Tales from the Drunken Bugbear
Harsband, bordering Anvalla to the north, has seen better days. The days when most of it wasn’t Anvalla come to mind. Once a large, proud empire, Harsband has been reduced to but a remnant of its former glory.
Harsband holds to a traditional monarchy, betraying the attitudes of the majority of its residents. A belief in tradition and the importance of order rule the average Harsbander with greater effect than any military force. The Harsbander Military Police exist primarily for dealing with unruly Anvallans and other foreigners.
Considering the discipline and focus of the Harsbander people, it is perhaps no wonder that the country is heavily industrialized. The scholars of Harsband tend to be fascinated by the possibilities of clockwork, especially combined with the judicious use of magic, and most golems of any quality are inscribed “In Harsband macht.” While Harsbander alchemists don’t get the same respect as their Poesshi counterparts, alchemical research hardly lags here.
The inhabitants of other countries generally find the uptight Harsbanders…uptight and staid. Dwarves find a kindred attitude there, and Harsband has a high dwarven population. Elves and the freer-spirited halflings, on the other hand, avoid Harsband whenever possible and mock traveling Harsbanders whenever they get the chance.
Races of Harsband
The original peoples of Harsband, the dwarves (roughly 40%), haven’t had a great time of life in general. That stalwart mountain folk ventured down out of the mountains (after the humans kicked them out) and grudgingly put up with human rule for a few hundred years. Then, after they’d tossed the interlopers out, they maintained these surface cities for dealing with the outside world. Harsband dwarves are less tied to the earth and stone than the average dwarf, on account of being removed from it for so long. On the other hand, this separation has manifested itself as a incessant devotion to order and discipline. Harsbander dwarves are inclined taller and stockier than the baseline because they are less accustomed to the tunnels of their forebears. Also, like almost all dwarves of Syraen, their hair is lighter and their skin is darker.
The orc population is worth noting in Harsband, due to its unusual size (25%). While dwarves and orcs have been sworn enemies for a long time, the orcs banded with the dwarves to drive out the imperial Anvallans. Combined with the changed underpinnings of dwarven culture, the orcs share an uneasy peace with the rest of Harsband. They are mixed into the cities and have their own racial holdings in the western caves. Harsband orcs are more civilized, traditionally shamanistic, and seemingly eager to show Syraen that they are interested in more than plunder and rape. Not everyone is convinced.
Not all humans (20%) were driven out when the dwarves finally got fed up with the empire. Many of the former Anvallans joined in throwing off the imperial government and became full citizens of Harsband. These humans are very similar to their brethren in Anvalla, but there are some slight dissimilarities. Harsbanders are typically brawnier than their southern cousins, the result of years of competition with the dwarves. They are also commonly darker, though this is more connected with their labor and not with any genetic dispositioning.
Halflings make up a sizeable minority of Harsband (10%). As a people without a homeland, halflings have gotten used to taking orders and being bossed around. While they sometimes chafe under the restrictive rules of the dwarven monarchy, the halflings still feel a close connection with their “older brothers” the dwarves. Some of the best alchemists in Harsband are halflings, and the dwarves enjoy their creativity and sense of humor. Harsband halflings are bulkier and larger than baseline halflings.
The rest of Harsband (5%) is made up of various and sundry races. Elves seldom feel welcome in Harsband and have no real racial holdings. Still, drifters of all sorts float through Harsband, though they must watch their step very carefully lest they find themselves drifting on a breeze into the rocky wastes of Natien on the other end.