Based on http://d-maps.com/carte.php?num_car=15908&lang=en


Kingdoms of Wales

The Welsh have always been a fiercely independent people, their Lords quick to take up arms against both foreign invasions, and one another. But in the bloody century after the Norman conquest, three kingdoms have risen to prominence, absorbing the petty fiefdoms of their neighbours by force, alliance, or marriage.


In the mountains and forests of the North, the Kings of Gwynedd have held sway for centuries. Wilder and less populated than other areas of the country, these lands breed hard people and hard rulers, the latest of whom - Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd - bears a deep hatred for the English his father so often fought against. Lately he has forged an alliance with Nest verch Gruffydd, ruler of Deheubarth, in order to finally drive the Normans from the land.


The most populous and powerful of the Welsh Kingdoms, Deheubarth boasts the only settlement sizable enough to be called a city, Cardiff. Its queen, the aging Nest verch Gruffydd, has been willing to compromise with the English in the past, but the death of Henry has proven an opportunity too great to ignore and now her men fight alongside those of Gwynedd.


As the closest kingdom to the border, the rulers of Powys have seen alliance with the Normans as a more advisable path than warfare. But the price for peace with its larger neighbour has been a near century of intermittent warfare against its own countrymen. Now, with Henry dead and the Marcher Lords weakened, old enemies march to wreak their revenge - chief amongst them the kingdoms of Deheubarth and Gwynedd. But King Madog ap Angharad will not fall without a fight.

The Marcher Lords

These Lords were installed by William and his successors in conquered welsh territory, in order to pacify the population and expand Norman control. Their domains have risen and fallen with the fortunes of Norman power in the country. Once they encompassed much of Southern Wales but in the aftermath of the failed incursions against Gwynedd and Deheubarth they were significantly reduced. However the Border Lords are still a powerful force. The present leader of these Lords is Alys de Vaux of Shrewsbury.

Ruling and Succession

Wales is ruled at a local level by landed warrior aristocracy. Chief amongst theseare the rulers of Gwynedd, Deheubarth and Powys. Kingship is dependent upon legitimacy, and this is conferred by military prowess and by birth. Traditionally the rules of Welsh succession have been loose, with each heir of the current ruler able to claim an even share of their ruling parent's land and wealth. Though this may have appealed to the independence of the Welsh character, it has been a guarantor of infighting and division.

However, over the past several centuries, a new means of succession has developed. This involves selecting a chosen heir (known as an “edling”) to whom control of the Kingdom should theoretically be given. This process has helped maintain the integrity of kingdoms such as Gwynedd, but fights over sucession between Edling and unselected other children are commonplace nevertheless.


The Dominion of Rome

Welsh history begins with Rome. Certainly there are structures from before, the megaliths and stone circles of the druids, the raised mounds where stood the hill forts of myriad warring tribes. But only scraps of history survive from those ancient days, whispers of whispers. Rome conquered the land shortly after it did England, bringing with it roads, walled towns, records - and taking gold, copper and lead from beneath the hills.

The Romans brought their Gods with them, and came quickly into conflict with the Welsh Druids. After years of skirmishes, the Roman army cornered the druids on Anglesey. As the Druids prepared to call down the fury of the Old Gods with a vast blood sacrifice, the Romans crossed the shallow channel on flat bottomed boats and interrupted the ritual, slaughtering the Druids to the last.

The Age of the Saints

With the departure of the Roman garrison in 383 AD, the Welsh people reclaimed their independence. The Welsh tribes began to organise, coalesce into kingdoms and lordships; inspired by the might of Rome and threatened by the rise of Mercia to their East, the depradations of raiders from across the sea. But though many a great king rose to unite the people; Rodri Mawr (the Great), Hwyel Dda (the Good), Madrun verch Llywellyn, the laws of Welsh inheritance - that let any child claim part of their parent's kingdom - ensured that they would fracture.

The formation of the Welsh Kingdoms was not the only change over these near 700 years. The Druids had been severely weakened by their conflict with Rome, and though they sought to return to former power, they were interrupted by the influx of a new religion - Christianity. Saints such as David, Illtud and Teilo spread this new faith across the country and established many a monastery and church. Unlike in England, an uneasy coexistence was reached between the New God and the Old, one that persists to this day.

