This campaign is set in the vast mountainous region called Korin, the home to a race of humans who refer to themselves by the same name. The Korin are typically of tall, sturdy stock with tan skin, black hair, and earth colored eyes. Their skin is often adorned with elaborate tattoos, some of magical origin. An outsider to the region might well marvel at the shear physical presence of all but the most diminutive Korin. Alas, the truth of this will never be known, as the world of the Korin has in living memory never experienced an outsider. Indeed, no visitors are to be expected, for the legends of the Korin tell that the world outside of the furthest ring of mountains has been forever lost.
This legend speaks of Korin being an island of life in a sea of destruction, the world outside having been long ago destroyed in a climactic battle between powerful forces. Some say it was massive, world-shattering dragons, others an evil race of twisted monsters called the Dadach-en, and still others claim that it was a race of tall Fey bent on dominion. Whatever the truth may be, the land of Korin, ringed as it is by massive, jagged mountains and vast glaciers, fits the ideal of a refuge. Its high valleys are lushly forested and dotted generously with verdant green glens that easily fatten livestock. Deep lakes filled with fish are fed from brilliant but frigid mountain streams providing both food and drink.
As good of a refuge as the land is, life for the Korin is not one of ease for they have lived from time immemorial under the yoke of powerful masters known as the Morin. The Korin live in tightly knit clans, called Tahl, and though often distinct in traditions from others, all Tahl share the common belief that it is their hereditary duty to provide offerings of food, wine, fruits of the land, and even their own kin, to these unseen masters. The legends of the Korin are firm on this obligation.
The stories of the Korin tell the tale of three brothers, Moril, Gorgantix, and Koric, and of their epic struggle to save the world from destruction. It is said that at a critical time their final battle against the evil threatening existence, Koric, the youngest of the three, failed his brothers utterly. In the end, the might of the Moril was enough to drive the great evil from the world. But Koric’s failure doomed much of the world. Only that which was to become Korin survived. Neither Moril nor Gorgantix forgave Koric for his failure that day and legend says that afterwards Moril, the eldest and most powerful of the three, retreated to the depths of the earth, his soul filled with sorrow at the loss of so much of the world. But before he left the sunlit world, he commanded Gorgantix, the middle brother, to forevermore stand guard on the peaks of the mountains. It is said that such was the fire in Moril’s words that Gorgantix did not object, but rather he bade Moril to make Koric pay for his failure. Moril, the legends say, did just that.
So split the three brothers, their ancient bond forever broken: the lineage of Koric, called the Korin, began their long toil in debt; the lineage of Gorgantix, the Gorgantin, left to attend to their lonely vigil in the mountains at the edge of the world; and the lineage of Moril, the Morin? they disappeared forever from the face of the earth.
So it is that no Korin has ever seen a Morin. Only by imposing stone visages engraved on standing stones throughout the land can the lineage of Koric see that the Morin are oddly different from them. The images are all of short, stocky, heavily bearded and grim faced countenance. So to are the descendants of Gorgantix different from the Korin. But here there is not mystery for it is all too often that a Korin has to reckon with the giants that are the Gorgantin.
Seen or not, no one denies the existence of the Morin, nor challenges their power over the Korin. Stories tell of entire Tahls vanishing without trace from the face of the earth when the ire of the Morin has been raised.
For most Korin life under the sway of the Morin is a balance of survival and prosperity. The invisible hand of the Morin has kept a peace throughout the land, with wars and even the predations of monsters being effectively repressed. Some Tahls have found that sustained and generous offerings bring rewards from the Morin: iron and copper ores, gold and silver, gems, and even the legendary steel. A few Tahls have even received castles of stone, formed complete, overnight.
Trouble remains in the world of the Korin, for even under the iron hand of the Morin, monsters such as goblins and kobolds still exist and must be dealt with. So to must the Korin reckon with the Gorgantin. These giants in their mountainous abodes, some of fire, some of ice and some of stone, are an ancient threat that lingers just on the horizon of a Korin’s world. For while the Gorgantin are not given offerings, nor accorded rule as are the Morin, the legends still speak of an obligation owed to them by the Korin. And every Korin knows well that the second eldest brother of the tales, Gorgantix, was denied his due by the eldest, Moril. No one believes the affront has ever been forgotten.
Amongst all of this, the Korin are trouble enough to themselves. While outright wars between Tahl are infrequent for fear of offending the Morin, raids and skirmishes are not. Goods are stolen and captives taken in these conflicts, often to be used as offerings to the victor’s Morin and in place of the own supplies or kin. Still, trade between Tahls does exist even amidst the competition to appease or indulge the whims of the Morin. Many Tahls from a given area hold uneasy truces with their neighbors; some have even thrived and become relatively powerful.
So this is the world you live in. It is a world of ancient bonds and ancient debts; ancestors are revered, as are the forces of nature that survived the cataclysm of legend; and through it all stand your kin, the Korin.