking the Heart of Peytaht or Murderdale if requested

The military council could simply assign one or more armies to invade the Heart of Peytaht and kill the Druj there, claiming the region and the weirwood grove in the process. The Orcs of the Great Forest would welcome such a move and Chief Vallack has committed his people to aiding any such attack regardless of whether it is undertaken by the Navarr or not. As long as it is an Imperial army, and the general clearly invokes the Spears of the Pine, the Great Forest Orcs will commit a thousand force to any attempt to crush the Druj in the Heart of Peytaht, and will help to claim Murderdale if the campaign is successful.

The Great Forest Orcs despise the Druj, and with the Heart of Peytaht liberated, negotiations with Chief Vallack might well secure the support of the “Spears of the Pine” for future military campaigns into the Mallum. Of course that assumes that the Imperial Senate intends to keep faith with the Great Forest Orcs and cede the Heart of Peytaht and the valuable weirwood grove that grows there to them.

Great Forest Orc Risks

  • The longer the Druj remain in control of the Heart of Peytaht, the greater the chance that they butcher the enslaved members of the sept who live there
  • If that happens, the Great Forest Orcs will question why their home is the only region in the Barrens not to be retaken and why the Navarr have played no role in the fight against the Druj
  • The Great Forest Orcs believe that the Imperial Senate has promised the Heart of Peytaht to them - they will become discontent and openly rebellious if the region is not ceded to them

At present the Great Forest Orcs are prepared to trust Imperial strategy in their campaign to retake the Barrens, but the longer the Heart of Peytaht remains in Druj hands, the greater the chance that the Druj butcher the inhabitants. They could easily kill hundreds of Great Forest Orcs, who are currently toiling as slaves to cut down weirwood for the Druj. If that happens, the Great Forest Orcs will view the calamity as a failure of Imperial strategy and will question why their home was the only region left in Druj hands. They will also ask pointed questions of their hosts, who they have noted have played no part in the campaign to drive the Druj from Barrens. It will go badly if they feel the Empire has betrayed them and left their kinsfolk to die at the hands of the Druj.

Equally it will go badly if the Empire captures the Heart of Peytaht but does not cede the region to the Great Forest Orcs. They believe that the Imperial Senate has promised their home will be returned to them - they will see it as a stark betrayal of trust if that does not happen. At present they are one of few factions in the Barrens who don't regard the Empire as inherently untrustworthy - obviously their trust would be shattered if the Empire tries to hang onto the region and its precious weirwood resource, but it will be strained the longer the Empire delays in retaking the forests and freeing those members of the sept who are still enslaved by the Druj.


Communication with the Montanians is possible by sending a Winged Messenger to Allan of Dourfell, Great Forest Encampment, Lower Tarn Valley, Therunin..

Who are the Montanians

  • The Montanians are heretics who embrace the teachings of the malign spiritual presence of anarchy
  • The majority were living in Therunin, but many are now returning to the Barrens
  • The briars that came with the Great Forest Orcs to Therunin have mostly returned to Hope's Rest
  • Their status as foreigners or barbarians is under discussion

Unlike the other Barrens septs, the Montanians are humans, and as far as is known they all have the briar lineage. They are the descendants of anarchy heretics who took part in the Freedom Heresy, although they claim their grandparents cut ties with the inhabitants of Montane over ideological issues. They once lived at Dourfell Keep in Hope's Rest, before the majority of them left the Barrens along with their allies the Great Forest Orcs – destroying their home in the process as part of a powerful Spring ritual that apparently killed all the Druj in the process of trying to capture it.

They were a key element of the Barrens Orc rebellion that began in 377YE, serving as messengers and mediators, who helped to spread Rahvin's message to the Great Forest Orcs, the Vendarri and other septs. They are believed to have enjoyed the assistance of the eternal Irra Harrah with whom they are known to have good relations. Since being in the Empire, they have kept themselves to themselves, carefully avoiding preaching their heresy, although they have offered sporadic assistance to Imperial efforts to free people from the yoke of the Druj.

Most of the Montanians have been living in Therunin alongside their Great Forest Orcs allies, but many are now returning to their former lands in the Barrens at Hope's Rest. Never numerous, there is none-the-less a growing force there as the returnees joining with those who never left the Barrens. The situation is further complicated by the recent controversial decision to provide them with liao from the Garden of Glory. Unlike the orcs, they are entirely capable of performing liao ceremonies.

What do the Montanians Want?

