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Remains of the Old Empireby Frank the DM
I use the known world geography and nations with a custom set of deities. No halflings or gnomes and elves lost ALL territory 346 years ago. Karameikos has absorbed Darokin territory. A grand glacier covers the lands of Wendar and Heldannic Freeholds.
Welcome to the remains of the old empire: It fell centuries ago, but its memory lives on.
Atruaghin Plateau: A Plateau surrounded by tall grasslands and forests home to abundant wildlife south of the great lake Amsorak and west of the Karameikan swamps. The Atruaghin clans are nature revering people who dwell here. Though not a numerous people, they and the animals unite against these who could do them harm and thus their main foes tend to be themselves, for the clans fight one another at times.
The dominant language is sylvan, but the natives don't speak to outsiders.
Blasted wastelands: A feared region, not even the Fanatics of Hule dare to cross it. Vast tracks of burning deserts and unnatural rock formations give it an otherworldly look. Monsters not known to man or dwarf lurk here and bizarre plant life is not uncommon. Few tribes of barbarians survive in this desolate land, though the ones that do are monsters in their own rights. The Plateau of Black Blood is a focal point for them. No one claims these lands, though some say Glantri uses the local to field test magics they don't want tainting lands they wish to rule.
No one language is common here and many tribes use mixed languages known only to them, making difficult negotiations even more so.
The Broken Lands: Rock badlands, thick scrub, barren fields and other unpleasant terrain is what comprises the no man's land that separates Glantri from Karameikos, Rockhome and Ethengar. The orcs, being the most numerous of the humanoids, "rule" here, though worse monsters do roam these parts.
The Orcish, Gnoll and Giant languages will be useful if you don't get killed during initial negotiations.
Ethengar: To some, the northern section of the broken lands, to others, chilly steppes home to a semi nomadic people famed for their mounted archery and warrior's spirit. Most people don't even know they are up there, thanks to Rockhome saying Ethengar doesn't exist. Their coppery skin, unique to them in this region, gives indication they might hail from beyond the seas. With humanoids to the west, the raiders of the northern reach to the east and their southern neighbour giving them a shoulder colder than the frozen wastelands to the north; The Great Khanate is short on allies.
The natives speak a curious dialect of Draconic rather than common. [This dialect plus Saurian = high draconic]
Glantri: The Great Principalities of Magic is a land of diverse terrain nestled in mountain valleys. It is a collection of wizard princedoms glued together with politics and labyrinthine laws that severely discriminate against dwarves and divine magic. Nobility in Glantri is not gained by birthright, rather by having arcane magic ability. Many other nations fear their power, but dread to act against them. Their neighbours are the Sind sultanates and the Atruaghin Clans to the south over the Glantrian Mountains and the Broken Lands on all parts west. The glaciers of the frozen waste are their northern border with the eastern border consisting of the blasted wastelands. Residents deny any involvement in the occurrence that much of their country is surrounded by desolate landscape. The strange hybrid monsters and curious magic affects around their land are sometimes owned up to however.
They have developed their own version of the High Speech, which they insist is the only high speech.
Hule: The supreme Theocracy of Hule is to the far west. Their holy men rule many lands, though the blasted wastelands and the Sea of Dread keep them from this region.
The common tongue originates from Hule.
Island kingdom of Ierendi: The tropical paradises of Ierendi are just west of Minrothad and east of Leviathan's Bay. Many visit the islands and always say the costs are worth it. The worship of Leviathan is the official religion, and as it happens, very few contest their might on the sea.
The Islanders usually know common, but knowing some Aquan is very helpful at times.
Karameikos: Lower and upper Karameikos consist of hilly terrain, farmland, forests and swamps in the west, divided by an arm or the Rockhome mountain range. About half a century ago a young duke took control of the lower land with the help of many allies and a people tired of Thyatian rule. A decade later he laid claim to the northern section that had been a dwarven protectorate for many years since the ruling merchants had left. Today it remains semi peaceful farmland with a few hot spots of monster activity and a contested eastern border with Thyatis...
Common serves you well here, though the nobles and others in authority respect the High Speech.
Minrothad, Merchant guilds of: Located just south of lower Karameikos and west of Thyatis, the united merchant and trade guilds that were once part of the old empire have lasted long on trade and taxes. Coin and goods run the show here, though the laws are harsh on the islands that make up the guilds.
Common is the main language here, though many others abound.
Mordheim, Great city state of: sitting on the eastern edge of the great crater in the Blackhills, south of Glantri, a titanic ruined city stands in defiance of the gods. Choked with crumbling masonry and rotting wood, one wonders how it can stand at all. Refugees from Glantri and others not brave enough to tread the broken lands live here side by side with creatures that prey upon them. Even more despicable are the two legged monster who search the ruins for the magical shards known as Wyrdstone. Some places are almost habitable, should you find yourself willing to kill for a place to sleep. As far as provisions go, the roof will let in all the rain water you'll need and should your hunger get to you before something else does, hot and cold running vermin are usually provided.
