A brief summary of the Lands of Patria
About 1,500 years ago, Elves brought the first humans to Patria to serve as their foot soldiers in a prophesied war against a demonic led humanoid horde. Just over 400 years ago, that war happened. A great plague preceded the Horde. Between the plague and the war, the Elves and Dwarves were destroyed as independent powers and what few survivors hide in small enclaves far from any other civilizations. Prior to the plague the humans had organized themselves into the Pax Hominibus (the peace of humanity) – a core empire with a number of smaller client states around the edges. For 1000 years or so the human "Legate Imperators" had ruled in general prosperity (while allowing and profiting from slavery of non-humans and those humans who were deemed ‘troublemakers’). The plague killed about 40% of the humans and their entire line of succession. Humans fractured into a number of kingdoms – some groups moving to previously unclaimed regions, client kingdoms falling into disarray due to population lose and a general breakdown of civilization. The rise of the Paladin Nestor and his knights gave a brief moment of peace and hope – only to be dashed upon his death in a skirmish after the main Horde was defeated.
Today, 430 some odd years after the last legitimate Emperor died, Patria is divided into two general areas. From the Nixnidus Mountains to as far west as the unexplored lands reach are the domains of humanoid tribes. No civilization above a tribal level is known to exist – but few ever return so who knows the real state of things in those lands. From the Eastern Ocean to the foothills of the Nixnidus several distinct kingdoms have been carved out of the ruins of the old human empire. Below is a very brief sketch of each of those kingdoms.
The Northern Freeholds
At the northern most reaches of the land mass are an endless warren of fjords and small stretches arable land on which the hardy survivors of Viking explorers from Earth have been led by the Elves during the Time of Migrations. These peoples of the Northern Freeholds were never part of the human empire. They have kept to themselves, occasionally trading and rarely raiding southward. Most of their time and energy has been focused on beating back the large number of giant kin that infest these areas. They have no central government and each village governs itself, if faced with a large attack by giant kin (very rare given the deeply chaotic nature of most giant kin) several villages will gather together but only in a temporary fashion as these prideful and honor bound warriors are quick to take offense. This is the land of the Berserkers – fearsome warriors that even dragons are cautious about angering. It is said that the Berserkers of the Northern Freeholds have been known to route entire armies merely by taking the field and starting to rage.
In 1066 William the Bastard of Normandy seized the Crown of England. A number of Saxon lords in the northern parts of England refused to accept his right to rule. Faced with certain destruction, they and their dependents set sail for Iceland and Greenland where they hoped to find safety. The elves intercepted them and led them to the southern shore of the Great Inner Sea where they settled as a client state for the human Legate Imperator. When the Pax Hominibus fell and the plague ravaged their lands, they sailed up the Norburne River to escape the “Great Dying” as they called the plague. They settled the town of Ottershaw and spread inland from there seeking good lands. Eventually they set up 13 independent earldoms. About a hundred years ago, a major invasion by an orc and giant army forced them to unite into a single kingdom. Each earl (or his appointed representative) sits in the Wicca, a semi-legislative body that advises the king and upon the death of a king, selects the next king. About 20 years ago they beat back an attack by the Duchy of Gareth. About 10 years ago, a new Duke in Gareth seduced and wed the daughter of the earldom of Thyrefeld. Within a year both the earl and his daughter were dead; one by hunting accident and one by miscarriage. 5 years ago, a large force of goblinoids, all w/ Gareth coins in their purses, moved north and were turned back only with the help of a hobgoblin army that came from the East. These hobgoblins declared themselves a kingdom and sought recognition of their territorial claims – in the interests of peace of course. Today the fiercely independent earldoms are debating what to do about having a hobgoblin kingdom on one flank, a hostile human kingdom on the other and growing tensions with their Western neighbors – the Sparti – over the Kareena question.
The Sparti City States
In the river valleys that flow out of the Nixnidus Mountains west of the Norburne River and north of the Duchy of Agravain, are a collection of city states akin to the ancient city state of Sparta. Built upon the slave labor of the Kareena (Halflings) and Chergaree (gnomes) the nobles of these lands are all warriors highly trained in survival and large unit formation tactics. At the age of 7 they are forcibly removed from their mother’s arms and thrust into the brutal training of the Agogi. Until the age of 30, they must survive on half rations and what they can steal from the slave population while learning all they can from senior instructors who teach them discipline, trickery, and (at least among themselves) a sort of stoic honor. At the age of 20 they must take a wife but are not ‘allowed’ to visit her bed until they are graduated from the Agogi. It is expected they will sire several children in this 10 year period (they have to sneak out under the watchful eyes of their instructors who had to do the same thing and who will flog them w/o mercy if they get caught). Each city state generally maintains its own government and order but a loose council of elders from each of the city states meets periodically to discuss issues that affect the whole. The largest bone of contention is what to do about the number of Kareena who are increasingly escaping across the Norburne River and into the Jutelands – where they are seen as second class residents but at least they are somewhat free. The cities closest to the Jutelands want action while cities further from the border are more concerned about growing Kareena resistance – even periodic assassinations and raids – sometimes with aid from humanoids from deeper in the Nixnidus Mountains.
