The Duchy of Anderland is a place of astonishing natural beauty, but it is also a place of difficult survival. This realm is, in many ways, still part of the frontier. As civilization recedes with each generation, the wilderness encroaches ever deeper.
The following are some of the most unusual or noteworthy points of interest within the region.
Andersgate: Despite its location, the capital city of Andersgate is quite large of size and population by northern standards. It serves as the ducal seat, and is home to Castle d’Anderville. It is a bustling port of call, providing safe haven to ships traversing the dangerous Frostwind Sea. Twenty years ago, an attack by the Night Dragon, Nithgaurim, nearly destroyed the entire town.
Bastion: This is a small walled town that serves as the last point of civilization before entering the Harrow Hills or the Anvil Mountains. This community comes under repeated attack by marauding humans and large hordes of undead. Despite the dangers of its location, it provides access to several nearby high-profit iron mines. According to legend, it sits close to a dwarven mithril mine, although the dwarves scoff at such a notion.
Chapel Hall: This community stands as the southernmost town in Anderland, close to the duchy’s border with the Empire of Maldar. Chapel Hall is walled and fortified against repeated attacks by orcs and goblins from the Fangwald Forest. The town earns a considerable amount of wealth in the fur trade, and also produces some of the region’s most popular ales. This town’s populace has suffered a number of problems with the zealous imperial Witch Hunters. The Temple of Bane has burned down twice in the past decade in retaliation.
Darkmoon: The town of Darkmoon lies beyond the duchy’s easternmost border. Although claimed by the Theocracy of Paladanthis (see below), most citizens of this town hold far closer ties to Anderland. This is a rough and tumble frontier settlement filled with dangerous men and women. It is also a frequent jumping off point for adventurers, treasure seekers, and freebooters – individuals often banned from operating in the duchy.
Fangwald: Although technically the northeast corner of the Shadowmist Forest, the Fangwald possesses its own unique character. By day, it is a pleasant place and provides a variety of resources to locals. At night, however, it is foreboding and alien. Strange creatures slip between shadows, and inexplicable noises float on the wind. Many people have vanished in these woods over the centuries, with most disappearing at night.
Frostwind Sea: This icy, treacherous expanse of water is among the most challenging to navigate, especially during the winter and spring months when it becomes choked with ice floes. There are only a few small civilized realms located along the shores of this sea, with the Duchy of Anderland and the Theocracy of Paladanthis (see below). Few people know what lies beyond the Frostwind, although numerous legends speak about an ancient race of deathless creatures and their vast cities of ice.
Hammerfast: A small but ancient dwarven community nominally located within the Duchy. Hammerfast was originally built upon a necropolis. Although the dwarves of this community are subjects of Anderland, they maintain dwarven traditions and customs, and their community is distinctly dwarven and considerably different from other communities in the realm.
Northwald: This stretch of forest provides good timber to the region, as well as some food for locals. Unfortunately, many dangerous creatures call these woods their home. A handful of small elven tribes have long struggled to protect their homes against orc invaders, but they fight a losing battle. The infamous orc warlord, Ironhelm, holds sway in much of the forest. According to local stories, a number of trolls serve the warlord as bodyguards.
Palace d’Anderville: Although the Duchy may be a relatively minor realm with a small population, the capital city boasts an impressive palace. The palace castle stands upon a bluff overlooking the city of Andersgate. The castle walls and towers provide more than adequate defense from the usual threats of the region (although these defenses proved far too inadequate during the attack of the Night Dragon). The palace proper lies within the ring of stone walls. It includes living quarters for the ducal family, quarters for servants, armories, a large blacksmith shop, barracks for soldiers, meeting halls, a small museum, a library, a Bahamut temple, and a tower for the resident court wizard. The palace is large and well maintained, but it is by no means opulent – indeed, it is considered somewhat poor in comparison to the castles and palaces of the Empire of Maldar. According to local folktales, a large and extensive network of secret caverns hides beneath the castle’s bluff.
Queensflow River: A major river that connects the Empire of Maldar with the duchy. It forks to the Ander River a bit south of Chapel Hall. The imperials expend considerable effort to keep this waterway safe and free of bandits and monsters. A legion of the Death Titans maintain a garrison near the Maldaran town of Tjaia (see below), with the river their primary concern.
Rogue’s Keep: This town more than lives up to its namesake. Originally founded by pirates and escaped convicts, Rogue’s Keep has remained a somewhat dangerous and lawless community. Despite its reputation, however, it follows just enough of the duke’s laws to avoid martial law. The current mayor, like many of her predecessors, earned a wealthy living gambling, stealing, and cheating before gaining a position of authority. Not surprisingly, this town serves as a major point for smuggling operations, as well as traders hoping to avoid the duties and tariffs of Andersgate.
Given the town’s proximity to the dangerous Targen Moors, Rogue’s Keep maintains a large militia and stout walls. Numerous monsters live in the moors and make life difficult for the people of this community.
