The Talenta Plains are among the most tragic of the Last War’s battlefields, for the conflicts that wracked the plains, and the blood spilled to feed the tall grasses, were unnecessary. The halfling tribes had no vested interest in the Last War. The region offered few resources or territories worth fighting over. Had everyone simply ignored Talenta, the outcome of the war would almost certainly have been unchanged.
Yet war came to the Talenta Plains nonetheless, and in the years since the war, the violence engendered by that conflict has refused to fade.
The Talenta Plains at War
The greatest battles in the Talenta Plains were between Karrnathi and Cyran forces—the latter primarily Valenar mercenaries. The open fields perfectly suited both the heavy cavalry of Karrnath and the swift elf warbands. Although some halflings attempted to repel these incursions, they swiftly realized that the invading forces almost always outnumbered even the largest of their tribes. For the bulk of the war, then, the halflings simply took steps to be elsewhere when these forces clashed, since neither the Karrns nor the Valenar particularly cared if a few stray halflings were caught between them—let alone the dinosaur and animal herds the armies scattered or destroyed in the process.
With the soldiers of the other nations came the dragonmarked houses. House Ghallanda had always been based in Gatherhold, and House Jorasco still maintained a presence in its ancestral homeland even after moving its central stronghold to Vedykar. Throughout the war years, however, Deneith, Orien, and Vadalis moved into the plains as well, either to serve the growing military population or to take advantage of the halflings themselves.
Drawn into the conflict despite themselves, some tribes took sides, either as mercenaries or due to similarities of attitude or philosophy. For the most part, they warred only against foreign forces, but on occasion halfling did fight against halfling. This infighting was often the result of old tribal feuds, given new impetus by the violence around them.
It swiftly became apparent, however, that the tribes suffered more from the constant conflict in the plains than they gained, and that the other nations weren’t likely to cease fighting any time soon. Old feuds fell away, leading to a partial unification of the halfling tribes. They never abandoned their tribal identities, but they did cooperate with one another to an extent never before seen. By the time Lathon Halpum (CG male halfling barbarian 9) was selected to speak for the tribes as a whole, the halflings stood side by side to protect their people and their herds from all comers. So closely did the tribes work together that the other nations developed a false perception of the halflings as a whole. When Talenta was declared a sovereign nation at Thronehold, many people assumed it would be governed as a single people with Halpum at its head. The fact that the Talenta halflings still dwell and function in tribes, with Halpum universally respected but not revered or obeyed, confuses many a foreigner.
The Talenta Plains Today
The Talenta Plains are still a perfect battlefield, and even after the cessation of the war, some continue to take advantage of that fact. Old feuds still rage, and even the popularity of Lathon Halpum has led to new conflicts.
The Talenta Plains are no less a magnet for discord today than they were during the Last War—and thus the tragedy of the halfling nation continues.
The following factions still maintain an interest and/or a presence in the Talenta Plains, a presence that threatens to erupt into a conflict capable of sweeping across the plains as swiftly as any wildfire.
Abramam: The single largest halfling tribe, family of the honored Lathon Halpum, has not found life any simpler since the Last War. Halpum wants nothing to do with ruling the Talenta Plains as a whole; he had the chance to become a great king after the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold and rejected it. Now, he looks at the chaos besetting Khorvaire and wonders if he made the proper decision. Halpum believes with all his heart that the Last War has merely gone quiescent, that it must erupt again and again until one power holds dominance. He fears the same is true of the halfl ing tribes, because the tentative peace and unification inspired by the war have already begun to fray around the edges. Egged on by others of his tribe—many of whom see an Abramam king as a tool to advance their own ambitions and settle old feuds—Halpum might soon be forced into an impossible choice: Risk losing the support and respect he currently enjoys, or make use of it and the military might of his tribe to carve out a throne he doesn’t want.
