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The People of Hillsfar

By Jorkens

Warning, much of what you will find here is uncanon and based on my old Realms notes that now conflict with newer sources. As there still might be something useful to other people in here I decided to post them at Candlekeep. Where possible I have tried to include later sources, but most of the information here are based upon information from the 1ed. Campaignsetting and the Forgotten Realms Adventures book. The 2ed. Campaign setting and 2ed. Moonsea book, Ruins of Zenthil keep and Elminsters Ecologies: Thar has also supplied some details.
(This details the situation right before the rise of Maalthiir)

The people of Hillsfar are generally tall and solidly built. Blond and red hair is common and is usually cut short among men and elaborately braided among women. Traditionally, men wear thick mustaches, this being most common among the rural dwellers and least among the upper class. Many outsiders view them as attractive in a slightly rugged way, and the outlying farms are at times hunted by slavers for the markets of Thay and the Vilhon.

The dress of the area is much like that of the Dalelands, although adopted to the cold coast winds. The attire  commonly consists of a combination of solid leather breeches and simple wool tunics for men; in winter these are combined with thick leather vests and knee-length cloaks. Among the artisans and workers a round leather cap is common. Earlier these were coloured to show guild affinity, but this went out of practise a long time ago and it is seen as a rather pompous and comical gesture today.

Women usually wear several layers of wool skirts varying with the temperature, and a tunic made of wool or linen. As among the men, these are adjusted to what is practical in daily work and professions. A shawl is common as head covering both as protection from the cold and as tradition.  Earthen colours are preferred by both sexes, with white tunics used for celebrations.

The women’s shawls are often purple, brought to the city by Vilhon traders and mercenaries, and are embroidered by the local women. Both the shawls and men’s cloaks are commonly decorated with patterns deriving from the elven lands and featuring stylized leaves and flowers. Jewellery is rarely seen among the common people. It is uncommon to wear weapons within town, unless it is something naturally used as a tool of trade.

The settlement of the Hillsfar region has, as common is in the Moonsea lands, taken place in waves of immigrants, refugees and adventurers from various directions. Some came specifically to the area and others fled to the relative safety of the south coast. The city was first founded by  trappers and furriers from the vast and ancient Hlondath as a place of trading, and soon attracted farmers and fishermen from the troubled lands on the eastern coast of the Dragon Reach. As the area held a natural harbour, it became a obvious center for the wares flowing both into and out of the Moonsea.

The proximity of the elves of the great Cormanthan forests gave the settlers a feeling of safety lacking in many other colonies along the coast at the time. For Hillsfar the advantages of this became obvious in more ways than one, as the settlement became a common place of refuge for trappers, miners and small time traders during the winter months. In these early days the coming of the frost made the lands to the east and north even deadlier than today, with the Ogres and Leucrottas tracking their prey through the snow.

Although the diplomatic contacts and trade agreements with the elves put several limitations on the settlers where the woodlands were concerned, the two people mingled relatively peacefully until the withdrawal of the Elven Court.Today the city of Hillsfar is a place of commerce and refinement of the raw materials brought out of the wild-lands of the Moonsea and the Cormanthor woods.

The craftsmen has traditionally held a strong position in Hillsfar and the guilds, though dominated by members of a small upper class of old traditional families, has been able to hold their own against the council. Most of the merchant class of Hillsfar are representatives of foreign coasters and companies that deal directly with the guilds. The more local dealings with the northern Dalelands and The Elven Court has traditionally gone through the small group of mostly half elven families that has dominated the council in it’s recent form.

Outside the walls of the city proper are extensive pastures, farmlands (mostly rye) and several small fishing communities swearing fealty to Hillsfar. The people here are mostly of Vaasan decent, being among the later arrivals in the area and view the dealings of the city dwellers with some scepticism. Some of these are freemen, but many people work the lands of large landowners living within the city walls.
The class structure in the area is relatively clear, although movement is possible with the decrease and increase of wealth. Until now, this has led to a balanced power-structure, but lately the system has started to burst at the seams. Most of the common workers and journeymen crafters now hold a rather resigned attitude that the wealth flowing into Hillsfar mostly find its way into the pouches of the council members and guild masters. In the past couple of generations this corruption has become more and more obvious.|

The citizens of Hillsfar are generally hardworking and steady in their daily lives. Kinship is seen as important and most hillsfarians marry at an early age. These marriages are the basis of the rules of inheritance and there are no restrictions when it comes to divorce. Couples of the same sex are not frowned upon, but the inheritance then goes to the nearest relatives and marriage is uncommon. Most people hold a slightly reserved attitude towards foreigners and members of other races despite the city’s role as a place of commerce. All people are welcome, but it is usually wise to be wary in buisness. Especially in the Moonsea lands. Travel is rarely necessary for most people, and somewhat discouraged, as one  is seen as to have obligations to ones relatives foremost. As it is now, most of the trading takes place with the guild masters and most of the problems with drovers and mercenaries are seen by the common farmers and workers.

 Literacy is  common as the city has a long tradition for bureaucrasy and every citicen is expected to know the laws of trade and sales. Because of this most official proclamations are made, in addition to towncriers, in written form, and can be found near every market.

Hillfarians traditionally value the quiet life, with little of the drama of other lands or the conflicts of hard taskmasters rulings. Quiet taverns are common inside the city walls and are common gathering places for the locals in the evenings. For visitors, large boarding houses and rented rooms in private homes are more common recidents than the traditional taverns. For the poorer among the roadweary the barns of farmers are open. In addition to smalltime gambling games animal fights the most common form of entertainment, although this is unpopular with the elves. As a result of the elven restrictions on hunting, most of these battles are between dogs, horses, bulls, badgers and other animals commonly found in the vicinity. There has been incidents of humans battling animals, but these are mostly tied to the faith of the Beastlord and therefore frowned upon by the council.

Hillsfar has never traditionally been an overtly religious settlement. Unlike most of the Moonsea lands one sees little of the Damaran homage to the Triad or the zeal of the Tyrants followers. Both the rural and city dwellers will worship the great mother Chaunthea to secure the crops, Liira for the pleasures of life and Tempus for his presence in other people’s lands. Among certain groups, mostly those traveling with the goods from the city gods such as Torm, Umberlee and the Beast Lord are also given homage on a regular basis.
With the elves of Cormantor so near, the practise of arms is not common among Hillfarians at this time and most people never touch a weapon except as a tool. The exception is along the borders where a basic knowledge of the bow and hunting spear is practical. With no natural warrior class,  both the defence of the city and the guarding of the trade routs are traditionally left to mercenaries. These are mostly Vilhon horsemen and Sembian crossbowmen, as little trust is held in the sword-lords native to the Moonsea itself. In addition, the elves guard the inland borders and keep a company of twenty rangers at the disposal of the council.

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