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Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1
Posted on Thu, October 07, 2004 by Legate
mortellan writes "“Many leagues north of wind swept Kester the wide expanses of grassland become increasingly more fertile until one doesn’t know where Ull ends and the Plains of the Paynims begins. It is in the middle of these rich plains that Ulakand, capital of the notorious Uli stands as a monument to their arrogance and indomitable strength.”

Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1
By: mortellan
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

by: mortellan

Ulakand Overview

Open Range
Ull’s indefinable northern boundary is part of the vastness of the steppe known as the Plains of the Paynims. The open, unsettled grasslands are home to scores of species of animals, from the stealthy camprat to several of the finest breeds of Paynim horses. Only those who are well traveled and intimately know the area would even realize when they had ventured into the territory viciously regulated by the Uli town of Ulakand. Ulakand is an aberration among the plains, where nomads gather to build their southerly facing tents and numerous corrals around the base of an isolated low-lying mesa. Up several timeworn trails to the top of the mesa are town’s permanent buildings that provide a clear and unobstructed view over the leagues of grassland they claim. At night, dozens of home fires burn upon the mesa providing a beacon to all clans of Ull seeking protection.

Uli Pride
History is unclear what compelled the Orakhan of the Paynims and his Uli tribesmen to descend upon the last vestiges of these Oeridian lands. Most sages presume that the occupation followed in the wake of chaos started by the Invoked Devastation to take advantage of a territorial vacuum left by Oeridians that had fled eastward before the Twin Cataclysms. At first just happy to plunder and raid the indigenous folk, the Uli for their benefit adopted settlements of their own by Oeridian example, either by assimilating entire villages or in Ulakand’s case built from the ground up.

Just as civilization progressed for the Uli came a clash with the Brazen Horde, their far-flung cousins raiding from the west. The Horde’s drive into their grazing lands was fiercely challenged and would have ended swiftly if not for a simultaneous uprising among the subjugated Oeridians almost certainly led by the defiant Yorodhi tribe. In time many Oeridian refugees made the trek north to Ekbir and beyond, their homes and lives shattered by the fighting. Despite it all, the Uli resolutely turned away both threats and thus solidified their violent demeanor for centuries to come. Ulakand for its part became a lasting symbol of Uli power and pride; it’s rocky heights providing the perfect defensible position against their enemies.

Existence in Ulakand

Settled Nomads
Ulakand services a semi-nomadic population base that fluctuates from 12,000 in the summer to 6000 in the winter. Ulakand, unlike the diverse trade town of Kester tries their best to maintain a segregated society. The majority who shelter in Ulakand are of pure Baklunish extraction and are ethnically Uli, speaking the Ulagha dialect of Baklunish. Specific clan ties are always apparent, at least to locals, by either a particular style of wearing clothing or in the more complex designs found on family carpets. Few Oeridian or Paynim slaves are actually kept in town unless their value is important and even then not many commoners in Ulakand have the resources or desire to bother with slaves.

A small but growing sub-culture does exist though of Uli who have ogrish blood in them. These physically strong half-breeds have been slowly migrating up from the south and west regions of Ull where contact and admixture with ogre tribes is not uncommon. The old prejudices against these ogre-kin have tempered down since their roles in society have become more defined or even preferred by the khans who now employ them as personal bodyguards. Even more recently Ulakand has found its society turned upside down by the coming of the half-ogre usurper, Bruzharag the Misbegotten. Where he intends to take Ull in the coming decade is a constant source of speculation among the clans.

Four Feet of the Dragon
In Ulakand the ancient custom of the Four Feet of the Dragon, honor, family, generosity and piety is greatly diluted from what most urbanized Baklunish would expect. Family is the most important factor in Ulakand culture and is the only one of the four aspects that hasn’t altered for the worst. Clans settled in and around Ulakand take the notion of family a step further and have a rabid ethnic pride for being Uli, which manifests in their willingness to set aside feuds to battle rival Paynims or Yorodhi hillmen. Honor is openly boasted about by the venal citizens of Ulakand but not practiced with much virtue in their actions. In fact, Uli are prone to exaggeration and lies to enhance their own self-worth among Ulakand society.

