'Ware the Moloch
Rainy and overcast, wracked by chill winds, Sunlund bestrides a penninsula connecting the northernmost part of the Parmin continent, to the south, with frozen archipelagos to the north. Sunlund proper is a mix of storm-slicked rocky hills and treacherous bogs; where the touch of man has been light, great deciduous and evergreen forests stretch for miles. Winters are harsh, though several of the marshes and other bodies of water strangely refuse to freeze, leading to small zones of wet, spongy land amidst an otherwise snow-covered landscape.
The primary inhabitants of Sunlund are humans and gnomes, and the two races have lived close together for millenia, effectively sharing an entire political structure. The culture is predominantly feudal European. Their rulership is drawn from a number of noble human family lines; every few years, a particularly ambitious human family manages to purchase a title. The gnomes are satisfied with advisory roles and maintaining a number of institutes of arcane study which accept members of all races and from several nearby regions.
Halflings tend toward river settlements, running goods along the length of the numerous waterways snaking through the region. Their communities are small and egalitarian, choosing policy democratically. Great collectors, they’ve established a culture which is a blend of the dominant cities nearest them. Thus some halflings are more warlike, hiring dwarven mercenaries to train town militias and sporting excellently crafted weapons; while still others flit silently through the woods along their rivers’ banks, favoring small longbows with poison-dotted arrows.
Dwarves dwell primarily in the mountains along Sunlund’s northern tip, though raids from the archipelagos have driven many of the smaller clans further inland. The dwarves have no particular “king,” each individual clan being led by a patriarch backed by a council of the elder-most surviving dwarves. Of the elders, one dwarf is elected above his peers in each of the following fields, and given the appropriate title: Craftsmen- The Steady Hammer; Warriors- The Bloodied Blade; Priests- The Solemn Book; Arcanists- The Tunnel Star. The highest dwarven leader is known as the Urden Mel.
The elves are surprisingly numerous in Sunlund, though their numbers are scattered. The sheer acreage of forested areas provides ample opportunity for small elven cities to spring up, often mere leagues from a major human settlement. However, the dense nature of many of these forests, the often treacherous ground leading to the forests, and the inclement weather make it easy for the elves to keep their cities utterly hidden from prying eyes. Some elves, instead, choose to mingle with the civilization of Sunlund, training humans as trackers, educating the curious about the druidic tradition, or journeying to a gnomish arcane university for study. Of all the races of Sunlund, the elves seemed least surprised when the draconic forces gained strength. The shorter-lived races wonder if this is due to some forewarning given the elves, or because they’d simply seen this before.
As the most commonly encountered orcs are raiders from the northern archipelagos, few half-orc children are raised in happy homes. Most are left to starve, or dragged back, unformed, in the wombs of their screaming captured mothers. Still, some orcs find acceptance and success by selling their strength of arm to halfling merchants, or participating in city gladitorial contests, or serving as muscle for scores of varied interests. No half-orc can claim to be universally beloved, but there are certainly quarters of the region where his face will draw but cursory stares.
The feral Shifters are a barely understood race, mostly keeping to the deepest black woods near Sunlund’s southern border. Their race bears elves a long-standing enmity, borne in blood forgotten ages past. Still, the Shifters appear to bear an even greater hatred for the draconic forces, especially their perversion of natural power. Whispers suggest that some long-ago split within the druidic community as a whole may have given rise to the varied races of dragonspawn which now threaten the land, and the reaction of a shifter to such talk may put the blame somewhere in their past.