A rocky landscape with proud inhabitants.
Lore of The Highlands
In the Time of Heroes, the Highlands were ruled by the hill giant kings, who waged a bitter and bloody war against their southern neighbors, the dwarves. Eventually the dwarves triumphed, and ruled the remaining giants as their thralls.
The Highlands was a relative backwater area even during the height of the Dwarven Empire, due to its very craggy and mountainous terrain that still had rebellious giant clans and other dangers. When the Dwarven Empire broke at the end of the Time of Dwarves, the Highlands were left to their half-giant progeny.
When the Arkhosian Empire began to spread, General Aegon sailed to the Highlands to set up for a failed expansion into the realms of the dwarves. He realized the only way to win the respect of the half-giants living there was to show them superiority, and therefore challenged Chief Thotham to a wrestling match. Aegon, with some difficulty, eventually bested Chief Thotham, who pledged the half-giants’ unyeilding honor to the cause of the Arkhosian Empire “as long as dragonkin are mightier than giantkin.”
Settlements and Features
The High Steading is the largest settlement in the Highlands. It is comprised of a former hill giant lord’s keep, which was then rennovated for dwarven lords, and then again modified to fit half-giants, making for interesting decor and unusual carpentry. All other settlements in the Highlands are clusters of half-giant encampments nestled in the hills and crevices of the mountainous landscape. Most half-giants live in rough stone huts or carved stone steadings, although a few perfer thatched wooden houses along the valley floors.
The terrain is extremely craggy, with high mountain peaks broken up by smaller hills and deep ravines.
The closes thing to a capital in the Highlands is the High Steading, the seat of the ruling clan. Located in the town is the Governor’s manse, where the representative from Arkhosia lives and governs from. The High Steading is the ancient seat of power of the Hill Giants, who ruled the Highlands before the Dwarven Empire exterminated the royal line.
The Arkhosian Empire rules the Highlands in technicality, but for all practical reasons, it is still ruled by the ruling clan of the Highlands. The head Chieftan ensures that taxes are paid in due to the Arkhosian Empire, and the Arkhosian Empire stays out of the day-to-day affairs of the Highlands. This arrangement is counter to the generally hands-on attitude of the Empire, but the Highlands provides the Empire with excellent front-line soldiers, so the Empire gives them certain leeway.
Plots and Adventure Sites
Like much of Alleth, the Highlands are full of former dwarven mines, most of which have been closed off by the fleeing dwarven lords, although some have remained open to those that are adventurous enough to explore their maddening depths.
Most half-giants don’t care about their Arkhosian rule, and live their life as if it does not affect their day-to-day lives. Others, however, dislike living in fealty to dragonspawn. The Jotunstolt movement seeks to re-capture the former glory of the Highlands by building a rebel force to kick the Arkhosians out of the Highlands once and for all. Some even claim that they will then expand south to get some “breathing room” from the dwarves. There are many who think the Jotunstolt are led by fragments of the former ruling giant clan, who wish to recapture their ancestral homelands.
The War of the Giants
The dwarven war against the giants was a long and bloody affair that began early in the Time of Heroes and lasts in some spots to this day. It has existed so long that neither side can agree on why the conflict exists. The dwarves say that the giants are prone to cruelty and raid for the simple pleasure of it, while the giants say that the dwarves dishonor the giants lands by mining deep within the earth, which they revere.
The war was at its peak during the Time of Dwarves, when the Svartalfar Empre expanded across Alleth with little impedence. The first place the dwarves annexed into their Empire was the homelands of the giants to their north, for the mountains had rich metal veins deep within them. Tired of the constant harrying of the giants who would restlessly attack the dwarven encampments, the Dwarves launched on a campaign to eradicate the giants.
The Vanskeligetid, the long process of routing the out all the giants and putting them to axe, lasted two centuries. During the process, several of the dwarf lords sired children upon their giant thralls, and thus the half-giants of the Highlands were born. When the Duergar War erupted and tore the Svartalfar Empire apart, most of the dwarf lords left the Highlands to return to Svartalheim, leaving the lands open and available for their half-giant kin.