Appendix I: Uncut Keeps and the Oldstone Hall on King's Island
An ancient people built mystical fortresses made of melted stone; from the wall's these fortresses defenders appeared to burn with a powerful energy and strike at their opponents with a supernatural force. Today most of these forts are abandoned and the art that made them lost.
Appendix I: Uncut Keeps and the Oldstone Hall on King's Island
The term Uncut Keeps or Wiz'guard Walls refers to a style of construction where by uncut stones are apparently melted together to form a solid wall. The exact method for constructing these walls has been lost, and attempts to recreate the technology have failed. However the Uncut Keeps are still relatively common in the land of Parna.
General Nature and Appearance:
The walls are made of uncut stones of varying size that were heated and fused together. The types of rock used were limited to granite, diorite, andesite, obsidian and most commonly basalt. The walls of these keeps are uneven and bumpy but covered in smooth glassy layer that contains smaller bulges and teardrops were molten rock pooled in crevices or cooled before a drop could fall. Despite this fusion the original shape and size of the stones used are still discernable, giving the face of the wall a conglomerate marbling. Imaginative humans state that they often see faces and figures among the distorted shapes. The only sign of any planned masonry in Uncut Keeps are regular 'holes' passing through the wall. These are areas where no stone was present at the time of the fusing, and they are at regular intervals of about a meter in both the horizontal and vertical directions. The holes towards the base of the wall are often filled with the drippings of molten stone but can still be noted by the smooth glassy spots they left. Towards the top of the wall it is possible to look through the holes and see laces of molten stone. A typical Uncut Keep is rectangular, the walls are about between 4-5 meters high, about a meter wide at the top and 1-2 two meters wide at the base of the wall. And most Uncut Keeps, do not have a gates or breaks in their walls that might serve as entrances. The color and general appearance of these keeps is a result of their antiquity, many are over grown with ivy and aggressive vines, many have been partially buried in sediment following floods, but when the stone is cleaned the keeps are a mixture of shinny grey and black tones. A close inspection of the walls reveals a great deal of soot in the cracks and on the surface of the stones. We can assume that when they were first built the walls of these keeps were black.
Of the twenty plus Uncut Keeps reported to still exist all of them have been imbued had with a detectable level of supernatural energy. These mystical characteristics of the keeps are highly regulated, limited to the physical location of the keep, and apparently permanent. For the majority of the keeps in existence the enchantments cannot be manipulated. We believe this is because manipulation of the enchantment requires a key in the form of a command word, a fetish item or both. We can infer much about the general nature of the enchantment from the keeps still occupied and still in possession of the key used to manipulate the magic. Assuming that the enchantment was part of the original design we call also glean a great deal about the intended nature of these structures at the time of their construction.
The most famous example of an Uncut Keep is the Old Stone Hall on King's Island off the northern bank of the river Parna in the city of Parna's Throne. The Oldstone Hall is still the primary residence of the standing King of Parna and Oldstone Hall holds the throne room in which the King hold's court. At a 112 meters in length and 33 meters wide, Oldstone is the largest example of an Uncut Keep known to exist. Aside from the four Wiz'guard walls Oldstone has wooden scaffolding on the western and northern walls that allows for access to the inner keep, a cut stone building referred to as the Sera1 or the Fast, and a stone and mortar tower astride the eastern wall. While these are all newer additions to Oldstone, examinations for the ruins of other Uncut Keeps found evidence for the foundation of scaffolding along the walls and for Seras inside the yard. Although we do not know what these prehistoric buildings look like or what precisely they were used for, we can assume that their uses were similar to the Sera and scaffolding at Oldstone Hall.
The Throne of Parna2 is the mystical key required to control Oldstone Hall's enchantment. Whom ever is in possession of the Throne is not only by rights the King of Parna, but also capable of wielding the Oldstone hall's power. Possession of the Throne is conferred by the coronation ritual, which is described adequately in other texts.
Oldstone's enchantment allows the master of the fort to imbue any and all defenders on or within the walls with a shell mystical energy. This shell can best described as cold fire, the air around the effected individuals ripples and waivers as if exposed to great heat. Weapons wielded by the enchanted defenders are sturdier and more effective. History has recorded that arrows fired from the wall of Oldstone Hall travel farther and pierce deeper than normal. Defenders wielding wooden and bronze weapons have sundered steel swords and toppled better armored opponents, and attackers of the Keep have described the enchanted defenders has being so terrifying or bright (depending on the translation) that they could not look directly at them. Similar enchantments have also been reported at two other Uncut Keeps located on the Isles of Brigand3. Thus, it is safe to assume that all Uncut possess this mystical aid to their defenders, and that the only thing preventing the use of those Keeps is the lack of the focus key.
