Monday, August 5, 2013

Krishtog: An Overview

by John Belliston and Frank Shaw

                Below the Geato Marsh Plateau and before the Great Southern Forest is a strip of land called the Kristogalog. Dominated by Krishtog trees which soar into the sky hundreds of feet this marshy land is home to the race of frog people who share their name with the trees dominating their home.
                The Krishtog are a lithe race who appear smaller than they actually are. Looking like bipedal frogs, their skin varies, from yellows to greens with occasional reds and extremely rare poison-skinned blues. Their faces, lacking the muscles of many other races, usually appear to be smiling, which puts most of the other peoples of Desylinn at ease. Light on their feet, their strong legs allow them to hop through the thick branches of the trees they call home with ease; evading larger predators such as the catoblepas and hydra while confusing smaller ones like the zoogs, who don’t share the frog-peoples agility.
                The Krishtog do not live in permanent settlements, with the exception of the Elders, who look after the giant breeding trees, and the very young who also live in the trees. Most Krishtog live as semi solitary nomads, hunting and gathering food on their own or in small hunting packs. These hunting packs vary in size, but usually do not grow more than about ten individuals, and rarely last longer than a rainy season. Hunting packs are usually made up of siblings -those from the same hatch of a breeding tree- or cousins -those from different generations of breeding trees. At night the hunting packs will retire with the catch, which will often include fruits and greens as well as wild prey and feast around small fires where they sing their songs.
                The musical aptitude of the Krishtog is well known throughout Deyslinn. Their language is sung and lends itself to songwriting with relative ease. The Krishtog’s mastery of pitch and rhythm make even the least talented among them potential bards.  Most of the frog-people who are found outside of the Krishtog have gained notoriety for their music. They sing their songs in taverns, amphitheaters and the dens of the rich and powerful. The songs of the Krishtog usually detail great hunts, the migrations of beasts, or the rare heroic tale in which several Krishtog will give voice to individual characters. It is these songs that are the most popular with those outside of Deyslinn because of the beautiful harmonies and complex rhythms. The frog-people rarely employ other instruments other than their voices, though they will occasionally accompany themselves with bow shaped lyres that the most passionate singers carry. Called the Mishtomatigato (Tellers of Tales), their only distinguishing features are the lyre’s they carry. They are typically self-appointed and only garner respect from other Krishtog when their virtuosity with both voice and lyre is significant, causing others to fall silent and listen instead of joining in.
                The breeding trees of the Krishtogalog are beginning and the end of the frog-peoples. The largest of the Krishtog trees often hold ample pools of water that are continuously replenished from the roots and the frequent rainfall. It is in these pools where the Krishtog lay their eggs. Spending the first several months of their youth as tadpoles, the life of a baby Krishtog is harsh. The tiny taddlings feed on their brothers and sisters as well a vast array of insects and smaller fish, who also feed on the taddlings. When arms and legs begin to appear the babies cease feeding on their siblings and begin to periodically emerge from the water.
                Upon their emergence from the water they are greeted by the Elders. The oldest of the Krishtog, are tasked with raising the young and guarding the Breeding trees. From the Elder’s the young are taught the musical language of the race, and the songs the Krishtog are known for. They are also taught the arts of bow making, weaving, hunting and gathering, trap making and tanning. Other small crafts are taught by various Wisest including the art of making and playing the lyre, as well as jewelry crafting. The Elder’s nurture those Krishtog who survive the breeding pools, only allowing them to leave the trees once they have passed a series of tests displaying their ability to hunt and survive on their own.
                The most important weapon of the Krishtog is unarguably the bow. Every frog-person is proficient with the bow, having made their own to suit their personal preference. Some favor short compact bows, others favor long bows for better range. Every style and design one could think of exists in the Krishtog and no two bows are ever the same. Some may employ spears, flint knives, or even short copper swords for those that have come into contact with races outside of the Krishtog, the bow however is a constant.
                The single city in the region is Qynjb. Built at the base of a dead Krishtog tree, and overflowing over and inside, the branches. The city was originally an outpost of the Music Guild from Hub, who sought a permanent base in the Krishtog to help recruit both those frog-people with musical talent, and non-musical talent. A vast majority of the Krishtogs outside the region are members of the guild, even those who don’t sing. While still firmly controlled by the Music Guild, there is a small Merchant’s Guild presence in the city as well, leading to occasional street fights between the two factions. There’s also a Red Clan presence in the city, the Dwarves reaching out to their neighbors in the east, maintaining the only reliable road through region. The majority of the population is migratory, as the Krishtog only come to trade their trinkets, meat and occasionally lyres and bows. And many of the other races are passing through on their way to the Great Southern Forest to the south, or in caravans back north either to the Geato or Hub. The majorities of the permanent population are those banished from their societies, or are in hiding. The handful of “settled” Krishtog that do live in the city are Elders who still feel the need to guard the tree, despite it being dry, or the small handful of youth who’ve settled for an unfulfilling but easy life.