Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Gargoña, Almarrón, and Saragón
Now I come to the piece which describes my nation of Saragón and her sister states, Gargoña and Almarrón. Collectively known as the Enlightened Lands, these baronies are the centres for art and wisdom on the Savage Coast. The Curse is studied here, and those affected by it are treated in an illuminated manner. If the knowledge to remove the curse exists in books and scrolls, those writings will be found in the Enlightened Lands or will eventually make their way here. It has been one of my quests to gather knowledge of the history of the Savage Coast, and to aid in that endeavour, I have commissioned several groups in these lands to search for artifacts of past civilisations. Perhaps they will provide some clue to the origins of the curse for its eventual removal.
The Chronicle of the Curse
by Don Luis de Manzanas
These three states are grouped for several reasons. First, their governments are the least tyrannical among the Savage Baronies. Almarrón was actually a democracy for a time before it became corrupt when the worst dictator in the history of the Savage Baronies took power. The people have recently restored a member of the old nobility to power, and he is a fair and just ruler. Gargoña has remained at peace for the last 25 years, breaking its studied neutrality only twice: first, lending support to the southern baronies to keep the northern ones from overrunning the region; and again, to prevent Hule from achieving similar ambitions. In both cases, Gargoña acted more as a mediator, sending no troops into battle. The leader of Saragón also strives for peace, but leaps to the defence of the downtrodden or the weak.
The rulers of all three states encourage learning and thinking among their people. This promotion of learning and philosophy is another natural grouping for these baronies. Because of this, they are often referred to as the Enlightened States. Gargoña, with its many artists, poets, and philosophers, is considered the cultural centre of the Savage Baronies. Saragón is also a centre for thinking and learning, home to many sages and scientists. While Almarrón, after a long period of darkness, is just beginning on the road to enlightenment, the state is already becoming known for its fine crafters. All three states encourage the use of magic, and wizards are more common here than elsewhere in the baronies.
In addition to the comparative abundance of wizards, these three states also have a tradition of swashbuckling warriors and rogues. Rather than seafaring Swashbucklers like those found in Vilaverde and Texeiras, the Swashbucklers of the Enlightened States are urban dwellers whose suave and sophisticated air, combined with their streetwise nature, make them accepted anywhere from the courts of nobles to the back alleys of the urban peasantry.
Finally, Gargoña, Almarrón, and Saragón are close together geographically and face many of the same threats. Both Almarrón and Gargoña were formed from territories that once belonged to Narvaez. All three states, because of their proximity to Narvaez and history with that state, are endangered by the aggressive nature of its religion (though Gargoña suffers a much lesser threat because of its peaceful nature).
The Enlightened States tend to think themselves just a little bit better than the other baronies, and perhaps they are. Encouraging peace and freedom, they are the centre of baronial culture and the baronies most likely to achieve a peaceful unification.
Baronía de Gargoña
Gargoña is the mildest of the Savage Baronies. Its ruler, Doña Esperanza, works for peace and has given her people a secure and almost prosperous life for the past 25 years. Though Gargoña would probably be unable to resist an invasion, the nation is less of a target than some because of its apparent neutrality. Gargoña is protected from hostilities initiated beyond the Savage Baronies because Saragón, Narvaez, and Almarrón shield it from any overland threats, and the navies of Vilaverde and Texeiras block threats from the sea.
Gargoña is recognised as the centre of culture in the Savage Baronies. Since the state is generally viewed as politically neutral, its scholars are sometimes invited to other nations to serve as advisers or teachers. Most Baronials think of Gargoña as a pleasant place, but some wonder about the fortitude of Gargoñans themselves; they are not seen as people of action.
Gargoña is primarily farmland, though dense forests lie along most of the state's borders. A large swamp, Delta de Pozaverde, helps protect the nation from ocean-borne threats, its shallow waters keeping deep-keeled sailing ships from the interior. Skiffs powered by oar or pole ply the waterways of the delta, ferrying commerce to and from seagoing ships.
Like so many of the other baronies, Gargoña has had a history of conflict and sorrow. As mentioned in the last chapter, Narvaez peacefully split into two states in 913: Narvaez in the north and the Barony of Sotto in the south. Sotto was never a stable barony; it existed for less than a quarter century and faced near-constant crises during its short existence.
In 921, the State of Escudor declared independence from Sotto. The tiny nation, built around Castillo de Tordegena, was released by Sotto without a fight and remained independent until it fell to an expanding Almarrón, as detailed below.
Five years later, the Barony of Rivera followed suit; it included Ciudad Real, the Delta de Pozaverde south of Río Maldito, and several square miles of land within Sotto between the river and the present-day border of Almarrón. Sotto objected to this further splintering but was forced to release the barony after a short civil war.
