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Yew (City of Justice, Home of the Harvest)

“Masters of nature, in all it’s forms… and enemies to all it’s forms of corruption.”

Location: Northwest Britannia, north of Skara Brae, west of Wind.

Virtue: Justice

Government: True Democracy, every adult over a certain age can vote.

Imports: Crafted goods, Arms and Armor

Exports: Wine, Lumber


A gold Yew tree on an olive green background.


Yew is nestled in the Great Forest, the name given to the vast region that lies north of the Spider Mountains and northwest and west of the Serpent’s Spine, the Northwest of Britannia. It is covered in forest of varying types, the center and northern regions thickly dotted with Yew trees, largest in the world.

The Spider Mountains mark the southern border, a large grim mountain chain known for it’s large population of ravenous giant spiders, and the grim orcish fortress that lies just beyond it. The Lost Pass winds through it, leading to the Grim Coast, the name for the spur of wild and inhospitable land on the seaside of the range. There the dungeon Shame lies as well, for those foolish enough to seek it.
To the north and east is the Serpent’s Spine, which dominates the horizon. A large jut of the range, known as the Fang for one of its peak’s fearsome appearance, extends north forming a long narrow valley known as Rat Valley. It earned its name for the large numbers of ratmen that inhabit the area. The east boundary ends at the guard post and the Last Bridge.

On the western coasts the land is dominated by small jutting peninsulas, one of which Prisoner Isle lays just off of, where the prison is located. The Court of Truth lies just south of the isle, connected by a stone bridge/corridor.

East of Yew proper lies the old crypts, a great labyrinth of grim stone structures that extend deep beneath the ground. They were once the lair of the liche twins, before their exile, but now stand empty, until a new evil arises to fill it. The sensible-minded avoid the region. North of the Crypts lies the Dead Grove, a small but errie region of dead trees, at the center of which a great rotting Yew tree rests. It is rumored that the shroud the separates the worlds of the living and dead is thin there, and that crossing over is easier…

Northeast of the Crypts is the Fairy Peninsula, it’s most notable feature the odd northwest jut of land shaped roughly like a crown, and thus named as such, “The Crown”. At the center of it lies the Druid’s Grove, a patch where brilliant flowers and ginseng grows, rumored to be the burial place of Jaanth Nor, an ancient healer of great renown from the Elder days. South of that lies the Ring Lake, which is surrounded by flower fields, and at the center of which the gloomy Toadstool Island lies. A roaring cataract known as the Gap lies at the eastern edge of the lake, emptying into the sea.


Yew has a moist cool climate, rain is common, and keeps the forests healthy, but Yew sees less rain that Britain. Thick clothing is needed in all seasons but summer, and winters can be cruel to those unprepared for several feet of snow.


Yew is comprised of some of the oldest cultures in Sosaria, notably the druids, whose history in Sosaria stretches back almost a thousand years. Before the Cataclysm, Yew was one of the communities in the ancient kingdom of Akalabeth, switching allegiance from the Lost King to Lord British shortly after his ascension to the throne.

Yew was notable at the time as being one of the last resting-places of the Ancient Liturgy of Truth, an order old beyond reckoning that had slowly dwindled in numbers over centuries. Dedicated to truth in all forms, and the magical arts of healing and preservation, they were a strong source of aid in the dark times of Sosaria. Unlike mages, who relied upon natural reagents, the monks and priests of the Liturgy drew power directly from the Void itself, using raw will and focus to open channels to the universe.

The Cataclysm following Mondain’s defeat pulled the peninsula Yew was built upon inland, crushing the land plate against others, forming the Great Forest, and creating the Serpent’s Spine and other mountain ranges that buffer the region. Because of the relative far spreading of the people, very few were injured during the turmoil, and order was kept without too much difficulty.

In the aftermath, the groups of the Yew region gathered at the damaged but mostly intact stone temple of the Liturgy. There were three primary groups: The woodsmen, whom were the hunters and the most numerous, The druids, which also included the mysterious rangers and the bards, masters of natural magic, and the monks of the Liturgy, mystical and strange to all. The three hammered out a provisional democratic government, which loosely tied them, and went their own ways.

The Liturgy had been severely weakened, however, by the Cataclysm. While the shards themselves had their own ‘artificial’ void, it was different and weaker, and the Liturgy quickly discovered their powers had diminished. Many of the order felt something was wrong with the world, but could not discover it, and they fell to arguing among each other far more than they ever did in the past. Soon the Liturgy had been divided into numerous factions, each of whom adopted their own theory as to what truth was, and how to find it. Matters came to a head when a vicious brawl broke out between rival faction members in 15 A.C., and the leading figures of the Liturgy formally broke the Liturgy and went their separate ways, forming the Monastic Orders. The last temple of Liturgy was abandoned, and later by vote was made the town crypt in 42 A.C. The monastic orders themselves either forgot magic or retrained to use it as mages did.

The druids continued to live as much as they had before, using their influence to aid their brethren and the people of Yew, and to further understand Nature. The Rangers self-appointed themselves as guardians for the region, and set about exploring it almost immediately. No written records exist of the number of battles fought to keep the peace, far away from the rustic homes of Yew, many Yewites never knew those who died protecting them. The rangers eventually ended up concentrating most of their efforts in the southern regions, where most of the troubles existed. Eventually the rangers founded a town of their own to better consolidate defense in 46 A.C. (See the entry on Skara Brae for further details.)

