The Cosmoscape Chronicles
Panpeer (or Panpeer Plateau) sits nestled amongst the ice crowned peaks of the nearly impenetrable Mith’Gor mountain range. This vibrantly coloured highland tundra is difficult and often dangerous to reach, but the trip is made often. Panpeer sits at a critical juncture between the eastern and western (as well as a few northern and southern) trade routes.
The climate on the Panpeer is fairly predictable – most of the nomadic peoples that call this place home have a fairly easy time predicting the weather. Although severe weather is rare, the temperature can vary wildly. Cool summer days here can give away to bone chilling nights, and similarly in the winter, frostbiting nights can sometimes lead into mildly cold days. As an area that sees very little precipitation, large vegetation does not exist. Clumps of rose, yellow, and orange shrubs, mosses, grasses, sedges, and lichens densely cover the colourful frozen tundra.
Migrant peoples call this place home. At its fringes, near the mountains, giants, ogres, trolls, and hordes of goblins traipse along the mountain valleys searching for wild game or unlucky travellers. On the plains, hunter tribes of goliaths, orcs, and firbolgs, follow the migrations of the great grazing mammoth, yak, and ox herds.
Surprisingly, with all the mighty and strong races that dwell here few would guess that the halfling race would be most successful. Once a pastoral nomadic society that raised herds of yaks, halflings carved out a market for themselves as guides. When east-west trade began, halflings were often hired to lead merchants across the wild and untamed plateau. Understanding the plateau’s denizens, weather, and herd migrations, allowed the halflings to stake their claim as the plateau’s best guides. Dealing with races and groups of all kinds, the halflings quickly realized that neutrality would be a key element to success; they had neither the desire or knowledge to navigate the political tensions that existed between their many customers.
Eventually the panpeer halflings transitioned from nomads to settlers. Still known as consummate guides (and growing quite rich because of it), the halflings undertook the task of exploring the mountain passages, rivers, caves, and valleys mapping an extensive network of routes that criss-cross over and under the mountain. Eventually the three halfling settlements – Sami, Toyk, and Grawl – evolved from villages to towns, and then from towns to cities.
Although any race is welcome to stay and even live within any of these places, halfling law is clear and strict. In order to avoid disputes and conflict the following strict tenants govern visitors and habitants in all halfling cities:
- The transport of poison, weapons, slaves, and other such contraband is forbidden.
- Armed conflict is forbidden.
- Magic unrelated to travel and trade is forbidden.
- Thievery is forbidden.
The halflings of Panpeer take these laws very seriously and except in rare cases will impose the death penalty on those that break them.
Because of the strict rules even races in direct conflict with each other begrudgingly act civilly toward one another. Only in halfing cities will you see a calm dwarf and duergar in the same room, or an eladrin and a drow. To keep their patrons happy, the halflings have made a business out of comfort. Each halfling city is encased in glass, and the cities’ temperatures is carefully controlled by a meticulously engineered ventilation system. In addition to climate control, halfing cities are renowned as way stations offering entertainment, food, and leisure activities unlike anywhere else on Seath. Although these services and goods often draw many, what brings most is the transportation that’s offered.
Connecting the three halfling cities is the Teleway. Although the effect of the Lavender Day have muddled long distance teleportation as well as interplanar travel, the halflings have skillfully managed to navigate around the problem. With the aid of elevarian wizards, alslandian engineers and workers, and dwarven and MAELSTROM materials, the halflings commissioned the construction of dozens of short-distance portals connected in series. These enormous magical gates allow the Teletrain, a four mile long connection of varied-purpose carriages, each connected to two levistones, to transport goods and people across the great tundra in very little time. The cost isn’t cheap, but neither is maintenance and upkeep of the very expensive system.
In addition to the Teleway, the halfling house of transport, House of Tainling, offers other modes of travel on the plateau, and elsewhere on Seath. Overland travel is almost synonymous with halflings in this day and age. Whether by subterranean riverboat, over-desert sail-train, or by Teleway, if you want to get from point A to point B in the quickest fashion, then you’re probably going through the House of Tainling.
Less well-to-do caravans and travellers often avoid the halfling way-cities, which are known to be a bit pricey, and opt to travel across the tundra the old fashioned way. Although travellers can trek across the vast expanse of tundra for days without seeing another living soul, they are almost certainly being watched. Either from roaming orcish raiders, a wandering mountain troll, or simply by one of the plateau’s dangerous collection of wildlife, if you spend enough time on the plateau you will see battle.
Brilliant starry nightscapes dazzle visitors to the alpine tundra after sunset, but natives of the plateau and experienced travellers will keep their eyes squarely on the earth as it is during these times that an attack from the undermountain is most likely. Whether by a plodding undermountain creature, or by an organized undermountain raiding party, dark nights on the plateau can be particularly deadly, especially in proximity to the mountains. It is near the mountains that the majority of the hidden caves, camouflaged trapdoors, overgrown crevasses, and secret teleportation circles lie. And it is from one these that you’re most likely to stumble upon a drow, duergar, troglodyte, or any other underrace.