Another eight shaky years passed before the Barony of Gargoña broke from Sotto. When founded, Gargoña encompassed only the land west of Las Navas to the present-day border of Saragón. Again Sotto tried to force the rebellious area to remain united, and again Sotto failed. Gargoña was granted independence in 934. Still, Sotto harboured ill-will toward Gargoña and declared war on the tiny barony in 936.
Despite its size, Gargoña was better organized and fielded a more effective fighting force than its parent barony. By the end of the year, Gargoña had not only defended its original claim, but conquered northern Sotto down to the Sierra Borgosa hills. Gargoña allowed the southern portions of Sotto to reorganise independently; they formed the State of Almarrón.
Gargoña and its new sibling barony remained at peace for just over four decades, consolidating territory, and initiating trade. Gargoña became a stable and reasonably prosperous small state. However, in 977, Almarrón attacked and absorbed Escudor, then turned north and attacked Gargoña and Rivera. To resist the Almarróñan forces, Rivera and Gargoña negotiated a merger, keeping the name Gargoña, in 978. This stronger Gargoña was at least able to hold back Almarróñan advances, while within the aggressive state, Nueva Esperanza took advantage of Almarrón's distraction to declare independence. Almarrón sued for peace with Gargoña in 979.
Gargoña rebuilt its war-trampled borders, and in 986, Doña Esperanza came to power. The baronesa began a policy of neutrality regarding all other baronies, sealing alliances both diplomatically and through astutely arranged marriages. Gargoña has remained at peace ever since. Even when Gargoña allied with the southern baronies against the northern in the recent wars, Doña Esperanza was able to maintain relative neutrality. Aided by her familial relationship with the baron of Narvaez (her daughter is married to Don Hugo's son), Doña Esperanza eventually negotiated the peace that allowed the baronies to cooperate against their larger common enemy, Hule.
Though most inhabitants of Gargoña are human, their tolerant attitude recognises other races as equals. The barony includes settled families from all races of the Savage Coast, even a few peaceful lizard kin and goblinoids. The typical Gargoñan is an artist, poet, or scholar, yearning for adventure and seeking inspiration. Warriors, rogues and wizards are all popular character types. Priests are less common.
The Swashbuckler is the most encountered kit of Gargoña, though many wizards use the Mystic kit. Defenders, Honourbound, and Scouts have their places, as do the rarer Nobles, Local Heroes, and Gauchos. The Local Hero is the kit most often used for clerics and druids in Gargoña.
The people of Gargoña are dreamers, generally optimistic but given to occasional fits of melancholy. They enjoy their reputations as scholars and artists, but are quick to point out that such skills do not make them any less able in a fight.
The Red Curse
The Red Curse is seen as a great malaise by the people of Gargoña and is the subject of many stories, plays, and treatises. Still, the detrimental effects of the curse are rarely found in Gargoña, and Gargoñan Afflicted are rare. While Gargoña's clergy might not be large, it is devoted; the priests of Gargoña make regular use of maintain spells to help people avoid the Red Curse's effects. The nation also imports some cinnabryl, most of which is purchased and used by those who have chosen an adventuring career.
The few Afflicted Gargoñans remain with their family and friends, who usually try to raise enough money to seek a cure. A few poets never seek respite because they believe the angst of the Red Curse provides them with better inspiration.
Industry and Trade
Gargoña's major exports include artists, scholars, and diplomats. Ciudad Real maintains a university; while classes are given without cost (the school is supported by the government), students agree to tithe a portion of their wages to Gargoña for the rest of their lives. Many of Gargoña's skilled scholars work abroad as headmasters, tutors, or political advisers. While most remain in the baronies, graduates can be found in all nations of the Savage Coast, except for Herath and the lands of the lizard kin.
Gargoña also exports works of art, from paintings and sculptures to music and poems. Its people have made their own tools and instruments for decades but are beginning to import items of superior quality from the crafters of Almarrón. Gargoña also produces boats driven by oars or poles and supplies some smokepowder (from Cimmaron) to Narvaez.
Gargoña's major imports include small amounts of cinnabryl and food. Most cinnabryl comes from Vilaverde. Many mercenaries from Torreón and a few companies from Narvaez aid Gargoña's mediocre militia in policing the barony.
Many of the "enlightened" folk of Gargoña consider religion a foible to be avoided. Still, Valerias has a large following in Gargoña; both Milan and the Ambassador are respected as well. The General and the Judge have a few stalwart followers, and temples devoted to al-Kalim and Ixion have appeared recently in the barony. Though Narvaezans are pleased to see a few converts in Gargoña, they frown at the tolerance Gargoñans show for other Immortals.
