This Thread will describe several regions of import. More areas may be added detailing the homelands of the PCs. The Cold Lake Region will be the starting area of the adventure. The City of Caer Uthis will be familiar to most casters.
Cold Lake In the northern reaches of the Kingdom of Forlinde, lies Cold Lake. The region is home to 3 small towns all built along the shores of the lake. The region straddles a great road, which stretches south to Bafford, the capital of Forlinde, and further south to Sofilholm, seat of the High King of Alainta and the largest city in this part of the world. North of Cold Lake, the road meanders through the High Hills, to Fawic Keep. Fawic Keep and its town are the last Human settlement, before the road enters the Stonehallow Gate, the largest and most trafficked gateway into the Dwarven Realm. It is this terminus that gives this major road its name, The Stonehallow Highway. Centuries ago, in Alain’s Time, the Stonehallow Clan began construction of the Highway, in order to facilitate their trade in the Human lands and beyond.
More important to the people of the Cold Lake region than its position on the Stonehallow Highway, is what is found beneath Cold Lake. Since before recorded history, people in the region had managed to find gold by panning in Cold Lake, as well as the streams and brooks that flow from it. Sometime before the fall of the Elven Empire, a community of Halflings settled a town and called it Frostglen, and began to dig mines and gather gold from the lake in larger quantities. A minor gold rush swelled the population of the region, and 2 other towns were formed as satellites by the new immigrants (mostly Human, but with a few Dwarf and Ratfolk as well). These new towns (Southlake and Westlake) soon overtook Frostglen is size and population.
After a few years, rivalries among the citizens and prospectors of the towns began to draw blood. In order to prevent a full scale war, the leadership of each of the towns met, and chartered the Cold Lake Coalition. The CLC would oversee all gold mining in and around the lake, all private claims would abolished, and no new prospectors would be allowed to stake new claims. The CLC would pay locals to work the mines and sluices, proceeds would be divided among the 3 towns, the leaders of which would maintain control over the CLC. The CLC still functions today, its powers have ebbed and flowed over time, but its primary purpose is to manage the gold output of the region. In addition to the mining operation, the CLC also oversees two other important economic ventures, on behalf of the towns of Cold Lake, the Cold Lake Bank and the Cold Lake Martial Company. The Bank has branches in most major cities in the Human Lands and makes a tidy profit offering loans to merchants and the nobility. Despite generations of trying, the Bank has yet to establish a presence among the Dwarven merchants or within the Dwarven Realm, as Dwarves generally consider credit to be foolish.
The Cold Lake Martial Company is widely considered one of the finest mercenary companies in the world. Its soldiers are well trained, and armed with the best weapons and armor available. The Company maintains a fort on the Lake itself as its primary center of operation, but the forces of the company are usually deployed further afield. The Company will offer its services to any with the gold to pay. The Company was originally founded in order to protect the Cold Lake Region. For years the CLC had used its wealth to pay mercenaries to protect the region from bandits, and the greed of local nobility. The leaders of the CLC decided it would be better, and more profitable, to hire mercenaries full time and rent them out during peacetime. With the promise of high salaries, the CLC was able to attract some of the finest warriors, mages, scouts, and spies. With the greatest fighters, the Company would be able to charge the highest prices, with the profits being funneled back into the CLC.
The People of the Cold Lake Region are generally much better off than those in other areas of Alainta. The towns do whatever they can to provide for their citizens, using the profits from the CLC. Even the poorest can get a free hot meal, despite the harsh winters in the region few lack for warm clothing or firewood. While principal trade in the region is gold from the lake, most of the people of the towns do not work directly in that trade, or for the CLC. The Halflings of Frostglen keep herds of sheep, cows, and pigs, the weavers Southlake are accomplished and well known, and the Carpenter’s Guild of Westlake make fine furnishings. There are some farms around the area as well. The rugged terrain makes farming difficult and the yields in good years are not enough to sustain the large population of the three towns, but beyond that the region is largely self-sufficent. The Cold Lake Region is in the Kingdom of Forlinde. Unlike most regions of Forlinde (and the rest of Alainta), Cold Lake does not belong to any shire, barony, or duchy. The unique political nature of Cold Lake meant that the general hierarchical structure formed around Cold Lake. Over the centuries, the neighboring barons have tried to assert control and feudal rights over the area. The local towns, and the CLC, have resisted every attempt. Most of the people of Cold Lake take pride in this pseudo-independence. They remain loyal to the King of Forlinde, but swear fealty to no other nobility. Nearly a century ago, the King Gaspard II of Forlinde, was facing a rebellion, led by his cousin. He requested the aid of Cold Lake and in exchange for that aid, the King agreed to the Oath of Cold Lake. In the Oath, renewed by each king and queen since, Gaspard agreed to affirm the rights of the towns around Cold Lake. Specifically, that the towns and people of Cold Lake were free from feudal service and conscription. The towns would pay a special tax directly to the King, and the Stonehallow Highway would always be open to the soldiers. The Oath is cherished by the people of Cold Lake.
