Ha’aretz is a long and narrow land of fertile coastal plains. It is located on the eastern coast of the main continent. Occupying a position offering defensive advantage, it is bordered on the north and west by the Har Gavoah mountain range, which parallels the coast and is bordered in turn on the west by the Achal Aravah, the Devouring Desert. A smaller mountain range and the Achal Aravah protect the land along much of its southern border as well.
Agriculturally, Ha’aretz favors the cultivation of grapes, olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, almonds, pistachios, and barley, which are farmed throughout the region. Animal husbandry is characterized primarily by the raising and herding of sheep and goats, with donkeys, horses, and cattle also present, though in smaller numbers.
Ha’aretz is divided into two countries: Zaphon to the north and Ugarit to the south. Both countries are populated throughout by rural farming and fishing communities. A handful of cities of notable size are scattered along the coast. In order from north to south, these are:
Beth-Sha’ar (the Gatehouse), a walled city located in a key defensive position in the gap between the northern Har Gavoah mountains and the coast
Ashkelon, a once-great city now in ruins, destroyed by the chaotic magic of the Minotaurs who once occupied the continent’s northeastern plains. According to legend, Ashkelon may occupy the site of Abiluma, one of the cities cursed by King Danel when the goddess Anat had his son Aqhat killed for refusing to give her his legendary bow crafted by the god Kothar-wa-Hasis. If this is the case, the legendary Bow of Aqhat, accidentally dropped by Anat following her misadventure, may be hidden in ancient layers beneath the more recent ruins.
Sidon, known for its glass manufacturing
Tyre, renowned for its exports of a rare purple dye made from the Murex mollusk shells found along the Tyrian and Sidonian coasts
Beth-Hacham (the City of the Wise), a walled city of learning located adjacent to a powerful magical nexus
Ha’aretz has been populated since very ancient times by two long-lived, humanoid races: the populous, shorter, and wingless Anashim and the less populous, taller, and winged Benim-El, who are revered by and tend to have a strong influence on the Anashim. Somewhat later in the land’s history a small group of Kobold slaves were brought to northern Zaphon by an Earth Avatar. Although the Earth Avatar is no longer present, the Kobolds remain in the area, under the ownership of the Zaphon government.
Ugaritic is the native language of the Anashim, while Malakite is that of the Benim-El (the Rephaim and Nephilim). The Benim-El are fluent in both languages, as are most of the city-dwelling Anashim. Members of either race who become involved in trading often learn Elven as well.
The Kingdoms of Ugarit and Zaphon are hereditary monarchies.
Within these monarchies, the Nephilim and Rephaim are afforded a great deal of independence. These groups retain their own councils of elders who make decisions affecting their people. In their interactions with the Anashim the Nephilim and Rephaim follow the Anashim laws and customs.
Leadership roles in government and in other arenas may be held by men or women.
Religious politics in Zaphon
In Zaphon, the Priests of Tzedek try to maintain a strong influence on the Zaphonite kings and to influence the population to worship solely at the central temple of Tzedek and Air in Beth Sha’ar. With varying degrees of success, they have convinced a number of recent kings to help them stamp out more polytheistic worship in rural cult centers of Ba’al, Asherah, Anat, Earth, Light, and other members of the pantheon “on every high hill and under every green tree” in an attempt to centralize religious and correlating political power under their own oversight. While the elite tend to be increasingly part of this program, the rural folk keep clinging to their polytheistic ways.
Religious politics in Ugarit
While many citizens hold one or more particular gods and/or Planes in primacy, they are polytheistic as a rule and most pay homage to a variety of Planes and deities.
Ba’al—agricultural fertility, “rider on the clouds,” uses lightning as weapon, associated with storms and rain, defeats Sea and Death
Anat—Ba’al’s sister, warrior goddess, protects Ba’al and frees him from the jaws of Mot/Death, uses a staff and bow, an overly enthusiastic warrior who wears a necklace of human heads and a belt of human hands, and “wades up to her thighs in the blood of slain warriors”
Tzedek—“The Righteous,” asks his people to expand into neighboring lands
Ha’aretz in general
Arc—revered by the Amim-Kothar, the order of Craftspeople/weaponsmiths
Amim-Kothar—restless craftspeople and metalworkers, excel at creating magical weapons, affinity for Lightning Plane (?), revere the Avatar Arc and the god Kothar-wa-Hasis, have a portable temple/school that moves to different locations when struck by lighting, found in both Ugarit and Zaphon
Avarim—Ugarit, a berserker-like military order of Anat devotees, the Avarim attack with the blinding rage of their patron
Tzel-Anat (Shadow of Anat)—Ugarit, military order of special forces/intelligence gatherers, devotees of Anat
Air—Ugarit and Zaphon, presence of Artifact—(ORB: Jada Stone)
Dust—Ugarit, members are primarily Rephaim
Light—Ugarit and Zaphon
Sons of the Crucible—Ugarit, near Beth Hacham, Fire, Brass-skinned dwarves and hill giants
Storm Dragon—located off the coast of Ugarit, female
Secret Air Cult
Ba’al—in Beth Hacham; this temple boasts a legendary library
Training School for the Tzel-Anat—location TBD
Tzedek/Air—in Beth Sha’ar
Kothar-wa-Hasis—portable temple-school that moves to different locations when struck by lightning
Fire School—in or near Beth Hacham, run by Sons of the Crucible
Anashim, Rephaim, and Nephilim
+Magical weapons (lightning-based)
+Healing magic (the Rephaim tend to be more advanced in this than Anashim and Nephilim, who have it to a lesser degree)
Order of Amim-Kothar
Order of Sons of the Crucible
Bow of Aqhat (Qeshet-Aqhat)—possibly located under ruins of Ashkelon; the goddess Anat had King Danel’s son Aqhat killed for refusing to give her his legendary bow crafted by the god Kothar-wa-Hasis. Anat accidentally dropped the bow in a river following her misadventure, and it has never been found. It is said that it may be hidden in ancient layers beneath the ruins of Ashkelon, rumored to have been built over the legendary city of Abiluma, cursed by Danel.
Javelins of Ba’al—named Yagrush and Aymur (Driver and Chaser), made by Kothar-wa-Hasis, lightning powered