“A RIVER RAN HERE, STRONG AND FULL OF LIFE
NOW IT IS DEAD, NOW IT IS ENSLAVED
WE AVENGE IT” – Graffiti left at the site of a “Riverborn Slaying” in Corroch, year 798
“Few places in the whole of Tirneach are as changed since the beginning of the Five Realms as Uasa. Where once there was swamp and dismal terrain, now there is found some of the most beautiful towns and land that yields crops. The people of Uasa are justly proud of all we have accomplished, and of the service we perform for the Réig. Even the meanest peasant in Uasa has a loyal heart in their breast, something you cannot say for the highest ranked of other Realms.” – Treasna an’Fánach, A Survey of the Five Realms
Where is Uasa?
Uasa is the only Realm to border all of the other Realms. It stretches from the Blind Coast in the east to the Ring Mountains in the west, and from the Shaper’s Pasture on the border with Bruid to the Grey Lands in the north that form the oft-disputed border with Siabhal. It is called the Crown Realm, because it is the home of the Réig, the ultimate ruler of the Five Realms.
Uasa was once mostly covered in marshland, with rivers snaking their way through the landscape and bursting their banks at will. The Uasaigh adapted by living in raised houses and travelling in low-bottomed boats. In the past few decades, however, the Réigs have directed Leasiar artisans to construct a series of canals to drain the sodden land and leave more room for the people of Uasa to live. Most have welcomed this innovation, since they need no longer fear the floods of winter, but others mutter that the natural power of the land and the waters have been disrupted to the detriment of all.
Because of its status as the Crown Realm, Uasa attracts people of all species. The Drakeblooded of House Roaring Thunder are the most famous of Uasaigh because they guard the Réig, but humans are found here in great numbers, as are Creidhe and Leasiar. The Firetouched have found a toehold in Bealcaoch and other settlements along the Blind Coast, where their shipments come regularly from across the Shaper’s Sea.
The Uasaigh are proud of their homeland’s status as Crown Realm and they prize loyalty above all other virtues. In ancient times the Uasaigh were divided into tribes and while the political significance of those tribes has receded into the past, their importance as markers of loyalty and lineage remains. All Uasaigh consider their realmsfolk worthy of high honour for their realm’s early recognition of and enduring loyalty to the réig, and accord each other appropriate respect, particularly when in the presence of the Siabhlaigh. In Uasa even the most ruthless criminal considers themselves to be a loyal subject of the Réig, it is from this loyalty and duty that the Uasaigh derive their worth, rather than high birth or valorous conduct.
Origins of Uasa
The Uasaigh have lived in Uasa for time immemorial, the various tribes that inhabited the moors, swamps and coast were at first divided by species but through alliances and conquests they intermingled and now different species will claim the same tribal ancestry, united by custom and beliefs rather than blood.
The story that all the tribes have in common is that they were driven into Uasa by the Gwyllt, where their tribal leaders used the protection of the elemental water powers that suffuse the region to save their people in the nick of time. From that day on the tribes congregated around rivers, lakes and marshlands, jealously guarding their sources of power and planning for the day when they would retake the lands stolen from them by the Gwyllt. Their poets spoke of the day when a great leader would arise and unite the tribes, leading them to victory and banishing the Gwyllt. The name of this prophesied leader? The Réig.
It was the tribes of Uasa who realised that the great general who came from across the Shaper’s Sea was the one who was foretold and proclaimed the arrival of the Réig. The tribes drove off the Siabhlaigh horde that had ambushed the armies who had come to spread the word of the Shaper when they first landed on the shores, and the general was anointed as the Réig. The Uasaigh became the new Réig’s staunchest allies, using their cunning and knowledge of water magics to waylay the Siabhlaigh and propel the Réig to victory.
It was at the holy site of Corroch that the Réig declared the unification of the Five Realms, and first took the oaths of the subject Iarlas. The Uasaigh claim that it is the power of the Crown Realm that keeps those oaths strong, and the unswerving loyalty of the people.
