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The Known World (Gazetteers)

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The Grand Duchy of Karameikos

Karameikos is a heavily forested land bounded by mountains to the north which form its natural border with the Republic of Darokin. To the west is the nation of Halflings called the Five Shires. To the north and east, across the vast Altan Tepes mountain range, is the mysterious desert nation, The Emirates of Ylaruam. To the east is the mighty Empire of Thyatis, from whence the ruler of Karameikos, Grand Duke Stephan Karameikos III, hails. To the south are the island lands of the Minrothad Guilds and the Kingdom of Ierendi.

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The Emirates of Ylaruam

This is a desert land, all blazing sun, rolling dunes, and widely separated oases, similar in appearance and culture to medieval Arabia. In recent centuries, the Thyatians and Alphatians have come to Ylaruam to conquer; they moved in from the south and the north and fought in the center, their wars going on for decades until the Ylari people threw them out.

The Principalities of Glantri

This forested and mountainous northern land is a magocracy, a land ruled by magic-users. Clerics are outlawed (they’re sentenced to death when found).

  Glantri is divided into many principalities, each of which has its own ruler and laws:

  Aalban is famous for the machines and devices its craftsmen make. Belcadiz is home to elves who are famous for their metalwork’s and their fine black lace; the elves in this nation live more like humans than elves, dwelling in fine houses and cities rather than sylvan communities. Bergdhoven is famous for its flowers (and dyes and perfumes which come from them), its cheeses, and its jewelry and gemcutters. Blackhill is best-known for the quantity of its fruits and vegetables, and for the coal mined here. Boldavia is a major supplier of salt (mined by convicts and slaves) and ice (shipped hastily to Glantri City and other places). Caurenze is best known for its graceful marble architecture, and for its gold mines and fine weaponry. Erewan is a land of more traditional sylvan elves, who are fine bowyers, woodworkers, and artists. Klantyre is a major supplier of wool and mutton, lumber and heavy woodwork. Krondahar is a producer of silk and leather goods, fine beef, and yogurt. New Averoigne is best-known for its wines and culinary arts.

The Kingdom of Ierendi

The trading ships of Ierendi rival those of Thyatis, and the kingdom sports a magnificent royal palace carved from pure white coral. The king and queen of the land are usually popular adventurer-heroes; however, they are without true power and serve only as figureheads, Actual rule is held by certain aristocratic families (making Ierendi an oligarchy). Law tends to be informal, and enforced by the strong. Although Ierendi has a high professional navy, pirates often operate out of Ierendi waters.

The Elves of Alfheim

This nation is a homeland of elves. Once a featureless plain, it was magically transformed into a deep, dense forest-ominous to outsiders, but a cheerful home to elves. This is a land of enormous trees, of elven cities made up of tree houses hundreds of feet in the air and connected by wooden walkways. It's a place where few non-elves come unless they are invited or are attempting to invade.

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The Dwarves of Rockhome

This is a land of low, fertile valleys surrounded by high and treacherous mountains. Rockhome is the homeland of the Known World’s dwarves, and its thick ring of mountains suits them well, both defensively and aesthetically.

The dwarves build their communities of strong stone, using their famous engineering skills. Many Rockhome towns and villages are either built partially or completely underground, particularly in the large natural caverns that riddle this territory. This potent combination of surrounding mountains, defensive stone fortifications, and underground communities makes Rockhome difficult to invade.

The Northern Reaches

These three nations, living in chilly northern coastal lands, are all similar to Viking cultures. The Soderfjord Jarldoms is a poor nation full of contentious jarls (earls), and constantly plagued by humanoid invaders. Vestland is a mainland country with a history of military achievement. Ostland is an island nation with a great tradition of seamanship and piracy.

The Five Shires

This coastal nation that lies north of Ierendi is the homeland of the halflings ("hin"). Though these lands have been three times ruled by outsiders (twice by orcs, once by dwarves), the Five Shires are now ruled entirely by hin, and constitute an independent nation with a strong army and navy.

