Since it is the town that is ready for Christmas, I figure I share this history that a friend shared with me a few weeks ago. Skara Brae (City of Spirits, Home of Rangers) “In thoughts there is purity… In dreams there is life… In the mind there is purpose.” Location: West central Britannia, on a large island off the coast, south of Yew, West of Britain. Virtue: Spirituality Government: Democratic republic, with the Rangers serving as police and guard, and a council system with elected members overseen by a chairman who decides ties. Imports: Crafted Items Exports: Sailing ships, Wine, Basic Necessities Heraldry A silver arrow upon a diagonal striped navy blue/olive green background. Geography Skara Brae is located on an island off the eastern coast of Britannia, separated by a expanse of water known as the Misty Channel, named for the frequent fogs that cover it in the early mornings. Today the channel is traversed by means of a ferry, which is manned by independent contractors from time to time, between docks on the isle and on the mainland. Most of Skara Brae’s traffic comes through the moongate at the northeast corner of the isle, though, so the ferry has fallen into disuse in recent years. The island is widest at the north end, and narrows at the south, a rough arrowhead shape. Most of the isle was low hills and temperate woods, today, most of the southern half is developed, the northern half has been deemed a preserve. There is also another isle just off the northwest coast, which has also been deemed off-limits to development. The Ranger’s Hall lies on the mainland, along with several farms and homes. A dirt road named the Spiritual Path, leads to Britain and Yew. The mainland is dominated by the Spiritwoods, a large forest that covers a majority of Central Britannia. The forest is feared by many, as sightings of wisps, spirits, and other more dangerous creatures is not uncommon. Climate Skara Brae, being on the coast, enjoys moderate temperatures, and rarely has much more than a few inches of snow in winter. The sky is overcast frequently, and rain is frequent, but less so than Britain. History Skara Brae was originally connected to the mainland, even after the Cataclysm. The forest on the isle connected with the forest on the mainland, forming the Spiritwood, an area deemed dangerous for the number of ghosts and wisps, which resided there. The region remained uninhabited for several decades, visited only by the rangers of Yew. In the early days, much of their efforts to protect Yew were concentrated at the Spider Mountains, where the bulk of the threats lay. As a result, they sought to establish a haven somewhere in the area to better police the region. Such a place was found near the coast in 46 A.C., far enough away that it would not be found and destroyed. The rangers kept the Serpent’s Pass open and free of danger, and kept communication with Britain in the early years. As many settled to make permanent dwellings, their families came south to be with them, and as a result, the small ranger camp grew into a village. The origin of the name “Skara Brae” is unknown, although Lord British noted that it was the name of a city from his own homeland, and that the first Senior Ranger, elected by his brethren in 79 A.C., was originally from Britain. The fledgling town’s early years were surprisingly quiet, suffering only a few random raids of humanoids, who lived in the Serpent’s Tail and the Spider Mountains. The skill of the rangers grew sharper, until Skara Brae surpassed it’s founder Yew in this regard, becoming the seat of knowledge in the craft. The small village also became renowned for the quality of its wines and spirits, which were a popular trading item in Britain. In 101 A.C., the Great Earthquake struck. Although it was mostly subsided by the time it reached west Britannia, a secondary quake triggered in the Serpent’s Spine separated the chunk of land upon which Skara Brae lay upon from the mainland, the northern isle breaking off in the chaos. Surprisingly, very little damage was done to the city proper, a few buildings collapsed, some swallowed by the newly formed channel, but mostly it was intact. The water also made raids by humanoids upon Skara Brae more difficult, leading most Skara Braens to consider the event a blessing in disguise. Although protected from raids, a far more insidious enemy struck Skara Brae in 132 A.C. The children suffered it first, bulbous lesions on the face and hands, coughing up viscous fluids. Then it spread to the adults, sowing panic and terror. A plague had struck the town, more deadly than any had known before. It’s source to the day is unknown, most attributed it to the increasing carelessness of the citizens to disposing of garbage and wastes, although in recent years some have suspected a supernatural catalyst. Many Skara Braens tried to flee the island to escape the plague, but the city council, hoping to contain it, ordered the docks burned. The rangers whom had been upon the mainland were given their grievous orders, to prevent any resident from escaping the island, though any means. Britain and Yew were quick to send supportive troops as well, reinforcing the Quarantine. The Quarantine endured for four long years, during which the city shriveled and nearly died. Trade was non-existent, only relief supplies sent one way across the channel by the Rangers kept the people alive. Then, a monk of Yew by the name of Aegis discovered a potential cure and inoculation for the plague. She swore a personal quest to end the plague and with the aid of Shamino the Ranger, traveled to Skara Brae and violated the Quarantine to reach the island. It was not easy, as the people of Skara Brae had nearly given up hope, and Shamino himself soon fell victim to it, but she persevered. A hospital was built, where she brewed the bitter teas that would save the lives of the town, and prevent any of their children from spreading the disease. Her work was a success, and by 140 A.C. every trace of the plague had been eradicated. Aegis herself, though, died tragically only a few years later, poisoned through exposure to the plague beyond any hope of a cure. The town had much rebuilding to do following the plague. It was Shamino, fully recovered, who aided the town in this. The grime and filth of the city was cleaned, and the streets kept dry. Cats and dogs were brought to the island in great numbers to rid themselves of the rats and vermin. The rangers, long resigned to their role as watchmen, were welcomed back into the towns as long-lost brothers and sisters, jailers no more. By the time of his departure in 150 A.C., the town was fully recovered and growing again. Moving goods by land to Yew and Britain had always been a dangerous and time-consuming task. By 161 A.C. many new markets opened up for Skara Brae. The first ships built in Skara Brae were slow and awkward to pilot. Slowly they gained the knowledge of