The Brewing Tempests
The new power of Bargas, the Kandari Empire is a theocracy with the Emperor serving as a figurative head of the religion and the secular ruler of the Empire. The Silavara clergy have gained considerable power subsequent to the rise of Naxos due to his piety and devotion to spreading the worship of the Silver God. In recent years, the Order of the Thalmun have risen in prominence in the Empire, increasing the difficulty for unregulated mages to operate and forcing a greater adherence to extreme dogma.
The Empire lies in the eastern part of the continent, largely consisting of savannahs, hilly areas, and deciduous forests. The Glemt Fens also lies in the northern section of the Empire’s lands.
Long the dominant power of Bargas, the Derosi Republic fell to Naxos after his army crushed the Emperor of the Derosi in a battle at the River Gadden. Its legions are still among the most disciplined, well-trained, and formidable fighting forces in Bargas. A senate handles all matters of lawmaking, with an elected Potentate or Potentess acting as ruler; prior to the conquest by Kandar, this would have been an Emperor or Empress. The Derosi have borne the brunt of Kandari belligerence as retribution for their years of subjugation.
The Republic lies in the western part of Bargas, largely consisting of deciduous forests in the south and west and plains in the north and east. Settlements along the coast are occasionally subject to raids by the few Hosca still in Bargas.
Encompassing the entirety of the Acalan Peninsula, the Acalan Kingdom is a savage but scientifically advanced culture. The natural barrier of the Blackrock Escarpment and the rift valley it forms acts to isolate the kingdom from the rest of Bargas, although there are several disused routes through it. The Acalani practice ritual sacrifice to their blood gods and worship the two moons and the stars. They have learned to manipulate obsidian to reduce its brittleness, making their weapons more effective, and have highly advanced astronomical studies that aid in their prophecies. They are also well versed in the natural resources only available on the peninsula, particularly poisons.
For over 300 years the Acalani have been ruled by the self-declared God-King necromancer Athanasius. While the Acalani religion previously centered around a life/death cycle, practiced through thaumaturgy and necromancy, Athanasius has banned the teaching or use of thaumaturgy. Violating this ban is punishable by death.
Several centuries ago the various Uthad clans and kingdoms met to settle their differences; three generations of infighting and continual warfare had taken its toll on all parties, leaving the Uthad weakened and vulnerable to invasion by others. The Muireach Concords were agreed upon, establishing the four nations of Islay, Arran, Phadrig, and Kilda that were bound by a mutual assistance agreement. Each of the nations was free to govern internally as they saw fit, but all external matters would be dealt with as a single state. The majority of the Holle Caldera is Uthad territory, as does the Glemt Fens which serves as the border with the Kandari Empire.
In the north eastern region of the continent lies the lands of the Uthad Confederacy which is made up of a diverse collection of various clans who range from completely nomadic barbarians to agrarian village dwellers. The terrain of the region consists of rolling plains near the coasts and southern border which slowly gives way to vasts forests in the interior, and finally mountains which make up the western border. The climate ranges from semi-arid in the south to more of a temperate climate near the northern border.
The clans themselves are made up of anything from a couple of family groups to hundreds of individuals. Leadership of the various clans is very merit based as the Uthad tend to not be that interested in titles or lineages and more attracted to competent leaders who bring prosperity to his or her clan. Incompetent leaders quickly lose control to rivals in most cases. The clans themselves are frequently at odds with one another, and tend to have shifting alliances as they compete for resources in the region.
They do however try to put their differences aside and meet once a year in the fall during a period known as “The Great Gathering” a month long festival on the eastern plains where the various clans attempt to settle differences, trade, and strengthen alliances. The clans also discuss any issues that affect them as a whole in a council of clan leaders. This is also a good time for diplomats of other nations to attend and negotiate with the confederacy as a whole. Though it isn’t a good idea to assume that all of the clans will listen to any edicts for policies set forth by the council of tribal leaders as its well known that the various clans will act in their own self interest in all but the face of the most dire threats to the Uthad as a whole. Though generally most will follow what is decided so long as it isn’t to the detriment of an individual clan. Foreign dignitaries have likened the process of clan governance as trying to herd cats.
Clan social structures vary according to clan size. The clans on the east coast have a strong maritime tradition, they are experts at fishing and raiding in their longboats. The coast is dotted with villages and even some farming communities though farming is looked down upon by the average Uthadian. Though as is true with the other semi permanently settled clans it’s not uncommon for groups of people to wander off for months or years at a time in search of loot, and glory.
The clans to the west in the mountains are similar as they possess various villages in mountains where they mine and work with metals to produce weapons and other trade goods. Since they are experts in mountain warfare and control the limited passes through the mountains their rivals in the forests, and plains have a hard time assaulting their settlements as do foreign powers.
In the forests of the interior lay the most nomadic and warlike clans. This region has no permanent settlements and groups roam around from encampment to encampment in the territory they control. Mistrust and conflict with the other clans is the norm though they tend to shy away from total war preferring to limit conflict with just the warriors of a rival clan forcing them out of a contested area. This prevents depopulation and allows the nomads to maintain control of forests preventing outsiders from gaining a foothold. They view permanent settlements as a form of blasphemy to the very spirit of what the Uthad are all about.
