Nations of The World
The Kingdom of Erhart
Monarch: Charles Erhart VI
Political System: Absolute Monarchy
National Colours: Royal Purple and Silver
National Emblem: A Silver Stag Rampant.
Population: Predominantly Human. A small ethnically Elven, Halfling and Gnomish presence on the continent.
Social Structure: Static class structure, with upwards mobility beyond the middle class being very difficult.
A central power, the Erhart line has reigned for hundreds of years and intends to do so for hundreds more.
While the majority of the populace is human; due to its aggressive and shrewd penchant for opportunistic conquest and political pressure, it controls various satellite states and vassals in its immediate vicinity, giving its outlying principalities a more cosmopolitan feel.
Primarily a maritime power, it is considered to have one of the best navies in the world. The Erhart line also has a long standing rivalry with many of the other major world powers. Though not a terrestrially impressive power, its control of major shipping lanes gives it vast control over trade and a strong economy. That, coupled with an innate grasp of foreign diplomacy and the quickly shifting alliances of its neighbours, more than makes up for its smaller population.
It has a longstanding dislike for the Elven Bacheneaux Republics who seem to be the only local political operators that are capable of challenging their power. There are also philosophical differences between the two as class loyalties are ingrained in the social fabric of Erhart where the Republics preach self-determination of the people.
Leadership: The Oaken Council
Political System: Citizen Representative Democracy
Capital: Taloque (Tal-oak)
National Colour: Dark Green
National Emblem: Three Oak Trees
National Motto: "We Shall Not Be Ruled"
Population: Predominantly Elven, various other ethnicities.
A confederation of various Elven city-states, The Bacheneaux Republics are a pseudo-senatoral nation with a reputation for great skill in the high arts and sciences. The core states are mostly flatlands and deep forests, with various annexed coastal territories that are considered affiliated states.
It is a mainly landlocked power, with only small access to seaports in the west and north east. This was not always the case and the Erhart dynasty has much responsibility for this after various wars of conquest.
On the surface, the Bachenaux seem to be a fair, cosmopolitan society, having a respresentative electoral system. Additionally, the Bacheneaux espouse a philosophy of self-determination, which is hypocritically overshadowed by almost criminal levels of taxation and conscription of non-elves for their constant skirmishes with other local powers and discriminatory requirements, including a minimum age of 70, preference for Elven representation in their senates.
Easily the largest land-power in the region in terms of both arms and size, but suffers from internal politicking, which makes it often difficult to react to civil disobedience.
The Bachenaux Repubic
Emperor: Cyzogni Verrs Viysirii
Political System: Autocractic with an Imperial figurehead.
Capital: Cyzgnigrad (Kiz-gni-grad)
National Colours: Black, Grey, White
National Emblem: A Wolf Howling at a Crimson Waning Moon
Population: Predominantly Human and Tiefling. Vampire Clans.
A Nome de plume that has superseded the original name of the coalition of baronies and duchies of the north tells you all you need to know about this bleak land- The Unholy Empire.
While mostly insular, it is still easily the most populous political entity due to the harsh lives many live, creating a need for large families. The empire experiences frequent internal upheaval as noble families vie for control of portions of the empire, or as peasants rebel against their oppressive lords. The Emperor is a puppet figurehead of the aristocracy, with many families paying mere lip service, while they pursue their internecine ambitions.
Many noble families are either incredibly fond of mystics and other charlatans, or are themselves Sorcerers or Wizards of varying power. It is in part due to the reliance on magical means that ingenuity and invention is often given a sideline, whereas magical skill is championed. This has created difficulties in the artificing industry, many innovations that are commonplace in the southlands are rarely, if at all, seen. Many warriors and farmers are equipped with tools and weapons that are if not decades, then centuries behind. Modernisation is becoming an ongoing concern for the more forward-thinking families, but no solution is in sight.
Even so, the Empire is experiencing a sort of renascence with a stable cadre of noble houses working closely towards what some see as a stabilisation of the regime. Others see this as a dangerous threat to the other great empires and kingdoms of the world. Rather than their traditional disorganised and complex system of familial alliances, recent efforts have been made to centralise power through this cabal.