  • The Montanians want the Empire to cede Hope's Rest to them
  • They want to see the Druj destroyed
  • They want to sign the Liberty Pact

Contact with the Montanians is complicated by the fact they are unapologetic followers of the malign spiritual presence of Anarchy, which they call freedom or liberty. However, there is some potential for common ground; unlike many heretics they don't deny the seven virtues, and have apparently had previous cordial discussions with Highborn citizens before (although they won't disclose who those people are for fear of getting them into trouble). There's also the recent incident in the Barrens in which a force of Highborn under the guidance Achseh, the General of the Valiant Pegasus, prevented the Druj from transforming one of their people into a horrible unliving horror. That they were forced to kill the prisoner is a source of sorrow, but nowhere near as much as if they had had their souls enslaved by their mortal enemies.

With the Great Forest Orcs as mediators, a meeting in the Lower Tarn Valley is organised between some Highborn and Dawnish, and some of the Montanians. Discussions are complicated by the fact that they seem averse to the idea of anyone being “in charge” and questions of what they want are often derailed into discussions as the briars try to reach a consensus among themselves before being able to answer the question.

Their Ambition - and they clearly state it in those terms - is for the Barrens to be Free. Specifically, for the septs of the Barrens – among whose number they count themselves – to be recognised by the Empire as free people, allowed to govern themselves without interference from Imperial or Druj. They are wryly aware of how challenging that Ambition is going to be to achieve. They seem to genuinely want the Empire to cede all the regions of the Barrens back to the orc septs, leaving the territory a patchwork between disconnected septs. Oddly, perhaps, they don't expect the Dawnish to give up Dawnguard; “it is the home of the people who live there” as one of them puts it. But rather than ruling the Barrens, they imagine a future in which the Dawnish are only one voice equal in power to the septs.

For the Montanians that would mean the Empire ceding Hope's Rest to them. They are more than content to allow the Dawnish to travel and move through the area, but they are clear that for them "liberation" means having a place where they can live and practice their beliefs without fear of persecution. They would be content to live in Hope's Rest under Imperial rule if the Empire formally embraced Freedom as one of the Virtues or if it abrogated all laws restricting religious freedoms, but since they have no expectation of that happening, they suggest the only reasonable compromise is for the Empire to cede their former home to them.

Even more ambitious, they want to see the Druj destroyed as a power, and the entire Mallum liberated – but on the same basis. Returned to the people who live there not made a vassal of the Empire. It is the recent drive to “liberate” the Barrens that has attracted their attention and made them more amenable to talking with Imperial citizens. They're interested to see if the Empire is capable of following through on its promises.

They're also very interested in the Liberty Pact. They've heard of it from the Navarr, among others, and with the recent decision that any nation is welcome to join, they are interested in applying for membership. While they are small in number, they state their case clearly that nobody is more committed to the cause of Freedom than them. They don't understand how they join the Pact, but they would like the Empire to provide them with names and locations where they might send Winged Messengers to state their case.

You say you have liberated the Barrens, but right now it looks an awful lot like you have in fact conquered the Barrens. If you're here as liberators, freeing us all from the tyranny of the Druj so we can live our own lives, then we will help that dream to thrive in any way we can, if you let us. But if you have come here as conquerors, using the words of freedom to mask your intentions, then we will fight you if we have to, and so you had best destroy us quickly. It's going to be interesting to see which way you go.

Allan of Dourfell

Senate Opportunities : Montanians

  • The status of the Montanians is unclear, the Senate could declare them to be foreigners or barbarians
  • The Senate could cede the region of Hope's Rest to the Montanians

The current legal status of the Montanians is unclear. Most people view them as foreigners - they have been living peacefully in Therunin and walking the trods in recent years without issue. However, there is an argument that they are covered by the Imperial Senate's declaration of war on the Barrens Orcs. They're not orcs - but they were certainly part of the alliance the Empire declared war on. The Civil Service are planning to introduce an administrative motion to allow the Senate to clarify whether the Empire considers itself to be at war with the Montanians.

The Montanians have asked the Empire to cede the region of Hope's Rest to them. They especially want the ruins of Dourfell Keep and the area around it – perhaps a quarter of the rugged region. That area would include the powerful spiritual aura that hangs over the ruins, apparently created when the briars unleashed their magic to destroy the castle, the attacking Druj, and many of their own people. They are more than happy to sign a treaty guaranteeing the Dawnish the right to travel freely through the region, although they warn the Empire that the reason they want their land back is so that they can practice their beliefs and preach them openly to people who visit.

