A harsh wind rattles the doors in the village, and the man in the gatehouse draws his cloak tighter and prods the embers of the fire before adding another log to the small hearth. He removes the pot of stew and ladles it into his wooden bowl. Warmth spreads through his body as he tips the bowl to his lips.
A howl pierces the night, and the guard drops his bowl, spilling soup down his beard and across the dirt floor. He stands up from the wooden stool and grabs the small spear leaning against the wall. Carefully, he climbs the old ladder to the top of the gatehouse and clambers onto the roof. He clutches the spear in one hand and looks out beyond the walls. There’s no moon tonight, but the skies are clear and the stars are bright. Straining his eyes, he sees indistinct forms moving along the hills nearby, the ones near the forest.
He watches for another minute, but sees no more movement. As he returns to the ladder he glances over the roofs of the houses in the village. He can’t quite see to the wall on the opposite side of the village, even on starlit night, but he can see the few dozen wooden houses built within the walls. A gust of wind bites into his skin and he quickly descends back into the gatehouse. He ladles a little more stew into his wooden bowl and retakes his seat on the low stool.
Just wolves, thankfully. He heard there were worse things stalking the hills and forests at night these days. As if the wolves weren’t bad enough, prowling in great packs and making it dangerous to hunt, even in groups. And the Ingrit raiders were becoming more aggressive; he heard they’d ransacked a whole village last month. Well, those seem to be the times.
The guard gulps down the rest of the stew in his bowl and sets it by the hearth. He pulls his heavy cloak tighter around his shoulders and shivers. The night would be a cold one, and it was a long time before dawn…
Welcome to the Ancient North
The Ancient North is a cold, dark, and dangerous place. It is a land of old stone keeps, small walled villages, thick pine forests, cold grey mountains, deep black lakes, and white rushing rivers. The people who live in this cold, taiga terrain are many and varied, ranging from the merciless, nomadic Ingrit to the warm, nurturing Sendissar to the lively, reliable Virdin.
Adventurers in the Ancient North are rare. Few people venture more than a mile from their village except to hunt or trade, and they rarely do either alone. Those that do take up the life of an explorer find themselves facing not only the dangers of wild animals and vicious marauders, but also the harshness of rocky hills and deep, foreboding forests.
The Ancient North lends itself to low-level, gritty adventures of toughened warriors who explore old ruins and combat merciless raiders as they travel from village to village.
In short, the Ancient North is a low-magic, E6 world with six different clans of humans, dangerous animals, unforgiving terrain, and rumors of monsters and old magics hidden in the oldest, untouched parts of the forests and mountains. It uses customized variants of the existing d20 classes as well as a completely new classes designed for the setting. While the Ancient North is geared towards adventures in the wilderness, it is possible to run numerous adventures within the confines of the larger villages and towns surrounding the scattered keeps or even deep in ancient tunnels below the hills and mountains.
So, grab your pack, your cloak, and your sword and prepare to step into the Ancient North.