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The Grand Duchy of Karameikosby George Hrabovsky
Karameikos is a heavily forested land bounded by mountains to the north which form its natural border with the Republic of Darokin. To the west is the nation of Halflings called the Five Shires. To the north and east, across the vast Altan Tepes mountain range, is the mysterious desert nation, The Emirates of Ylaruam. To the east is the mighty Empire of Thyatis, from whence the ruler of Karameikos, Grand Duke Stephan Karameikos III, hails. To the south are the island lands of the Minrothad Guilds and the Kingdom of Ierendi.
The Land of Karameikos
Karameikos is a land of dense old-growth forests. These forests are dark, with little foliage near the ground except in and near to clearings. As you get closer to the coast the clearings become more numerous; though never more that forty percent of the ground.
The western half of the northern edge of Karameikos is dominated by the Cruth Mountains and the Black Peak Mountains. The Earal Stone Giant Clan lives in the Black Peak Mountains. They wear stone clothing. They have formed a familial clan. They are led by the clan elder Earal, who is also their spiritual leader. They have learned the magic of stone and some are priests of the Immortal Ka The Preserver. They have learned to transport themselves through solid rock or earth. They have a low iron age level of technology. There are 28 stone giants in Karameikos. The Earal do not seek to expand their territory.
South of these massive peaks are the Cruth lowlands. The principle threat in these areas are making enemies of the tribes of Ogres that live there. These are the Duyar Ogres. They tend to live in caves. They wear animal pelts. They have a horde hierarchy. They have developed a kind of spirit magic. They practive the religion of Jammudaru, and have developed shamanism. They possess a high bronze-age level of technology. There are about 70 Ogres in this horde. When the Duyar try to inhabit an area they begin by sending some scouts who make contact with local inhabitants (through capture and blackmail) and use them as spies to learn about the area. Then they will make their agent powerful by giving them money, rare items, and by killing their agent's foes. Eventually they use their agents to gain control by tithing. South of this are the Achelos and Riverfork Woods. Both of these are largely unexplored and are ominous in their darkness and silence. This is the home of the Blackfang Bugbears. They tend to live in dead-fall and dugout villages in the woods. They wear animal pelts. They have a horde hierarchy. They practice spirit magic, the religion of Bartziluth, and shamanism. They have learned to tame and ride Dire Wolves. They possess bronze-age style technology. The Black Fang horde has about 526 Bugbears. When the Black Fang horde inhabit a new area they launch war parties of up to 50 bugbears riding Dire Wolves to perform aggressive scouting; this is followed up by settler parties of up to 150 bugbears (including 50-75 warriors) who look for suitable locations and build their villages. The Blight Swamp is an area of dead and decaying trees and foliage infested with disease-bearing mosquitoes and other less healthy creatures that swim just below the surface of the slimy and scum-coated waters. Worse, it is said that there are black dragons here! The Radlebb Woods are inhabited by the Callarii along with numerous dangerous animals. They tend to live in tree houses in Radlebb village (deep within the Radlebb Wood and not to be confused with the human settlement of the same name). They form a clan hierarchy. They practice various forms of elf magic. They have learned the ways of horsemanship and river boating. They possess a high level of iron-age technology. Radlebb village has about 2,300 Callarii. When the Callarii make a new village (something not done in a thousand years) they begin by learning about the new area through physical and magical scouting, then they receive a leaf from the Tree of Life and a Treekeeper consecrates the location of the new Tree of Life and they plant the leaf there. Over time this will grow (in a few years) to a sapling, at which point the village may begin.
The Wufwolde Hills are home to numerous iron mines, especially those of the dwarves and gnomes in and around Highforge.
The dwarves are of the Stronghollow Clan. They live in cave houses near Highforge. They wear normal garb. They are an official demihuman clan with a Great Forge. They have learned to make magic with their craftsmanship and have adopted the worship of Kagyar. They use wagons for transportation. They have a high iron-age level of technology (including crude handguns and bombards). There are only about 453 dwarves in Karameikos. The Stronghollow clan is content to stay in Highforge, but they do explore caves and make mines.
The gnomes of Highforge live in the village of Highforge, both in stone houses above ground and in stone cottages built within caves underground. They wear normal Karameikan garb. They are an official demihuman clan with their clan artifact The Chimes of Time. They have the magic of Fantasy Physics. They have an early industrial-age level of technology including steam power and some crude experiments in electricity. There are about 4,460 gnomes in Highforge. The gnomes of Highforge are content to stay where they are, only underground do they seek to expand their territory by making new mines.