While the castle there is in ruins, and they don't seem to have the means to rebuild it, cautious voices have pointed out that they are allied with the Great Forest Orcs. The orcs of Peytaht are masters of the use of weirwood, and have used it in the past to create a fortification in Therunin. If they regained control of the Heart of Peytaht and the weirwood grove there, they may well be able to help their briar allies rebuild Dourfell Keep giving the Montanians a fortification in the Barrens that was not under Imperial control.

Military Opportunities : Montanians

  • There is an opportunity to move decisively against the Montanians who are now gathered at Hope's Rest
  • A single Imperial army could attack the Montanians to eliminate them in a single season taking less than fifty casualties in the process

The Montanians are known to be gathering at the ruins of Dourfell Keep in Hope's Rest. Following the Autumn Equinox they have invited a number of their allies from other parts of the Barrens and perhaps beyond, to meet with them there to discuss what happens next. It is clear that they intend to use this meeting to try to encourage the septs of the Barrens to unite around a common goal of a Free Barrens.

A single Imperial army could issue an attacking order in the Barrens, with clear orders to attack the ruins of Dourfell and wipe out the heretics gathering there. They would annihilate this faction completely and take fewer than fifty casualties in the attack. It wouldn't necessarily be pleasant, and if they were foreigners it would be a serious crime, but it would permanently remove the Montanians as a factor in the Barrens – and everywhere else.

Doing this would please the Karass who are known to dislike the Montanians but it would outrage every other Barrens faction bar the Black Wind. It would however send a clear message that the Empire will not be trifled with. While it might be possible for someone to get a warning to the Montanans before the noose closed around them, the sept are highly distrustful of the Empire. It is unlikely they would believe a winged message that did not come from someone they already have a close relationship with, or from one of the Cardinals of the Synod.

Synod Opportunities : Montanians

  • The Imperial Synod could declare the Montanians to be heretics
  • Sending priests to proselytise the Imperial faith to the Montanians in Hope's Rest will cause their views on Freedom to spread

The Montanians are unabashed heretics, and blasphemers. They deny the Doctrine of the Seven and the Doctrine of Human Destiny and openly embrace the malign spiritual presence of anarchy. Some believe that they should be denounced in the Synod and declared to be heretics. Others point out that there isn't that much difference between the Montanians and the Faraden in the great scheme of things – and at least the Montanians recognise all seven virtues rather than denying Vigilance, Ambition, and Wisdom.

The Synod itself has repeatedly urged Imperial citizens to free slaves, and to fight slavers. The Montanians applaud these moves, and they have played a major part in the sept's decision to speak to Imperial citizens. Although priests have raised statements of principle denying that liberating slaves has anything to do with the malign spiritual presence of Anarchy, on a number of occasions major military operations to free slaves have been marked by the appearance of spontaneous auras some of which appear to be linked to Freedom. Where there is no evidence of any kind to support the claim, some priests have suggested that these auras may be linked to the Montanians, either directly caused by them or simply a consequence of permitting them to live freely in the Empire.

There are no mandates relating to the Montanians for the Synod to consider, but statements of principle that achieve a greater majority might cause such mandates to arise. However the Civil Service warn that the Montanians have a deep well of ideological commitment every bit as earnest as the Highborn. Thus far they have held back from preaching their beliefs out of respect for the Empire's laws and to ensure their Great Forest Orc allies do not suffer persecution as a result, but they do not view Hope's Rest as a legitimate part of the Empire. Any attempt to send priests to Hope's Rest to proselytise the Way will result in more converts among the priests who undertake the journey than the Montanians.

Montanian Risks

  • The Montanians will continue to push for the entire Barrens to be free from Imperial rule
  • They will ultimately call for rebellion against the Empire if their demands are not met
  • They will try to spread their religious beliefs to any Imperial citizens who enter Hope's Rest

The Montanians represent a clear threat to the Empire's rule in the Barrens. They are ideologically committed to Freedom - they make no secret of the fact that they want the entire Barrens to be free of the Empire and the Druj and they plan to dedicate themselves to that cause. They are the only sept in the Barrens whose avowed goals includes the return of lands other than their own. If they are permitted to gather their strength in Hope's Rest they will use their position there to encourage the septs to unite in pursuit of their goals.