Generosity is almost unknown here unless it is through pity or ulterior motive. The sacred custom of hospitality between Baklunish strangers is still adhered to among Ulakand’s homes yet few ever request it for generosity soon turns sour. Desperate travelers can find themselves cowed into indentured servitude by their fearsome hosts for the smallest slight or overbearing guests can become a nagging burden to less assertive families. Where Uli custom diverges the most however is piety. In Ulakand there is no care for the traditional adoration of the Baklunish pantheon. Instead, religion and structure are replaced by a spiritual worship of tribal ancestors with a variety of other associated superstitions and taboos.

Trade in Ulakand

Commodities
Ulakand is the focal point for many nomadic herders who make their seasonal routes across the plains and down into the interior of Ull. Every manner of animal found on the plains is exchanged here from game birds to wool bearing sheep. Most valued of all is the wild plains horses that are captured and corralled by the hundreds about Ulakand’s base to be trained and for the right price traded to trusted foreigners. Ulakand’s equine wealth may have been what first spurred the Brazen Horde to raid Ull long ago before they ultimately passed on to Ket.

Barter is the preferred means of trade in Ulakand. Here a family’s wealth is measured by their property because local coinage like the copper kurush and silver ukka are devalued and rejected by most merchants who pass through. The residents of Ulakand being practical find better use for bits of metal and gems, often making jewelry that can be worn as well as traded if need be. Uli who do accumulate coinage often head south to the trade nexus of Kester where gambling is encouraged and a stream of illicit goods can be acquired discreetly. Regardless of all this, mineral wealth from mines in the nearby Ulsprue Range, silver ore and onyx or bloodstone gems, find their way into Ulakand and are bartered to foreign traders for prized weapons and other simple imported goods that are considered a luxury in this remote town. The international Moquollad Consortium however seeks to limit trade with Ulakand and beyond because caravans owned by their members are often seized for no reason in the name of the Orakhan and inevitably those same goods end up fenced by the Uli elsewhere.

Slavery
A few aggressive clans conduct slaving operations around Ulakand’s domain. Even more treacherous than normal Uli tend to be, these slavemasters are hutning bands of horsemen who employ nets and bludgeoning weapons to capture and plunder non-Uli with impunity. Both neighboring Paynims and highland dwelling Oeridians who venture too far into Uli territory are prime targets for these slavers. Humanoid incursions and the occasional adventuring party also find their way into these slaver’s nets. Ulakand invariably is the central stopping point for these slaver groups when they need to resupply or unload some of their human resources. While only a small amount of slaves actually get traded or ransomed in Ulakand, the bulk of the slave trade soon makes its way directly south from here along a difficult marching trail to Kester whose slave auctions are infamous in the Baklunish West.

In part 2 you will learn about the new half-ogre Orakhan, Bruzharag the Misbegotten and the power struggles within Ulakand. Lastly we will study Ulakand’s spiritual beliefs and horse legends and see how they relate to the annual Naajam Festival.
"
 
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Re: Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1 (Score: 1)
by mortellan on Thu, October 07, 2004
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yikes, sorry everybody about the all bold article. is there anyway someone can fix that?



Re: Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1 (Score: 1)
by chatdemon (chatdemon@hotmail.com) on Thu, October 07, 2004
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This is a pretty cool read, though admittedly regarding an area I don't utilize much. That may change now though!

I love the rules lite articles like this, makes life easy for those of us who choose not to use the current edition of the D&D rules.

Great work!



Re: Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1 (Score: 1)
by cwslyclgh on Thu, October 07, 2004
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another nice Ull article Morte.... great job!



Re: Ull Gazetteer: Ulakand the City of Horses, part 1 (Score: 1)
by Tedra (tedra@cableone.net) on Thu, October 07, 2004
(User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://myweb.cableone.net/tedra
Glad to see this one, mort. Excellent job!




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