House Deneith: Although its presence in the Talenta Plains is relatively recent, House Deneith finds the region profitable. Halfling mercenaries, particularly dinosaur riders, are currently popular among the wealthy of Khorvaire. The house keeps most of its strongholds near the Valenar border, where conflict with the elves produces the most skilled halfling warriors. While most halflings tolerate the presence of Deneith, some of the more traditionalist or nationalist factions believe the house takes advantage of their people and would be happy to see them gone.
Houses Ghallanda and Jorasco: Both of the halfling houses face the same problem in the Talenta Plains—many halflings believe they have abandoned their traditions at best, and are racial traitors at worst. Jorasco, which has moved its central operations to Karrnath, suffers this stigma more than Ghallanda, but both must constantly fight the accusation that they have sold out their halfling heritage, offered gifts for money that should more properly be used to benefit the Talenta tribes, and allowed outside powers to compete with the tribes for influence and resources. To date, this resentment has been expressed vocally and economically, but as Holy Uldra’s teachings become more popular, it’s possible that either or both houses could face violent opposition to their activities.
Hulrar: Led by Lath Errim (CG male halfling fighter 7), the Hulrar tribe is second only to Abramam in size and military might. Hulrar has close ties with House Deneith, and it is the source of over a quarter of all the house’s halfling mercenaries. Errim holds great respect for Lathon Halpum, but thinks Abramam failed to take full advantage of its opportunities. Errim would prefer to see the Talenta halflings organized into a nation with semi-independent warlords, not unlike Karrnath, but as yet is unwilling to declare war against other halfling tribes to accomplish it. When not engaged in mercenary activities, Hulrar spends its time repelling Valenar incursions and speaking against the growing influence of the Sindrekel tribe.
Karrnath: Through arrangement with several of the great tribes (often enforced by hostages), Karrnath maintains a line of fortresses along the Valenar border.
Though this does not prevent Valenar incursion, it does keep the elves from mounting a force sufficient to cross the plains and attack Karrnath directly. Many tribes resent having such a strong foreign military presence on their soil. Multiple-faction conflicts, between halfling tribes, Valenar invaders, and Karrnathi soldiers, occur with frequency around these outposts. Nor are all these skirmishes random: Various enemies of Karrnath, including Aundair and Thrane, have deliberately stirred up halflng or Valenar forces to harass the fortresses.
Q’barra: For thousands of years, some of Q’barra’s lizardfolk have wandered into the Talenta Plains, hunting or herding dinosaurs and sometimes clashing with native mammals. In the years since the war, Newthrone has sent emissaries to the larger halfling tribes, seeking alliance for both trade and mutual defense. The settlers of Q’barra have no love for the Five Nations and maintain that the halfling tribes ought to feel the same. To date, few formal treaties have been signed, but several tribes are considering Newthrone’s proposition.
Sindrekel: Although relatively small, the Sindrekel tribe is home to one of the most influential halflings in the plains. Lath Uldra (NE female halfling cleric 7 [Balinor]), called “Holy,” seeks to return the Talenta halflings to the old ways. Unification of tribes, treaties with foreigners, cooperation rather than survival of the fittest—these are all a corruption of the true halfling spirit and way of life. Uldra’s teachings have begun to spread through the various tribes, particularly among the younger generation who never knew the more open intertribal conflict that occurred before the unification of the Last War. Although Uldra has not yet directly encouraged violence against foreigners or tribes who accept them, her sermons are clearly leading in that direction, and several of her more aggressive followers have already shed blood in her name.
Valenar: The Valenar elves have no interest in peace with the Talenta Plains. Warbands cross the border on a regular basis, waging battle with Karrnathi garrisons or halfling tribes. This is not indicative of hostility against the halflings on the part of the Valenar as a whole. Rather, the warbands are engaged either in long-running blood feuds with individual halfling tribes or in simple exercises in which the band chooses a small tribe with few allies and hunts them as they would any other prey. Add to this the Valenar’s desire to test their martial prowess against the Karrnathi soldiers and the wild dinosaurs of the plains, and the result is a constant state of simmering warfare between two peoples that don’t actually want anything from one another.