At present they are hopeful that negotiation and dialogue will yield results. They are hopeful that the Synod's message of liberation will translate into concrete action by the Imperial Senate to free the Barrens on their terms. However they do not deny that they will ultimately attempt to use force to get what they want if diplomacy fails. There is no significant military force in the Barrens at present, nothing that is remotely capable of resisting Imperial rule. But that situation could slowly change if the Rahvin maintain control of the Fangs and the Great Forest Orcs seize the Heart of Peytaht. The Barrens Orcs raised armies against the Druj, the Montanians will encourage them to do so again if their demands are not met.

Although they are more than happy to live alongside the Dawnish people in Dawnguard, and happy to welcome them to pass through Hope's Rest, they are clear that their self-imposed restriction on openly practising and proselytising their faith does not apply to the Barrens. They are clear that they will attempt to spread their beliefs on Freedom to all the occupants of the Barrens given the opportunity.

The Black Wind

Who are the Black Wind?

  • The Black Wind were former members of the Rahvin who split from the sept to join the Druj
  • They live in Dawnguard, Murderdale, Carmine Fields and Bitter Strand
  • They hate everyone including the Druj - the only people they hate more than the Druj are the Empire

Rahvin was a powerful orc leader who united the disparate orc septs and helped lay the groundwork for the uprising against the Druj. He claimed they would be “a black wind that would sweep the Druj from the Barrens”. As orcs flocked to his banner, some took the rallying cry as their new name - the Black Wind. At their height the Black Wind were able to muster the equivalent of two Imperial armies, making them the most effective independent military force in the Barrens.

When the Imperial/Druj alliance agreed to split the Barrens, the impact fell most heavily on the Black Wind. For a while they fought on, but with the Empire and the Druj both attacking them at the same time, the outcome was utterly inevitable. Facing certain defeat at the hands of the Druj and the Empire, the sept split. The leaders of the Black Wind surrendered to the Druj, believing it was the only possible way to preserve their people, the Rahvin stayed true to their beliefs and were wiped out by the Druj. The Black Wind army joined the Druj, the Rahvin army was broken and then the Buruk Tepel ordered the execution or enslavement of every single Rahvin Orc in the Barrens. Now only the Black Wind remain living in those regions.

They are a powerful military force - a martial people with thousands of experienced soldiers who form the basis of one of the Druj armies. They hate the Druj with a burning passion - the only people they hate more than the Druj are the Empire. The Black Wind absolutely blame the Empire for forcing them to side with, and fight for, the Druj. The Black Wind are merciless in battle against the Empire, taking any opportunity to kill as many Imperials as possible.

Currently the Black Wind army is in the Mallum somewhere, presumably resupplying. The Black Wind sept however remains in the Barrens, composed primarily of young people, elders, and those unable or unwilling to serve as soldiers of the Druj. At the moment the majority of them are still in the Carmine Fields, Murderdale, and Bitter Strand, with a handful of small settlements in Dawnguard. Black Wind Orcs served under Serra Grubfest, the hated Druj governor of the Barrens, and were involved in many of her more brutal reprisals against the Dawnish.

What do the Black Wind want?

  • They want to see every vestige of the Empire in the Barrens destroyed
  • They want a Barrens free of the Empire and the Druj

Of all the septs in the Barrens, the Black Wind are the only ones who will not treat with Imperial negotiators. They hide or flee, and refuse to speak when cornered. It is possible that the Karass might be able to treat with them, but they have shown no interest in doing so. The Rahvin are keen to reconcile with the Black Wind, but there is no evidence that the Black Wind are open to that. They used to deal with the Montanians, but it is clear that they no longer do so. Both the Rahvin and the Montanians are seen as fools for ever trusting the Empire in the first place.

The Black Wind desire vengeance against the Empire and most especially the Dawnish. They would like to see all the Dawnish inhabitants of Dawnguard enslaved or executed. If their desire for revenge were sated they would presumably inform Imperial interlocutors, that they wished to control Dawnguard, Murderdale, Bitter Strands and the Carmine Fields, which is where their people live. According to the other septs, what the Black Wind want is the destruction of the Empire for its role in destroying their people, despoiling the Barrens, and leaving them with no choice but to fight for their hated enemies the Druj. Ideally they would like to see the entire Empire destroyed, although they don't have any concept of how that might be achieved beyond fantasies of the Druj and the Empire wiping each other out.

Their overriding goal however is to see a Barrens free of both Empire and the Druj. The Black Wind are reluctant servants of the Druj - they fight for them only because the alternative was worse. If they had their way, they would want a Barrens free of the Empire and the Druj. Sadly fighting for that freedom is what got them to where they are now.

