Heroes of the New Day
Great Barrier Peaks
The massive mountains of the Great Barrier Peaks are said to have once been the body of a earthen primordial who died at the hands of several fallen gods of gems and metals during the Dawn War. Whether or not this is true is beside the point… these peaks make other mountains feel insignificant. Whatever created these peaks clearly had a lot of power, as many of these reach miles into the sky, and contain entire ecosystems on each mountain. They stretch north for hundreds of miles, and are about 50 miles wide at the narrowest point.
The positioning of these mountains effectively make them a wall between the Orcish Hordelands and the Alliance nations (hence the name of the mountains). The various groups dwelling within the mountains have their own political alliances with (or against) one another, and some have even sent emissaries to make occasional deals with leaders of nations near the mountains… but in many cases the Barrier Peaks are insulated from the outside world and have no contact with outsiders.
There have been occasional attempts, sometimes called wars, to breach the Barrier Peaks in one direction or the other, with Orcish hordes pushing south or Kislev & Norsca forces pushing north, or even forces within the mountains pushing out. None of these have ever resulted in lasting shifts of population or kingdoms, but the battles are still sung in legends in the Great Barrier regions.
Groups & Regions
There are a great number of creatures dwelling in these mountains, and many of them live in groups, tribes, kingdoms, etc. Here are a few of those that are known of to the outside world.
Adamantine Goliaths… A tribe of goliaths that are completely isolated from the outside world. Reports say that they have attuned themselves so closely to the stones that they converse with the mountains and have become elemental creatures themselves.
Empire of Frost… A large mass of frost giants who dwell in perhaps 10 of the northernmost mountains, along with a flight of white dragons. Reports vary as to who is actually in charge in this relationship, but few have dared stand against their combined might. It is said that these creatures summon pure ice from an elemental plane of ice, forging beautiful and terrifying structures in which to dwell.
Granite Nation… Perhaps the largest group of stone, sand, and gem archons in the prime material plane, this nation’s ideologies are rather alien to the other intelligent races of the region, but they are quite skilled at defending themselves. It is said that some may be descendants of those that once served the fallen primordial who formed the mountains, but none have ever gotten close enough to ask them. The only humanoid to ever report on these creatures was the wizard Bigby, who briefly dwelt there as he developed his famous earth spells (Earthen Grasp, Stony Fist, etc). That was almost 150 years ago, though, so it is likely some things have changed.
Horror Swarm… This is not an offical group of intelligent creatures, but rather the name given by other groups to the insanely huge mass of hooked horrors, carrion crawlers, and other oversized bug-like creatures that tend to dwell in the caves beneath many of the mountains. This is likely a big reason why the Underdark has never succeeded in pushing up into these mountains. It is said that no one, not wizard nor giant nor dragon, has ever survived an attack from this swarming mass. Whether there is any intellect controlling these creatures is unknown, though it is not likely.
Kodan Giants… A large kingdom of stone & wood giants dwelling in the mountains near Kislev. It is said that these giants do not have much skill with arcane magics, but instead forge primal bonds with different large creatures, breaking into clans… and each giant takes on attributes similar to the creature it is bonded to. Known clans include Clan Direwolf (fast & fierce), Clan Wyvern (poisonous), Clan Direbear (strong), and Clan Bulette (burrowers). Different Kodan Clans have occasionally attacked the Norscans to the south, but have been beaten back every time by combined arcane might of the Star League and the various gnomish wizards of the nation, with additional support from the Norscan military. No assault has happened in the past 25 years, though. The Kodan seem to realize that they cannot stand against arcane power of that magnitude.
Lightning Snows… Some of the tallest mountains in this region are said to be home to a large number of Blue Dragons, possibly even Tiamat’s Blue Wing. Their lairs are either in the tops of the mountains or in magical cloud structures above the mountains, where the dark clouds blot out the sun, and the only light is the constant lightning moving cloud-to-cloud and from clouds to mountaintops. There are allegedly some white dragons in this area, too, and some have theorized that cross-breeding may occur. These reports cannot be confirmed, though, and are highly unlikely, given the general natures of blue & white dragons.
Lost Monasteries… Given the mostly impassable nature of the mountains, several ancient masters have been rumored to have formed small schools or monasteries somewhere hidden in the peaks. What dark arts do these masters know? Only the most dedicated of students will ever find out.
Marat Ogres… Known to dwell in the mountains near the Orcish side of the mountains, these creatures are known to enjoy eating the corpses of warriors they kill in battle. It is said that they believe they are “taking the strength” of their fallen foes. In practice, though, it is savage to watch… and it is also said that they consume their own fallen warriors as well. Occasionally bands of these ogres have been seen working with the Orcs, though it is unknown how those deals were brokered, or at what price.
Wood Masters… Not an organized group so much as a large amount of creatures and beings who suffer the same mental condition. The so-called “Wood Masters” are dryads, wilden, treants, and other tree-aligned creatures that dwell in the forests of the Barrier mountains. However, the stones around them cut their roots off from connecting with the rest of the world, and have driven them into an isolationist insanity. They will destroy any outsider who threatens their forests, and “threatens” is often very loosely defined. As a result, there are many untouched woodlands among the Great Barrier Peaks, and some armies that have tried to breach them have simply disappeared in the woods. It is also said that every druid who has tried to align himself to these forests has died in agony, clutching to splinters of sanity as he screams to death.