To Serve and Protect?
Hobgoblin Empire (area in the north from the Desolation of Alphaas to the Valley of Thunders , bordered by the Three Seas to the north , Imir and Rasalhauge to the south)
Although it has a name in the hobgoblin tongue to most of the civilized world it is known simply as the Hobgoblin Empire. Much of what is known about this land stems from ancient times when it was the seat of a great Irdra Kingdom of old that held all goodly folks in bondage for centuries. It is widely believed that the capital of Kraklog sits on the site of the former grand temple of Tiamat in those bygone years. Those few slaves who manage to escape and return to the south tell tales that reinforce the Hobs reputation for brutality and violence. Wholly dedicated to Tiamat and devoted to war the Hobgoblin Empire is a sword dangling above the heads of all free-willed peoples. A recent failed assassination attempt on the Hobgoblin Emperor (some say sent by Calbaria, others Thenol) has many fearing that a new campaign by the Hob legions is imminent.
The Rasalhauge Dominion (south of the Hobgoblin Empire, bordered on the west by Imir, on the east by the Valley of Thunders and the south by Thenol)
One of the last bastions of Moradin worship in the protectorate the Rasalhauge Dominion is in many ways a land behind the times. Staunchly traditional and moralistic the Dominion is slow to recognize (let alone adopt) new ideas and technology. As a theocratic dictatorship there are few opportunities for advancement outside of church (known as the Anvil of Creation). The Rasalhauge Dominion although not a truly closed society has little interaction with outsiders. They have poor relations with Thenol and only limited trade with Imir. Although hostilities are at a lower level than in years past they consider themselves to be a perpetual state of war of the Hobgoblin Empire and skirmishes and small scale battles are common along the ill-defined border between the two powers. This area is one of the most wretched and dangerous places to live in the protectorate and is sparsely populated by those unfortunates with no other place to live.
The Free Rasalhauge Republic (bordered on three sides by the Rasalhauge Dominion, borders the Seat of Law)
Born only a generation ago, the Free Rasalhauge Republic stands on the brink of destruction. Born of heresy and rebellion the FRR is an embarrassment to the Priest-King of the Dominion and many expect it is only a matter of time before the Dominion crushes the republic and brings it forcefully back into the fold. The rebellion that lead to the creation of the Republic was the unintended result of a small group of high ranking priests who felt that the Anvil of Creation had strayed from the teachings of Moradin (corrupted by influence the axiomatic and unforgiving faith of Menoth) and took their concerns to the Priest-King. Condemned and imprisoned as heretics, their cause was taken up (some say co-opted) by those who resented the totalitarian nature of the theocracy. Protests and civil disobedience soon lead to violence (some say provoked by the more radical elements of church itself). As civil war loomed a massive hobgoblin attack diverted the strength of the Rasalhauge Army and gave the rebels the chance to free the imprisoned priests and declare themselves a sovereign nation. Many in the Anvil of Creation feel this is proof of the FRR is in alliance with the Hobs and are secret worshipers of the Dark Lady themselves.
After the hobgoblin incursion was driven back the army prepared to turn their attentions to the FRR as the rebels dug in for a prolonged and bloody conflict. This was averted strangely enough, by Holiest of Holies, the head of the church of Menoth, the Walker in White. Aided by Imirian diplomats the Walker in White convinced the Dominion that enough bloodshed had already transpired, and while the Dominion never acknowledged the status of the FRR as a separate nation, certain concessions were made that avoided outright war. Most think this effort was only successful due to the terrible losses the Dominion suffered against the Hobs and that once they regain their strength the FRR’s days are numbered.