It seems clear that these structures were built to serve as defensible fortresses or secure homes. That still leaves us to answer the how and the who of these structures. As to how the Mason's Guild made two attempts to reproduce these walls. Close inspection of an abandoned Uncut Keep near the dwarven border revealed ash filled post-holes along interior and exterior of the wall. The mason's believed that originally a wooden frame was constructed to form a trough. The trough would be the desired height of the wall and it would be pierced with wooden polls at 1 meter intervals. The trough was then filled with basalt and granite stones and then set aflame. The idea being that the fire would fuse the rocks and the wooden frame would burn away leaving the wall behind. The guild eventually had some luck on their second attempt surrounding the frame with oil soaked brush, but the fire did not burn for long enough. The resulting wall showed some fusing but the effect was not complete and the structure collapsed during a strong storm. A fire aided by magic or more fuel could perhaps produce the desired effect. The enchanted nature of these structures lends credence to theory that supernatural flame was employed.
Who built these structures? This question is much debated among the small communities of chroniclers. I believe without reasonable doubt that these structures were built by the ancient Ivanvil. It is the most parsimonious answer. The Ivanvil were present in the Parna basin when these structure were built. Examples of this type of architecture found outside of the Parna has followed Ivanvil migrations. The Ivanvil have a long history of both violent organized feuds and manipulation of the arcane arts. The Ivanvil had both the motivation and the means to build these structures. Several of my fellow chroniclers assert that since they were only built in antiquity that they must have been built by one of the lost race; the Wiz' guards or the Elves of antiquity. I disagree, we have numerous records of ancient Elven buildings and none resembled an Uncut Keep. We have no tangible evidence that the Wiz' guards ever engaged in building or for that matter that the Wiz' guards even existed. I asserted that changes in the Ivanvil lifestyle, namely the arrival of Mitirangu peoples from the West, removed the need for new stationary defenses. Indeed the structures would most likely have been built by Ivanvil with a stationary lifestyle: farmers. It stands to reason that the more successful and more proliferative Mitirangu farming communities would have absorbed these people.
1: The Sera at Oldstone Hall is truly the heart of the King's Keep, and the center of all government in Parna. The Sera is located on the eastern side of the inner keep, and takes up roughly a forth of the yard. Ironically it is a small poorly constructed building that is just over 80 years old, and unlike the walls its construction was neither enigmatic nor mystical. The masonry bares the marks of Ivanvil craftsmen, it obvious that the stones were cut by numerous masons with varying qualities of tools and training. It is a yellow limestone and mortar building with an arched vault and interior wall dividing the main vaulted chamber into two rooms. The arched vault is another mark of Ivanvil tradesmenship. These arched vaults support relatively little weight and thus the height of the Sera is less than 2 meters. This allow for little natural light to come in the already small windows, and poor ventilation.
2: The Throne of Parna is in its own right a powerful focus of much supernatural energy. Thus, an intuitive conclusion would be that the power of the Keep stems directly from the throne. While not an expert on mystical energies, an arcane scholar has assured me that this is not the case and although the enchantments are linked they have separate origins.
3: One the Isles Brigand there are two Uncut Keep's: Erik's pit and Dungfree fort. Both of these keeps are reported to be smaller then Oldstone Hall, but rumor and hearsay among the sailors that visit the Island state the fortress guards, all members of the local Ivanvil families, appear to be on fire when they walk the walls.
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? Responses (5)-5
I like this-magical forts.
How about some DM info so I could possibly include these in a campaign?
As an external examination of these mysterious structures, this is excellent. Teds point holds as well - though it is possible to fill in the details oneself, it is always nice to have option of a ready made examination.
As for the fabrication of molten stone structures, magic would almost assuredly be needed. Getting enough fuel to melt non-trivial volumes of stone would be ruinously expensive.
I don't know if it would ruinously expensive.
sorry to pull out such a lame website, but there is other stuff on them out there.
I'm not really knowledgeable of architecture but the idea presented here of these Uncuts just seems cool to me.