Military Opportunities: The Black Wind

  • The Iron Helms could execute the leaders of the Black Wind sept to force the Black Wind army to surrender to the Empire
  • If the Empire can maintain a consistent threat of destruction against the Black Wind sept, they could force the army to fight for the Empire
  • Five Imperial armies could force the Black Wind sept to flee the Barrens

The Black Wind in the Barrens are primarily non-combatants. Their soldiers fight for the Druj, but they are not actually Druj. They are cruel, but fuelled by anger and hatred rather than malice. They still feel a strong connection, a love for, their people - their spouses, children, parents, and siblings in the Barrens. The reason they are fighting for the Druj is to preserve the lives of the people they love - they bent the knee to the Druj to save their people from enslavement or worse (the fate the Rahvin suffered).

This presents an opportunity. A horrible opportunity, but a chance to deliver a decisive blow to the Druj none-the-less.

The Iron Helms are known and feared by both the Druj and by the septs they rule. They are masters of using that fear to get what they want, to demoralise their enemies. If the Iron Helms move to the Barrens and undertake a Merciless Assault, with clear orders to execute key members of the Black Wind, then the army will certainly hear of it. Presented with an ultimatum, the Black Wind will either have to betray the Druj and surrender to the Empire, or stand by as everyone they care about is killed.

There is no doubt among the other septs that the Black Wind will surrender. They hate the Druj, the only reason they are fighting for them is to try to keep their people safe. If the Empire threatens the safety of the Black Wind sept in the Barrens, they will have absolutely no choice but to surrender. The Black Wind army, the Druj army that carries that name and has engaged in one merciless attack after another on Imperial forces, will collapse. In theory it might even be possible to force the Black Wind to fight for the Empire - given that is exactly what the Druj have done. It would require a constant threat of bloody reprisals against their people if they did not fight.

As a potentially more palatable alternative, the Military Council could send Imperial armies to force the Black Wind to flee the Barrens. It would require a massive force to move the Black Wind, otherwise their people will scatter and hide, but if five Imperial armies are given clear orders to drive the Black Wind sept out of the Barrens then they will be forcibly evicted from their homes. They will be forced to leave most of their belongings behind, which will create an opportunity for spoils of war the following season. The sept will flee East, into the Mallum.

Any action in this vein would damage the Empire's standing with the Rahvin, Montanians, and Great Forest Orcs. Although the Black Wind no longer speak to their former comrades in arms, they are widely viewed as fallen allies rather than enemies by their fellow rebels. There is clear evidence that the Druj have been adept at maximising the propaganda benefits of actions of this kind by the Empire in the past.

Black Wind Risks

  • The presence of the Black Wind in the Barrens is a clear risk to the safety of every Imperial citizen

The Black Wind want to see the Empire destroyed, Dawnguard ruined and every Imperial citizen in the Barrens eaten alive by ravenous marsh lizards. They are sullen and filled with Hatred of the Empire, who they regard as a more loathsome version of the Druj. They enthusiastically supported Serra Grubfest against the Dawnish people of Dawnguard and will eagerly seize any opportunity to harm the Empire. Their continued presence is a constant risk to every Imperial citizen in the Barrens.


The people of Dawn celebrate the victory in the barrens.

Who are the Dawnish?

  • The Dawnish are Imperial citizens whose noble houses have lived in the Barrens for centuries
  • The majority live in Dawnguard, but there are Dawnish living in Murderdale, the Carmine Fields, and a few who live in Hope's Rest and Bitter Strand

The Dawnish have held Dawnguard for centuries, a foothold in the Barrens that has never wavered. From there they have sought to conquer the territory with waves of Dawnish settlers expanding into Murderdale and the Carmine Fields and beyond. Several prominent noble houses have been based there, although some fled when the region was conquered by the Druj.

Imperial law is clear that these people are Imperial citizens, even those who still toil under the rule of the Druj. They are Dawnish citizens just as the people of Semmerholm, Astolat, and Weirwater are. They are deeply proud of their nation, and delighted by the military and political victories they have achieved. They have fought to make the Barrens a part of Dawn for hundreds of years, and are elated by their triumphant victory.

