Campaign of the Month: January 2008
A Deadly Affair
- Archos – a cultural descendant of Leistos and Arkuz, both the clan structure and the militaristic racist society have fallen to history. The kingdom is ruled by a single monarch advised by a council of regional archdukes. As in Arkuz of old, races and genders have almost total equality. Many of the noble families have their origins in the old clans of Arkuz or the wealthy landowners of Leistos, though many also rose during the intervening dark age. Beneath the king and the council of archdukes is a full hierarchy of nobility, from knights serving local lords up to viscounts and dukes. Social classes are divided, with nobles at the top, craftsmen in the middle, and peasants or commoners at the bottom. Some social mobility is possible, but it is rare for anyone to advance outside their station. It is easier for a commoner to become a craftsman, though, than for anyone to become a noble.
- Troll Kingdoms – Antiri’s council of kings lasted barely a decade past his destruction, and the individual kingdoms split apart into warring factions. In the intervening millennium, a culture that glorifies combat has led to the rise and fall of dozens of kingdoms, and the rise and fall of countless noble families. Social mobility is rare, but extraordinary acts of “heroism” or conspicuous skill in combat can earn a noble title. Border skirmished between the Troll kingdoms are common, and at least two are usually involved in open warfare. Perhaps half a dozen kingdoms are stable and powerful enough to maintain relations outside their region. The most powerful of the Troll kings holds his capitol in Antiri’s ancient city – portions of which allegedly predate the cataclysm.
- Dwarven Free Cities – a loose federation of free cities with a mutual defense pact. Most of their economy comes from mining – both for metal and gemstones. These lands historically belonged to dwarves, but were conquered by Leistos. With the fall of that empire, the dwarves reclaimed the land and began to run the imperial mines for themselves, though some humans and members of other races remained. Each of the Free Cities governs itself a little differently. About half of them have a king or other hereditary ruler, but the other half have some form of representative government. The family is the most important social unit in the culture of the Free Cities, and people often keep track of huge networks of relatives. In those cities that have a noble ruler, that ruler is often simply the head of the largest family (or clan) in the area. Personal advancement is possible in their society, but most prefer to focus on advancing their family’s goals.
- Pintare – also called the Land of Five Lords, this land is composed of five kingdoms with strong historical alliances. The five Kings address one another as “Brother,” and killing a family member is the most grievous sin in the religion that dominates Pintare (the Church of the Flame). The society is divided by a rigid caste system based on some combination of occupation and the ‘purity’ of one’s blood (hence, a human blacksmith and a troll blacksmith would be in the same caste, but a half-orc or orc blacksmith would be in a lower one), and moving or even marrying between castes is strictly forbidden. Slavery is common here, and slaves are considered property – they do not even exist within the caste structure, though their offspring by a member of a caste assume that caste (even a noble caste).
- Hinnir – a relatively new kingdom composed almost entirely of humans, the Hinnir is also the cultural group that runs this kingdom. Horse nomads with a fearsome reputation, their rampant expansionism has been slowed by the dangers of the Wildlands and the tribes of Wildmen. Relatively little is known of them, save that they refer to one another as “Freedmen,” and the prisoners they take in battles or raids can earn a place in their society. They use an epithet in their tongue that means “slave” to refer to foreigners and people in the territory they occupy, though they don’t treat them as such. One of the larger territories they occupy is peopled by a culture that calls themselves the Olrak.
- Islanders – the tribal inhabitants of the Far Islands were raided and pressed into slavery for generations by slavers from Pintare. After overcoming several slaver ships in an ambush, they were able to adopt the superior weapons of the slavers, and have since become a powerful seafaring force. Their once-peaceful society has become an almost xenophobic race of raiders involved in a perpetual war against Pintare. Their small numbers mean that their war is mostly defensive, and they are hesitant to trade directly with anyone they don’t already know well. Their society is still organized according to their tribal system, with women remaining on the islands and caring for crops and raising children while the men sail out on raids or other expeditions.
- New Andar – the elves of old Andar forged a kingdom out of the Wildlands, on the border of Archos. They displaced most tribes of Wildmen from that region, though some remained and have since been assimilated into their nation (becoming the source of most of the half-elves in the world). They’ve maintained a mildly isolationist attitude toward the outside world, though they are beginning to make contact. Their noble families have existed unchanged for thousands of years, so one can only advance to nobility by marrying into an existing family. All other citizens of Andar are considered equals, even the humans. The elves of Andar are struggling to purge what they perceive as the flaws that destroyed their old society from their culture, including the belief in their inherent superiority. The three highest noble families are those that hold the three Seeds of Life entrusted to Andari families after the war against the Pit’hai. The monarchy passes from one Seed family to the next in order each generation. When one King dies, the head of the next family is given the crown.
- New Ethiel – this nation of elves settled on the rough volcanic coast across the mountains from Pintare. Unlike their cousins, they did not abandon the use of slaves or admit other races to their society as equals. The three Seed Families of Ethiel form a triumvirate – a totalitarian three-man council that rules the country. Social mobility is available only to elves, and even then is rare and difficult. The social hierarchy is divided between commoners (farmers or “unskilled” craftsmen), masters (slave-owners or skilled craftsmen), and nobles.
- Kaligtasan – Kaligtasan is a large volcanic archipelago in the Sea of Storms, south of the Troll Kingdoms. The landscape is primarily tropical, with lowlands in the west that provide a good place for growing rare spices and sugar cane. The islands are a good source of gold, copper, tropical fruits and spices, and exotic metals. Trading with the islands is limited to the calm season when the seas are not filled with storms and massive waves. The population of the islands is a very varied melting pot. There are many different cultures, races, and religious creeds, sometimes mixed together and other times divided in the collection of city states throughout the islands. Every city state has their own ruler and government, but they all act as part of a large coalition when dealing with outside nations. There is occasionally conflict, but rarely any larger wars or invasion. Not all of the islands in the archipelago are inhabited, so as new settlers or groups arrive, the coalition of leaders will convene to try to put the people in a place that works for everyone – maximizing the production of the various resources available in the unique climate.
*_Beastlands_ – The Beastlands have a strict caste which defines which animal you are bound to. Depending on which caste is chosen, you may be bound to classifications of farmers, craftmen, warriors, healers, and leaders. It is equally either savannas or cloud forests.