Baronesa Esperanza "La Illustre" de Sotto y Rivera rules the nation of Gargoña. Descended from the noble family that once ruled Rivera, this educated lady came to power in Gargoña almost 25 years ago. Very few know it, but she was once a thief with the Local Hero kit. Bored with the life of a pampered noble, she stole for thrills, and as "La Pantera" was a notorious figure in the baronies. When Esperanza was 24, the baron of Gargoña died, and she was chosen to succeed him. Quickly earning her nickname "the Illustrious Baroness," she married into the old Sotto family to cement a political alliance, eventually finding love in the marriage as well. The baronesa gave birth to two daughters, both of whom have been married into ruling families in other baronies: The elder, Dulcinea, is wed to Julio, second son of Barón Hugo of Narvaez; the younger, Caterina, is married to Claudio de Montejo, one of the nobles of Saragón.
Now nearing 50, Doña Esperanza is considering whom she should name as her heir; while Dulcinea is more intelligent, her husband has a reasonable chance to become baron of Narvaez. While Dulcinea could unite Narvaez and Gargoña (if she inherits Gargoña), this could destroy Gargoña's neutrality and drag Gargoña into the periodic conflicts of Narvaez. Secretly, the baronesa is leaning toward naming Caterina the heir; while perhaps not as scholarly as her sister, Caterina is brave and charismatic. Besides, if her husband Don Claudio should come to lead Saragón (a distinct, if unlikely, possibility), the alliance between Saragón and Gargoña would be good for all parties involved.
While Gargoña has been free of wars and revolts, prosperity has had the concurrent effect of dulling the military's responsiveness. The baronesa relies primarily on a large and loyal, albeit mediocre, militia, backed with seasoned mercenaries from Torreón. Active troops, stationed near the remains of Castillo de Pardalupe, garrison the capital. The latter force is less concerned with Saragón than with Yazi raids.
Ciudad Real is a large town with a population of 11,700. Famous for its generous patrons, the capital is a haven for literature and the arts. Many fine artists, poets, and philosophers have come to Ciudad Real and flourished in the philanthropic atmosphere. Ciudad Real is the heart of Gargoña's culture, and in turn, the heart of the culture of Los Guardianos. Ciudad Real is home to many interesting and unusual people; visitors can find entertainment in inns and taverns, visit theatres, or talk to philosophers. Musicians often play in the streets, entertaining for their own pleasure, but accepting tips given to them by passers-by.
Other Places of Interest
Besides the capital, the only major settlement in Gargoña is the village of Las Navas, the backbone of food production in the barony. A fishing village of about 800 people, Las Navas also serves as a produce depot for the dozens of farms sprawled throughout the Río Maldito valley. On occasion, poets or philosophers come to Las Navas for quiet, and painters come to capture bucolic landscapes, but in general, the village is empty of the artists and Swashbucklers of Ciudad Real. Gauchos flood Las Navas during the annual cattle drive that brings stock to be butchered or sent downriver to the capital; however, the Gauchos of Gargoña are a little less rough than those found in Guadalante and Cimmaron, less prone to fights and more open to music and other cultured pursuits.
Las Navas lies on a route between the capital and the ruins of the proud castle, Castillo de Pardalupe. Like so many forts, towers, and castles in the baronies, this one was sacked during the recent wars. It fell to the same formidable band of Yazi gnolls that laid waste to Castillo de Tordegena in Almarrón. Doña Esperanza has sent militia, Torreón mercenaries, and more than one party of adventurers to reclaim Castillo de Pardalupe. However, monsters seem firmly established in the castle. No matter how often they are cleared, more arrive within days. In fact, Castillo de Pardalupe has become home to a deepspawn (described in the MONSTROUS MANUAL tome); this vile creature lurks in the lowest sublevels beneath the castle, constantly replenishing the monsters found there.
Another place of interest is Isla del Cayo. The small island, once no more than a low coral reef, is now home to several tiny farms and a few small communities of Afflicted, mostly the Afflicted poets who have chosen this island for self-imposed exile. Here, they can live off the land and stare at the sea and sky, wallowing in the angst and sorrow that they hope will give them inspiration for great works of art. The island sports a lighthouse on the eastern tip; it is run by a small family of Afflicted fishermen who have lived there for decades. Down the coast from Isla del Cayo is the site of a naval battle of the recent wars. Several Almarróñan and Texeiran ships lie under the waves.
