The Kelwyn Isles

The Kelwyn Isles are a large island group in the Merevon Sea, about 120 miles west and north of the coast of Benyr. Consisting of nine major islands, over a dozen minor ones, and innumerable skerries and islets, Kelwyn was largely uninhabited, and was only nominally a province of Benyr. After the Tocaran conquest of Benyr, however, the Isles became the last retreat of the House of Averane 45 years ago. The House of Averane and its followers succeeded in re-establishing themselves in the Kelwyn Isles, and continue to welcome exiles and refugees from their former kingdom. In the meantime, the Kings of Exile try and build up their relatively new kingdom, and to rebuild the former glories of fallen Benyr. [Age Value 4; Founding Date 236; multiplier 0.8].

Kelwyn, like many kingdoms within reach of Tocaran-ruled Benyr, is engaged in almost constant warfare. No coastal community in the isles fails to maintain a watch at all times against raiders or even war fleets. Most natives are skilled in spear and knife, and no blacksmith is worthy of employment by a community without being able to produce a usable sword. Such warfare, however, is conducted almost entirely upon Kelwyn's shores. No opportunity has presented itself to make any attempt at reclaiming the mainland. [Orienation: Warfare/Passive; Aspects: Prevention (of Conquest), Conviction (Freedom)].

However, the chance of an full-fleged invasion by the Tocaran tyrants is small. The sea routes to Kelwyn, and the weather of the islands itself in the autumn, winter and spring, are much too risky, and the Tocarans are not by nature sea-goers. Indeed, Kelwyn's greatest assets are the island's natural defenses, in the form of rocks, reefs and dangerous tides. Also, since the closest of the islands are still over the horizon from Benyr, navigation is highly important in reaching the islands, and only avaricious captains set sail from Benyr's captive ports in search of booty from Kelwyn's shores. Despite these perils, the new inhabitants of the Isles are becoming proficient navigators and master sailors, and the Red Hawk banner of the Averanes is seen up and down the Merevon Sea. Anger at Tocara is widespread if discreet ( no one wishes to be their next target), and Kelwyn has many trading partners. [Isolation: 5; Interaction: 18].

Kelwyn has many native sources of iron and other important metals, and they play a major role in the technological aspects of Kelwyn's society. It borrows extensively from other cultures, mostly pre-Conquest Benyr, but also from all the states and kingdoms on the Merevon coasts. Homegrown innovation is significantly rarer --- too much time is being spent solely on keeping the kingdom from collapsing in panic at each new crisis. Among the newer technologies has been a lighter steel/copper alloy suitable for light chain armor for shipboard use, and the Kelwyn brig, a three-masted cargo vessel which is becoming common all through the Merevon seas. [TV: 12; Tech emphasis: Transport & Communication, Military, Miscellaneous; Advancement: 8; Assimilation: 3; DMV:13, P/MV:13, A/EV:11, B/AV:11, T/CV:18, MV:16; MisV:19]

Kelwyn is fully agricultural, as might be expected. Barley, oats and wheat are the principle crops, with flax for linen running a distant fourth. Sheep and goats, particularly well-suited to the harsh climes of the island heights and rock-bound coasts, are also important, providing the wool necessary for winter garments. Intensive agriculture or herding does not yet exist, however; the population of Kelwyn is not yet very high. Food, clothing, and shelter are still the urgent priorities, and settlements are springing up within easy travel of other settlements. Travel is a luxury for most, even in summer when it can be done safely. [Major: Agricultural; Minor: Secondary Herder; Sedentary; no subclasses].

Kelwyn is in the process of shifting from a purely monarchical form of government to a more republican form. It's proving to be an uncomfortable transition. King Kenneth and the House of Averane continues to exercise its traditional prerogatives as royalty, and continues to provide the chief leadership of the kingdom. Likewise, the nobles who escaped with the surviving royal family, and who provided the early leadership in the Isles have retained at least some of their old feudal duties and rights. Matters will not long remain so, as is clear to both ruled and rulers. The Averanes have been handing more and more power and authority to the Kawntradd, the ressurected assembly of ancient Benyr. The men and women who escaped from Benyr and the other lands now held by Tocaran kings are smart and cunning, and now expect more of the hereditary leaders than those same nobles can expect of the commoners. It is likely that Kelwyn will keep its ancient nobility -- but that nobility will soon be based more on merit and accomplishment than bloodlines. Except, of course, for the Averanes, who are widely regarded with awe for their astonishing resistance to the Tocaran conquest for sixty years. [Aristocracy; Power: Diverse/dispersed; Consent: High; Authority: High; Const. Supp.: Very High. Legal Complexity 4 (still developing).]

Kelwyn does not have the population necessary to sustain pre-Conquest ideals of kinship. Its patriarchal structure is impossible in a society with so many gaps; and the blood-fights common to determine the heirs are impractical in a society which always seems on the edge of the abyss. As a result, new forms are emerging. These do not please many traditionalists, but there is no question that the structures will change permanently. In addition, new patterns of responsibility are emerging in the sometimes-harsh environment, and prosperity follows those who depart from the old traditions successfuly. It is a useful model to many [Nondominant; Cognatic; Partible.].

Kelwyn relies on coinage for many of its internal transactions. The copper 'Ship' is the smallest coin, while the gold 'star' is the largest common coin, though there are old Benyr 'Suns' in circulation worth two Stars. There are 300 Ships to the Star, and 30 silver 'Moons' to the Star. The Moon is often divided, however, literally chopped into halves, quarters, and eighths; couples often cut a Moon into halves, and wear the pieces on cords as a marriage pledge. The Moon is widely regarded as the most common economic unit, and For large transactions, promissory notes are issued, but this can only be done in the few large towns. Barter of goods and services is common in many villages, where coinage is rarer.