Sacred Grove: Just outside the capital city of Andersgate is a large copse of ancient oak trees. Within this woodland is an area known as the Sacred Grove. This is the ancient sanctuary for the Council of Druids. They hold the majority of their meetings in this grove, and most of their activities are based here. According to local legend, this grove is highly magical and protected by fey spirits of tremendous power. A number of elves and a few eladrin help maintain the grove and the woodland. Although it is not forbidden for non-members to enter the grove, it is widely considered a Bad Idea. Most locals know better than to enter this stand of trees, much less breach the Sacred Grove without an invitation. By ducal law, this grove is neutral territory – the duke’s soldiers and officers of the law may not enter this grove without permission from the Council of Druids.
Sanctuary: This small community is not part of the Duchy of Anderland, although many of its citizens count themselves as Anderlanders. As much as the duke would enjoy including Sanctuary in his domain, he lacks sufficient military strength to do so. The lands between Sanctuary and the town of Wolfgate are harsh, barren, and dangerous for travelers. Within the vicinity of Sanctuary, however, all is peaceful and calm.
The Elder of Sanctuary, an eladrin woman by the name of Beryl, has guided this town for more than two centuries. Both her mother and her grandmother before her also held this position. In person, Beryl is frail and old of body but formidable of mind and spirit. She has many potent allies and wields impressive magic of her own. She remains on good terms with Duke Caldric, but prefers to keep her domain independent.
Shadowmist Forest: This enormous forest crosses into Anderland from the west. The northeastern portion of it is known as the Fangwald. This forest is wild, dangerous, and filled with predatory creatures.
Stormhaven: This small port town has long been a rival with Andersgate. Three powerful noble families call Stormhaven their home, and all three families have long opposed the d’Anderville regime in every way possible. This rivalry has persisted for centuries, although these nobles rarely cross the line into treason or direct challenge of ducal authority.
The Knights of Stormhaven are considered among the best in the duchy. They consistently win tournaments and jousts throughout the realm. Although the duke relies on their martial talents, their allegiance remains primarily with the three local noble houses.
Targen Moors: The low-lying land between the Queensflow and Skarsang River is a muddy, swampy marsh through much of the year. In the winter, the ground freezes in many places but remains difficult to traverse. This region is forsaken, treacherous, and best avoided. Countless local legends tell of monsters and strange beasts living within the moors. Locals often describe seeing inexplicable lights floating in the mists at night, or hearing unearthly howls and screams. A handful of brave humans live within the moors, eking out a desperate existence. These people, known as Taragen, are viewed with suspicion by most folk; the Taragen are rumored to practice cannibalism.
Wolfsgate: This town stands at the duchy’s westernmost border. Although technically the Duke could claim the land between here and west to the town of Sanctuary, he lacks the strength to do so.
The town of Wolfsgate is often considered “barely civilized” due to its large population of Uthnals (see Dominion of Uthnal, below). The town has suffered many damaging raids by Uthnals and has burned to the ground three different times.
MALDAR, EMPIRE OF
For information regarding Maldar, consult this link.
Locations in Maldar
As is obvious from any map depicting the region, the Empire of Maldar occupies a vast area of territory. It encompasses hills, mountains, forests, a desert, an enormous lake, plains, rivers, and more. With so much land involved, it is inevitable that parts of Maldar are heavily developed and civilized, while others are little more than frontier or wilderness zones.
The following are some of the most unusual or noteworthy points of interest within the region.
Anvil Mountains: These tall, snow-covered mountains dominate the horizon along the east. This mountain range is home to treacherous weather, especially during winter and early spring. For the most part, the mountains are too dangerous for all but the largest of expeditions. Orcs, goblins, and many other humanoids live amongst the foothills and mountains, balanced by only a small handful of isolated dwarven clans. The Empire expends considerable effort in extracting mineral resources from the mountains; these mines and the caravans transporting ore come under constant threat. Life anywhere near the Anvil Mountains is brutal, dangerous, and often very short.
Bronsilaw Wood: Named in honor of General Bronislaw, the Hero of the Lake, this forest provides many important resources for the Empire. It is well patrolled and many small villages live along its borders. The greatest danger here comes from starving refugees and violent brigands.
Cadean River: This river branches from the Eda River and travels through the Cadean Marches to the sea. Merchants often use this stretch of river to transport goods into the Marches. This branch, moreso than the Eda River itself, is dangerous due to the presence of creatures dwelling in the Ruzalka Forest.
Casimir River: This short stretch of river flows from the Goliath Heights into Valeska Lake. A heavy amount of river traffic plies this waterway; it is a major route for transporting goliath slaves to the capital city.
Crucible Wastes: This vast stretch of desert is claimed by the empire, but the empire maintains no sizeable colonies or outposts here. The Empire does, however, maintain several forts along the border. Many refugees and escaped convicts flee into the Wastes. Some survive and become part of the dangerous bandit tribes.