They're excited to see the Druj finally driven out, and the regions of Murderdale and Heart of Peytaht liberated from their control. They are aware that their neighbours do not share their triumph but the prevailing attitude is one of “we won a glorious victory, now its time for troubadours and advocates!” The National Assembly of Dawn made it very clear that their knights and witches were here to liberate the Barrens, and free the orcs. Most of the people of Dawnguard are entirely behind that idea. As long as they have Dawnguard, and probably Carmine Fields and Murderdale so they have somewhere to farm and expand into, and the Plains of Teeth so that they control the fortress where the Hounds of Glory paid the ultimate, glorious price for victory they see no problem in allowing them to keep chunks of the wilderness if that's what they want. Wild places and unfamiliar septs both mean more opportunities for adventure and glory.

That question of glory comes up many times. The Barrens is a wild land, full of mysteries and excitement and dangerous places, and the Dawnish of Dawnguard like it that way. They point to the true liao consecration of the Well of Hope as a reminder that the quest for glory never ends.

What does Dawnguard want?

  • They want the Towers of the Dawn rebuilt to match the strength of the Spires of Dusk
  • They want the Druj driven out of the Barrens and the eastern borders secured
  • They want the political future of the Barrens as a Dawnish territory secured
  • They want the Fangs and the Eaves of Peytaht to be made Dawnish Bourse seats
  • They want to see the Empire destroy the Druj

Having defeated the Druj, the Dawnish want the political and military future of the Barrens to be secured. The physical embodiment of this would be rebuilding the Towers of the Dawn in Dawnguard. The great fortification was overrun by the Druj when they finally conquered the entire Barrens, and its destruction presaged a grim period for the Dawnish who suffered under Druj rule. In the minds of many, the safety of Dawnguard and the Barrens is physically contingent on the construction of a new fortification. For that reason, they want a new fortification to be constructed, at least as big as the Spires of Dusk, if not bigger. That will help to ensure that people feel confident that the Druj cannot retake Dawnguard any time soon.

At present the Druj still control the Carmine Fields and the Heart of Peytaht. The Dawnish want to see these regions conquered and quickly, to prevent the Druj using them to unleash curses and other terrors on the Barrens and to make it harder for the Druj to return. The Steel Causeway split the regions from the Druj supply lines, but they still represent a major threat to the safety of the territory. The Dawnish want to see that threat dealt with.

They also want to see the eastern borders of the territory secured. There are mixed views of the Karass, the Dawnish don't know them at all, but what they hear from the other septs does not fill them with confidence. If these allies of the Druj hold the Bleaks and the Plains of Teeth, it will allow the Druj to march into the Barrens unopposed. Either the Karass need to be dealt with, or else the Empire needs to establish a new border with the Druj - one that exists beyond the Barrens - by invading Sarangrave and the Salt Flats.

They also want the political future of the Barrens as a Dawnish territory secured. Now that the war is won, they want to make peace with their neighbours, but they aware of the many competing expectations and demands of the other septs. They don't uniformly oppose those demands, they accept that some land may need to be ceded to ensure a lasting peace. However they do not want to give up any land that they view as fundamentally Dawnish by rights or by conquest, notably Dawnguard, Murderdale, the Carmine Fields and the Plains of Teeth. Crucially, they will not accept any outcome that means so much land is ceded that the Barrens ceases to be a Dawnish territory.

Many yeofolk are interested in the possibility of trade, but they understand that might take time. Whatever else happens they want to be sure they'll be able to explore and quest in the Barrens freely no matter who controls which parts of it. They especially want to be sure they can visit the chapel at Hope's Rest, which now serves as a memorial to everyone who died to free the Barrens.

There's some discussion about the Fangs and the Eaves of Peytaht, the weirwood grove in the Heart of Peytaht. They would like both bourse resources to be made Dawnish seats - pointing out that Dawn is the only nation in the entire Empire that has no proper bourse seat. They are aware that the Eaves of Peytaht has been promised to the Great Forest Orcs and cynical voices suggest that the Fangs will end up as an Imperial seat once the Rahvin are kicked out, so hopes are not high of getting both seats.

Finally, they want to see the armies of Dawn spearhead the campaigns against the Druj in the Salt Flats of Sanath, Forest of Ulnak, and the Sarangrave. They want the Druj consigned to dusty archives, their name ultimately known only to scholars and troubadours. The phrase "Death to the Druj" echoes round the Barrens - it is one of the few things that almost everyone agrees on.