The first great threat to Yew came in 65 A.C., when a great evil came from the depths of the caverns that would be known as Shame. To this day, none can say for certain what it was, most modern scholars theorize it was a lich, or worse, one of the right hand servants of Mondain. It was written that “Great stretches of black clouds, poisonous and foul to taste, spewed from the south and northward, blocking the life-giving warmth of the sun, and giving rise to legions of undead that clawed their way from the earth to wreck vengeance upon the living…”

Despite the horror they faced, the people of Yew fought back, one and all. Any factionalism that had been growing since the old days evaporated in the face of the evil. Despite their efforts, though, their numbers were fewer, and soon the forest itself began to die from the lack of sunlight. At the last, it was the druids who saved Yew, and likely much of Britannia, from another Dark Age. Gathering their numbers, they carved forbidden runes upon the trunk of a great Yew tree in the northern region of Yew and gathered about it, focusing their strength. The evil of the caverns was summoned forth by their efforts, an unseen thing that’s breath slew men instantly. The people of Yew attacked, their combined might battering the creature until it was exhausted. Then, in a final act, the Druids imprisoned it into the tree itself. Over half the Druids died in the battle, drained completely of life energy in their mighty effort. But the evil was contained. Even today, though, the Dead Grove, where the tree lies, is a haunted place, and never since have the Druids gathered their power in such a manner, and many modern druids have no knowledge of their ancestor’s powers over nature.

In 72 A.C., Brialla was born in Yew to a ranger mother and a druid father. Even at a young age she showed great aptitude, and was adopted into the Order of the Seven Tears, a monastic order, after her coming of age. Brialla began to wander frequently, drawing complex maps and writing voluminous notes about every place and location in northwest Britannia.

The Great Earthquake in 101 A.C. did little damage to Yew, the quake in the Serpent’s Spine only marginally affected them, and their housing was easily rebuilt. The damage in the mountains sent great numbers of orcs, ettins, trolls, and other monsters down into the Great Forest, however, forcing increased vigilance on Yew’s borders for many decades. Brialla finished her charting work in 105 A.C. and decided her oath of knowledge would be to map the unknown and treacherous DarkLands to the east, where the hordes fled after Malphane’s fall in 101 A.C. (See the entry on Uulder Malphane for further details.)

Brialla was successful in her journeys, and returned to Yew from the south in 109 A.C. Her writings were sequestered in the Order’s library, and her efforts hailed, but Brialla remained unsatisfied. Only a few years after her return, Brialla left the Order again, on a personal quest she would not discuss, and was never seen again. Rumor holds she sought the lost city of Wind, which to date no one knows if she found or not. Her writings, in the meantime, were safe until an orc raid in 112 A.C. While the Order repelled the orcs several chests of valuable books and scrolls were lost to the raiders, one containing Brialla’s notes upon the mineral wealth of the Kendall region. (See the entry on Minoc for further details.)

Yew’s druids were always famed for their impartiality, and were often called upon to judge disputes. This system had been in place as long as every Yewite could remember, but in 129 A.C., it took a different turn, when Lord British asked for their aid in judging a criminal, whom he felt that the Britain magistrates could not judge fairly. The druids agreed, setting Yew as the ideal place for trials and jury selection on the continent. Within a decade nearly every city-state in Britannia were contracting Yew to try their criminals, the money going to the community and homes of the Great Forest.

Yew continued much as it had, aside from attacks by monsters, until 171 A.C.,


The People

The people of Yew are light-skinned, with farmer’s tans from the warm spring and summers of the north. Their hair has the usual ranges, although red is considered a lucky color, and black unlucky. Yewites tend to be more rugged and used to harsh conditions than most Britannians.

The Clothing

Yew clothing is usually made of simple homespun wool, and is designed for warmth and comfort, not aesthetics. Bright flashy dyes and colors are popular import items, although rarely used except for festival times.

Arts and Entertainment

Crafts and Trades

The monastic orders of Empath Abbey are varied, but most share the sentiments of pacifism, simplicity, spirituality, and of course, truth. Most eschew any clothing heavier than a simple robe, and fight with weapons only of wood, such as staves. Most master their use however, and are far from helpless facing brigands on the road. Magic is also popular, although many forgo spells that allow quick transportation, preferring their own two feet and the open wind.


Magic in Yew tends to be herbalist and natural. Much of the progress made in both fields has been thanks to the diligent efforts of the Druids. Druids differ from other mages in their worldview, they consider all knowledge, regardless of purpose or use, to be valuable. This is commonly known as tree knowledge, which is defined as “All paths eventually lead to the answer, so you pursue them all.” The journey itself to knowledge is more important than the goal. Most Druids have a fairly laid-back attitude to research, in stark contrast to the mages of the Lycaeum, trusting that they’ll come to the solution eventually if they but observe and remember. Despite criticism, this method eventually led to the discovery of resurrection magic, which has on a whole benefited the realm.


The people of Yew are well known for their tolerance and kindness. Despite the considerable enemies that abound in their region, they have never succumbed to the isolationist zeal that Trinsic possesses. The general belief is that every individual has rights to privacy, but that you treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. It’s a common joke that it’s more work to offend a Yewite than it is worth.

Government and Politics

Yew has been, and remains, the seat of justice in the Realm. The impartiality of the druids, and the relative isolation, meant that it was an ideal place to hold trials, and extradition from other city-states was common. After Yew joined the Kingdom, it has become a regular practice to hold trials there, most of the funding necessary to keep the court system established comes from royal taxes. Outside of the Kingdom most of the cities have their own justice systems, or, if the case is too large to handle locally, will contract with Yew for it.


Last modified: December 30, 2011

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