Continent of Novusterra

This is a brief description of the continent of Novusterra that ncs added to the world of Birthright in their campaign:

First of all, I consider that an interesting way to link Cerilia and the new continent, which I call Novusterra, follows the idea of similarities with Earth cultures, low magic and some 'what if' twists (as with the reversed Lepanto regarding Khenasi independence). An idea I had is that contrary to what most believe in Cerilia, some Masetians, given their seafaring prowess, managed to navigate to a land unknown for Cerilians (Novusterra), the Northern East coast of which they populated, afraid to venture further West inland due to three factors: first, superstition, due to the fact that they had the belief that the land was cursed since cities with impressive constructions and pyramids were found to be completely uninhabited, and the Masetian settlers thought that something preyed on mortals (this is modeled a bit after Palenque, which was not completely uninhabited). These Masetians mostly worship Nesirie, but unlike how she is conceived in Cerilia, she is not regarded as the Lady or Mourning but actually in her role as The Mother of the people; with Masetians believing that her motherly and caring protection led them to safe haven when the survivors (the population of which has greatly increased in Novusterra) were fleeding from Khinasi oppression and slavery. Still, they had intermingled with Khinasi back in Cerilia to a great degree, and so I give them a greater Spanish-Mediterranean feel akin to the Iberian peninsula with Moorish influence.

This worship of Nesirie was actually quite helpful for the Masetian settlers when they entered in contact with the first native tribes they met: the ones from the Muskar people, belonging to a loose confederation (similar to the
Muisca people). This is because the Muskar beliefs regarded the Materra or Mother of the Earth as the most sacred divine entity, and Masetian monks (due to the peaceful nature of Nesirie in my game their priests are monks and not much combat oriented) preached to some tribes that their hearts were actually longing for the Mother albeit with a different name and in a somewhat incorrect manner. Some natives converted, but not all of them did.

Unlike the general idea that parliamentary or republican systems will not be adopted in Birthright for centuries, I have this case as an exception, with the Masetian settlers having revolted against a dictator who ruled them (system after Roman dictatorship and not exactly the current understanding) who favored those with greater Khinasi customs, former relatives and features, excluding others from certain positions of authority and influence (this is reminiscent of what happened in Spanish colonies, actually, regarding those born outside of Spain). After the successful revolt, the people organized themselves in a Republic, that engages in sailing, fishing and agriculture, with an architecture very reminiscent of Colonial Spain.

Now, before that revolt, previous dictators intended to conquer native peoples and plunder their riches, and almost managed to subjugate a people similar to the Incas: the Soler. The problem is that, unlike what happened in Earth, the Masetians did not receive the support of aboriginals who resented their native masters (the Spaniards did receive such help) and did not have illnesses that decimated the population of natives either. Thus, they suffered terrible losses. Still, their superior technology and other elements allowed them to not lose their own settlements, and a tense truce exists now between the Masetians and the Soler.

While the Birthright campaign setting lists lycanthropes as mosters found in Cerilia, I make them have greater numbers in Novusterra: this is due to the influence of the world of nature and animal spirits, being those lycanthropes their guardians in the material world. Now, that does not mean that they are good, since they can represent the savage or chaotic aspects of some animals and nature. Additionally, the campaign setting lists the Shadow World as a 'dark counterpart' to 'Cerilia'. In Novusterra, the counterpart is called Natura, and is not the Shadow world but a land of wild nature, fey spirits, animal spirits, and the place were deceased ancestors dwell. Taking into account that in Latin America there are many tales of the supernatural, this fits the campaign setting.

On the other hand, there are no wizards in Novusterra: those who existed among the Masetians were murdered by evil spirits, lycanthropes or Soler who specifically targeted them to prevent Masetian dominance. Still, some Masetians have the power to use magic due to their bloodline, but with the lack of persons to teach them how to channel them with study, a few (tiny few) of them manifest powers (i.e. they have the sorcerer class). Among the native Novusterrans, some spiritual chiefs or those who consider them as chosen or devoted to a certain Totem or animal, nature or other spirit make pacts with beings from the land of Natura (the wild nature and spirit counterpart to Novusterra instead of the Shadow World), and are warlocks.

By the way, I use dndnext rules, and I am excited because they even expressly have mass combat rules (link).
Apart from this, there is an empire that worships the savage or aggressive spirits and conducts human sacrifices, to the North of the continent. Moreover, to the South of the Masetian enclaves live scattered tribes that have cannibals (resembling the Carib people). There is an El Dorado place indeed, with true golden constructions, but as in South America, their riches have worship purposes and the gold is not acquired in that land: rather, it is a very fertile high land surrounded by deserts, and the nomads who live in them give their gold to that people in exchange for food and water. To the north of the mainland of Novusterra lies a somewhat big island that has some vestiges of possible former Rjurik sailors.