The relationship of the Uthad Confederacy and the other nations is a complicated one. Currently based on the size of the population the Uthad have come to a balancing point in the amount of territory they can effectively control given their fractious nature. Granted the raiding is a nuisance but they don’t seem to be interested in occupying foreign territory or settling down in cities. Neighboring settlements keep them at bay with a combination military force, trade, and tribute. The Uthad while superb in small unit tactics and guerilla warfare are terrible at forming large organized cohesive military units needed to fight their better organized rivals. They lack the discipline that siege warfare would require and therefore have immense difficulties with walled cities. Though a handful of particularly charismatic Uthad clan leaders have pulled off sieges in the past most attempts end in bored clansmen attacking their “allies” over some perceived slight to the amusement of the besieged city.
The best method for dealing with the Uthad Confederacy exercised by both the Delorsi and later the Kandari is to exploit clan rivalries, attempt to prevent them from unifying under one leader, and wiping out troublesome clans. This was demonstrated in a recent war with the Kandari military and the Stone Wolf clan which occupied several encampments in the western mountains. The Stone wolf clan began to raid Kandari outposts and caravans in the region blatantly after several small victorious skirmishes. The Kandari allied with a few rival clans and successfully wiped out the Stone Wolf clan from their ancestral territory almost to the man. This served the dual purpose of securing Kandari dominance in the area and served as a warning to clans that might have similar aspirations.
Islay is a predominantly forested area, and bordering both the Rutan Kingdom and the Kandari Empire has served to blunt numerous previous invasions. Its dense forests and the Glemt Fens are ideal for ambushing invaders, and its populace is even more highly attuned to the natural world than the rest of the Uthad.
Arran is a mixture of highlands and forests, including the transition from deciduous to boreal forests. It has numerous resources but its greatest asset is its warriors, who serve as the majority of the Uthad military, particularly its officer corps.
Being almost entirely highlands, Phadrig has numerous mines and produces excellent quality metalwork. Skilled artisans reside in Phadrig, and its capital of Dundurn has been the location of several last stands for the Confederation.
Kilda is predominantly tundra and boreal forests, and while it lacks the mineral resources or skilled craftsmen of the other nations it provides the bulk of the meat for the Uthad. Caribou, musk oxen, and auroch herds are culled regularly, and there are numerous fishing fleets.
The Hamad Emirate, located in the southern part of Bargas and northeast of the Acalan Peninsula, is almost entirely desert or mountains. There are only four settlements of significant size and primarily serve to facilitate trade. Most of the exotic goods of Bargas flow through the Emirate, either coming from the Acalan Peninsula or originating in the mountains and desert. The majority of the population is nomadic and the emir resides in Khasra, located near the confluence of two rivers carrying water from the Ajalt Peaks.
The final holdouts against Naxos, along with the Hosca, The Rutan Kingdom is largely plains in the south with forests and mountains in the north. The Rutani are primarily nomadic horse lords, but there are several settlements. Recco serves as the capital in the north, a twin city to the Hosca city of Roskilde on the other side of the Gray River. The city of Tarraco in the southeast lies close to the Uthad Confederation, the Derosi Republic, and the Kandari Empire, and acts as a major trading hub where the Rutani bring their herds for sale.
The Rutani king traditionally travels with the horse clans on the plains, while the cities of Recco and Tarraco are governed by councils of magisters. Several lords rule the areas other than the plains, but their lands lack defined boundaries.
Largely abandoned after the Hosca migration to Arvim, a relatively small population of Hosca remain. The Hosca capital has been relocated to Ringsted on an island off the coast of Bargas and the majority of the mainland part of the kingdom is now in ruins. The Hosca conduct raids along the Derosi coast and still have close ties to the Rutani; in the decades since the vast majority of the Hosca migrated to Arvim, the Rutani and Hosca have intermixed to a great degree, and the ethnic differences are now negligible. Cultural and religious differences now delineate the Hosca and Rutani instead of physical differences, as the Rutani and Hosca appear almost identical.
The Hosca are currently ruled by the extremely old King Gudrik, who was a child present at the Battle of the Gray River. Having seen the defeat of the combined Rutani and Hosca forces by Naxos, he has consistently opposed rebelling against the Kandari since his taking the throne over a half century ago. However, he lacks a descendant, throwing the succession into turmoil. He has a nephew, Hakon, who has a legitimate claim, but his support among the clans is weak and he is opposed by his rival Skopti and the belligerent Orrin.
The majority of the Hosca population lives on the Isle of Merkigil off the northwest coast of Bargas. Ringsted, the Hosca capital city, has a population of approximately 40,000. Roskilde, the sister city across the Grey River from the Rutan city of Recco, has about 6,000 residents. The kingdom has close to 200,000 residing within its borders; over half live on the Isle of Merkigil, while the remainder are scattered across the mainland portion of the kingdom.
The Hosca, Rutani, and Uthad share a distant lineage, and the Hosca and Rutani have grown closer in the decades since their defeat by Naxos. The mainland portion of the Hosca Kingdom was largely depopulated due to the migration to Arvim, while many of those who did not migrate relocated to Merkigil. In the decades since the mainland Hosca have assimilated a large number of Rutani, leading to the ethnic differences being largely eliminated; religion is the main difference between the two, and due to the Rutani belief that other religions are merely worshiping different aspects of Aligern there is little inherent friction between the two peoples.