The dominant language is common, though orcish and giant go pretty far.
Northern wastes: The Great Glaciers and the mountains that lead up to them are on the unwelcoming side. In contrast, the few settlements and cities up there tend to be reasonably friendly to peaceful outsiders. While the settlements offer open arms, the monsters you'll find up there tend to offer open jaws. On a related note, meat keeps well in the cold, to watch for critters with the sense to kill entire groups and then save what it can't eat for later.
Northern Reaches: A cold, forested land northeast of Rockhome, inhabited by powerful monsters who are avoiding the dwarves and barbaric raiders with a passion for sailing and drinking.
The dominant language is giant, which even most human tribes speak rather than common.
Rockhome: Located in the Heart of the region, the Kingdom of the dwarves divides many others with its mountain ranges. Wyverns have become dangerously common in the land, though the dwarves don't seem to notice. They keep their concerns to themselves
Sea of Dread: south of this region is the Sea of Dread and it has quite a temperament. But this should be expected since Leviathan rests here from time to time. Its children seem to be most numerous west of Ierendi
Shadow Wood: A grand forest located where the Broken Lands, Northern Karameikos and Rockhome meet. They say it was once home to the kind hearted elves. Today mists shroud the forest and those that return from it say unnatural creatures haunt the woods.
Unfortunately, visitors find the elven language still useful here.
Sind: The land that lies between Atruaghin and the burning wastes consists of grasslands in its eastern border, the Glantrian Mountains to its north, the Sea of Dread to its south and a salt marsh in its centre. Its western portion is the Great Sind Desert which eventually becomes the Blasted wastelands. The kingdom is rich with many trade goods, though high taxes often drive the independently wealthy to other lands.
The Common speech is spoken here along with the Kaleim.
Thyatis: The naval of the Old Empire's military held a costal base on a monster rich peninsula southwest of Rockhome after the fall. Today their military might stands the best chance to rebuild the Empire, though some fear their rule could be worse than leaving the land divided. Many religions thrive here, even some that could be purged in other lands. Slavery is condoned, though strongly regulated. Their Gladiatorial stadiums attract hordes of spectators who are enthralled to see man and beast fight one another. Many men and monsters join their foreign region, sometimes even by choice. Their ruling senate occasionally appoints an emperor, but has not done so since the dismal failure when Duke Stefan Karameikos receded nearly a half century ago.
The educated and the ruling class speak the High speech with pride, though because of the slavery and trade, many languages are available here.
Ylaruam: This desert kingdom of religious fanatics enjoys a crescent of mountains that keep its foes out, leaving only their east coast open to watch the blessed sun rise from over the Thyatian Sea. Both mountain passes in are controlled by their western neighbour, Rockhome. The followers of al-Kalim hold sway here and woe be upon any who does not follow The Sacred Truth. Only the Guardians of the Sacred Flame are spared their Jihad.
The language used here is the Kaleim, a mixture of Celestial and Ignan, the same language the sacred book is written in.
Heldannic Knights: The Old Empire's Greatest Knights, a legend long gone. But tales spread of unstoppable horsemen clad in iron and steel bearing the old heraldry, riding out to where they are needed. The Raiders of the Northern Reaches claim seeing them most often, but what can be said of a people's lord who steal from their neighbours and drink nearly as much as the dwarves do.
I recently added "the styes" from the recent dungeon magazine. it was placed on the elves' old Minrothad island.
"Eldisle is home to the largest remaining forests of the nation, but that's only because elves once lived there. That city you asked about, Spiceport is located here, off the current trade routs on the southeastern side. According to a record I found, It was one of the first cities built on that isle after the elves left. Not a lot of business comes out nowadays, but over a century ago it was it used to be big with a few pleasure cults and trade good of dubious nature. Eldisle's other ports do well enough for themselves, though few go into the older woods due to local superstition and the few accidents that happen now and then.
Thyatis came down hard on Spiceport first after a few too many of their soldiers suffered "personal problems" after they would visit the port for R&R. Ierendi stopped accepting any ship into their waters that had touched port in the city after a Child of Leviathan was found dead near its bay, slain by a toxin of unspeakable strength. The most recent blow was when King Karameikos decreed a death sentence for trafficking their more exotic "spices" trough his lands. Recent is a relative term since that was right after he took up his crown. Minrothad nowadays kind of ignores Spiceport, so if you do go there, it should be easy enough to avoid being taxed on your "well made goods"