Kelwyn has a market economy, for the most part. The generally low population, combined with the wide diversity of talents among both citizens and new arrivals, have conspired to make the islands wealthy in both raw materials and finished products. With a wide variety of professions to draw upon, large resources of raw materials, and few restrictions on knowledge through guilds and the like, Kelwyn is beginning to prosper. Many people are beginning to get rich, with as-yet unknown consequences. Wool, timber, and metal goods from Kelwyn are becoming desirable, and Kelwyn's seafarers are among its most valuable professional groups. [Resources: 15; Exploit: 11 (55%); Trade: 14]

Kelwyn's population recognized early the dangers of untrained troops against a Tocaran invasion. The creation of a fully professional army and fleet was among the first priorities of the new Kingdom. Practicality has gotten in the way of this vision. At the moment, the army is by far the smaller force, possessing about two thousand members scattered in small garrisons all over the islands. The navy, possessing some sixty ships, is far better equipped, and constitutes the chief line of defense. Both forces are paid for exclusively with the profits of the kingdom's own trade missions. In addition, all persons 14 years and older participate in militia drills weekly. Kelwyn is fiercely independent, and everyone recognizes the importance of resistance. While participation in this militia is required, its necessity is widely recognized, and so members serve as cheefully as volunteers. Officers are often army members, as well. [Professional forces, largely navy; supplementary 'volunteer' militia].

The humanities, the glory of fallen Benyr, are widely respected and enjoyed, even by those elevated out of the common classes by Kelwyn's population deficiencies. Magic is less respected, however, because of the part it played in the fall of Benyr. The Nine Holy Ones of Benyr are central to Kelwyn, of course, but they are slowly becoming the center of a much wider net of saints, angels, and lesser deities brought by refugees from all over. The gods of the defeated peoples make common cause against the Tocarans, and so syncretism is widespread and commonplace. Temples are uncommon still, but the monastic communities thrive both in cities and on the isolated skerries. Priests and monastics provide much of the scholarly training available in Kelwyn, of course, but syncretism is broadening the range of opinions available for examination. In the new climate of independence, both religion and scholasticism prosper. The arts are doing less well, unfortunately. Few people in Kelwyn have much time for anything other than practicality, and so there is a widespread desire to make objects beautiful in their function. At the moment, this means a lot of very plain objects made beautiful by shape rather than embellishment, but as more people arrive in Kelwyn, and more specialization is possible, this is likely to change. [RTV18, RPV16, RDV15; STV14, SPV12, SDV9; ATV12, APV8, ADV9; MTV9, MPV7, MDV4.]

Kelwyn's social order is still principally ordered upon the traditions of pre-Conquest Benyr, at least in theory. They have been subjected to subtle change and even re-ordering because of local conditions and necessities. The Isles have proved to be a dangerous environment where only the strong and intelligent can survive and prosper. Thus, while tradition is followed where possible, the traditional reasons for doing something are often examined, especially by the younger generation. Elders who remember the Conquest are only too happy to hear such warnings. Benyr's traditionalist mindset was in part the cause of its destruction. In addition, the rise of the mercantile class has caused numerous shifts in the social order, often beneficial. [Primary Status: Tradition (Kinship, Culture); Secondary Status: Capability (Intellectual, Economic).]

Some ancient traditions of Benyr still hold: Clergy have the Benefit of Holiness, and may only be tried by other clergy. Women alone hold the right to enact a divorce and recieve back their dowry. Free persons have the right to trial considered by a randomly selected jury of other free persons.

These have been combined with new patterns in Kelwyn. First, all citizens are considered free persons, by law. Serfdom is illegal, and while one can sell onesself into slavery, such slavery can last no more than 25 years, and may not include removal from Kelwyn. Children, so vital to Kelwyn's future survival, may not be sold. Free persons must meet in assemblies on each Island or in each Town to choose representatives to the Kawntradd every three years. Free persons must serve in the militia. Free persons may carry weapons. There are other rules and customs, but no one is yet certain which will become important. Kelwyn has retained much of the formality of pre-Conquest Benyr, but not the same rigidity of roles which was known then; people are simply too scarce, and all their talents too valuable to the whole kingdom, to make ancient custom work all the time [Custom 8; Rigidity 3]


Ruling Agency
     The Averane family              The royal family                     20
Ruling Archetypes
     Warrior Cluster  (I)            Generals, admirals                   18-19
     Ecclesiastical Cluster (I)      The three High Priests               17-19
     Political Cluster (I--nobles)   Kelwyn refugee nobles                16-18
Privileged Archetypes
     Merchant Cluster (I)            Merchant princes                     11-16
     Political Cluster (II)          Other refugee nobles                 15-16
     Political Cluster (III)         Kawntradd representatives            13-14
     Ecclesiastical Cluster (II)     Archpriests, priests                 08-15
     Warrior Cluster (II)            Militia officers, army & navy        10-15
Professional Archetypes
     Professional Cluster            Teachers, priests, legals, scribes   06-13
     Merchant Cluster (II)           Factors, mercantile agents           08-12
     Fine Arts Cluster               Artisans, masons, craftmasters       05-15
     Arcane Cluster                  Mages, alchemists                    05-11
Labor Archetypes
     Labor Cluster (I)               Seafaring, farming                   04-11
     Labor Cluster (II)              City/town work                       03-08
Marginal Archetypes
     Fringe Cluster (I)              Performers, theives, others          01-08
     Fringe Cluster (II)             Slaves, convicts, Tocarans           01-02

©1995 Andrew Watt (; comments/suggestions welcome
Converted to HTML 18 April 1995 by Sixten Otto (