Bosque de los Ojos, the "Forest of the Eyes," is a light forest that sits on the border of Gargoña and Narvaez. Rumoured to be haunted, the forest is home to many unusual denizens, including more than a few monsters. The thick swamp of Delta de Pozaverde provides haven for bandits and is rumoured to be the resting place of several pirate treasures.
Estado de Almarrón
Almarrón's character is a mystery to many people of the Savage Coast, even its own inhabitants. The state has gone through many ideological upheavals and has recently decided to try a new direction. First organized in 936, it was ruled for decades by a noble family, who led it through many struggles with other nations. Radical changes in sentiment and philosophy led to a democracy for a time, but corruption destroyed that experiment. From the chaos, a dictator rose to power. Recently, the dictator was overthrown, and a member of the nobility was installed as the nation's leader. The current baron wants to lead his state toward learning and enlightenment. Since Almarrón has gone through so many changes, outsiders do not know what to expect in policy or in reaction to outside events. The inhabitants (and even the ruler) are sometimes confused themselves.
Almarrón has always been reclusive; this inward focus has not changed with its new leader; this is the reason for the general lack of knowledge about the state. Like many Guardianos, Almarróñans have the reputation of hot-blooded Swashbucklers. Traders have noticed the new government is encouraging quality crafts in order to increase the nation's output of fine marketable goods. With no other confirmable information, everyone is waiting to see what happens.
Much of Almarrón's territory is rocky, inhospitable hill country, but a large, fertile plain occupies the heart of the nation, supporting a majority of the population. Forested slopes and cliffs guard Almarrón's shores.
Almarrón, like so many other baronies, has had a bloody history. Organized from the confused southern portions of Sotto when that barony fell to Gargoña in 936, Almarrón faced difficulties from the very beginning; its people were disorganised and its nobles inexperienced. To help consolidate his new nation, the first baron of Almarrón unified his people in a crusade against the southern holdings of Nueva Esperanza, conquering that area in 939. The singularity of purpose forged in this conquest helped hold the state together for almost four decades.
About 15 years before the founding of Almarrón, a small barony called Escudor broke away from Sotto; when Almarrón emerged from the division of Sotto, Escudor was its neighbour. Unfortunately, Escudor's existence cut off Almarrón's access to the best route inland, and Almarrón blocked Escudor's route to the sea. Many disagreements simmered between the two states, finally boiling over into war in 977.
Almarrón defeated Escudor. Inspired by its victory, Almarrón immediately turned north to initiate hostilities with Gargoña and Rivera. Here it was not so fortunate, or perhaps it was simply better matched. The two states merged to resist Almarrón's aggression. On top of this, while war progressed in the north, the people of Nueva Esperanza began an internal war for independence. Led by their General Cimmaron, the people of Nueva Esperanza won their fight for freedom in 980.
The long years of tension and culminating defeats so disgusted the general populace that the people of Almarrón rose up and overthrew the baron. They embarked on a democracy, using old Traladaran writings as a basis for their government. Almarróñans maintained this experiment for almost 15 years, but revolutionary fervour had slain or exiled the most experienced leaders (the nobility). The people elected to office fell prey to indecision, endless argument, and greed.
In 994, poverty and hot tempers threatened to destroy Almarrón from within. Don Esteban, the mayor of Ciudad Tejillas, intervened. Using the city's garrison, the mayor ousted rival factions, installed himself as dictator, and named himself "El Salvador" (the Saviour). His self-proclaimed title was technically true because he did save Almarrón from complete collapse. However, he then initiated policies that made him very unpopular.
First, he seized what he perceived to be the nation's most important asset: the silver mines in Sierra del Plata, mines that supplied silver for coinage to many other nations. Don Esteban also established taxes on the state's other exports, including coffee and tobacco. Much of this wealth went directly to his own coffers rather than into a national treasury.
The people of Almarrón resented the usurper and his odious tyranny. The poorest peasants ran from the dictator's tax collectors and Torreóner mercenaries. Many bands of insurgents were formed, some dreaming of restoring the old democracy, others loyal to the old baron's still-living son, Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor.
In 1008, after 12 years under the dictator, rebel forces were able to take advantage of general unrest and defeat Don Esteban's troops. The dictator was removed from power, and Barón Maximiliano was established as the leader of Almarrón. Don Esteban still lives. He still tries to sway people by claiming to be a commoner who kept the state out of the hands of the nobility. However, Maximiliano is a just ruler, and the people are ready to give the nobility another chance.
Almarrón is a nation of humans though a few families of demihumans are scattered across the state. The people of Almarrón are tired of war and poverty. Many remember the nation's old democracy as a time of trouble; these would rather avoid politics and allow their noble baron to lead.