Thenol (South of the Rasalhauge Dominion , bordered on the east by the Valley of Thunders , the west by Calbaria , and the Plains of Hak to the south , Borders the Seat of Law)
Once a confederation of seven kingdoms, Thenol has become a united nation over the years with most of the individual cultural differences of the kingdoms disappearing. Executive power is wielded by the overking (advised by the Council of Six) the lawmaking authority rests in the hands of the Council of Lords (elected positions but open only to the aristocracy) the judiciary is in the hands of the church of Menoth . A militaristic society, Thenolites respect nothing more than martial prowess. Thenol is not a land rich in natural resources and they have survived as a nation due mostly to their military might. Although their relations with the Rasalhauge Dominion continue to be contentious (exacerbated by the fact that they are the only nation to recognize the FRR as an independent nation) Thenol has in recent years developed more convivial relations with Calbaria and the increase in trade in has benefitted the nation greatly. The hardline old guard of Thenol society point to this fact as a reason to try and conquer Calbaria once again.
The Seat of Law (Imir to the northwest, Rasalhauge to the northeast, Calbaria to the southwest, Thenol to the southeast)
A small independent land this is the home to the church of Menoth, its titular head the Walker in White, and to many (outside of Rasalhauge) the seat of the ultimate authority in the land. Technically a kingdom, the king of the Seat of Law is a ceremonial position only, as all authority rests in the hands of the church. The Seat of Law is home to the word of Menoth himself, mortal laws are too respected, but if they must be broken to preserve the Law so be it. To be branded a Lawbreaker is the most heinous condemnation the church can hand down, and those so named will be dealt with mercilessly. The church of Menoth does not believe in redemption, only retribution. The church does not deal in half measures – an eye for an eye is not good enough, only a head for an eye can balance the scales. Although the Seat of Law does not dictate local laws, it still enforces its own, making it unpopular with rulers. The church is willing to work with local governments, but the Law is always supreme.
Imir (Hobgoblin Empire to the north , Rasalhauge Dominion to the east , borders the Seat of Law , Calbaria to the south , Desolation of Alphaas to the west)
A cosmopolitan republic Imir is a land dedicated to trade and peace (because peace is better for trade). Although the church of Menoth has some influence over the people of Imir, it is both the most secular and the most tolerant of other beliefs. A significant concentration of Moradin worshippers resides in Imir, along with the only known church of Cayden and Savros, as well as some small sects of foreign religions. Imir is a democratic republic with any business owner who can show three consecutive years of profit eligible to vote. Many large issues are determined by direct election, while smaller matters are resolved by the elected Republican (serves for five years, can be recalled at any time by majority vote). Imir has always ruffled the feathers of the other nations with their “progressive” ways, but recently they did something that many consider to be all but treason – signing a peace treaty with the Hobgoblin Empire. Everyone outside of Imir considers the Imirians to be fools if they think for one second the Hobgoblin Empire plans on honoring this treaty. Imir has managed to establish routes across the northern part of the Desolation of Alphaas to the coast and has established several trading ports, opening up access to foreign trade that has greatly increased their wealth and power in recent times.
Calbaria (Imir to the North , Desolation of Alphaas to the west , Plains of Hak to the south , borders Thenol on the east , borders the Seat of Law)
Many Calbarians claim (falsely) to be descendants of human and elf tribes that were never conquered by the ancient Irda empires . In truth the modern nation of Calbaria was created by the union through marriage of the Forsaken elven kingdom of Qussien and the human lands of Hammerstein. The elf maid that brought about this union (known by many as the Everqueen) remains the moral and spiritual leader of Calbaria, but the monarchy has given away to republican ideals. Although not as open a society as Imir, Calbaria is a diverse and tolerant nation.
Several decades ago, Calbaria was faced with a great crisis in the form of a powerful servant of Tiamat known as the Ascendant. As the nation faced destruction at the hands of the Ascendant’s demonic minions, the mages of Ebonspire used their magic to create a new race – mixing the blood of humans with that of their fallen demon tormentors to create the Orcs (much to the consternation of the Anvil of Creation). With these new warriors Calbaria was able to break the back of the Ascendant’s forces and defeat him (although he was not killed). However, no one had thought what would become of the orcs after the war was won. Given mostly worthless lands in the Plains of Hak and the southern Desolation the orcs nonetheless prospered and built crude societies of their own. Trouble began when the Walker in White at the time proclaimed that since the orcs were created by mortals they had no souls, and therefore were not protected by the Law. Needing labor to rebuild Calbaria, wide scale slaving operations against the orc tribes ensued. Disorganized, technologically primitive, and reluctant to fight against non-demons the orcs were easy prey for the slavers at first.
