Duchy of Anderland
Realm of Eagles, Dominion of the Silver Knight
Capital: Andersgate (14,000)
Government: Hereditary monarchy
Ruler: His Noble and Honorable Grace, Duke Caldric d’Anderville
Major Exports: Ale, cheese, furs, iron, timber, wool
Major Imports: Grains, horses, manufactured goods
Relics & Artifacts: The Raven Queen’s Amulet, the legendary dwarven battle axe Khazail, two of the six Cloaks of the Huntsmen, Lyra’s Harmonious Harp, three of the infamous Kingslayer Arrows, the Battle Armor of Garion, Majestic Steed of Samaran, Raven’s Book of Dooms, the Bloodstone Talisman
The Duchy of Anderland represents something of an anomaly and an enigma. Situated in the far northlands, it represents an oasis of civilization amidst a harsh, merciless, and unexplored region of the world. The people of the Duchy enjoy some of the widest freedoms of any realm, and yet the duchy belongs to the despotic Empire of Maldar. Threatened by humanoids, savage reavers, and the cruel eye of Maldar, the Duchy must also face unpredictable storms and lethal winters. Against the odds, Anderland has not only survived to present day, but it has managed to prosper.
Regardless of its perceived or presumed freedom, the Duchy of Anderland remains firmly under the dominion of Maldar. This brutal empire holds Anderland’s fate at the tip of a sword, always ready to conquer or intervene without hesitation. To survive and retain a semblence of independence, the dukes of Anderland have walked a narrow bridge. They must avoid drawing the empire’s attention, and they must avoid angering it, all while defending their borders against other enemies.
Surprisingly, the Maldarans have shown limited interest in annexing Anderland territory, let alone dominating the Anderlanders to any degree. As long as Anderland pays its taxes, provides knights when demanded, and promotes the state worship of Bane, Maldar seems willing to leave the duchy to its own devices. If Anderland were to show signs of rebellion or resistance, however, it risks having Maldar conquer it, occupy it, or simply destroy it utterly.
In a time when most realms undergo constant changes in leadership, from the time of its founding until present day, Anderland has remained under the guidance of the same noble family. The House of Anderville holds a long and unblemished tradition of wisdom, strength, duty, and honor that stands as a bright beacon in these otherwise dark times.
The Anderlander Point of View
Anderlanders are renowned for their independent streak, their ability to remain stubborn against all odds, and their fierce love of their realm. Given their geographical location and circumstances, the people of Anderland require self-reliance, bravery, and determination to survive, let alone prosper. They possess an unusual and exceptional relationship with the ruling House of Anderville, a relationship that benefits everyone to some degree. The Duke and his subjects enjoy a strong bond of loyalty and duty to one another, and together the citizens and nobles of the duchy have kept their realm alive and prosperous.
Over the centuries, Anderlanders have enjoyed greater freedoms and independence compared to folk in other domains. Even the peasant class in Anderland enjoys a better standard of living and superior treatment.
The d’Anderville family holds supreme power in the realm, but the dukes of the past have always demonstrated remarkable leadership and the capacity to keep the peace. The ducal family has taken great care to grant certain freedoms to the people, slowly establishing a freeborn peasant class within a monarchy. Peasants in most realms never gain permission to leave their land, marry outside their community, or own a weapon of any sort. These freedoms make the people of Anderland exceptionally hard working, loyal, and stubborn.
An outsider would likely take issue with the outgoing, extroverted personality of the typical Anderlander. Although the people here are polite in their own way, they reveal an exceptional bluntness that easily offends aristocrats and snobs from elsewhere.
The people of Anderland are industrious, but they also take care to celebrate hard as well. They love drinking, brawling, and eating (amongst other activities). When time comes to work, however, few people can match an Anderlander’s work ethic.
Overall, Anderlanders treat their nobles with respect and politeness; even here it is bad news to insult or belittle any aristocrat. An implied social contract exists between the ruled and their rulers; as long as everyone sticks to that contract, the realm functions smoothly.
Nobles in Anderland are somewhat less arrogant, cruel, and capricious compared with those in other lands (especially those from Maldar). The nobles here understand their role in society; a noble benefits from his birth and position, but in exchange for his high standard of living and privilege, he is expected to aid and protect his folk through good times and bad.