The Ducal Alliance
While most Christian Crusader knights were slaughtered at the Battle of Hattin between the 1st and 2nd Crusades, some were saved by the Elves and transported, with their retainers to the island of Galeshin in the Great Inner Sea. While swearing allegiance to the human Legate Imperator and occasionally sending their heavy horse to fight, these knights mostly kept to themselves until the Great Dying. Isolated on their islands and barely affected, after the Horde was defeated and the rest of the human race was in disarray, they sailed forth and established order around the Great Inner Sea – they accepted all refugees that were willing to become serfs and established the feudal order their ancestors had known in medieval France. In theory they are guided by the ideals of medieval chivalry but only the Duchy of Galeshin seriously strives to uphold those (it has been ruled by a paladin or a lawful good cleric since its founding). Now the 11 Duchies now have a loose alliance – more of a nonaggression pact than alliance, among themselves. 8 of the 11 duchies now press on their human neighbors to some extent or another. The northern most duchies of Yvain and Lionel focus their attention on the growing hobgoblin kingdom and the sea faring duchy of Galeshin has a small colony on the eastern border of the hobgoblin kingdom that it seeks to protect.
The Free City of Cartago
Technically part of the Duchy of Galeshin, and hence the Ducal Alliance, this small outpost sits on the edge of the Hobgoblin Empire and an uneasy peace rests here where humans grow and thrive on land the Hobgoblins consider legitimately theirs. Mostly former soldiers in the army of Galeshin who have been granted land in trade for years of service, these yeoman farmers are carving a new civilization out of the wilderness. The principle town is build upon the ruins of an old city that was abandoned in the time of the Great Dying. They watch with great trepidation the recognition of the hobgoblins as a legitimate government and have a tentative peace w/ proposed boundaries but since the ruler of the hobgoblin kingdom expels all who oppose him (i.e. his enemies end up raiding his neighbors – including Cartago), relations are strained.
The Kingdom of the Hobgoblins
The hobgoblins are a militaristic and organized race that prizes strength and honor over all else. Over the last two decades, one tribal leader had risen to dominance over several tribes. With brutal campaigns, he has forced several tribes to submit to his rule. About 5 years ago, he marched an army to save the Jutelands from invasion by the mercenary goblins of the Duchy of Gareth. No one is quite sure why he did this but following that action, he declared himself Imperator – supreme military commander – of all hobgoblins. All who disagreed were executed or forced to flee. At heart of his power seems to lay not only the fanatical loyalty he inspires in his followers (even those who have been forcibly converted) but also his access to dwarven weapons and armor that is perfectly fitted for his best troops. Rumors say that he has a secret tribe of dwarven smiths working for him or that he plundered the former homeland of the dwarves and found an inexhaustible supply of dwarven weapons and armors – but no one knows for certain.
Once on the fringes of the old human empire, this land was where courtly wizards kept their private estates and conducted their most bizarre experiments (aka aberrations and magical beasts). The passes above Darcia are where the Horde entered human lands. It was on these lands where humanity unleashed all its most dire magics and fought a battle for its very existence. Today, the land is still the home of a few hardy peasants bound to serve local lords with odd habits (often nocturnal, drinking blood, etc.). This is the land of the Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania. Currently the Duke of Caius the 17th is funding the development of the religion of Dis – a neutral good deity of death that is dedicated to obliterating the undead and the aberrations that roam this land.
Dis Mater or more recently North Caius
Until recently this was the land of miners and hard working yeoman farmers with little interest beyond their farms. They would gather in civic cohorts modeled on the legion of the early Roman Republic when threatened but never sought to conquer others. About twenty years ago, the Duchies of Vortigern and Cador started seizing lands and forcing once free men into serfdom. Left with little alternative, many local leaders banded together and swore fealty to the Duchy of Caius in trade for protection. As Caius’ legions marched forward and the Dukes of Vortigern and Cador suddenly found themselves faced with one of the most professional armies known to human civilization – including the most advanced siege engines – they found it prudent to make peace. For now both sides keep the peace but many nobles in the courts of Vortigern and Cador push to continue the conquest while families who have had to flee their ancestral lands petition Duke Caius for aid in reclaiming those lands. It is only a matter of time before the situation boils over into open warfare.
The Duchy of Caius
These Roman lands are of the early Imperial era; men like Trajan and Marcus Aurelius stride these lands. The legions take the field to fight back the Ducal Alliance. Their armies march at the command of their Duke Caius the 17th. Each duke is chosen by the previous duke for his ability to lead. While it is possible for the next duke to be son of the previous one, it has happened only once and the son, Caius IX, chose, not his son, but his best leader to succeed him on the throne. Caius VIII has been committed to history as a villous traitor who tried to overturn the state and Caius IX as a noble hero who prevented his father's treason from taking root. Each duke assumes the name Caius upon his assertion after the founder of these lands.
The Republic of Nova Magna Mater
The Byzantine Empire had nothing on this collection of feuding noble houses and government bureaucracies filled by political appointees often working for the benefit of their noble sponsor rather than the good of the nation as a whole. Greed and political backstabbing is the way of the world. The infighting in this land allows raids and land grabs by Lucan, Agloval, and mostly by the Drago Regulum to go unpunished. The self-styled "Dragon King" is careful enough to strike at nobles who are in low esteem at the time of his raid.
The Empire of the Troads
The absolute best light horse in the world, these warriors via for glory and status as the foremost warrior and gift-giver. These warriors are the one-on-one match for any in the lands. With their thrusting spear from horse or their broad sword and shield while on foot, they eagerly seek enemy champions to slay and strip of their armor. The telling of a good story can be the difference between life and death for someone the local lord has taken a dislike to. They often take the field afar as mercenaries, each king leading his own war band off to glory and riches as the whim takes them.