Mayor Gileon Underbough. A middle aged Halfling, he is the current Mayor of Frostglen, as well as Chief Executive of the Cold Lake Coalition. He comes from a long line of shepherds, and considers those skills to be the most useful in his duties. He takes little joy in being Mayor or Chief Executive, the grave choices he has to make weigh on him, and he rarely smiles while he is in council chambers. Despite his reluctance to wield power, he is highly respected both in Frostglen and in the CLC. Like many of his kin in the region, he views the profitabilty of the CLC as a means to an end, rather than an end itself. Like many of his predecessors, he works hard to improve the welfare of his people.
Constable Osgar Beney. A brash young Human. Osgar is the appointed Constable of Westlake. His chief duty is to manage the townwatch, and keep the peace. As Constable, he also sits on the Executive Board of the CLC, the 7 member council that governs the CLC. Despite his age, his natural charisma and bold idea made him the runner up in the last election for Chief Executive. He frequently clashes with Mayor Gileon, and often tries to push the council to take more aggressive action in their dealings with the neighboring Barons. He views the Oath of Cold Lake more as beginning than an end. He feels that expanding the rights and freedoms of Cold Lake will improve the lives of its people.
Captain Olenna Tane. Lawful Neutral. A Human noble. She was originally from the Kingdom of Linargion, as the daughter of Baron Tane, she could expect little from inheritence. She was able to secure a seat in the Arcanum Academy, but washed out before the end of her first year. She was, however, accepted into the Oprichniki. She has since risen through the ranks and is now the Captain this district of the Oprichniki. Most consider this district to be a soft one. There are few mages in the area, most are employed by the CLC, those who aren’t are either employed by the barons or just passing through on the Stonehallow Highway. Captain Orlan despises his assignment. She prefers to be on the front lines, in the thickest fighting, and feel that living in one of the quietest districts of the Oprichniki does not suit her.
The literal translation means "City of Power". Caer Uthis was founded 2000 years ago, by Elf-King Anduimun and his students to house and support the Arcanum Academy. The Arcanum Society, as well the the academy, have been based in Caer Uthis ever since. While the city is located within the border of the Linargion, the city is free, governed by the Circle. The Circle comprises the most powerful magi of the Arcanum Society, and serves as the governing body of both Caer Uthis and the Society. The Circle has no fixed number of members and chooses any new members, The original members were Elf-King Anduimun and his first students. Of the original Circle, two members still survive.
Caer Uthis stands on a low rise over the plains of Linargion. At night, the lights of the city can be seen for miles around.
Stretching north and west in a vast steppe beyond the 'civilized' lands of the humans, elves, and dwarves, lay the Badlands. There is no organization in this harsh place. No kingdoms exist, no law beyond the law of the sword. Not many can scratch a living from this place, fewer still would find such a living enjoyable. The land is harsh, its people harsher. In scattered bands and communities across the Badlands there are pockets of humans, but they are quite different than their southern kin. Half-Orcs also live in small communities, usually built around oasis or small streams. The Badlands are one of the few places half-orcs can live without fear of harassment from humans. There are other more monstrous denizens who roam the Badlands, Gnolls, Lizardfolk, Trolls, and the like. Most live as nomads, tending to their herds, or following wild game. For most, violence is an accepted part of their lives. When you have little, and your neighbors have even less, fighting over tiny scraps is to be expected.
If the Badlands have any rulers, it would be the centaur. They range far and wide across the steppes, tending to their herds of goats and horses. The centaur are best suited for the nomadic lifestyle common to the region. Their speed and endurance are a considerable asset when running from, or running to, trouble. The centaur have no central authority, and divide themselves into tribes and bands. Leadership is determined by strength, the strong lead, the weak follow. In certain rare times, the centaur have gathered under a single leader, the Khan. Such a leader has not arisen in hundreds of years, but the last time a Khan lead an army, it devastated the human kingdoms, all of Ishmaera was conquered, most of Linargion and Forlinda, even Alitaan saw centaur raiders. The horde was eventually defeated, thanks largely to the bravery of High Queen Miranda of Alainta, but it took years to repair the damage. Currently, there are 4 war leaders among the centaur, each of whom claim the title of Khan.
