Land of the Snow Princess

Vorsheeva is a sparsely populated land on a rocky promentory, thrusting out into the Sea of Deep Wisdom. Roughly half of the population are the non-human durdrn, a bizarre race generally considered of little importance elsewhere in the world. Vorsheeva is a mountainous land with small settlements along the rocky coast and a wild interior. It provides a solid boundary between the Empire of Splendour and its neighbouring rival the Technocracy of Hudan, as well as a stop-over for shipping heading to Oksa and beyond.

The Durdrn
Legends say that a minor Immortal, Vorshee the Thumbless, decided to create his own race of intelligent beings. He wasn't a very good craftsman, however, and his creations, the durdrn, came out strange and pathetic. The Divine Emperor was furious at Vorshee for his presumption and imprisoned him within a mountain range - the central peaks of Vorsheeva are known as the Feet of Vorshee. The Divine Emperor looked at the creatures before him - large eyed, webbed-footed, long-nosed gangly beasts. At first he thought to destroy them but then took pity on them and gave them to his youngest daughter, the Snow Princess as pets. She has looked after them ever since.

The durdrn are slightly taller and thinner than a human, hairless and web-footed. They have large dark eyes and two prehensile noses like small trunks that hang down over lipless mouths. As a race the durdrn tend to be quite meek, friendly and curious but are also considered clumsy and foolish by humans. The durdrn have assimilated totally into Imperial culture, having no culture of their own. In the Empire they are often employed as servants or child-minders due to their compliant and kindly nature. Durdrn do, however, excel as sailors. For reasons unknown they take to the profession of sailing very well, and the only famous durdrn, Shegu, was a shipbuilder and sailor without peer (see sidebar).

Places of Vorsheeva
There is only one city of note in Vorsheeva, the port of Huldress on the northern coast. This is a stop-over point for ships sailing beyond the Sea of Deep Wisdom and is home to the durdrn shipyards. Huldress is reliant on imports for its survival. The durdrn are adept at scouring sea-coves for shellfish and seaweeds, and some terrace farming has been cut into the mountainside but the truth is that Vorsheeva is not fertile enough to support a large population.

The mountainous interior and the Feet of Vorshee are places of wild mystery. The capricious Snow Princess uses the area as her playground. Sudden snowstorms and avalanches are common in the high mountain passes although this has been to the advantage of the Empire in the past when Hudan tried to launch a land-based assault through the mountain passes.

Using Vorsheeva

Vorsheeva is mainly used as a stop-over point or as a background to other adventures. The interior of Vorsheeva is a good setting for wild, snow-covered mountain adventures and its unexplored nature means that it is a good place to set lost temples and other dungeon crawl sites.

The Great Ships of Shegu can provide many different adventure seeds. Player characters may try to emulate Shegu's journey to the Unknown West, to brave the terrible Western Ocean that no mortal has been known to cross. Alternatively, the last of Shegu's ships may return from the West, bringing strange dangers with it. There are rumours that tower-encircled Huldress is in fact the last of Shegu's ships, yet to be launched.

The durdrn can be used as a player character race, although they are not generally a species touched by destiny or blessed with natural ability. They can be used as background detail, but the fact that they are often overlooked means that a rare durdrn of promise can work as a spy or assassin with little fear of exposure.

Durdrn 1st level Warrior, Medium Humanoid (durdrn)
Hit Dice: 1d8 (4 hp)
Initiative: -1
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), swim 30 ft.
Armor Class: 11 (-1 Dex, +2 leather armour), touch 9, flat-footed 11
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+2
Attack: Longspear +2 melee (1d8+1, crit. x3, reach) or light crossbow +1 missile (1d8, crit. 19-20/x2, 80 ft.)
Full Attack: Longspear +2 melee (1d8+1, crit. x3, reach) or light crossbow +1 missile (1d8, crit. 19-20/x2, 80 ft.)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: Blessings of the Snow Princess, cold endurance, hold breath (120 rounds), low-light vision, prehensile nose
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +1
Abilities: Str 13 (+1), Dex 9 (-1), Con 12 (+1), Int 7 (-2), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 6 (-2)
Skills: Profession (sailor) +3, Swim +7
Feats: Endurance
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary, family (2-8), crew (10-60)
Challenge Rating: 1/4
Advancement: By character class

Combat: Durdrn are not the bravest of creatures and prefer to keep foes at a distance either with missile fire or reach weapons. They tend to flee if engaged at close quarters.

Skills: Durdrn have a +4 racial bonus to Swim checks and a +2 racial bonus to Profession (sailor) checks.

Challenge Rating: Dudrn with levels of NPC classes have a CR equal to their character level -2.

Durdrn as Characters
Durdrn have the following traits:

  • -2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha.
  • Medium sized. Durdrn have no special bonuses or penalties associated with their size.
  • Base land speed 30 ft.
  • Base swim speed 30 ft.
  • Clumsy Swimmer. Although it has a swim speed, a durdrn only gains a +4 racial bonus to Swim checks and may not automatically Take 10 when swimming.
  • Hold Breath (Ex): A durdrn may hold its breath for a number of rounds equal to Constitution score x 10, before it begins to suffer the effects of drowning or suffocation.
  • Low-light Vision: A durdrn's large eyes mean it can see twice as far under dim lighting as a human.
  • Blessings of the Snow Princess (Ex): The durdrn are favoured of the Immortal known as the Snow Princess. They gain a +1 racial bonus to all saving throws. This is increased to a +4 racial bonus within the borders of Vorsheeva. Further, they gain the Cold Endurance special quality which grants them a +4 racial bonus to Fortitude saves made to resist the effects of cold weather.
  • Prehensile nose (Ex): Durdrn possess a bifurcated trunk-like nose, which they can use for fine manipulation. A durdrn may use its noses for any skill involving fine manipulation at a -4 penalty. They can use them to wield light weapons and do so at a -4 penalty to the attack roll. Because of the short reach of the trunks, durdrn do not threaten any area with a trunk-held weapon, and they must enter an enemy's square in order to attack (usually provoking an attack of opportunity to do so).
  • +2 racial bonus to Profession (sailor) checks.

The durdrn warrior presented here had the following ability scores before racial adjustment: Str 13, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 8

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Shegu and the Great Ships
The most famous of all the durdrn was Shegu, a legendary sailor. Shegu is said to have constructed a fleet of massive ships, each a mile across, with which to explore the seas. A great many tall tales are told of Shegu's ships. Some say that he wrestled a Sea Dragon and built his first ship from its shell. Some say that he cut the top off a mountain and floated it as a boat, others say he cut down a tree two miles tall to use as a keel. With each re-telling the size of the ships and the methods used become more wild and exaggerated. Whatever the truth, the durdrn can be found all across the coasts of Conclave, with enclaves claiming to be the descendants of Shegu's followers. Shegu is said to have built his last great ship to explore the uncharted waters of the Distant West, and the durdrn believe he will return to them one day. These days, durdrn ship-building is on a more mortal scale, although they are responsible for the great treasure ships of the Merchants League.