A few additional ideas for this continent may be worth posting: first of all, that there is a remote region in the glades of which there are strange symbols found on the soil that have intricate patterns that can only be properly seen from the top of a mountain found close by (similar to the Nazca lines somehow). Every member of the different masetian or native expeditions to the place has vanished without a trace, and questions are asked as to whether this is due to their finding a paradise, being killed or abducted by tribes or more mysterious beings. Strange artifacts and weapons have been found in the surrounding areas from time to time, increasing speculation (campaigns that want to deal with extraterrestrial beings could use this as inspiration). No sightings have been found. This mysterious region is found between the empire of Soler and the Masetian republics. Due to the stalemate between the Soler and the Masetians, the aforementioned expeditions have tried to retrieve objects that can be used against the enemy or go across the region to attack or infiltrate the enemy.

Additionally, there are gnomes in Novusterra, but they conceal themselves and are very isolationist. They are quite aggressive as well. Like halflings and the shadow world, gnomes have close ties with the parallel world of Natura, and live simultaneously in both somehow. All gnomes have the same height but each individual has a unique appearance based on what he represents the most of a blend of both worlds: an animal and the concept of the hunt, new settlers and the idea of conquest, etc. They are quite curious and mischievous (not always evil) beings with an alien mind.

The only divine magic of natives is druidic magic. Bards are very important for the natives and at least one is found in each enclave: they serve as arbiters, settling disputes and mediating between parties (as in the Guajira region of South America) and they also preserve and tell the oral traditions and stories of their people. They, however, are forbidden from being chieftains but the most important ones often have official positions as advisors and judges.

The independent republic of the Masetians that emerged from the overthrowing of the last dictator soon collapsed: those with a greater Khinasi culture, belonging the former dominant class, fled and erected their own kingdom. Due to internal strife created by rivalries and opposition to political and territorial centralization, apart from disputes between the representatives of the region in the Republic, a deadly civil war in which the Masetian population was severely decreased led to the formation of five republics. This event against fellow brothers and sisters is regarded by some priests as having grieved Nesirie and affected her greatly, thus having partly the grieving status here as well. The culture of some of the five republics is more similar to Italian and Greek cultures with some Berber influences than Spanish. The republics are rules by a lord protector who rules for life and belongs to one of the Patrician families (his successor may be from another of those families). The heavily-Khibasi cultured kingdom is rules by a king who entitles himself the emperor, and his domino. Is stronger than any of the republics but held in check by a grudging alliance of them. This kingdom/empire favors and promotes a religion that holds both Nesirie and Avani as divine sisters that must be protected, considering that the loss of the power granted by magic, the blessing of Avani, is to blame for the persistent native threat and for the dissolution of the former united people of the Masetian settlers in the new continent.

The role of Haelyn is conceived as more similar to that of Saint Joseph in some Christian denominations, being regarded as the protector of his family and of Nesirie. The only paladin and knight orders that exist are formed of those trained under Haelyn clerics, but are quite a few, being Nesirie regarded as the mother and Haelyn the protector of his wife and their family (the Masetians). Natives, in turn, have fearsome and powerful warriors that excel at combat and surpass the abilities of ordinary warriors.

After several events of possessions and hauntings in these exotic lands, monk-priests of Nesirie and paladins of Haelyn received sometimes inspirations to expel the evil possessors from their victims, and a holy order of exorcists that still exists was thus founded.

The stalemate between the Masetian dominions and of them with the natives, and among the natives themselves, brews hostility and distrust, and skirmishes are quite frequent.

Some natives (the Soler and Northern Empire) engage in slavery. Slavery of natives by Masetians also exists in three of the republics and the cultural-Khinasi kingdom. Some (not all) monks of Nesirie oppose this vehemently, but are ignored or even rebuked as anti-patriotic by the Dukes of the republics and the king. The leader of this movement of monks (not as a class but more as in Christianity) is called Giuseppe Casas, and has written treatises on the laws that must bind nations and peoples (international law).

Regarding magic, which the Masetians of old were experts in, a dusty tome written in characters no one in the land understands may contain the secrets of how to master it and be a wizard (a PC perhaps can be one).

Slaves that escape from their indigenous or Masetian oppressors form communities that fight for their freedom and sometimes establish alliances with the enemy of their former captors (see, e.g. the Cimarron people), operating in these cases either as guerrilla units or spies (thanks to the knowledge they have).

Independent communities and adventurers are sometimes given letters of marque by political groups to attack their enemies and plunder their treasures. Still, piracy is a problem as well.

Finally, it is interesting to note that if Cerilians discover Novusterra, they will likely vie for control of its resources, especially with its considerable gold deposits, which will contribute to the success of domain actions of rulers in Cerilia. Religious conflicts in Cerilia will also likely be transplanted to future colonies in Novusterra.

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