However, the older inhabitants have lived under several political systems, and in the democracy they were free; they have not forgotten that heady feeling. Under Don Esteban, they lost much of their freedom, and that chafed to the point of revolution. Now, these older citizens have a strong desire to remain free. Having experienced the upheavals of the past, they know they can survive them if they must. Fortunately, the new baron respects their viewpoint.
As a result of its history, Almarrón has no true peasants and only one noble family. Most common people are merchants and farmers, with the baron encouraging the establishment of a "class" of craftspeople. Those interested in adventuring are mostly warriors though rogues, wizards, and priests also take up the lifestyle.
As one might expect of a freedom-loving people, many Swashbucklers live among the Almarróñans. They also have a high number of Local Heroes, many of whom helped overthrow the dictator and have moved on to adventuring careers. Honourbound, Gauchos, and Scouts are encountered with some regularity in Almarrón as well.
The Red Curse
The worst effects of the Red Curse are not prevalent in Almarrón. One of the ways Don Maximiliano won support was by distributing cinnabryl to the people. The baron has used the captured treasure hoard of Don Esteban to purchase this protective metal.
Most people of Almarrón choose to not think about the Red Curse; they dismiss it as something that harms others. The few Afflicted who do live in Almarrón stay with their families and friends and are not judged harshly simply because of deformities.
Industry and Trade
Almarrón conducts most of its trade by land, and Gargoña is a favoured trading partner. Vilaverde's merchant ships carry many goods from Almarrón. A small number of ships fly Almarróñan colours.
Almarrón's main imports are food from Saragón and cinnabryl from Vilaverde. The state's primary exports are silver, tobacco, and coffee. Most of the nation's coffee is exported to Hule and Yavdlom by Vilaverdan ships. Since the baron started encouraging crafts, Almarrón is beginning to export a few fine, finished goods such as furniture, clothing, and jewellery.
As is the case in most baronies, religion is not terribly important in Almarrón. The Ambassador is venerated by a majority of the citizens, but Milan and Valerias are also popular, especially among Swashbucklers and other adventurers. Veterans of the revolt that overthrew Don Esteban favour the General; the Judge receives attention from those whom Don Esteban's rule oppressed.
Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor, a human Noble fighter, is an intelligent and a charismatic leader. The baron is not quite 30 years old, born just after his father was removed from power. His pride tempered by exile, the baron spent his early years in Saragón, returning to Almarrón a decade ago to lead freedom fighters against the dictator.
Don Maximiliano is best described as an enlightened despot, ruling with a firm hand, but so far avoiding the pitfall of over-taxation. He allows a fair amount of freedom and diversity among his people. Though Don Maximiliano hopes to capture Don Esteban and bring him to trial, most of his troops are tied up guarding urban areas, trails, the silver mines, and the Castle of Tordegena that wards the nation's western border against Yazi gnoll raids. Fortunately, Don Esteban has been unsuccessful finding support for a counter-revolt for now.
The baron is friends with Don Luis de Manzanas, an important noble and Inheritor in Saragón. This, and his familiarity with the state, has helped the baron establish good relations with Saragón. Don Maximiliano has also cultivated the friendship of Doña Esperanza, ruler of Gargoña, who regrets not having another daughter for the baron to marry. Don Maximiliano is looking for an intelligent and beautiful wife so he can leave strong, capable heirs to care for Almarrón after his death.
Ciudad Tejillas, a town of 4,200, is located at the mouth of the river that runs through northern Almarrón. The capital is a centre for commerce and has a fine fishing fleet. Don Maximiliano encourages regular celebrations commemorating important events, which raises morale in the city. Ciudad Tejillas is a lively place once more, filled with fine taverns and inns and even sporting a theatre and a museum. Though the people of the capital are hard workers, the boisterous enthusiasm of both local and visiting Swashbucklers makes for an exciting nightlife. Still, the town is fairly safe; the adventurers who live in Ciudad Tejillas are protective of its people and its reputation.
Other Places of Interest
There are two large villages in Almarrón: Costella, a farming village that also engages in forestry and supports the silver mines in Sierra del Plata; and Paso Dorado, a trading, farming, and fishing centre located upriver from Ciudad Tejillas. Castillo de Tordegena, on Almarrón's western border, was once a proud castle vital to Almarrón's defence. Almost destroyed by Yazi gnolls during the recent wars, Tordegena has still not been restored for habitation. A small garrison camps nearby, occasionally picking through the ruins to roust whatever has taken up residence there. However, the baron would like to find an experienced group of dungeon explorers willing to enter the castle and its many underground levels to determine whether it is worth rebuilding and clear out whatever vermin have taken up residence in the last couple of years.