The Moor is a slightly rolling clear area filled with dangerous and deceptive-looking bogs. There are numerous reports of life-sucking undead in this area.
Altan Tepes Mountains are alpine peaks that are snowcapped year-round. The principle danger here, besides sudden blizzards is the presence of hostile Frost Giants. The Grokilan Clan of Frost Giants live in ice citadels high in the Altan Tepes Mountains. They wear clothes of cold iron and ice. Their clan head, Grokilan, is a High Priest of Hel. They have learned the magic of darkness and ice, and the religion of Hel. They have the technology of cold iron and ice. There are 23 frost giants in in this clan. These frost giants call upon their power to control bears, and to conjure small armies of shadows to control an area. Once the shadows have "pacified" an area they move in and use their magics to enshroud the place in clouds where it will be perpetually winter.
The Dymrak Forest is the largest in the Duchy. It is incredibly ancient and numerous tribes of centaurs, goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs can be found here. The mysterious Vyalia Elves can also be found here, if they wish it.
The Dymrak Forest is also the base of the dragon nation of Argosyll. Members of the Argosyll dragon clan tend to live in caves and in the densest part of the forest. The dragons become members of the kingdom/clan through subjugation. There is a familial hierarchy. They practice dragon magic, and some are priests of The Great One. The kingdom has about 138 white dragons, 12 green dragons (including King Argos), one blue dragon (named Gancolmar, or Giancolo Marici when in human form), and one red dragon (Korataer, the High Priest of the Great One). The dragons settle an area by the technique of subjugation; their vassals are loyal to them so long as they exercise active control. There is always rivalry, but not so that it disrupts the kingdom. Argosyll has an alliance with Duke Stephan, though it is anyone's guess how long that will last.
The Dymrak goblin hoard members live in caves and thickets of the Dymrak forest. They wear animal pelts. They have a horde hierarchy. They have spirit magic, grove magic, a religion based on the worship of Wogar, and shamanism. They have developed the ability to tame and ride wolves. They possess a high bronze age level of technology. There are about 14,700 Dymrak goblins. When the Dymrak goblins want to control an area they scout it out carefully, establish tunnels into the area, and then mount a rapid invasion from many points all at once.
The Dymrak hobgoblins live in caves and in dense thickets of the Dymrak forest. They wear animal pelts. They have a horde hierarchy. They have spirit magic, a religion based on the worship of Yagrai, and shamanism. They have developed the ability to tame and ride Dire Wolves. They possess a high bronze age level of technology. There are about 200 Dymrak hobgoblins. When the Dymrak hobgoblins want to control an area they conjure forth spirits to enhance their warriors who then enter an area and dominate it.
The One-Eye Orcs live in wooden villages within the Dymrak forest. They wear rough and thick wool clothing, or they wear animal pelts. They have a horde hierarchy. They have spirit magic, shamanism, and the religion of Karaash. They have learned to tame and ride horses, and Dire Wolves. They possess an iron-age technological level, including crossbows and war machines. There are about 9,600 orcs in Karameikos. The One-Eye horde is now content to be vassals of Duke Stefan in return for gaining the Dymrak forest as their fiefdom (at least what they can hold of it). This brings them into frequent conflict with the goblins, hobgoblins, and centaurs. They avoid Argosyll. The orcs will scout an area carefully, then will send war parties to establish fortifications; then they will attack enemy settlements one at a time until they fully control the area. There are 19 clans of about 500 orcs each.
The Shurack Centaur Tribe lives in wooded glades throughout Karameikos, usually in the densest woods around where they use natural caves to store their writings away from the elements. They do not wear clothing. They do not form into familial groups, a newborn is seen as the responsibility of the whole tribe. There is a chieftain, Shurack, who is the leader of the tribe. They have learned the magic of the forests, the magic of song, and the worship of Ixion. They have a crude iron-age technology level. There are only about 375 centaurs in Karameikos. The Shurak are content to live in their forested lands between the Dymrak forest and the Atlan Tepes mountains.