Dawnish Risks

  • Any future for the Barrens other than as a Dawnish territory of the Empire will outrage the people of Dawn

Now that the Imperial Senate has allocated the Barrens to Dawn, the view of most Dawnish people is that the greatest quest in history has now been completed. Dawn's triumph is glorious beyond compare, not just for Dawn, but for the whole Empire. There is a limitless sense of celebration with the completion of a dream that has occupied the hearts of Dawn for five centuries. Any political resolution that fundamentally changes the status of the Barrens as a Dawnish territory of the Empire will see that joy turn to fury.


This section refers to the non-player character nobles and yeofolk of the Barrens and Dawn. While the characters who attend the Anvil summits are the most influential people in the nation, the folk of the nation often have their own opinions on weighty matters that affect them. There's absolutely no requirement for a Dawnish player character, whichever territory they are from, to agree with all or even any of these positions. You're encouraged to make up your own minds. It isn't "off brief" to disagree with these attitudes. At the same time it's also not off brief to embrace some or all of them; if you want to be a "populist hero of the people" for example then championing these positions is one way to do it. The only thing to bear in mind is that this section represents the attitude of the Dawnish as a faction in the Barrens - beliefs every bit as political and challenging as those of the other septs. They might be negotiated with using tools such as the Synod or the Senate, but they can't simply be told to believe something else.

The Druj are still a presence in the Barrens, and while their armies have retreated, they still threaten the territory on three sides. They are known to be spiteful and full of hate when they lose - many of the septs are afraid of what form retaliation might take.

The Druj

  • The Druj still retain control the Heart of Peytaht and Murderdale
  • They are using these regions to launch attacks on the Barrens

Whilst the septs are somewhat encouraged by the Empire having driven off the Druj, especially given the armies' focus on liberation, they are still concerned that the Empire has left the territory relatively undefended while the Druj maintain control of two regions; Murderdale and the Heart of Peytaht. Their armies have fled but there are still more than enough Druj there to cause problems for the Imperials in Dawnguard as well as the other septs. Only last season the late Knight-protector of Winter, Aranel Mortère, was tasked with stopping Varag Soulflayer from unleashing winter spirits throughout the territory. It is clear that these kinds of attacks will continue for as long as the Druj have some foothold in the territory, and with their current holdings they could theoretically reach Brocéliande or Semmerholm.

The Druj have a well-earned reputation for spitefulness. When the Sand Fishers were granted sanctuary in Holberg, the Druj sent armies to invade the most well defended territory in the eastern Empire just for a chance to punish them and terrify anyone who might resist their rule. They were defeated, but it's a sobering reminder of who the Druj are. They tore down the Tower of the Scorpion rather than let the Empire have it. They almost destroyed the Great Pits of Ennerlund, and the Vigilant Swan, and few Highborn will forget the horrors they inflicted on Reikos when they were driven out. During the final season of fighting in the Barrens, the Tainted Basilisk unleashed a barrage of curses and maledictions against the territory, some of which are still in effect.

For almost everyone in the Barrens it's not a matter of if the Druj will return, but when. Many of the septs are deeply fearful for their fate when that happens, believing that the Druj will exact terrible retribution if they collaborate with the Empire now.

Cathan Canae has indicated that ceding Imperial lands to buy peace, or secure allies, threatens the assurance anchoring the Frozen Citadel of Cathan Canae.

Cathan Canae

  • Cathan Canae has been clear in the past that she would consider the Empire ceding more land to their enemies to be sufficient to break the assurance on Frozen Citadel of Cathan Canae
  • There is room to negotiate with the eternal if the Empire wishes to cede land in the Barrens
  • The Imperial Synod could denounce the way in which Cathan Canae is dictating how the Empire behaves

There is one final fly in the ointment, which the Dawnish enchanters are particularly aware of. The Summer eternal Cathan Canae has made it clear in the past that she is concerned about the Empire's willingness to trade away land to their enemies, or their supposed allies in return for aid against their enemies. All this talk of concedence is likely to attract the attention of the Queen of Ice and Darkness.

However, after a great deal of discussion, some of it with heralds of the Immovable One herself, they believe there is room for negotiation. What the Mistress of Blizzards will not accept is the Empire giving up land to its enemies in return for peace. But the Empire could make the case that that is not what is being discussed, given that they have been clear all along that their intent was to liberate the Barrens orcs, not conquer the Barrens. Any concessions to the septs could be presented as rewards to a potential ally in return for their support.

It is not clear what the best argument might be, but the enchanters of Dawn are confident that ceding lands to people the Empire has liberated will not automatically incur the ire of the Mistress of Blizzards. It would however be unwise to cede lands and then keep casting the Frozen Citadel without discussing the matter with the Immovable One first, but the Archmage of Summer could use their power of plenipotentiary to discuss the matter with either the eternal herself or her lieutenants and see if what kind of agreement can be reached.