Internally, the Duke of Anderland controls the power of government. He makes the decisions, levies the taxes, and oversees all aspects of the realm. The Small Council, a group of five advisers, assists the duke and provides guidance in managing the duchy. The ducal position is hereditary, passing to the eldest male offspring by tradition. Of note, the line of succession of Anderland dukes remains unbroken since the time of the realm’s founding – an impressive feat indeed.
Although the Duchy of Anderland controls the citizens within its borders, the entire realm remains a vassal state to the Empire of Maldar. The duke retains and exercises power only by the grace of the Maldaran Emperor. From time to time, the Emperor of Maldar reviews the decisions and actions of the Duke and, if he feels the need, becomes involved in those decisions. For the most part, however, past emperors have had little reason or need to directly interfere in Anderland’s governance.
At present, Duke Caldric (the current Duke) has little choice but to walk a tightrope in his realm’s relations with Maldar. He must keep the Emperor pleased and offer no reason to suspect treason. On a number of occasions Duke Caldric has been forced to attend imperial functions where his humiliation was all but assured. A proud man, the Duke has nonetheless borne these insults stoically for the sake of his realm.
The d’Anderville family remains in power in Anderland only as long as the Emperor of Maldar permits it. At any time, on any whim, the Emperor could terminate Anderland’s relative independence. The duke knows this and does what he can to avoid insulting the imperials. Unfortunately, the current Maldaran Emperor is unusually and deeply concerned with Anderland’s affairs.
The Duchy maintains a small but capable military force. Its warriors are drawn from two sources. The elite, professional warriors are the knights of individual noble houses. Each noble house within the realm maintains a number of knights. In times of need, the duke may call these knights for the common defense. Anderlander knights are considered medium cavalry. Although not considered as well trained or equipped as knights from Maldar or Paladanthis, they are nonetheless capable warriors and sturdy, reliable soldiers.
The other component of the realm’s defense includes local militia units. Each community is required by law to equip and train its own militia. As a standard rule, all able-bodied males between 18 and 35 years of age must serve in the militia. When time permits, the militia trains. The militia of a particular community most often fights against local brigands or encroaching humanoids.
In theory, the Duke of Anderland may call the various militia units together for defending the realm. In practice, however, doing so would take considerable time to accomplish, and would prove extremely disruptive to the realm’s agricultural base.
On two past occasions, the militia units of Anderland have been called to fight a larger external threat. On both occasions, the militia units fought with bravery. Against professional soldiers, the militiamen are outclassed, but they perform their normal duties quite well.
Anderland is unusual compared to other realms in that it permits peasants to own weapons, including bows, for use in militia service. Most realms forbid their peasantry to own or carry weapons. The people of Anderland enjoy greater freedoms and responsibilities, and there has never been a peasant revolt or uprising. This has allowed the dukes of the realm to maintain militia units in every community, giving Anderland a ready supply of able defenders in times of need.
Faith & Religion
The majority of Anderlanders worship either Bahamut or Pelor, with many folk worshipping both gods equally. These two gods are the patron gods of the ducal family, and have been ever since the realm’s founding.
Other popular gods in the duchy include Avandra, Daenara, Gregorio, Kord, Melora, and to a lesser extent Sharra. Most households feature a shrine to one or more of these gods, as well as a larger shrine devoted to that household’s patron deity.
For the most part, Anderlanders cleave to a simple, straightforward faith. They have little interest in questions of philosophy or theology; since most folk can read and write but little, they have limited exposure to the finer points of religion. When Anderlanders argue over questions of faith, their debates tend to focus on everyday points of view such as which god would win a brawl, which god could drink the most, and which god holds the biggest temper. Overall, actual violence over religious issues is rare as Anderlanders are surprisingly tolerant of different outlooks and faiths.
The tolerance of any Anderlander ceases with any mention of the so-called “dark gods.” Most Anderlanders despise gods such as Asmodeus, Gruumsh, Lolth, Tiamat, Torog, and Zehir, to name a few. Anyone discovered worshipping one of these gods is likely to end up beaten or killed (or both).
