Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Middle Kingdoms

The lands commonly referred to at the Middle Kingdoms are bordered on the east by the Kitel Woods, the north by vast steppes, the south by badlands and the tail of the Skullcrush Mountains, and stretch west to mountain-encircled Lake Abernath. The region consists of ranges of low mountains, interspersed with rivers and generally descending as the water flows east towards Soguer and the Soral Sea.

The Daren River and roads that follow it are a major route for trade and provide an avenue for goods traveling from all the far-flung shores of the Soral Sea to the tributaries that feed Lake Abernath and the free cities that surround it.

The northeastern portion of the area is marked by wild badlands surrounding a range of rocky, mountainous highlands, which trail off into goblin-infested hills. Further north are cold swamps.

The plains of Dahl in the southwest provide good grazing for the herds of the people there.

Lands and Peoples

A traveler who follows the River Daren north and west towards it's headwaters will encounter the following lands:

Shires of Etela - If one follows the Aet River due west from the Daren they will come into the hills and valleys of the Shires of Erela. The halflings that live here are typical of their kind: somewhat reclusive but generally plain country folk. They are mistrustful of the horsemen of Dhal to their west, citing "unforgotten history." Their lands begin at Aetford, where men, halflings and handfuls of elves live together by the large stone bridge.

High Elves of Verdone - Thick and quiet, the Verdone Forset seems foreboding to many who pass it on the River Daren. The tales of the uncaring elves that dwell within and their strange magics are whispered by boatmen. Few have seen their white towers, for the wood is said to be enspelled to confuse the minds of men and lose them among the tall, silent trees.

City of Devin - This city and it's fortified castle grow large on the trade here at the meeting of the Rivers Bedeflow and Daren. A diverse city, it includes large populations of gnomes from the mountains to the east, elves from Verdone and halflings from the shires to the south.

Dhilic People - The men here are known to be superb horsemen and warriors, a tradition that is celebrated in passed down from father to son. They ride the plains of Dhal on their fine fast steeds herding their cattle, goats and sheep. In the villages in the hills surrounding Keep Dhilia they make leather goods and weave picturesque tapestries to warm their homes against the winter winds.

City of Argros - Vast fields of grain grow in the lands surrounding Argros. The peoples here tend to build their homes raised on posts to help them survive the spring floods of the Daren. Traditionally all landowners serve as pikemen in the militia, territorially guarding their borders from the men, gnolls, half-orcs, and wood elves surrounding them.

Marble Falls valley - Mining dominates this deep mountain valley and the small cities here. Mist from the many waterfalls clings to the leaves of trees in the ravines carved by the water's slow hand. Fine stone gives the area it's name. Animal sculpture is popular, and most homes have at least one large stone statue near the entrance to ward off evil spirits. The area is also noted for a large, beautiful shrine to WeJas, goddess of death and magic, carved into a cliff face in the northeast of the valey. Within the shrine is a huge marble statue of her opening the door to the next world for the departed.

Free Cities of Abernath - The shores of Lake Abernath are dotted by human cities, each a city-state unto itself. Farming, fishing and trading on the lake are the pillars of their economies. Mercantile and guild conflicts occasionally spill over into violence here, but actual war between the cities is generally seen as being bad for business.

Dwarves of Rolang - In the mountains on the eastern shore of Lake Abernath, the dwarves of Rolang delve into the bones of the mountains. Brass and iron are traded from here, and also grains that they turn into casks of their famous dwarven ales.

Elves of Forla Wood - This area is home to a large concentration of the semi-nomadic wood elves that move their homes all around the region. Every year representatives from each family meet in the sacred Emerald Grove to discuss issues important to the elves of the land. Bards from Forla's tribes, while rare, are welcomed in all cities of the Middle Kingdoms for the news they bring and their exceptionally beautiful music.

Queen Zedhrev's lands - From lake Abernath, further up the River Voros, at the foot of cold mountains, Queen Zedhrev sits in rulership. Her lands stretch through the swamps east to the Temple of Stars, and west along the R. Voros. It is generally agreed that she is a powerful sorceress, and she is mentioned in many stories and legends in the Free Cities, usually as a cruel and bloody villain.

Temple of Stars - The largest temple to Baccob in the known world, this site is said to be of importance due to it's position beneath certain constellations. Some say the view of the stars from the high hills in the clear cold air is why Baccob blesses this temple. It is only one of the many secrets of this temple. The priests here are on good terms with Queen Zedhrev to the west, and she gives them their solitude and protection from the barbarians and bestial peoples to the east. It is said that they gave her her sorcerous powers. It is also said that they resent and fear her power, and the truth of it is known only to them and her.

In later ages, this temple becomes the site of the final siege of the Anmagus Crusade of the Sword of Light. See also the Cult of Shan'n'nur.

Bare Peaks - The barren mountains of these highlands are home to groups of gargoyles and kenku, and no travelers go here. The gargoyles of this region call themselves the Dz'ata Möschu.

Lord Fevul's Lands - These dry badlands and rough, scrub covered hills are home to various goblinoid tribes, and have traditionally been an evil place to be avoided. Recently, however, the elves living to the east and south have been reporting raiders emerging from this area. They claim that a warlord named Lord Fevul has united the goblin tribes and that Magublet, the goblin god, sits at his side. In times past, the barbarians to the northeast with whom they skirmished, the Kitel Elves, and the swamps and mountins to the west have provided defense against these peoples, but now there are whispers of worry that a great host may soon march out of those brown hills.

Akmak and the half-orc lands - In the lands surrounding the Bare Peaks are scattered villages and small cities of predominantly half-orc people. Their traditions claim that they are descended from an ancient race of warriors, and they are indeed fierce fighters who's walled city of Akmak is a testament to their grim, martial culture.

Dwarves of Sturm Mountain - The dwarf clan that calls this mountain home have built an extensive stronghold deep into the bones of the land. The clan ruler, Oxymazus Axehand rules his people with strict laws adhering to Moradin's dictates. As a people they are extremely unwelcoming to any but their own, and the entrances to their mountian fastness are guarded day and night by dwarves in bright suits of mail.

Tehton - The hills, valleys and forests of Tehton are home to hardworking woodsmen and skilled carpenters with a strong code of ethics. The peoples here also have a close affinity with the various fey in the mountains from sprites to wood elves. Their largest city is called Forston, at a fork where the River Aelle meets the River Bedeflow.

Rumors and Information
The following can be determined with the corresponding Knowledge (local) or Bardic Knowledge check: (leave comments to create the rumors and information)

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