Adar is a nation concerned with survival. At one time, Adarans could get along without working together, but that all changed when the Inspired began their siege on the mountainous land. The sacrifice of Taratai threw the invading forces back and left the magical Shroud that protects Adar to this day from the Inspired. Still, Adarans know that internal strife is the surest means to their destruction.
Adar’s high passes (and the hidden fortress-monasteries guarding them) shelter it from direct assault. Water, a border with Syrkarn, and the largest concentration of defenders in Adar all help to protect Kasshta Keep. The Riedran war machine has yet to find a way to alter the frequent storms that howl out of the mountains. Similar storms occur daily over the waters around Adar, and mighty beasts prowl the seas, as if nature conspires to keep Adar secure. The quori who inhabit the Inspired’s bodies actually fear the spirit-binding magic employed by Adar’s Keepers of the Word. Immortality is no defense against such sorcery. These truths said, if the Inspired acquired enough intelligence to locate the fortresses in Adar and a way to breach the Shroud, they could strike quickly and take out Adar’s major defenses. As it stands, Riedran patrols and feints on the borders cause many Adaran deaths and many more Riedran casualties. Adarans, especially those living on the borders, are accustomed to the heartbreak engendered by loss.
Adar is as a land seemingly plucked from some other realm. Among the mountains that spring up like giants’ finger-bones from southern Sarlona, manifestations of other worlds and the natural results of such interference conspire to produce a forbidding environment. Yet, amid unforgiving peaks and between terrible storms, life thrives and evolves. The word Adar means “refuge” in an ancient Riedran dialect; this etymology shows that Adar was named from without. Its people have never been unified — clashes among its mountainfolk continue intermittently, and rancorous debates arise among its mystics. Still, Adar has long been a place of peace and introspection on a continent known for its terrible wars. Only when Adar accepted the strangest refugees of all — renegade quori — did it become a realm beset on all sides by immortal enemies. Adarans must now work together or become instruments of the Inspired.
The earliest tribesfolk who made a home in the deep mountains and valleys called their land Sthanadiv (“Land of Earth-Sky”). To this day, Adar is a land of extremes. Korrandar is one of Eberron’s tallest peaks, measuring 32,495 feet at its storm-shrouded peak. Nearby gorges plunge to below sea level, filled with the raging waters of glacial and storm runoff. The ocean off Adar’s southern horn is extremely deep, and the whole coast has none of the normal continental shelf found around most other lands.
Instead, the sea floor is ragged with mountains. Less than half of Adar’s land is below 12,000 feet, and much of that is forested with stout, tough evergreens. The regions above the treeline are arid and windswept, useless for farming or herding. Glaciers creep across the high passes. As the mountains give way to Adar’s high plateau, alluvial hills and stretches of green valley appear, making about 20% of the land arable. The temperatures in deep valleys can be tropical, though usually mild in humidity, and the flora and fauna in such places are abundant. Trees can grow tall here, and some bear succulent fruit. On the high peaks, nothing lives aside from supernatural creatures. In these places, the cold, clouds, and wind are constant.
A stiff breeze is always blowing in Adar, so the wind is continuously strong. In windy Adar, it is never foggy, though rolling clouds might make it seem so at higher elevations. Precipitation is always rain, snow, sleet, or hail—often more than one kind at a time. Powerful storms are common, as are avalanches, earthquakes, flash floods, and mudslides.
Most of Adar is trackless mountains or hills. Altitude sickness can be a problem, but many of Adar’s inhabitants are acclimated to life among the high peaks. The mountains are also twisting and treacherous and avalanches are a constant danger to travelers.
Most Adarans are human or kalashtar, rugged mountainfolk who respect wisdom and action. A handful of half-giant families called the pathadrik (drifting giants) wander gypsy-like among the settlements and monasteries. Adarans are resilient and industrious, reserved and incisive. They care about the sensible and the mystical, and the harshness of life among the peaks has not made them grim or fatalistic. Typical Adarans are guarded with strangers but openly emotional among their friends and family. Life is too short to waste time with pretension, and the Path of Light teaches integrity and honesty.
Adarans are generally distrustful. More than a thousand years of siege has taught them to be that way. Most Adarans tend to reject the novel and the strange, preferring the known and the trustworthy. If someone manages to earn an Adaran’s gratitude or trust, the resultant loyalty is deep.
Normal Adarans live simply compared to the people of tamer lands. That is not to say they live without joy or comfort, but that they have access to fewer diversions and luxuries. Given this, an Adaran takes great joy in work and leisure and similar pride in strong relationships. To an Adaran, real luxury is found in a sturdy house, loose and comfortable clothing, and another’s warm arms to curl up in before sleep. An Adaran toils in the fields, drives animals in small pastures, or hunts in the mountains, then gathers with friends at night to tell stories, make beer and bread, and enjoy a smoke. Adarans value the spiritual because they know material existence is fleeting. They respect the primal spirits of the land along with their ancestors, elders, and those who show good judgment. Spirituality has its place in everything, from patterns of weaving to actual meditation. The arcanists, martial artists, and psychics who protect Adar seek perfection in body and mind. They have to. At any moment, they might be required to offer body and soul to hold Adar against the Inspired. Even the commoners know that meditation on the Path of Light is important work, not laziness or inaction. In fact, inaction can be considered evil.
Real evil lives in Adar, though. Although the vast majority of folk are concerned with the welfare of at least their local friends and families, a few of Adar’s residents are descendants of those who came to the land of refuge to escape persecution or prosecution rightly deserved. Even so, wicked Adarans try to maintain a veneer of propriety — acting honest and assiduous so they can better survive.
Traditional Adaran prayers call on Braahyn (Balinor), the god of the wilds and the moving earth, and his spouse Araakti (Arawai). Many people also respect the primal spirits of nature and those of their departed ancestors. The Path of Light, the dominant religion in Adar, has all but eclipsed these other spiritual practices. Its message has proven preferable to the rule of remote gods and a cold and meaningless end to life in Dolurrh. It is a path of choosing one’s own destiny and possibly even eventually transcending death itself.
The people of Adar also revere the legend of Taratai. Taratai was the mysterious kalaraq-caste quori spirit that led the other dissident quori spirits into Adar to create the kalashtar and teach the Path of Light. She is a holy mother, a guide, and a warrior. Everyone knows of her sacrifice, and many people in Adar set aside five days of winter to mourn her passing. This “holiday” is called the Void of Taratai.
Adar has no standing army and its defenders are not organized armies like those of Riedra or the Five Nations of Khorvaire. In Adar, armored soldiers carrying halberds are not the normal defenders of monasteries and temple-fortresses. Even in the villages of the mountains, a town’s defender is more likely to be skilled in unarmed combat than to be reliant on heavy weapons and
armor. About one-third of Adar’s chief defenders are kalashtar and most are rogues, monks, wizards, monks and psions rather than fighters or more common martial troops. Perhaps the most famous defenders of Adar are the guides and trailblazers of the Summit Road organization.