The Coming of the Normans

After the conquest of England, the Normans turned their eyes upon Wales as the Romans had before them. But this time Wales would not be so easily conquered. Though King William's son managed to temporarily gain control over the country, he was beaten back by an alliance between Gruffudd ap Cynan and King Magnus III of Norway. A stalemate of sorts developed from 1101 to 1157, with significant parts of the country under the control of England, until Henry II lead an invasion, with Powys and Marcher Lord support. His army suffered a crushing defeat at Coleshill, where the united forces of Deheubarth and Gwynedd ambushed and routed it. This, coupled with rebellions across the marches, helped significantly reduce English power over the country. Six years later, Henry managed to extract fealty of sorts from Gwynedd and Deheubarth, but these kingdoms remained independent from England in all but name.


Society in Wales is both highly decentralised and stratified. Most individuals are tenant farmers. Below them lie a sizable number of serfs. Above them are the military feudal aristocracy, the warrior lords of the valleys. These lords are controlled loosely by their ruler, who demands military service from them in times of war and passes certain general laws. In return s/he consults them before taking any major actions.

Commerce and Culture

Welsh society is almost entirely rural and heavily decentralised. Aside from a few market towns, ports and mines, the vast majority of the population lives in scattered villages - growing oats and wheat in the fertile valleys and lowlands. In the uplands sheep herders tend their flocks, moving along the ridged valley tops in search of ungrazed pasture, migrating southwards into the valleys against Winter storms and snows. In the north, huntsmen and druids eke out a meagre existence amidst the dark forests and high mountains. The difficulties of subsistence agriculture, low population densities and localised administration have all fostered a hardy and independent spirit amongst the populace at large.


Since the Age of Saints, the majority of the Welsh population have converted to Christianity. Today the Old Gods are primarily worshipped in the Northern Kingdom of Gwynedd, with Christianity prevalent in the South and East. There are many in the wider world who doubt the wisdom of the Church in Wales, which has largely avoided conflict with the Old Gods; and it must be said that recently tensions have risen within the country itself.

The Christian Church in Wales is dominated by Monks and monastic orders, each of which focuses upon on devotion to a particular saint (alongside the worship of the Holy Trinity). The most important Welsh Saints are as follows:

Saint David

Patron Saint of Wales and Ascetics

Saint David was a nephew of King Arthur, and was renowned as both a preacher and leader in defence of Welsh independence against the Saxons. When not advising the Welsh lords (one piece of wisdom was that the Welsh soldiers should wear leeks on his helmet, so as to be easily recognisable to one another) he lived a life of extreme Asceticism. He pulled the plough alongside the animals in his monasteries fields, fasted for months and - most memorably - stood for days on end neck-deep in local rivers, reciting scripture all the while.

David's boons include the ability to endure immense physical hardship, starvation and deprivation. In return he desires his followers put themselves through those self-same trials; or act to aid the Welsh people.

Saint Seiriol

Patron Saint of Healing

The major patron saint of healing, St Seiriol first moved to Anglesey as a hermit, establishing Penmon Priory. Those disabled or ill who met the man or heard his sermons reported the miraculous healing of their ailments; it was not long before his legend had spread across the North of Wales. However the nearby druids of Bryn Celli Ddu were loath to accept the saints presence and soon running battles between the followers of Christianity and the Old Gods erupted in the streets of Caernarfon, culminating in a vast brawl outside Penmon Priory. With scores injured or dying St Seiriol himself stepped into the fray, healing followers of the trinity and Old Gods alike. With his intervention, and the saving of hundreds of lives, the battle stilled (allowing an uneasy truce to be later reached). But for St Seiriol, an old man, this final great use of his powers was too much and he expired within the year. But that is not the last of his story, for it is said that the well besides which his body was buried has gained a fragment of his healing powers.

Saint Seiriol is often prayed to to cure minor ailments, to cure the sick and to speed recovery from illness. Many of these requests are granted through priests devoted to him.