Baronía de Saragón
Saragón has quite a reputation among the Savage Baronies and along the entire Savage Coast. First, it is known as a haven for sages, scientists, wizards, and other scholars. Second, Inheritors initially came to prominence in Saragón, and the state is still home to many including the leader of the Crimson Inheritors, Audra the Masked. Third, Saragón is the buffer that protects many of the coastal nations from the Yazak goblinoids; this is partially due to the careta de la barrera, the barrier mask, a magical item fully described in the adventure "Divided We Fall" later in this book.
History is a favourite topic of study among the proud, able folk of Saragón. They make good leaders because they are schooled in strategy, tactics, and military history. Many noted adventurers hail from Saragón.
When most people picture Saragón, they think of the fertile, river valley farmland of Río Maldito and Río Copos. However, the barony also encompasses wide grasslands ranged by cattle and deep woods including part of Bosque de las Sombras, the Forest of Phantoms. Saragón is very flat, mostly rolling prairieland with just a few hills in the east.
The first Ispan settlers in this region were cattle herders who formed the Barony of Montejo in 909 and built Las Manadas as their capital. Six years later, other colonists founded the State of Aranjuez, claiming the land around what would come to be known as Río Maldito, the Cursed River. The people of Aranjuez were from distant Ylaruam, a land of genies and desert riders.
Both settler groups soon discovered they were not the first occupants of the region. Each encountered human natives of primarily Oltec descent with a heavy admixture of Nithian blood. These natives had not merely intermarried with Nithians but had learned their philosophy and arts as well, retaining the culture even after the Nithians were eradicated. Ispan and Ylari settlers, in turn, intermarried freely with these natives, giving rise to a dark-skinned people with an intriguing philosophical mix.
Both Montejo and Aranjuez were peaceful states. Commerce between them began early between them, they cooperated for defence, and their people mingled. In 962, Yazi gnolls attacked Montejo and Aranjuez, and the two baronies worked together to defeat the invasion. The humans met the gnolls in the forest west of their baronies, their battle ranging through hundreds of square miles of woodland. Eventually the humans defeated the gnolls, but so many lives were lost that the river draining through the forest ran with blood. These reddened waters earned the river its nickname Río Maldito, the Cursed River, a name that eventually stuck and became official. Similarly, the forest became known as Bosque de las Sombras, the Forest of Phantoms, in memory of the people who died there.
After the battle, Montejo and Aranjuez began serious diplomatic talks that resulted in their merger, in 966, into the Barony of Saragón. Saragón has been reasonably peaceful since then, allowing its sages and scientists to flourish. However, peace has been punctuated by conflict: Saragón and Guadalante disagreed over watering rights for cattle, leading to the Battle of Cortesillas in 992 in which Gauchos of the two nations met on the plains near Las Manadas. Despite great losses, no clear winner emerged. Fortunately, the two nations settled their dispute diplomatically with the Treaty of Cortesillas soon after. Not long after this, some brave adventurers discovered the careta de la barrera, a magical mask which has helped Saragón protect its borders ever since by repelling invaders.
Saragón was able to remain at peace until the recent wars, at which time it joined the southern baronies in an alliance against Narvaez. After Gargoña negotiated an end to those hostilities, Saragón helped the baronies fight Hule and aided in defence against the Yazi and Yazak goblinoids.
In 1007, several Yazi gnoll tribes gathered together to attack the baronies. They moved along the western borders of Almarrón and Gargoña, destroying Castillo de Tordegena in Almarrón and Castillo de Pardalupe in Gargoña. Saragón was unable to muster forces in time to help the defenders of those castles, but managed to lure the gnolls into Saragón. Because they wanted to defeat the gnolls, not simply chase them away or drive them back into Almarrón and Gargoña, the Saragóners forsook the protection of the careta de la barrera. Under the leadership of Don Claudio de Tolón (baronet of Montejo) and Don Luis de Manzanas (baronet of Aranjuez), Saragóner troops soundly defeated the gnolls at the Battle of Morrión. They were aided by Sir John of Cimmaron, who led unexpected cavalry reinforcements into the battle at a critical time.
Yazak goblinoids attacked throughout the baronies over the next two years, but were unable to get into Saragón (or through to Almarrón or Gargoña) because the careta de la barrera was once again in place. Unfortunately, when magic failed for a week in 1009, so did the magical mask; some patient goblinoids who had stayed in the area chose that time to attack Torre de Manzanas while Don Luis was at the capital, almost demolishing it. The baronet spent the next few months reclaiming, cleaning, rebuilding, and expanding his tower. The restoration ended only recently, and Don Luis commemorated the opening of his new castle with a celebration.