When the matter is discussed, some Highborn magisters are strongly of the opinion that it is deeply inappropriate for the Lady of the Frost or any eternal to be able to dictate Imperial policy in this way. There is more than the faintest hint of idolatry about this entire business, and perhaps it might be best for the Empire to stop relying on the “gifts” of an eternal who would attempt such obvious blackmail. They call on the Imperial Synod to take a stance on this matter.


  • The Menrothat of Ossium want the Empire to cede Farweald to them
  • In return the Menrothat will share their a single dose of Black Lotus with the Empire
  • Only the Karass would welcome the Menrothat's return to the Barrens - it would be universally opposed by all other factions

There is one final faction with an interest in the Barrens. The sept of the Menrothat, in Ossium, have let it be known that in return for the Empire ceding them their ancestral lands of Farweald, they will share their greatest treasure – a dose of black lotus and their knowledge on what can be done with it.

The Dawnish, the Rahvin, the Great Forest Orcs, the Vendarri, and the Montanians all express significant reservations about the Menrothat returning to the Barrens. Apart from the Karass, whose dark reputation they share, everyone is opposed to them claiming Farweald as their own.

Two days after the Great Forest Orcs enter Therunin, while they are cautiously raising their tents and receiving the diplomats of the Navarr, the first reports of trouble in the east begin to filter back to the Dawnish forces. Knights errant and questing alike, some of them battered and diseased, bring dire news of a host - a great host of orcs - that has crossed the rivers from the east, slaughtering every orc in their path that does not kneel and bow their head at their approach.

Thousands of orcs. Orcs beneath banners of jade-and-gold, their spiked armour bedecked with skulls and bones. There is no chance to estimate numbers. One party of knights-errant engaged in a test of mettle near the Saltmarsh claim they saw five thousand orcs camped on the banks of the great marshes there. Another lone survivor - who later dies of her wounds - ranted and raved until the end about thirty-, forty-, fifty-thousand yellow eyes watching her from the darkness. A pair of scouts indicate that they saw nothing... but several other scouting parties testing out the defences of the Bitter Strand to the east fail to return and while it is likely that the Barrens orcs accounted for them there is a concern that...

... ten days before the Autumn Equinox, with the Dawnish knights consolidating their meagre gains in the Carmine Fields a band of half a dozen orcs emerge from the south-eastern forests and plant a flag of truce in the soil of the Carmine Fields that flutters and dances in the sudden quick breeze. It is spattered with blood. At the foot of the flag they place sacks, damp and dripping, and buzzing with flies. The six of them settle down to wait unconcerned, beneath the flag. Some of them roll bones, talking quietly among themselves. The others keep watch across the fields.

A discussion, and then the Gryphon's Pride and the Golden Sun both send a delegation of twenty soldiers each to see what is afoot. The orcs make no effort to withdraw. They stand and watch the Imperial troops approach - not afraid, no expression readable beneath their hoods and masks. When the first Dawnish knight comes to within bow-cast, the leader holds up one gloved hand and steps forward.

"Parley," she says in a rasping voice full of age and cynicism. "Parley, knights of Dawn. We have a gift and a proposal from our masters."

The knights pause. The orc speaks again. She gestures to the bags they have piled around the flagpole.

"Here is our gift. The heads of the Rahvin. The leaders of the orcs who attacked your homes. They are dead."

One of the knights asks a question, the orc woman shakes her head.

"You misunderstand me. It is not the leaders who are dead - they are all dead. Every single one of them. The Rahvin are gone. We have reclaimed their lands. As was agreed."

Confusion. The orc does not stop.

"Take a message to your Senate, please, knights of Dawn. We are prepared to negotiate the precise placement of the Line, as agreed. We will await the word of your Senate on the other side of the river, in the Bitter Strand, on the eastern banks of the Kepahitân River, until the end of the Autumn Equinox. We will offer hospitality to a diplomatic envoy of shall we say a dozen. If we hear no word from you we will assume you have reneged on the agreement, are not interested in negotiation, and will act accordingly."

She folds her arms then, and smiles, showing broken blackened teeth. After a moment, the Druj withdraw back toward the river, leaving behind their flag, and the pile of dripping, fly crowded, sacks.

From the 380YE Autumn Equinox Winds of War

Further Reading