The Vyalia Elves also live in this region, they live in tree homes. They wear traditional elven garb. They are an official demihuman clan with a Tree of Life. They have the traditional elf magic. They use horses for transport. They have an iron age technology, though they substitute wood and stone for metal. There are around 2,000 Vyalia elves in Karameikos. When the Vyalia make a new village they begin by learning about the new area through physical and magical scouting, then they receive a leaf from the tree of life and a treekeeper consecrates the location of the new tree of life and they plant the leaf. Over time this will grow (in a few years) to a sapling, at which point the village may begin.
Specularum is the seat of power in Karameikos. It has a population of around 50,000 permanent residents. It is a place of laws and trade. It is a place where learning takes place and fortunes can be found. For the unwary it is a place where you can get your throat cut by walking down the wrong alley. There are three races of humans in Karameikos. The Thyatians are those who conquered the land and live in Thyatian style homes throughout Karameikos. They wear traditional Thyatian garb. Families usually own their own homes. They are the rulers of the land. They have a ceremonial style of magic, potion makers, and a Thyatian-style religion. They use horses, wagons, oxen, and boats for transportation. They have an iron age technology, including crude firearms. There are about 26,000 Thyatians in Karameikos. The Thyatians exert control over new lands by doing a detailed reconnaissance, identifying threats, finding their weakest positions and then attacking them in force; they will establish temporary fortifications as they move.
The second kind of human is the Traladaran, those who once ruled these lands, but are now subjugated. They live in traditional Traladaran style homes throughout Karameikos. They wear traditional Traladaran garb. Families own their own homes. They tend to resent the Thyatians. They have folk magic, elemental magic, and traditional hero worship. They use horses, wagons, oxen, and boats for transportation. They have an iron age technology. There are about 310,000 Traladarans in Karameikos, and another 21,000 half-breed Traladaran/Thyatian humans. The latter type are dispised by the Traladarans as traitors. When the Traladarans want to control a new area they move into it in large numbers and establish a small fortified village, over time the village grows.
The third type of human is the Darine, they are similar to gypsies. They tend to live in their caravans. They form family-based clans. There are three major tribes of Darine (Kaldresh, Manusan, Vistani). They practice a magic involving fortune telling, potions, and charms. They travel in their carts called Vardos. They possess a low level of iron-age technology. There are about 4,160 Darine in Karameikos; around 2,100 are Vistani, around 2,000 are Kaldresh, and only about 60 are Manusan. The Darine do not settle in any place for long due to an ancient racial curse.
The Estate of Marilenev surrounds Specularum and contains the farms and orchards that keeps its people fed. Marilenev Village is just to the southwest of Specularum and is home to about 900 people and Castle Marilenev. This is a huge castle with dark and crumbling walls.
The Barony of Vorloi was created to placate the powerful Vorloi family. This is a wooded area along the coastline. The village of Vorloi is a large coastal port with around 7,500 inhabitants.
The Estate of Dmitrov is a fishing community on a small peninsula to the south of the Barony of Vorloi. The village of Dmitrov is home to about 6,500 people.
Sulescu Village is located on the western side of the Mirros Bay. A quiet fishing village of 950.
Luln is a large town that is somewhat fortified. There is much opportunity for adventure here. This is home to around 5,000 people.
The Black Eagle Barony ranges from hills in the north, central plains, and southern forests. It is home to numerous tribes of bugbears. Fort Doom, previously known as Halag, is the fortified city that Baron von Hendricks calls his home. It is home to about 10,000 humans, bugbears, and orcs. During the civil war of 995 AC the Black Eagle's magist took control of the Barony. This civil war ended in the spring of 996 AC with a bold attack on Fort Doom by the joint forces of Duke Stephan, Baron von Hendriks, and the orc leader Sir Gruzz. THe Baron von Hendriks was killed in this attack and there is much ddebate and political infighting to determine who will rule this Barony in the place of The Black Eagle.
Koriszegy Keep is a known haunted site and constitutes the only real National Evil Place in Karameikos. Few who have entered have ever left.
Threshold is a law-abiding town of 5,000 inhabitants and is growing fast. There is much opportunity for professions and adventure here.
Krakatos is an old ruined walled village from the time of Halav. It is now the site of the College of Magic, built by the Callarii hero/wizard Sir Ilsensine.
Highforge is a community of gnome and dwarven craftsmen and miners.
Penhaligon is a fortified town of 3,750 located between Kelvin and the Darokinian town of Selenica. This was the site of a huge battle against undead minions of the High Priest of the Death God during the civil war.
Kelvin is a large town of 20,000 that is a source of much economic fortune and opportunity for adventure.