Ewina lies at the eastern edge of the human lands, along the goblin-held ranges of the Barrier Mountains. Its terrain is rugged and its people share that quality. Ewinans are fiercely independant. They accept no law, lord, or king they haven't chosen. Throughout the history of the region, the land and people of Ewina stand apart from their neighbors. The first human settlers came from the Reaver Islands, not to plunder but to settle. They built the first farms in the thin coastal plains. Ewina means Farm in the language of the reavers. As a result, the humans in Ewina do not share the same customs and traditions of the other human kingdoms. Even their language shares some of the coarse tones of the reavers. At the height of the Elven Empire, only nominal control was held in the Ewinan highlands. Elven governors refused to go there without an army. When the Elven Empire fell, and the human kingdoms were formed, every one save Ewina adopted the martial style of the Knightly Orders. Ewina had no native Orders and few horses. Ewinan warriors therefore, eschew mounted combat, favoring skirmishers and infantry. In war, Ewinans honor personal strength and valor, a sign of their independance.
Some mistake this independance for barbarism. It is true that many customs common in human lands are alien in Ewina, but the Ewinans have customs of their own. The social/political hierarchy that exists in the rest of the human lands is weak or nonexistent in Ewina. All men are considered equal below the king, and instead of Sheriffs and Lords there are perhaps a hundred local chieftains in charge of keeping the peace. Chieftains are chosen by local leaders, and when the King dies, it is the chieftains who elect his successor. The Ewinans have a strong sense of Justice and Loyalty. If a man is wronged, it is the duty of his friends, family and neighbors to do whatever is necessary to right that wrong. This web of friendship and loyalty stretching across the hills, valleys, bogs and plains has kept Ewina relatively peaceful. Civil wars and disputes between local nobility are rare, rebellions are largely unheard of.
Far to the south of Alainta is the great southern continent. The northernmost region of the southern continent, and the one with the most contact with Alainta, is Cathay. To reach Cathay takes more than three months of sailing. Most ships take a longer route to avoid the Skrunik Raiders from the Reaver Isles. Because of this trade is difficult, but those few gamblers on both sides can make a tidy fortune when their ships come in. Many trade goods can be found only on one side, making even small quantities of silk (from the south) or tobacco (from the north) worth a great deal to trade.
Cathay is home to Humans, Kitsune, Tengu, and other races not seen in the north. Cathay is named after the Cathans, a mysterious race that once ruled over much of the southern continent. Their true name is lost, 'cathan' being the word for Master in many southern languages. The modern region of Cathay was the main base for the Cathan Empire. In the North little is known about them, except they were powerful warriors and they may have been able to use magic. Some Northern scholars doubt the claims, viewing magic as a purely Northern innovation. The size, scope, and dramatic demise of the Cathans would lend credence to the idea that they wielded some sort of supernatural power. At its height, the Cathans ruled an empire three times the size of the old Elven Empire. In the South, the Cathans are viewed as demons, or the stuff of nightmares. Stories are often told of their cruelty and the horrors they inflicted on all the southern peoples. The Cathan population was relatively small, numbering less than 100,000 and they controlled their empire through fear and violence. The Cathans introduced slavery, primarily as a means of rewarding victorious soldiers and vassals, who accepted payment in sentient lives. The Cathans were based in the city of Okonan. At its height, Okonan was the largest and most advanced city in the world. Today the city lies in ruins. Little is known about the demise of the Cathans, theories abound. It is known that 800 years ago some form of war began. Some say it was a slave revolt, others say a civil war among the ruling Cathan or some favored vassal race. Whatever the cause, the war destroyed Okonan, its inhabitants and the Cathans.
After the fall of the Cathan Empire, the former subject races tried to build a new state, with little success. A number of successor kingdoms were founded on racial lines. These soon fell as anarchy would grip the region for centuries. Few states would survive after their founders passed. The one exception was a Tengu empire, which was founded nearly two centuries ago. After a long and successful carreer as a conqueror, a Tengu named Kao Xao-Liu crowned himself emperor in the ruins of Okonan. Kao died within days of his coronation, but his son was able to retain control of his father's army and empire. Emperor Kao II would build new institutions as well as restore order in Cathay. Unlike previous rulers, Kao II did all he could to include other races in his empire. Slavery was officially sanctioned, but was no longer racially based. Kao II created a number of Human, Kitsune and Nagaji noble families. After Kao's death, racial tensions in Cathay were largely diffused and an stable government survived.
The government Kao II created still exists, but it rules largely in name only. The Emperor sits on his Feathered Throne, but his will is no longer law. Each noble family controls a private army of soliders and spies. These families vie with each other for control of territories and cities. The Emperor has little control over them, and many Emperors have been deposed (sometimes brutally) for trying to establish authority over the noble houses. Direct warfare is somewhat rare. War destroys trade and agriculture, and many nobles will band together to prevent open war, which has created a very delicate balance of power in the region. As a result, noble houses tend to use more covert or political tools to achieve their ends and hurt their enemies.