Saragón has a fair militia and can also call upon its Gauchos for defence in times of trouble. Saragón hires Torreóner mercenary lancers to patrol the borders and take care of small groups of intruders, especially Yazi gnolls who sometimes raid the fertile Río Copos region. In addition to soldiers, Saragón also has the barrier mask, which can strike fear into any force of more than 100 hostile intruders who cross the border intending to do harm. The device has twice prevented armies from Narvaez from invading Saragón. This is fortunate because Los Matónes of Narvaez would certainly create havoc in Saragón.
As in Gargoña, though the great majority of Saragóners are human, all races are accepted. Families of many diverse backgrounds live in Saragón. Human Saragóners are generally browner-skinned than humans of other baronies because of their more extensive intermingling with native populations. Beyond this, two distinct skin-tones exist within the state: medium-dark families of primarily Ispan descent, found in the barony's southern areas; and darker-skinned folk of Ylari descent, most of whom live in northern Saragón. This racial mix, the tolerance of Saragóners, and their love for wizardry all serve to irritate the more zealous among Narvaezans, who would love to bring their Inquisition to Saragón.
The people of Saragón tend to be quick-witted and fiery of temperament; however, their Ylari background and the influence of the long-dead Nithians give them tolerance of others and a reverence for scholarship and storytelling. Saragóners are also insatiably curious about their world and the myriad things in it; they seek to analyse, learn, and understand. Their culture has given rise to countless astronomers and mathematicians. Many Saragóners follow the path to arcane knowledge, becoming wizards or alchemists.
Adventurers are more common in Saragón than in most of the baronies. Besides wizards, both warriors (especially rangers) and rogues are also common; priests are less likely, but some druids study in Saragón. Saragón is where the first vial of crimson essence was created, so it was home to the first Inheritors, many still living here. As Saragón is the only Enlightened State with a large nobility, the Noble kit is often used here as well. There are also Swashbucklers, Local Heroes, Gauchos, Honourbound, Defenders, and Scouts. Wizards become both Militants and Mystics, and clerics are usually War Priests or Local Heroes. The 12th-level druid for the Savage Baronies, a human named Kalil, lives in Bosque de las Sombras, often attended by other druids. A few Myrmidons also hail from Saragón.
The Red Curse
Just over a decade ago, Luis (then heir to the title of baronet of Manzanas) led an adventuring group that uncovered a prophecy about power to be derived from the Red Curse. The group of adventurers paid a Saragóner alchemist to produce a potion that would allow them to manipulate the Legacies of the Red Curse. For a rather high fee, the alchemist concocted the first vials of crimson essence; he then sold the formula to the adventurers for another large sum.
While the potion was being readied, these 11 adventurers trained themselves to accept the power of the Red Curse, and when they imbibed the crimson essence, they became the first Inheritors. Eventually, the group split up because of differing philosophies. Some belonged to the Brotherhood of Order, while others held memberships in the Friends of Freedom. When Inheritors began to rise to importance in both groups, others, including Luis, joined the Neutral Alliance to balance things out. Eventually, Inheritors came to take over all three groups, which two years ago became the three Orders of the Inheritors: the Orders of the Ruby, Crimson, and Flame.
Because Inheritors have existed in Saragón longer than anywhere else, both cinnabryl and red steel are common in Saragón. Most cinnabryl is imported through the Inheritor network outside of normal trade routes, but it is rumoured that a secret cinnabryl mine exists in Saragón, possibly deep beneath Torre de Manzanas. Red steel is mostly gathered by Inheritors.
While cinnabryl is relatively common in Saragón and is distributed fairly to those who need it, Inheritors encourage the use of maintain spells for most people to reduce dependency on cinnabryl. This policy is effective because Saragóner Inheritors take pains to explain to people exactly what cinnabryl does and why it is better for many of them to never use cinnabryl, rather than use it and risk running out.
The people of Saragón are well-educated about the curse and even most children understand its effects. Instead of a cause for fear, the Red Curse is an object of study in Saragón. Afflicted are rare here, and those Afflicted who live in Saragón are readily accepted by their families and friends.
Industry and Trade
While Inheritors carry on a brisk trade in cinnabryl and red steel, this exchange takes place outside of normal commercial channels and does not count toward the barony's exports and imports.
Saragón's primary export is knowledge. The state's sages and scholars answer questions for visitors and, via letters, for all nations of the Savage Coast. Consultations carry a fee, and those fees are taxed, enriching the nation. Saragón is largely self-sufficient and imports little, though artwork from Gargoña and crafts from Almarrón are both popular. Saragón usually trades food to those states in return, also supplying some food to Cimmaron as well.