Saint Teilo

Patron saint of horses and animal husbandry. Also of the harvest.

Saint Teilo gathered a significant following for himself in the early 500s. It was said he could ride anything. Once, told by a Pagan chieftain that he could keep all the land he could encircle from sunset to sunrise, he mounted a white stag to cover the greatest distance possible. Teilo is often depicted with a white stag because of this. But his two great obsessions were horses and churches; the latter of which his followers built in great numbers across Wales (and Northern France, from which he originally hailed). His body lies, uncorrupted, in St David's cathedral.

St Teilo's boons spur riding mounts and other domestic creatures to feats of vast endurance and strength. It is also said that dedicated rituals to Teilo can avert bad harvests, even in years of flood and famine. In return he desires the construction and enlargement of churches, especially in wild and uncivilised places.


Wales has been at war within itself or against its neighbours almost constantly. This has led to a prevalence of castles made from the ubiquitous high quality welsh stone. Towns worthy of the name boast curtain walls, castles are a common sight, and even villages may have towers or wooden keeps at their centre.

The welsh landscape prefers infantry over cavalry, and this is reflected in the tendency towards Welsh troops carrying spears and longbows. Deheubarth in particular being renowned for the quality of its archers. As such, they can be at a disadvantage in open combat should they give battle in the flat areas on the border with England, and prefer the tactics of raiders to a stand up fight.

Notable Places



An old Welsh settlement, fallen into disrepair sometime after the Roman conquest; Cardiff was resettled and rebuilt, complete with a castle and palisade, by William the Conqueror. Since then it has been reclaimed by the Deheubarthian Kings and has flourished as a port town and their Lordly seat. It is the most populous settlement in Wales, but is still small compared to its English counterparts.

Merthyr Tydfil

A market town. According to local custom, it was named after the daughter of a local Lord called Tydfil. One of the early converts to Christianity, she was slain by marauding Saxons, becoming a Martyr (“Merthyr”) in the process.

Castles and Fortifications

Caernarfon Castle

A large motte and bailey castle constructed beside the straight between Anglesey and the Welsh mainland, this castle is the traditional seat of the Kings of Gwynedd. It is also something of a fishing village and small port.

Offa's Dyke

An earthwork fortification running along the old border between Mercia and Wales, the dyke was erected by King Offa around 750 AD. The ditch and raised ridge were designed to keep out Welsh raiding parties; however it has largely fallen into disuse.

Aberwen Castle

The Stronghold of Madog ap Angharad, Powys castle is a stone fortification constructed besides a wide lake. It was built with the assistance of English funds over the last decades of Henry's reign.

Holy Places

Tintern Abbey

A large and well endowed establishment, worshipping St. David as their Patron.

Penmon Priory, Anglesey

Penmon Priory is renowned for the Holy Well of St Seiriol, whose waters are believed to have the power to heal the sick. Druids claim that the waters healing powers come not from the Christian God, but rather are a work of the Old Gods, whose chief temple in Wales - Bryn Celli Ddu - lies nearby. Needless to say there has been much conflict over the wells provenance and ownership.

Neath Abbey

An abbey founded by the Norman Cistercian order along the southern coast of Wales. The Cistercian monks who live there have a special devotion to St. Benedict.

Maen Ceti - Arthurs Stone

An ancient tomb marked by a vast stone slab, Maen Ceti has served as both sacrificial altar and solstice temple for hundreds of years. The central capstone has been split in half by some colossal impact - Christian rumour is that King Arthur smote it in two with his sword in order to save a knight who had been chained there for sacrifice. Most Scholars doubt that the legendary king was responsible, but whatever the real reason is for its current state, the Druids will not tell.

Bryn Celli Ddu - The Mound in the Dark Grove

Also simply called the Dark Mound (Bryn Ddu, pronounced BRIN THEE) Bryn Celli Ddu is a circle of burial chambers centred around a sunken temple, at whose heart rises “the pattern stone”, a grey monolith inscribed with sinuous carvings. It was here that the Welsh Druids suffered defeat at the hands of the Romans; but though the original ritual was foiled, it was not entirely in vain; for the spilling of so much sacred blood has charged the ground itself with chaotic and powerful energy. Now the site is the centre of the Druidic faith in Wales, holding particularly important rituals of induction at the Winter and Summer solstices.