International observers are wary, but optimistic that this won’t last. Others are more pessimistic and have already begun training new armies.
The Unholy Empire
The Valen Hegemony
Leader: Duke Maximilian Serente Valenis XVI
Political System: Meritocratic Guild Elected Monarchy
National Colours: Red, White, Yellow
National Emblem: A Cockerel
Population: Predominantly Halfling, Gnomes, some Elven and Human, minor Dwarven presence
The city of Valen was once a part of a large, forgotten, kingdom that spanned many hundreds of miles through the south western flatlands, foothills to the Dawning sea. During a time of instability, the Duke of Valen, Maximillian the First, seized political control of the unaffected regions and instituted a mutually beneficial trade and protection agreement with its neighbours, becoming the de-facto leader of the alliance and instilling order to the region under his benign leadership.
Over the hundreds of years since the collapse of its former parent state, Valen has reformed itself, formalising its agreements and annexing the client states it had acquired. The most prominent is the institution of a council of electors to determine the next Duke of Valen from the patrilineal line of Valen, rather than designation of an heir by the monarch or regent. The second most prominent was the emphasis and importance placed on the arts and its masters. Culturally, Valen has an almost religious devotation towards self improvement and mastery of crafts.
Rather than worship the gods, the Valenic have adopted a form of worship of a pantheon of paragons of the arts, not terribly dissimilar to the Dwarven Khareich's ancestor worship. Worship of gods is frowned upon as investment of energies in something not thought to actually exist or at best to be long dead. Worryingly to the theologians of the other faiths is the abilities displayed by the knightly orders of Valen, known as "Acquedors", who are able to draw on powers that can only be described as divine in origin. This, coupled with the insistence and denial of the gods, whilst simultaneously using divine power provokes more questions than it answers.
Rich in resources and effectively a theocracy with the importance of the guilds in every day life, Valen itself has undergone a transformation of a city of shephards and miners, to a city of artists, workshops and cathedrals. Adventurous, cavalier and hungry for political conquest its people are vibrant and devout.
Leader: The Khaisehfir (Lord of the Mountains) and his council of Khaiseraks (Lords of Stone)
Political System: Hereditary Patriarchal Clans
National Colours: Dark Blue, Gold and Bronze
National Symbol: A Great Crowned War Hammer
The Dwarven power, the city states of the Khareich are a subterranean network of great fortresses and citadels that act as a buffer to the eastern wastes in the great ranges of the Efhir mountains. Proud, stoic and militaristic, the Dwarves of the Khareich consider themselves the true homeland and caretakers to dwarfish ideals.
Thoroughly uninterested in matters outside their immediate sphere of influence, they often look down (or up) on Dwarves who live above ground for betraying their heritage, even though they still consider them misguided kin. Whilst insular and some would argue secretive, the Khareich has an unusual relationship with the small city state nations that make their home in the peaks above their cities. Mutual trade, respect and sometimes even military aid is exchanged between the Peak Cities against their common foes from the lands-beyond in the east.
All citizens of the Khareich have mandatory military training. Due to their proximity to the eastern wastes and occasional border skirmishes with the Bacheaux Republics, their more fearsome and unpredictable forces are distributed often as small elite warbands known as Rakreigers.
Meanwhile, its stonemason artisans, brewers and engineering feats surpass that of the Valen and Bachenaux. In these fields, the Khareich is technologically the most sophisticated civillisation in the known world, it suffers however from an intractability and reluctance to absorb new or external ideas. They believe their methods are the truest, that its metallurgy and production might be the best, but it is mass produced and often unimaginative and suffers from a lack of innovation.