While few people of Saragón are truly religious, all the Immortals typical in the baronies are revered here. The Ambassador, the General, the Judge, Milan, and Valerias, receive about equal respect. The Ylari Immortal al-Kalim is also popular in Saragón, and his high regard for scholarship has helped lead Saragóners to their present cultural level.
The leader of Saragón is Barón Balthazar de Montejo y Aranjuez. The baron is a human Noble and an experienced wizard. Barón Balthazar has ruled the barony for almost 20 years and is nearly 80 years old. He is a wise ruler who encourages freedom of thought and equality among his people. He has followed the path of Saragón's previous rulers to make his barony prosperous and peaceful while still maintaining its ability to defend itself from attackers.
Saragón has an unusual style of government. Its baron is advised by a triumvirate: the baronets of Montejo, Aranjuez, and Saragón. The baron meets regularly with his advisers. The baronets and other nobles (or their representatives) also meet once a month in Ciudad Matacán, where they establish policy for the realm. Unlike leaders of other baronies, the baron of Saragón is obligated to follow rulings of the Parliament of Lords. While the baron can (and does) make day-to-day policy decisions, these can be overturned by Parliament. To preserve the unity of the government, however, the baron considers his options carefully before making decisions, and Parliament deliberates before overturning them.
Parliament also ratifies inheritances, deciding whether the child of a noble is truly worthy of a title before passing it on (material inheritances are not the concern of Parliament). Likewise, a member of Parliament can nominate a commoner to join the ranks of the nobility; a nominee must receive a two-thirds vote of Parliament to be accepted (at which time the new noble must begin attending Parliament or send someone as a representative).
The speaker of Parliament is the baronet of Saragón, currently Doña Angelíta de Matacán. If she is unable to attend, her duties can be filled by one of the two other baronets, the baronet of Montejo (currently Don Claudio de Tolón) and the baronet of Aranjuez (currently Don Luis de Manzanas).
When a baron dies, Parliament chooses a replacement from among the three baronets. When a baronet dies or is promoted, a potential replacement is nominated by the baron, and must be approved by a simple majority of Parliament. The baronet titles are tied to regions, not specific locations: Aranjuez must come from the north, Montejo from the south, and Saragón from the centre.
The baron of Saragón assumes the titles "of Montejo and of Aranjuez" regardless of his previous residence, to represent the unity of the state. Doña Angelíta is favoured to become the next leader of Saragón though Don Luis has support as well; most members of Parliament consider Don Claudio too young and inexperienced. As previously noted, Don Luis is an Inheritor, one of the first; many members of Parliament feel this potential conflict of interest makes Don Luis unsuitable for the post of baron.
Note that an important rival and enemy of Don Luis is a former Inheritor named Balazar not to be confused with Barón Balthazar, who is a close friend. Both Don Luis and Balazar are thoroughly described in the adventure "Divided We Fall."
Most of Ciudad Matacán's 6,600 population is human, but members of all SAVAGE COAST races reside here. The capital is a safe town, quiet during the day. However, Ciudad Matacán boasts a university and several schools whose students tend to get a little boisterous after sunset. Most inhabitants of the capital are scholars of one kind or another, though merchants and adventurers are common as well.
Other Places of Interest
Except for the capital, the only settlement in Saragón larger than 100 people is the village of Las Manadas, a centre for about 900 farmers and Gauchos. Pazo del Rey, another village in Saragón, had a population close to 300 before it was razed by a small force of Afflicted Torreóner mercenaries four years ago at the behest of Narvaez.
Other prominent sites of Saragón include Torre de Manzanas (actually a castle owned by Don Luis, baronet of Aranjuez) and Torre de Tolón (a tower that serves as home to Don Claudio, baronet of Montejo). Both fortresses are important to the defence of Saragón, and their lords are often (as now) nominees for the baronet positions. Barón Balthazar was once lord of Torre de Tolón and is Don Claudio's granduncle.
The battle sites of Saragón are also worth note. The largest is certainly Bosque de las Sombras, the Forest of Phantoms, said to be haunted by those who died in 963 when humans from Saragón and Aranjuez united to defeat raiding Yazi gnolls. Another marks the Battle of Morrión, where Saragón avenged Almarrón and Gargoña by slaying the Yazi gnolls who had destroyed Almarrón's Castillo de Tordegena and Gargoña's Castillo de Pardalupe. A much smaller site is the Battle of Cortesillas, where Gauchos from Guadalante and Saragón met over water rights.