shipbuilding. Inspired by the ship-designs of Vesper, they applied their creativity to build ships sturdier and faster. Although ocean trade never replaced the land caravans to Yew and Britain, it opened up their market to goods from far off Trinsic, Moonglow, and Vesper. Like the rest of the world, Skara Brae had its share of sufferings in the Dark Years. As piracy grew upon the seas and many feared to leave port, their ships rotted in the harbor. In 181 A.C. a pirate force invaded the island, seeking loot, but were driven back by the angered populace. The rangers used ships to track the pirates, using great bows to pick off the men upon the ships from great distances, until no pirate set foot upon the island for many decades. When the embargo was lifted in 189 A.C. the shipping industry recovered and Skara Brae became the shipwright capital of the world. Although Skara Brae did not join in the military alliance against the pirates in 211 A.C., many of the ships sailed by Britain and Trinsic were purchased from Skara Brae. Nor did it become a target during the war, as the pirate’s greatest weakness was a lack of manpower, not ships. In 238 A.C. a flight of five dragons came forth from the Fire Mountains and ravaged the farms and ranches near Skara Brae. There was a great loss of livestock and many homes were destroyed before the dragons flew back south. Fearing that to attack the dragons would only bring more dragons and more destruction upon Skara Brae itself, the rangers could only watch as the dragons stalked the land in search of food. A large bounty was placed upon dragon teeth and claws during that era, however, and many Jhelomite mercenaries took up the challenge, some never returning from the depths of Destard. Skara Brae was a long time supporter of Lord British, and when sent word of the gathering in Paws, they did not hesitate, and became a Charter signer of the Treaty of Unification in 250 A.C. This was a tremendous boon for the city, as it became the chief supplier of ships to the Royal Navy, centered in Serpent’s Hold. In 277 A.C. the orc hordes under the control of Orc Lord Akaz swept north and into the Spiritwoods. Led by a clan of ogres, half of Akaz's army moved around the headwaters of the Ghost River and into the farmlands of Skara Brae. They quickly drove off the defense of the Rangers as the Skara Braeans retreated to their island. The farms and buildings on the mainland were put to the torch by the advancing army. Safe upon their island the Skara Braeans loaded their ships with men and spare supplies and sent them on the long journey to support Lord British's army. The orc army was ultimately routed but it would be another 16 months before the remains of his army would be hunted down or driven from the Spiritwoods. Despite the damage suffered, the Skara Brae council voted against a permanent garrison force in the region, not wishing to disrupt the tranquillity of their lives. In recent years, Skara Brae has seen a curious and worrisome increase in piracy and attacks by hostile creatures at sea. It is speculated that a new clan of pirates have set up camp somewhere on the coastline, and are raiding Skara Brae shipping lines in hopes of amassing a new fleet with which to challenge the King. Jhelom mercenaries have been a frequent sight in the city, as bounties on pirates grow. Culture The People Skara Braens are a typical northern stock, with the paler skins of northern climates, although tans are not uncommon. Unlike many other cities, however, bodily decorations are almost non-existent; tattoos, piercings, and intentional scarring are considered a desecration. The Clothing Most Skara Braens prefer natural colors and hues, the heritage of the rangers, although bright foreign colors are favored. Clothing tends to be minimalist, and unformal, Skara Braens like casual comfortable attire in almost all situations, only making sure that stains are covered, and that the person is properly reflected. After all, it’s not what you wear, but who you are. Arts and Entertainment Skara Braens are people of the mind and spirit. The physical world interests them, but ultimately most artwork centers on the more abstract, which cannot be easily rendered. Impressionist and more esoteric works often originate in Skara Brae. Entertainment tends toward poetry and works of the mind, Skara Braens tend to prefer a more profound work that incites thought or clarity, than a purely physical dance for enjoyment. Crafts and Trades Skara Brae has the largest shipbuilding industry in the world, and most of the finest ships come from their works. Most of these ships are sold to other city-states in the Kingdom, and sometimes Vesper, although a few merchants and traders operate out of the island. In addition, Skara Brae is the second largest producer of food, many goods leave the docks of Skara Brae bound for distant ports. From the farms come vegetables, grain and cotton. From the ranches come wool, milk, meat and hides. The forest provides a bountiful harvest of lumber, hides, furs and meat. In addition, Skara Brae was the first home of the Healer’s Guild, founded in 152 A.C., which has since spread all over the world, and provides services to almost all city-states, regardless of political affiliation. Magic Skara Brae specializes in magic that affects the mind and spirit. Most of their spells are very empathic in origin, this has lead to many mages of the Lycaeum visiting to conduct research in the area. Most of the Healers of Britannia learned their trade in Skara Brae. Ethics Skara Braeans hold that all life, be it man, plant or animal possesses a spirit and because of that it should treated with respect and not wasted foolishly. Any activity that improves the being of the spirit is permitted and even encouraged in Skara Brae. Since the ending of the plague, Skara Braeans consider cleanliness of primary importance. Rats are looked upon as the symbol of uncleanness. They admire anything that represents their ideals of intellect and emotion. Government and Politics Skara Brae’s government is quite simple, a council system, all elected positions, and a chairman to decide ties. The chairman is usually referred to as “the Mayor”. The rangers provide the enforcement of the laws and the protection of its citizens from attacks, and also investigate crimes in the region. Holidays The Moongate Faire: A yearly autumn celebration of the day that the magicians of Lord British's court activated the moongate within the ancient circle of stones that have been present since remembered time. No longer would the people have to brave the dangers of the Spiritwoods or risk pirate attack upon the seas. Day of Remembrance: In honor and celebration to Aegis of Yew. A day of festival is held at the beginning of spring as thanks and remembrance to the healers that over the ages have helped the citizens of Skara Brae and the world, and to honor those who died in the plague.