Playing an Uasach Character
The gallóglaigh have their headquarters near the capital city of Corroch, and the bands of gallóglaigh that roam the Five Realms regard the marshalling grounds there as their home barracks. Many Uasaigh are drawn up into the gallóglaigh on the recommendation of fellow Uasaigh who have served themselves, as they are less likely than those of other Realms to scruple about someone of peasant stock joining a warrior band. Riders of Five Realms are sometimes known to foster their children with peasant families, and to take peasant children into their own homes, a practice that is completely unheard of in other Realms. The Riders of Uasa of course send their own children and foster children into the bands to serve the Réig, to prove they are worthy and loyal subjects. As a consequence, a very high proportion of Uasa’s population have joined the gallóglaigh at some stage in their lives.
The fashions in the court at Corroch tend to be in opposition to those of the great city of Iomra in Siabhal. Where the courtiers of the Ruby Court become more ostentatious with every season, the courtiers of Uasa compete on the basis of understated utilitarian elegance. Many courtiers will never allow anything except black to enter their wardrobe, so that they can wear the livery of Uasa and the Réig every day of their lives. The common folk of Uasa tend to dress for the weather as they spend much of their lives outdoors fishing, working the canals and rivers, or herding goats. They wear thick woollen cloaks in winter, either stealing or buying sheep from their Bruidigh neighbours, and linen in the summer when the crushing humidity of summer sweeps the Blind Coast.
Uasaigh characters are focused on their duty at all times, and do not allow anything to distract them from it. Their Clarity of Focus Realm Feat allows them to spend 1 Vigour to ignore a Daze effect.
The Uasaigh value those skills which bring the most service to the Réig and the Crown Realm, and those skills that are needed for day-to-day life. Cinnirí of the Order of Teachers circuit constantly through the many villages of Uasa, teaching young children the value of personal scholarship and various martial and arcane disciplines, while they will learn fishing or weaving from their own family or foster family. People of the other Realms sometimes refer to the Uasaigh as “fish-ticklers” due to the common belief that an Uasach will never pass up an opportunity to see if any body of water contains fish. Uasaigh are most likely to have a general smattering of lots of different skills, rather than being specialised. The most important of the Five Oaths for an Uasach is of course the First Oath, sworn directly to the Réig themselves, swearing loyalty and service.
Uasach opinions on the other Realms
Baol (Highlands): Highlanders talk a lot, and they don’t talk to the right folk. Once they get down from their mountains and see how the rest of the Five Realms lives, they shut up fairly quickly about their Amber Hall and how the Réig has no hold over them.
Baol (Lowlands): Solid hardworking people, the lowlanders. What they lack in imagination they make up for in persistence. Just watch out for the Trade Guilds, they’d sell your skin off your back at a markup before you realised it was gone.
Bruid: Bruidigh often forget that the rest of us have to fight the Gwyllt, and undead, and other beasts too, and we don’t get any special land rights from the Réig for doing it. Their lives are hard, sure, but they signed up for it.
Draíod: You have to respect that the average Draíodach knows more about the Shaper and the winds of magic than you or I ever will, but do they have to be so dour about it?
Siabhal: Never let the Siabhlaigh forget that the first Réig chose the goatherds and fishticklers of Uasa over them, when they turn their noses up at us and talk about being the “Heart of the Realms”.
Some Uasaigh You Might One Day Meet…
Roghfas is a member of the Pilot’s Guild operating out of Bealcaoch, the largest town on the Blind Coast. Bealcaoch lays at the end of a long and tortuous bay known as the Gullet, but it connects directly to the river network that winds through Uasa so its value as a port is paramount. The Pilot’s Guild jealously guard the secrets of the ways through the Gullet, and Roghfas is an old hand in guiding others through and waylaying those who would dare the Gullet without a Pilot on board. Lately as he has guided ships through, he has noticed odd lights out in the constant mists. They can’t belong to ships, otherwise they would have run aground. He must alert the leadership of the Pilot’s Guild that someone else is operating in the Gullet.
Tuirmic is a goatherd in the Grey Lands, the rolling moor land that marks the uncertain border between Uasa and Siabhal. Lately he has been noticing goats going missing, and other goatherds in the area agree that it cannot be wolves. Many footprints in the long grasses of the moor have convinced him that there are troops on the move, but if they were gallóglaigh surely they would announce themselves, and what is more they would pay for the goats they had taken. No, there is some other force at work in the Grey Lands, and for what purpose Tuirmic does not know.