Similarly, an almost intractable political system of familial debts, red tape and loyalties make the nation very slow to negotiate with, as each party must be consulted in turn, and each concern addressed. It has sometimes taken decades to resolve matters that would take only months due to the complex fealty system that keeps the Khareich together. The machine is efficient by Dwarven standards, but slow and meticulously addresses each point of a treaty with many weeks dissecting individual paragraphs. It is not uncommon for foreign diplomats to be recalled due to the expiration of their term and replaced with a new negotiator, sometimes requiring the process to begin all over again. Any agreements finally entered into however are binding and the oaths made intractable, like stone, and may last for hundreds of years.
Many small nations have been surprised to find armies of Rakreiger suddenly appear in defense of their lands owing to treaties signed hundreds of years ago and long forgotten.
Trade is often handled by guilds, allowing for far quicker transactions, standard agreements and yearly tithes, but even these often require long standing friendships between both parties and striking a new agreement can be as infuriating as dealing with the leadership of the Khaiseraks.
The Clans of The Khareich
Freeports are common on the fringes of the Northern Continent. Mostly beneath
the notice and predations of the powerful Vampire and Tiefling clans of the
Unholy Empire, the Illic people, as they are commonly referred to by the
Unholy Empire and southerners, are mostly hardy fisherfolk living in bleak,
Their primary population stock is human, though there is rarely found
tiefling stock in ports closer to the Unholy Empire. There are next to no
Half Elves, as even here in the cold north, intermarrying is frowned upon
and even when a union is blessed, Half Elves are still as rare a people as
anywhere else in the world.
Most of these towns pay tribute to a Jarl if they are not powerful enough to protect themselves, and often spend the summer months feuding and raiding against their enemies and to survive. Whilst blood feuds are common and lengthy, the Illic peoples will often band together against a greater foe, calling on ancestral pledges to defend their freedom from conquest. These pledges are usually invoked when one Jarl becomes particularly powerful and threatens to unify the Illics into a larger nation- a suicidal prospect given their proximity to the Unholy Empire. The Oddemen, a small group of elderly wisemen that can be found in every Illic town, have long since recognised the benefits of being too fractious and unruly a people to be worth subjugation.
Simply put, so long as the Illics remain as small, unimportant fisherfolk, the safer they are.
However, even this does not protect them against all their predacious neighbours. Pirate fleets are a problem in the north when the pickings further south are slim. Though few and far between, raiding ships, or even entire fleets, have been known to pillage the Illic peoples. Some pirates are even fellow Illic who have tired of a life of small means and hard living. Their raiding continues year round, not just during the feuding season.
In terms of trade, the Illic Fisherfolk will often hunt narwhal and whale, and their bonecarvers have unparalleled scrimshaw skill in the world. These items are often traded wholesale to merchant intermediaries, often Unholy, sometimes Erhart and very occasionally Bachenaux. They generally do not themselves own and operate trading fleets, as the infrastructure to create such large vessels is demanding on limited supplies. In return, weaponry, armour and spice are the highly prized goods exchanged for the work. Trade is frequent enough that most Illic can speak at least common Erhart, the trade language, if not other languages.
Illic food is considered to be an acquired taste by other nations, though in practicality it is mostly hard ration that outsiders would be reluctant to try. When the season is good, a Freeport feasts, often on a holy day or a memorial/celebration, they will roast moose, elk, snow chicken and at the conclusion of the feast the Jarl will ceremoniously pick the “Lutha” or "Feastbone" from the tablescraps of his guests. This is usually a political move- a chance to end feuds (or start them) to show favour etc. It is an important symbolic part of the feast, and is usually accompanied by an allegorical story, or a retelling of a saga. This bone is then scrimshawed with a depiction of the tale and hung in the feasthall above the seating area and the chosen guest who is honored is invited to sit at the left of the Jarl for the rest of the drinking.
In terms of attitude to outsiders, the Illics are generally incredibly polarised personalities and it is dependent on the region and settlement as to which they are, leading to much uncertainty when dealing with these eccentric people. Often depicted as either incredibly stoic, or incredibly gregarious- in either event they are often ultimately mistrusting of newcomers. It can take years to build trust with an Illic town, but once won it is generally never forgotten. They are a grudgebearing people and extremely practical in their outlook.
Woe betide the outsider who betrays an Illic’s trust.