Anderlanders especially hate the god Bane and what that god represents. Unfortunately for them, Bane is the patron deity of the Empire of Maldar. Under imperial law (punishable by execution), all households must maintain a shrine devoted to Bane. For the most part, the emperors have allowed Anderlanders to practice other faiths, as long as they also pay homage to Bane.
As stubborn as these folk are, it often surprises people that, for the most part, they obey this onerous imperial law. Most Anderlander houses keep a small Banite shrine somewhere in the home (often in the root cellar). Such shrines are usually shabby, rarely used, but present nonetheless. Although the imperials are relatively lenient towards Anderland, the soldiers and agents of the empire have been known to conduct random spot checks of homes for the existence of a proper Banite altar. Families found living without a shrine or, even worse, a desecrated shrine, are often fined, imprisoned, or even executed. These laws anger the Anderlanders, but there is little they can do to avoid such religious oppression.
A growing segment in Anderland has taken to worshipping the Raven Queen. Although Anderlanders have no problem with the Mistress of Death (death is, after all, a natural and expected event), even these hardy folk are uncomfortable at hearing her name spoken. Although the Raven Queen’s worshippers remain a minority, they constitute a growing presence, especially in Andersgate and in Chapel Hall to the south. Evidence suggests this interest in the Raven Queen is a direct reaction against the enforced worship of Bane. Within the empire, the Death Titans legionnaires are forbidden to worship the Raven Queen (a favored deity amongst freeborn goliaths locally). A number of goliaths have escaped the legions and now live amongst the Anderlanders, preaching the ways of the Raven Queen as a form of opposition to worship of Bane. The people of Anderland hold deep respect for goliaths (although they fear the Death Titans), and this accounts for the growing strength of such an atypical faith – it serves as a form of resistance and protest against both Bane and Maldar.
Appearance & Lifestyle
Anderlanders are a light-skinned people, with pale blond to light brown hair (and the occasional “sun-touched” redhead). Men and women alike are taller compared to human cultures to the south. The long winters and harsh climate tend to leave most folk here weathered and lean, especially amongst the peasants.
With regards to dress, the Duchy of Anderland is cold much of the year, and wet almost the entirety of the year. Woolen and leather clothing are commonly used both for warmth and durability. Most of these folk dress in fairly drab colors; few people can afford dyes or fancy clothing, and have little time for fancy attire in any case.
The majority of Anderlanders live by farming, livestock herding (sheep and goats), or cutting timber. A number of Anderlanders supplement their living by fur trapping. Most communities consist of 60-80 families.
Because the Empire of Maldar has never proven able to feed its own population, it depends on Anderland’s crops and produce. Maldar’s farmers and peasants are notoriously inefficient (due, in large part, to their deplorable living conditions), leaving the empire in constant need for food to avoid riots and unrest. The people of Anderland have demonstrated a remarkable talent for growing crops and harvesting food from the land, making the duchy an important resource to the Maldarans – and one major reason why the empire has not subsumed Anderland entirely.
There are a number of powerful and influential druidic orders within and around Anderland. The Druids of the Sequestered Grove (also known as the Council of Druids), the Followers of the Path, and the Seekers of Melora are three of the most well known druidic groups. These organizations have formed close bonds to House d’Anderville and the people of the Duchy; their skills, expertise, and powers have often helped Anderland survive years of crop failures, bad weather, and other natural catastrophes. In return for their cooperation, House d’Anderville allows the druids and their followers considerable freedom.
The constant threat of attacks by humanoids or human marauders requires that most Anderlanders learn how to defend themselves. Men and women are taught, starting at an early age, how to wield weapons and how to stop an attacker. Unlike the peasants of most realms, most Anderlanders carry weapons at all times (typically a long knife or hand axe and a shortbow).
During the day, Anderlanders work with an almost dwarven fervor. They work every moment possible, especially since daylight is often a precious commodity this far north. When the work is complete, however, Anderlanders drink, sing, eat, argue, brawl, and have sex with tremendous passion and gusto. Because Anderlanders tend to be forthright and blunt, they usually speak what is foremost on their minds, unless speaking to a social superior (such as a noble).
Although the Anderlanders live under a number of dangers and threats, the realm remains relatively peaceful. Large-scale invasions and wars are extremely rare, and for the most part the duchy is self-sufficient.