Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
Highfolk refers both to the town of Highfolk, and to the people of the long strip valley which runs between the Yatils and the Vesve, often termed Highvale. The people of these lands blend imperceptibly into the population of the Vesve itself. Many human farmers have woodsmen relatives. Likewise, elven clans have members in the Highfolk and within the wooded glades of the great forest. These territories show a generally harmonious racial mix, the total numbers being as follows:
The key to understanding the Highfolk and Vesve folk is to remember that they are chaotic, strong willed and independent. They stubbornly resist organization and discipline, and are real frontier people. This is their greatest weakness.
Life on the Frontier
Highfolk is administered by Mayor Loftin Greystand, elected by universal vote. Loftin is really only a figurehead, who speaks for the town and, after endless negotiation with other Highfolk “leaders” for the region as a whole when vital issues such as defense or trade are discussed with the Lord of the High Elves.
The town of Highfolk has many powerful factions. There are craft guilds, powerful merchant guilds, and a ruling council for each different race in the town. There are also councils of priests and other groups interested in the welfare of the town. Highfolk’s town leaders believe in minimal government. All the mayor and the militia have to worry about is defense, law enforcement, the collection of minimal taxes, and a modest budget. If anything can be done by individuals, from educating the young to building a bridge, that’s how it gets done among the Highfolk.
This principle is generally true throughout the region. The many small villages and towns are each autonomous, and govern their own affairs through public meetings. People are more loyal to nominal local “rulers,” such as gnome princes, elven lords or human elders. These minor nobility hold mostly symbolic authority among the independent frontiersmen.
This principle even applies to armies and militias. Each community decides if it needs and wants a militia, and how strong it will be. Once a decision has been made, however, all freemen and women are liable to pay taxes or tithes to support that militia, and every community of any size has one. Although the local militias are small (only some 2% of the population total in Highfolk), this is compensated for by the fact that almost everyone among the Highfolk can wield a weapon to some effect. This means that levies are almost as good in morale, and often in equipment, as regular light infantry.
The Highfolk have no organized central army or chain of command, and no specialist heavy infantry or cavalry. Their specialist woodsmen and hill fighting troops are of good quality. In addition to local militias, the town of Highfolk has 150 elite Velunese heavy infantry and 50 elite Velunese medium cavalry swelling the ranks of defenders,
One might wonder why the Highfolk have not been conquered by some powerful despot. The answer is simple; there is a strong sense of community here. If, for example, a gnome mine were to be raided word would spread like wildfire. Soon human militia, elven bowmen and rangers, and even halfling hillfolk would arrive in significant numbers to help their gnomish brethren,
Within the Vesve, matters are even more chaotic. The average community of woodsmen and elves is quite small and often they have no formal leaders. These people are very insular. They are suspicious (possibly even xenophobic in the case of wood elves) of strangers and slow to ask for help. Furyondian efforts to send aid to these communities from Ironstead take a long time to bear fruit.
Humans: Farmers and Traders
Humans are the largest group throughout the Highfolk and Vesve regions. Most humans living here work as farmers and traders. They also comprise the bulk of militia troops.
Trade in this region is very profitable. The Highvale is rich in livestock such as goats and sheep, fish, vegetables, wild game and timber. The region enjoys a renowned leather tanning industry, including the famed Highfolk deerskin. The region has fair mineral deposits, with most gnomes making their living as miners.
Highfolk imports cloth, fruit, grain, tools and farming implements. These are paid for with coins minted in Highfolk town’s own mint. No Highfolk coins ever show a person’s face or profile since Highfolk does not have leaders who are so revered. The Vesve woodsmen are tough, intrepid men, looking after their own families and small villages. A goodly percentage of these people are very loyal to King Belvor and volunteer militias from this region fought for Furyondy against Iuz.
Since the outbreak of war, around a fifth of the original population has gone, headed to safer life in Furyondy, Veluna, or further afield. But those who stay are resilient, resourceful folk who have no intention of leaving their woodlands
Elves: The Powerful Race
Each of the different groups of elves who live in the Highvale and Vesve region have quite different characteristics. They tend to maintain their clan traditions and customs even while mixing with other elven groups in the same communities.
High elves are much more common in the Highfolk than in the High Forest. They dwell in the fertile valleys where they farm, fish, and simply enjoy the life in this lush, green land. They are more organized and open than their cousins, the wood elves.
The high elves do not isolate themselves from the affairs of the day. They make sure their views are felt in Highfolk town and by Belvor. They have their own spies within Furyondy, including the noteworthy Cerenellyl.
Almost all Knights of the High Forest are Vesve high elves and while many of the Highfolk are almost rustic by elven standards, those who stand guard against evil in the Vesve are powerful, wise and strong in the ways of magic .
The high elves are divided 20 clans. Clan membership is considered very important. The dominant clan is Clan Shandareth, most noted for providing the greatest priests of Corellon Larethian and the finest bards of the Vesve. They are the lore keepers, telling and retelling their tales in song and melody. Their Lord, Kashafen Tamarel, holds court at the unusual settlement of Flameflower, the seat of his clan.
The wood elves are divided into two main groups. First, there are those within the lands of the Highfolk, mostly dwelling in and around the edges of the Vesve. Second, there are those within the Vesve itself. Both groups are very chaotic, but the Highfolk wood elves are at least civilized and polite in their ways. They are expert hunters, trappers, and fishermen.
The Vesve wood elves shun almost all other races, and it takes years of effort to persuade them not to regard anyone else without deep suspicion. Vesve wood elves are so xenophobic that many of them blame humanity for the actions of Iuz, claiming that Iuz was born of a human mother and was freed by humans from his prison. Dealing with these individuals is very hard work.
The wood elves dwelling among the Highfolk are divided into 15 clans. The Vesve wood elves are divided into 11 tribes, including three grugach tribes in the far north.
The thousand or so grey elves of the Vesve live almost exclusively in the enclave around the Timeless Tree
Gnomes: Mining as Usual
The gnomes of this region generally pursue one of two professions. Those living in and around Highfolk town are mostly merchants.
Gnomes living in other parts of the region are generally miners. These gnome miners tend to have specific enclaves, not because they dislike other races but simply because they have found good niches in the Sepia Uplands and Clatspurs to extract metals and gems and make a fair living for themselves.
Gnomes have good relations with humans and elves. This race has probably the best understanding of the intertwined fates of the citizens of Highfolk, Vesve and Furyondy regardless of race. Even the humblest gnome knows a fair bit about the events of the war, even beyond Furyondy. Gnomes often play the role of mediators, those who arrange meetings and bring other races together.
Halflings: The Proud Tallfellows
The halflings of Highfolk are proud people. Since they are about half way between gnomes and dwarves in height (averaging 4’ for an adult male), and slimmer than most halflings, they don’t call themselves “little folk” or other cute names. Highfolk halflings are a resilient, tough people, and their pony riding spearmen and lithe, mobile sling wielding hill militias are not to be taken lightly.
Most halflings live as farmers, and they have more organized militias than other races. The halflings, with their sheriffs and elders, are the least chaotic of any Highfolk or Vesve race.
The small Hairfoot and Tallfellow communities of the Vesve are found close to the western borders, living as trappers and collectors of yarpick nuts and similar produce. They often live within human or high elven settlements, feeling more secure there.
The Shifting Frontiers of The Vesve
The Vesve Forest