The Five Shires region is a broad, deeply-forested piece of rolling land. The land is quite fertile and hin farmers can get two or three harvests per year; the Five Shires export a lot of grain to Darokin, Glantri, and Karameikos.

The Five Shires is divided into five regions, called shires, each of which is semi-independent and ruled by a sheriff. The shires include Seashire, Highshire, Eastshire, Heartshire, and Southshire.

Update 2-16-2010

The Minrothad Guilds

The Minrothad island cluster is a sydicracy: The government is run by the heads of various trading guilds. Most of these are demihuman, with elves being the majority. The people are caste-conscious and conservative, preferring banking to war. They maintain a neutral position between Thyatis and Alphatia, trading with and transporting goods for both. Privateering, especially against pirates out of Ierendi, is common occupation.

The Orcs of Thar

This wasteland of rugged hills and mountains, infertile valleys and canyons, was long ago smashed by a man-made disaster. Since then, it has been an ugly and useless land, shunned by all but the humanoids; countless tribes of orcs, kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, ogres, trolls, and other races who hate the humans who drove them here. They sometimes gather to raid surrounding nations. These barren lands are harsh and dangerous, but rumors persist of great magical treasures hidden here before the cataclysm.

The Republic of Darokin

This republic is centered around the capital, Darokin. Its wealth is based on trade from Lake Amsorak (a large inland lake), the Streel River, the eastern caravan route, and the sea trade filtering in through the Malpheggi swamp. Darokin is a plutocracy; the government is run by the wealthiest merchant families. The culture resembles that of Venice or Genoa in medieval Italy. While the settled areas are fairly safe, the wild areas are very wild.

The Ethengar Khanates

These northern steppes are broad, flat, windswept grasslands, ruled by the nomadic riders of the Golden Horde. The Ethengarians are steppe riders very similar to the Mongols. They are very warlike, and when they choose to stay organized, they are a great danger to nations all around them. Their "capital" is a tent (yurt) city of several thousand citizens that wander across the face of the Khanate lands. At its center are the pavilions of the Golden Khan, a series of enormous tents surrounded by a wooden palisade.

The Shadow Elves

Long ago, elves who survived the disaster that created the Broken Lands fled into the earth, finding deeper and deeper caverns to shelter them. Today, from their gray and cheerless caverns, they interact with the surface world only to scheme to gain control of Alfheim or to pit surface nations against one another. The shadow elves are very pale and frail compared with outer-world elves. Their society closed and insular; they fear and distrust representatives of outside races.

The Atruaghin Clans

These grassy plateau, forest, and hilly regions are inhabited by tribal herders and hunters who live in small villages. All the villagers claim to be descended from the ancient hero Atruaghin. If threatened by war, they will unite under a temporarily elected leader. Their culture is similar to early Amerindian culture.

Dawn of the Emperors Thyatis and Alphatia

Thyatis

Thaytis is a seaside empire, famous for its imperial history, the cunning and treachery of its leaders, the decadence of its entertainment’s, and the might of its army. In many ways, it resembles the Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire when its armies were achieving their greatest victories and its court was well into its decline.

The Empire of Thyatis consists of the Kingdom of Thyatis, the Pearl Islands (an island nation with a predominately black population), the western half of the Isle of Dawn (an island settled by humans from many different races), Ochalea (an island settled by descendants of the mysterious, copper-skinned easterners called Alphatians), and the Hinterlands (the northern jungle fringe of the southern continent). Here, we’ll deal only with the nation of Thyatis, heart of the empire.

Thyatis is mostly flatland (with mountains bordering it to the north and running through the Island of Hattias to the south). The further west you go, the greener things are; the western border is heavily wooded.

Thyatis borders the Emirates of Ylaruam to the north (and is normally unfriendly with them), Karameikos to the west (and remains friendly, although one day it will conquer that kingdom), and the Minrothad Guilds to the southwest (and remains friendly, trade relations are cordial). Elsewhere, the nation is bounded by seas, which have helped Thyatis become an important naval power with a tradition both of trade and piracy.

Alphatia