Relations with Other Lands


Thanks to the preponderance of agriculture and the absence of much in the way of commerce and culture, the English regard the Welsh as barbarians; a contempt that is widely reciprocated. For their part the Welsh see the English as intruders, interfering in their lands and customs.


Wales and Ireland have always possessed a close relationship. After the departure of the Romans large numbers of Irish settled peacefully along the Western coastline, intermingling with the natives and establishing farms and fishing villages. Welsh Kings have also hired Irish mercenaries to join their armies, against one another or the English. It is also rumoured that the Druids of Wales and Ireland often meet, holding secret sacrifices on moonlit shorelines and hidden groves.

Tales of Folk and Fey

The Red and White Dragons

One year Llewella, Queen of Gwynedd, heard that the Saxons were raising an army to invade her lands, and sought to build a castle against their advances. Yet each time she raised it, the earth shook, the ground quaked and the castle fell to dust and rubble. Three times her fortress rose, and three times it fell. At last the Queen sought out the Druid Delwyn, to ask him what could be done. The Druid came, saw the earth shiver and shake, and shook his head.

He found a cave and bade his Queen follow him deep into the Earth. At last they entered a cavern beneath the Fort, lit by smoke and flame. At its centre two great dragons fought, one red, one white. Wreathed in blue flame they battled, throwing each other into the cavern walls and shaking the ground around them. The Queen, dumbstruck, turned to her guide.

“It is as I feared, my Queen,” The Druid said. “Many decades ago, the Kings of England and Wales sought to recruit fell creatures against one another. The White Dragon was bound to defeat the armies of Wales, the Red to defeat those of England”.

Llewella drew her bow and aimed at the White Dragon, but before he could loose, Delwyn grabbed her arm.

“Wait” he said “I need tell you more. The Kings made deals with the dragons, but their price has been lost to time - along with the documents themselves. We know not what the victorious beast might demand, how great its fury could be were we unable to provide it! Better to let them fight down in the dark, until the Old Gods bring an end to the world. I will offer a sacrifice, and it will drive them away into the earth.”

Llewella trusted the council of the Druid; so they withdrew to the surface and made their offering. Sure enough the earthquakes ceased, and a proud keep rose upon the hill. The Saxon army would break against its walls, and Llewella would retain the crown.

But if rumours are true, the Dragons are not gone for good. In the taverns they talk of travellers across the Northern mountains who feel tremors at their feet; and upon pressing their ears against the ground, hear the distant roars of colossal beasts…

The Knight of Thieves

In the time before Charlemagne bound the fey, a particular creature terrorised Wales. From town to town it went, at each one calling out for a champion to confront it. Each time it slew the champion and, after taking its head as a grisly trophy, rode on to face the next. Though townsfolk tried to ambush or entrap it, it slipped away every time; for it was a master of illusion and deceit.

Finally a great Knight of St. David, Rhys Ab Gwen, confronted it. He smote it from its steed with his lance and before it could escape he pressed the cold iron of his sword against its neck. The creature begged for mercy and Rhys, knowing the importance of contract for the Fey, made it accept a bargain. That it would never kill another human again; and that it would devote the rest of its existence to helping the poor and the weak.

But Rhys did not reckon on the fey's cunning or spite. Ever since the day of its binding, the Knight of Thieves (as it is now known) seeks to aids the poor and weak with the greatest perversity possible, by selecting the most brutal and immoral amongst them, then training them to steal, deceive, and murder.


Once esteemed amongst the Fey, the magics this giant wrought upon himself in the battle with Charlemagne are rumoured to have taken a terrible toll upon his body. He hides his misshapen form beneath metal armour and black shrouds; staying far from both man and fey. But Wales is too small a place for such a creature to go entirely unnoticed, and on moonlit nights his hunched and gargantuan figure is often spotted on the ridgetops - on a lonely passage to unknown destinations.

wales.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/07 20:06 by gm_jonathan
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license: CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported