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Once known as the Great Kingdom, the lands south of the Godswall have fallen on hard times. A succession crisis followed he death of King Malcolm XVI, followed by a century-long series of civil wars which saw no fewer than six houses claim the right to the throne. The arrival of the Khanarim even further weakened what had evolved into a region of warring city-states. While the states might band together for mutual protection in the short term, no single prince is closer to winning hegemony than when the last king died many centuries ago.
II. Population and Demographics
240,000 Humans; 1,000 Halflings; 500 Elves; 500 Dwarves; 300 Other
160,000 Humans; 1,000 Other
180,000 Humans; 3,000 Halflings
140,000 Humans; 1,000 Halflings
100,000 Humans, 2,000 Halflings; 600 Dwarves
III. Major Settlements
The city of Freehaven (pop. 190,000) is the largest city in the known world. It is also highly cosmopolitan, as it is the one place where all cultures and races mix freely. The city has grown wealthy off of trade, and the Lord Mayor is content to preserve the current state of affairs, as long as it guarantees Freehaven's prosperity. Freehaven is a religious and academic center, owing to its role as a regional hub. It is said that one can find the answer to any question within its walls. Not surprisingly, Freehaven's wealth also draws the attention of those who would take a share of it through dishonest means. No fewer than four criminal organizations compete with each other to earn a monopoly on crime within the city.
Roncette (pop. 80,000) is a large city that, like Freehaven, grew up around trade. Seven noble houses dominate local politics, and the Count has his hands full keeping order and suppressing the many vendettas that emerge.
The city of Paladayne emerges from the central grasslands like a fairytale castle. Though a small city (pop. 30,000), it controls the land routes between the city-states and Mhara Khur. The court of the Prince dominates local life, and Peladayne has a reputation for being a place of ceremony and tradition. The knights who protect the city have a reputation as the boldest warriors in the world.
The City of Veluna (pop. 45,000) is known for its formidable defenses and its ruthless Thieves' Guild, which practically shares power with the Countess. Even the local nobility tread carefully when in the city, lest they run afoul of the guildmaster.
Rel Astor (pop. 25,000) is little more than a walled town. It is famous for being the headquarters of the Green Knights, the order of paladins that carries out the Duke's will. Genwyn has a reputation for law and order. Any who disrupt that order find themselves the targets of the Knights. Punishments are harsh, but for those peasants and townspeople living on the dangerous frontier, the Duke is a savior.
Belmor (pop. 35,000) is a small city that owes its existence to the caravan routes that are heading across the Godswall for the Western Lands. The Count does not exert very strong authority, leaving his barons to run their local domains more or less as they will. Humanoids from the Desolation prove a constant threat, and the barons find more cause for co-operation than competition.
IV. Resources and Trade
Because of the City-States' small size and large populations, trade is essential, despite the political and military rivalries that exist. Morbane and Veluna are the breadbasket of the city states, providing grain in exchange for the finished products of the eastern states and the metal ores of the ones to the west. Belmor and Rubicollia are famous for the woolen textiles they produce, while the lands around Freehaven produce prized wines.
The Lord Mayor Uriah Malmsby (lvl 19 Half-elf Rogue). Former head of the Carvers' Guild and a veteran of Freehaven's underworld wars. Since being elected to a lifetime term, the Lord Mayor has shown a willingness to work for the good of the city, clamping down on the activities of his former associates. He also acts as a referee among the other princes, offering to join the weaker side should one power strike against its neighbor.
The Count Estragan Olgren (lvl 18 Human Warlord). An accidental ruler. The count came to power as a result of an election among the noble houses of Rubicollia. Being the weakest house, the Olgren family was least objectionable to the otehrs, so Estragan found himself with the job. Since winning the crown, however, he has made his ambition clear to win hegemony over the other city-states, forging a family tree that shows him to be a direct descendant of the last king Malcolm XIV. His barons treat these claims with amusement, but they support him as long as his ambitions do not get in the way of their own.
The Prince Halbarad III (lvl 24 Human Fighter) . Halbarad has probably the best blood claim to the throne, and he makes it clear to all in his domain. Holding him back are the feudal structure of his domain, which limits his personal power, and his own arrogance, which alienates those who might otherwise support him. Halbarad loves the trapping of chivalry, hosting elaborate tournaments and demanding exacting ettiquette in his court.
The Countess Drusilla Coln (lvl 17 Human Wizard). Countess Drusilla was a talented student of magic who inherited the throne suddenly when her parents and two older brothers were killed in a landslide. Those who speculate that the deaths were somehow engineered have doubts when they meet with the elegant and soft-spoken countess. Just twenty-five eyars old, the countess has yet to choose a consort. As the last surviving member of her family, her delay is causing some concern among her aristocracy, who hope for a smooth dynastic succession.
The Guildmaster Drax (lvl 22 Human Rogue). Few criminal guildmasters have as firm control on a region as Drax. Some suspect that he works with the blessing of the Countess, but none have yet been able to prove it. It is said that the countess rules the day in Veluna, while Drax rules the night. None have looked on the face of Drax and lived to tell the tale.
The Duke Rathor Allomax (Lvl 23 Human Paladin). The Duke is possibly even more into chivalry than the Prince of Morbane. He has exacting standards for himself, and he demands that his subjects live up to similar standards. Punishments for crimes are severe in his land, and fairness seems to trump mercy at every turn. Rathor lives according to the letter of the law, which his Green Knights enforce vigorously.
The Count Daromir Rugin (level 15 Human Ranger). Count Rugin is approaching middle age, and few believe he was ever cut out to rule. He drinks to excess and has sired an army of illegitimate children with his maids and servants. He gieves little attention to the lands under his rule, leaving administration in the hands of his petty nobility. Some rise to the challenge, creating islands of security on the former frontier of the Great Kingdom. Others exploit their lord's weakness, becoming tyrants over their petty states.
The city-states cannot avoid politics. The spectre of the Great Kingdom hangs over them all, and only the Lord Mayor of Freehaven does not desire hegemony over his neighbors. Small border conflicts erupt on an annual basis, but they rarely last more than a few weeks. Each prince knows that sudden, explosive growth at the expense of a neighbor would lead the other barons to ally against him. Therefore, for every armed conflict, there are two dozen acts of espionage and subterfuge. The Princes have shown a willingness to work together when an outside threat presents itself. The goblins of the Godswall and the men of Mhara Khur have learned that lesson the hard way on several occasions.
VII. Major Institutions
Though the Great Kingdom is many centuries gone, some institutions cross the boundaries of the city-states.
While each city-state honors one god over others (Freehaven=Avandra; Rubicollia=Erathis; Morbane=Pelor; Genwyn=Bahamut; Belmor=Kord; Veluna=Sehanine), the temples maintain a network that joins them to all lands. Thus, one can find temples to almost all of the good and unaligned gods in each city-state. The clergy sometimes act as mediators in disputes among the political leaders; sometimes they act as participants in their plots.
The Scroll and Candle is an order of wizards that seeks to recover knowledge that was lost in the collapse of civilizations that came before. They also share knowledge in their Runehouses, which exist in major cities and towns.
The Order of the Wheel was established to ensure safe trade among the city-states. In effect, they are a guild that crosses national boundaries. Members of the order pay no tarriffs on goods that they transport across the boundaries of the city-states. They also maintain a netowrk of inns and safe campsites along the major trade routes.
The City-States provide the setting for most conventional fantasy motifs. The sprawling city of Freehaven, based on Fritz Lieber's Lankhmar is perfect for an urban campaign. Morbane is right outof Arthurian legend, while Genwyn is there to prove that not all villains have "Evil" tattooed on their foreheads. Opportunities abound for characters of mid- to high level to get involved in the dynastic politics of the region. Even for those who wish to remain apolitical, there are enemies and monsters on the frontier, ruined sites of two lost civilizations, and several criminal organizations to make life complicated.