Exploring Úr’Dan: The Western Uplands

In the hopes of reviving this series as a monthly installment, I’d like to talk about another region of northern Úr’Dan. The Western Uplands have received terribly little attention in my writings so far.

I must admit, this region of Úr’Dan is not as fleshed out as some of the others we’ve discussed. We’re changing that today!

The Western Uplands

The Western Uplands is a region of vast rolling plains south of Everfeld and west of the Everwash. To the west is a narrow coastline beneath the hills. To the south, the gentle slopes of the Old Sentries, a well-forested and gentle mountain range. And to the southeast, of course, if the Barger’s Marsh.

Running right through the middle are the two Springfield Rivers, flowing southeast to the Marsh. The strip of land between these rivers, known as the Springfield, is the most fertile and densely populated in the country, with a major trading hub, called Springfield, bringing Uplanders together.

Western Uplanders

That the Western Uplands are bordered on virtually all sides by other populated regions has by no means prevented this region from developing a distinct culture — or several.

The sheer vastness of the Western Uplands makes this country ripe for distinct and diverse societies which exist wholly separate from their neighbors to the north, east, southeast, and southwest.

In general, there are six tribal groupings, separated largely by geography:

  • The Springfield tribes, who live within the fertile river valleys in the central part of this region. These tribes are largely sedentary agriculturalists, and the only group to settle in larger towns.
  • The coastal tribes represent a fraction of the population of the Western Uplands, living in largely isolated fishing villages.
  • The northern tribes along the edge of Everfeld are nomadic hunters, following vast herds of boar and buffalo across the plains.
  • The Everwash tribes are also nomadic hunters, although this is a much smaller faction whose territory lies along the western bank of Everwash.
  • The Lower Valley tribes live in clustered settlements along the lower Springfield valleys as they broaden into the Marsh.
  • And finally, the Foothill Tribes are semi-nomadic hunters living along the northern foothills of the Old Sentries.

Each of these factions includes at least one large tribe, and they all vary in their customs. However, all of these tribes follow matrilineal descent in some form and see the Moon as their guide.

When Differences Bring Competition

Since many of the Western Tribes are nomadic or semi-nomadic, there have long been disputes over territory, whether between individual tribes or factions of tribes. Conflict is seen as a normal part of life in this region, but it is not all violence and bloodshed.

In order to stem outright war, most of the tribes participate in a seasonal competition as both a means to settle disputes between tribes, and a way for hunters and warriors to earn renown within their own tribes.

Skills like horseback riding, javelin-throwing, wrestling, and foot racing are all valued in these societies. One event, however, trumps all others in importance and reverence: the Boar Hunt.

Selected teams of hunters from each tribe are required to track down a herd of wild boar and successfully bring down the largest animals. This event often lasts days at a time, and the hunters risk their lives to find the mightiest boar. But, the winning team earns honor for their tribe, as well as an extra seat in the Rígmúd, the periodic council between the Nine Tribes, to decide matters like settling disputes or making war against outsiders.

Tribal Conflict

The Nine Tribes have never fully united against a common enemy, but many of the tribes fought together against the hostile Firelander clans who invaded the Western Uplands and claimed the vital herding grounds for themselves.

Their rich tradition of both war and sport, however, means competition is alive and well in the Western Uplands, and the play for power is not always friendly.

Steve D

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