United (temporarily) by the warchief Gortai and the mystic demon hunter Kujin the orc tribes struck back against Calbaria and threatened to overrun the still weakened nation . The Everqueen (never happy about the institution of slavery in her sacred lands) stepped in and forced the government into a peace accord that included freeing all orc slaves as well as more fertile lands in the southwest being ceded to the orcs . Imir also agreed to release all their orc slaves while many remain in bondage in Thenol (Rasalhauge has never allowed slavery in their borders). The healing process between the orcs and the rest of Calbaria was slow at first, but was greatly accelerated when an orc explorer found vast mineral wealth amongst the primitive human tribes across the Desolation.
Eager to exploit this source of riches, construction of a grand road through the Desolation began. This necessitated first the destruction of the (inaptly named) Thri-Kreen Empire, and then the subjugation of the Asherati as well as several smaller groups of desert dwelling humans (most notably the Vulkoor of the Scablands). After thirty years of war the road building was able to begin. It took ten years to complete the great road across the wastes and now the fledging city of Urgavia stands poised to begin harvesting riches of this far off land for the greater good of Calbaria.
Rakasta Empire (alleged to be beyond the Valley of Thunders)
While the Rasalhauge Dominion contends that there is a vast wicked empire of Tiamat’s catfolk underlings across the Valley of Thunders, this has never been proven to the satisfaction of any of the rational thinkers. It seems unlikely to most that the nomadic and wildly chaotic rakasta would be capable of building the cruelly sophisticated nation-state that the priests of Moradin contend exists.
The Valley of Thunders – A massive rift running from the Sea of Storms to the Plains of Hak the Valley of Thunders is difficult to access without magic or serious mountaineering knowledge. No known passes lead to into the valley which is known to be populated by massive beasts known as Thunderers (dinosaurs) and all manner of deadly monsters. Many tales speak of fabulous ruins filled with gold and jewels of ancient empires in the Valley, few that go in search of them ever return – fewer still with anything of value.
The Plains of Hak – Vast and mostly unknown grassland to the south the Plains of Hak are generally considered to be an empty and worthless land, populated only by a few hardy nomadic peoples following the few herds of aurochs that scrape out a life in this harsh land. Small groups of rakasta are known to haunt the area where the plains meet the Valley of Thunders and are happy to send anyone they meet to the embrace of their dark mistress Tiamat.
The Desolation of Alphaas – Running from the Sea of Claws to the rocky scrublands that give way to the Plains of Hak, the Desolation was once the great kingdom of Smivohzia. Equal in might to the all the current nations combined , Smivohzia was a highly advanced and powerful land that is rumored to have colonized coastal lands beyond the Plains of Hak as well as other continents . This once fruitful and grand kingdom was brought to its destruction by a powerful servant of Tiamat called Alphaas and his legions of followers called by many the Drakstone Convenant. Although Alphaas was eventually defeated and banished back to Tiamat’s bleak realm it was not before the kingdom of Smivohzia was utterly destroyed and the land where it once was reduced to a barren desert . It stands as mute testament to the awful power of Tiamat and reminds many that Menoth is all that stands between them and total annihilation.
Senbi Wastes – Reputed to be south of the Plains of the Hak is a great desert of which little is known
Irda Empire (alleged to be many places)
Since their empire crumbled in the distant past and they fell out of favor with their mistress Tiamat the Irda have generally been considered to be a species in decline. While they are largely believed to be the secret masters of the Hobgoblin Empire, few believe they still wield any amount of significant temporal power on their own. There are those however that claim an empire of Irda still exists, growing stronger by the day – generally this mythical empire is said to be on a peninsula south of the Plains of Hak, but many other locations are suggested. There are even those that claim that the “empire” of Irda is not a real empire at all, but a vast network of infiltrators that have burrowed their way into every land and institution of free peoples; sleeper agents that wait for Tiamat’s next grand scheme to bring low those that defy her.