Deis is a gallóglach on the march with the Bluehand Band. She is known for her skill at fencing and for slinging spells. She carries herself with a quiet dignity, and few among the band know that she was born to a beggar on the streets of Bealcaoch and soon orphaned. She was taken into the home of a Rider named Eorbha, who raised her as a foster daughter. Eorbha had taken in many foster children over the years, so although Deis is human she has foster siblings who are Creidhe, Krieger and even a Weeping Fathach.
Notable Settlements and Ridings
Cillawn (Small town) – Once Cillawn was on the bend of the wide and winding river Gabharc, now reduced to a canal carved straight through the landscape. The old riverbed has a haunted look to it, and Cillawn itself is no more than a collection of warehouses around a scanty village and tavern frequented by barge-workers. Cillawn is famous because it was the venue of the first “Riverborn slaying”, where a barge worker was brutally murdered and her blood used to trace the old course of the Gabharc river through the village square. The Riverborn are a secret sect dedicated to the return of the natural order in Uasa, who spread their message by murder. They have been denounced by the priests of the Shaper as in league with the Gwyllt. How else to explain how they work unseen even in bustling towns and cities?
Bealcaoch (Large town) – Huddled at the end of the Gullet, an inlet choked with hidden sandbanks and weed, Bealcaoch is the largest port on the Blind Coast, and a natural haven for all sorts of ne’er-do-wells. The Young River washes through the town, and because it connects to Uasa’s canal network it brings goods from all over the Crown Realm to the Crafty Town, as it is known. Only the Pilots of Bealcaoch know their way through the Gullet, and they keep it a close secret. One of their number must be on every ship, boat or dinghy going past the Lips, the cliffs that guard the entrance to the bay. Bealcaoch is allowed to continue as a criminal haven because the Drakeblooded of House Velvet Mist also call it home, and their ships protect the Blind Coast from invaders.
Corroch (City) – Corroch is the capital of all the Five Realms, the home of the Réig. It was built to impress, and is full of grand boulevards and parade squares. The Citadel of the Shaper is here also, where the Council of Prelates divine the Shaper’s will and carry it out in the god’s service and also in service to the Crown. Here in Corroch the gallóglaigh have their headquarters, and before setting out for the first time each battalion makes their oaths and salutes the Réig’s palace, where the Réig will watch them go off in their service. Once every five years the Iarlas of the Five Realms are summoned here to pay their obeisance and renew the vows their forebears made to the Réigs of old.
Tnuth (Riding) – Tnuth lies on the northern border of Uasa, in the oft-disputed Grey Lands. Tnuth’s Rider is new to her position, having inherited it through a complicated series of unfortunate deaths. Sile Ui Dhubhgiolla was only a foster child of the last Rider, once a hostage she now feels more loyalty to her home of many years than the family she was born into, which was of Siabhal. She longs for battle with her neighbours to the north, who she says are surely responsible for the unlikely deaths of her foster father, foster mother and three foster siblings within two years. All she needs is one bit of proof.
Glorbuaife (Riding) – Though Uasa is greatly changed, there are still places where the marshes are pervasive. Glorbuaife is more easily traversed by flat-bottomed boat than any other method, and the few villages and homesteads are shoddily built, not intended to last more than a year or two before the seeping ground reclaims them. Here the traditional Uasaigh lifestyle is maintained, townsfolk refer to the denizens of ridings like this as “turfcutters, fishticklers and frogcatchers”. The former Rider of Glorbuaife, Cadhal Stoneface, named by his fellow gallóglaigh for his stern demeanor, seemed content with his sedate lifestyle after a lifetime of service. Sadly the rumours of his connection to the Riverborn were all too true. His plot was uncovered thanks to the newly formed Cumhact na Réige.
Díonrua (Riding) – Díonrua is one of the oldest ridings in the Five Realms, granted to its original Rider for an act of loyalty that many call villainous. Sheoran the Cold was a bannerbearer for the Réig in the days before unification, and he lured the generals of Siabhal to his home on a false pretence. There he and his warriors killed them in cold blood, until they said the roof itself was red with gore. The Réig made him a Rider for his loyalty, but many have viewed Díonrua as cursed for the killing of guests ever since. The descendants of Sheoran are long gone, and the position of Rider often goes to a gallóglach recognised for their service, though not so well-connected that they receive a more attractive riding. The current Rider is remarkable among the Five Realms: she is a Weeping Human named Maoithneasa, famed for her deeds at the Siege of Lobhan.