400 AC: The Traladaran village of Marilenev begins doing more trade business than fishing and begins slow, gradual growth from the increasing trade. Thyatian clerics learn the "Song of King Halav" and commit it to writing for the first time. The Church of Traladara is founded. Rogue Alphatian wizards attempting to develop a hardier, more powerful Alphatian race create fast-spreading magical strains of the curses of vampirism and lycanthropy.
410 AC: Minroth traders unwittingly help spread the new vampirism and lycanthropy throughout the seafaring world.
900 AC: Marilenev is a flourishing trade village of 500. Emperor Gabrionus IV of Thyatis moves on Marilenev, conquers it, and claims all of the Traladara region as a Thyatian protectorate. Marilenev is renamed "Specularum." Many refugees from Traladara flee to Darokin.
942 AC: A human smith in Torreón experiments with depleted cinnabryl; she discovers its usefulness and names the substance red steel. A few small weapons of red steel are produced.
948 AC: Stefan Karameikos III is born in Thyatis. Dwarves near Nueva Esperanza begin experimenting with steel seed found in the local cinnabryl mine. When they accidentally mix it with vermeil, they stumble upon the formula for smoke powder. They begin searching for ways to use the new substance. THe most obvious use is in the mines, where it can blow channels in the rock.
957 AC: The first arquebus is constructed in Nueva Esperanza; a function for smoke powder has been found, but it is rarely used because of the dangers and cost involved.
959 AC: Alphatia begins another direct war upon Thyatis.
960 AC: The Alphatian assault forces reach Thyatis City and kill the Thyatian emperor, but are repelled by a counterattack led by Thincol the Brave, a famous gladiator.
965 AC: Kitrina Meditor, ruling guildmaster of Minrothad, is assassinated. The council of guild Leaders acts as regent until Oran Meditor comes of age.
970 AC: Duke Stefan Karameikos III trades his ancestral lands (the Duchy of Machetos) to Emperor Thincol for independent rulership of Traladara, which is renamed the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Duke Stefan sails to and takes possession of his duchy, then begins parceling out land and titles to his Thyatian followers. He begins building roads across the Duchy and a strong military to protect it. A minor rebellion and several assassination attempts follow his move to Specularum.
975 AC: King Thar unites the Broken Lands, threatening Darokinian commerce. The wily orc leader enforces the Tharian Code of Conduct. The Legion is created. Thyatis frowns at the military threat. The wheel-lock pistol is developed in Nueva Esperanza.
979 AC: Duke Stefan Karameikos marries Lady Olivia Prothemian.
980 AC: Ierendi Council of Lords is renamed the Ierendi Tribunal and becomes an advisory council consisting of elected and appointed officials. Lady Adriana Karameikos is born.
982 AC: Lord Justin Karameikos is born.
986 AC: Lord Valen Karameikos born. Moglai Khan unites the tribes and becomes Great Khan of the Ethengarians.
989 AC: Rumors abound that the Duke's cousin Baron Ludwig von Henricks, known as the Black Eagle, is making incursions into the Five Shires.
991 AC: Oran Meditor rescinds the Isolation Act and opens Minrothad to outside contact.
995 AC: Bargle, the Magist for the Black Eagle is executed for treason. This sets in motion a series of events leading to a civil war, and Bargle rising again as the undead High Priest of Thanatos. Duke Stephan allies with his deposed cousin, and King Argos against this threat. The fort at Radlebb falls, but the elves are able to hold Bargle's forces from overtaking the western half of the nation..
996 AC: After a lengthy stalemate through Winter and early Spring; Duke Stephan, Baron Ludwig von Hendriks, Sir Gruzz, and a band of heroes including the Knight-Heroes Sir Adrik and Sir Ilsensine, launch a lightning offensive that quickly retakes Fort Doom and expells Bargle. The Black Eagle himself is killed in the attack.
Argosyll Green Dragon (requires GM permission)
Argosyll White Dragon (requires GM permission)
Blackfang Bugbear (not recommended unless everyone plays one)
Duyar Ogre (not recommended unless everyone plays one)
Dymrak Goblin (not recommended unless everyone plays one)
Dymrak Hobgoblin (not recommended unless everyone plays one)
Earal Stone Giant (requires GM permission)
Grokilan Frost Giant (not recommended unless everyone plays one)
Shurak Centaur (requires GM permission)
Vyalia Elf (requires GM permission)