Almanac: The World at Large
The World at Large
These cities are the furthest outposts of civilization according to some, urbanized barbarians to others. Neither statement is totally false. The city states are fast growing in trade and skill. Includes Free Haven (known for it’s vast market and enterprise, run by the Guilds), Stiengard (crafters and warriors, ancestral leadership of the Duke), Frostdale (doorway to the north, supplier of raw goods, Elected leadership) to name the three biggest and best known.
Middle Marches (Also known as the Middle Kingdoms)
Achieving independence from the collapsing Arkaen Empire just over a thousand years ago, these lands established their own feudal systems of leadership. Diplomatically on good terms with the Elves of the Western Woods and the Dwarf Holds of the North. The largest kingdoms include Merrovin, Panrovia, Voddare and a number of minor holdings, petty lords, and others that define themselves as “Not Northmen”.
Kal Eisen and Eisengard (Middle Marches)
Kal Eisen is a Dwarf stronghold, originally founded many years ago before it became overtaken by Evil Forces. Two years ago the heir to the Iron Crown returned with eight noble companions to reclaim his heritage, leavin dead all but three of the companions and collapsing half the mountain kingdom. Erik, declared kin by the last of the Ironfists, now sits the throne as the king in waiting. In the meantime he has called for the return of those that once called Kal Eisen home, be they Dwarf, Human, or Elf. He has also called for brave adventurers to aid in reclaiming the land from the marauding bands that remain entrenched in the Grey Woods and the Deep Roads.
The surrounding lands are known as Eisengard, formerly one of the borderlands before Erik declared that it would be under the protection of the Iron Crown. It is a land of rugged mountains, majestic rivers, and untamed forests.
Kingdom of Merrovin (Middle Marches)
Home of noble knights, pious priests, and many many common folk.
It has several major cities and borders on the Western Woods and the Iron Mountains to the east. takes it’s name from the river that runs through it. Aided by the elves of the Bora Forest, Merrowvin was the first middle march to gain independence from the Empire, and continued to expand its dominion, including several forays into the borderlands and Panrovia.
The lineage of the Merrow kings and queens has been punctuated by warring dynasties and tactical marriages. The current Royal Court of King Carolus and Queen Coraline is something to behold in their full regalia, combining the majesty of Merrowvin with the fashion innovations of Panrovia.
The City States of Panrovia (Middle Marches)
Home to many a plotting noble and contemplating monk. Cornered on all sides – west of Merrovin, bordered to the east by Vodarre to the west, surrounded by mountains and swamps. To survive there requires a great deal of cunning and tenacity, both as an individual and as a state. Despite numerous attempts to unite as a kingdom, Panrovia is at best a confederacy of city states trying to gain advantage over each other while keeping outside powers at bay.
Though it has been troubled far less by Underdark incursions, it has still endured several conflicts with Merrovin and Vodaarre
The Kingdoms of Vodarre (Middle Marches)
Best known for its sailors and sell-swords. A passionate people of fiery tempers. Need has driven their primary industry to be their ships and trade. Vodarre has a reputation for a bustling economy on both sides of the law, including being the headquarters to the notorious assassins guild known as the Blood Crows.
The history of the kingdoms of Vodarre is one of invasion and occupation from many sides, the most recent being overturned just over a hundred years ago. The resulting population is mixed between drow, half elves, tiefling, and human of Eos, natives, and Arkean descent. The current monarch Queen Izzadora wears the combined crown of Vodarre, binding the many realms by blood and tradition. Her son Sandoval is much sought after by the daughters of many a noble while Sandoval is quite set on other plans.
The Divided Empires of Arkea
The Empire has had several cycles conquest and collapse. The most recent collapse of the Empire was triggered almost a thousand years ago by a group of power hungry warlocks known as the Circle of Vecna sought to steal the power of the Gods themselves. As a result the capital city Nuvea and much of the surrounding area was blasted into a wasteland and (if legends are to be believed) the city itself transformed into blackened glass. The consequences spread even further as warlocks and wild mages across the Empire were twisted into Tieflings and other abominations. The resulting chaos shattered the Empire, leaving each branch foundering, consumed by infighting and ambitions. By the end of it, each had claimed to be the true heir of the Empire but none had the might to enforce it.
Archea (The Northern Empire): Located to the south on the North Continent, across the mountains from Merrovin. Since the fall of the Empire and the sacking by northern barbarians, Archea has been pushed into a defensive position. In rebuilding itself, it has shown an uncharacteristically benevolent attitude towards its former holdings to the north. Trade and diplomacy has never been higher as Emperor Corealanus takes measures to secure his nation’s future.
Arkea (The Eastern Empire): To the distant east the traditions of the original Empire continue, concentrating their efforts on maintaining their position while besieged by barbarians, Eosian fanatics, and rival factions from within.
Argea (The Southern Empire): Across the Emerald Sea there is still an empire, at least in name. A shadow of the former Imperial glory, it stands relatively equal with its neighbours, exhausted from unsuccessful attempts to bring them to heel. Monuments of its past glory still stand while scholars and adventurers seek to uncover the lost secrets of the Empire that was, perhaps to restore it or possibly rule it.
Slavery remains legal throughout, including a trade in elves that dates back to the days of the original Empire.
Kingdoms of the Dwarfs
Originating in the mountains to the far north, dwarfs reached southward with settlements that grew into independent kingdoms united by culture and the council of dwarf kings. The identity of an individual dwarf is defined by the tension between his clan, his caste, and his king.
Over the past five hundred years several dwarf kingdoms of the north have been turning inward while many southern dwarfs have experienced a diaspora as dwarf holds and even kingdoms fell in the wars against the Underdark and worse. Efforts remain underway to gather allies in retaking the fallen holds, including the most recent success of Kal Eisen.
The Clans of Lochlanach (Riekland)
To the far north, along the Icewind Mountains, past the Dwarfs of Axebiter Pass, there dwells a barbaric people who are best known for the terror and plunder that they have brought to the lands south of them. Lesser known for their fine craftsmanship of iron, stone working, trade, and bards, they have successfully made contact and trading relations with far distant ports but prefer to avoid the major cites. Governed by no one ruler, they nevertheless still work together at times with ancient ties of blood and gifting. Proudly unconquered, they speak their own tongue unless travelling and still worship the Gods of their forefathers.
The Southern Lands
The ancient lands of Koth, Meru, and Eos, found south across the Emerald Sea. There was a time when the desert empire of Arkea claimed Koth and Meru as its own but that hold weakened long ago with the fall of Nuvea and the curse that ripped apart the Empire. As the old kingdoms dwindled, Eos rose to prominence under the banner of their One True Faith, throwing both the Southern and Northern continents into a prolonged series of battles before order was restored.
Even further south is said to be a savage land of legends, mythic beasts, and deadly jungles. The dread serpent people of Chul and the ruins of Doomed Sarnath are tales told by wild eyed mad men but there might still be a thread of truth waiting to be uncovered.
Game Style & House Rules
For a basic feel of the lands, there are some language styles / cultural details that I have been liberally plundering
Arkaen: Greeks / Byzantine
Free Marches: The polyglot that is England, Ireland, and Scotland plus whatever else invaded and stuck around
Southlands: Africa, Middle East