Desolate Hills: Although claimed by the empire, there are few law-abiding citizens to be found here. Numerous humanoids, and many bandits fight for survival in these hills. A number of ancient ruins occup the region; historians have had little success in identifying who built these abandoned cities, or what became of the people living in them.
Dunyar: A town located on the southern shore of Valeska Lake. Dunyar is home to several legions of soldiers, and it is important in maintaining communication with the western garrisons (especially those along the border of the Crucible Wastes).
Eda River: One of the most important rivers for the empire, the Eda flows from Valeska Lake all the way to the sea. It provides a critical transport route for commerce and communication. It helps keep the Empire connected with its southern possessions, and it also facilitates trade with the towns along the Cadean Marches. The Empire maintains numerous garrisons along the river’s length, and many small villages make a living by providing goods and services to river travelers.
Fort Anastasa: This small community began as a northern garrison, but has become a town in its own right. It controls the Anastasa Pass between the Goliath Heights and the Harrow Hills. North of the town lies the Duchy of Anderland.
Fort Mavra: This fort controls the valley between the Seraph Hills and the Ruzalka Forest in southern Maldar. Although primarily a military outpost designed to protect against Cadean incursions, this has become a thriving (if somewhat wild and wooly) trading outpost, too.
Harrow Hills: The northwestern foothills to the Anvil Mountains, the Harrow Hills are filled with dangerous creatures, including numerous aggressive orc tribes. The Empire maintains several important iron mines in the southern half of this range, and thus expends considerable expense to protect mining outposts and caravans in and out of this region.
Kasimer: A major city on the southern banks of Valeska Lake. It benefits from the presence of the nearby Eda River, making it a crucial juncture in all traffic between the Empire and the Cadean Marches and points southward. Kasimer is prosperous, busy, and crowded. It also suffers somewhat from a “surplus of rebellious sentiment,” and the Maldaran army is always on hand to crush such sentiment as necessary.
Kostenka: This is a dangerous place to live, given its proximity to the Harrow Hills, the Goliath Heights, and the Witchwood Forest. Kostenka has a history and a well earned reputation for being the most haunted community in the empire; according to legends, the very foundations of the town are haunted by thousands of ghosts from the ancient past.
Gavril: A major trading town on the Eda River, Gavril conducts considerable commerce with the Cadean Marches, as well as the city of Kasimer.
Goliath Heights: These rough hills and dangerous cliffs are home to a number of goliath clans and a few large dwarven clans as well. The Empire captures many goliath in this region, turning them into slaves of one sort or another; the toughest become soldiers in the Death Titans Legion, while many others end up fighting in the arenas.
Ruzalka Forest: A vast and relatively unexplored woodland, the Ruzalka is home to elves as well as humanoids, refugees from the empires, bandits from the Cadean Marches, and a great many alien creatures from the Feywild. The Empire does what it can to contain the threats of the Ruzalka, but for the most part this forest is lawless and a dangerous place for visiting imperials.
Seraph Hills: These hills are dangerous to travelers; a great many humanoids live in this region. At the same time, the Empire relies on a number of mines in this region, and thus takes steps to control the hills in certain select areas. According to legends, a group of explorers once discovered what he described as a “city of angels” deep within the hills.
Theodosia: The capital city of Maldar, Theodosia is a brimming, busy, and dangerous place. It is home to the dark politics of the Empire, a place where the various rival factions fight out an endless war in the shadows. At the center of this maelstrom is the Emperor. This city lives in what can only be described as a police state; soldiers of the Emperor and priests of Bane take great care in making sure the citizens obey the laws, avoid rebellious sentiment, and pay proper tribute to Bane. The city is home to many wonders as well, including the legendary Arena of Bane – home to the bloodiest, most savage, and most popular gladiatorial games in the north.
Tjaia: The northernmost settlement in Maldar, Tjaia is an important community for its access to resources of the nearby Shadowmist Forest.
Valeska: This city prospers due to its connection with the iron and gold mines located in the hills and mountains. It is a dirty city, teeming with people. It is also a cold, windy city – a freezing wind blows east from the nearby lake, making life somewhat miserable during the winter. The sky over the city is heavily polluted with dark black clouds of soot from the Valeska Iron Works.
Valeska Lake: This large freshwater lake is the closest thing the Maldarans have to a sea. The lake provides an important link and travel route between the major imperial cities. During especially cold winters, the lake freezes hard, especially along its coastline.
Vilya River: The key route for transporting mineral ore out of the mountains and into Valeska. The armed forces must constantly patrol the river along its length to guard river traffic against humanoid marauders.
Witchwood Forest: This forest is, for the most part, reasonably safe. In ages past, it was home to a powerful coven of witches. Throughout Maldar’s history, the Ice Witches provided advice, aid, and wisdom to the Maldarans. In exchange, the Maldarans provided food, tribute, and even sacrifices to the witches. When Maldar became an empire ruled by a despot, the Maldaran army attacked the witches and ultimately destroyed them. This war, sometimes known as the “Witch War,” cost over 10,000 dead soldiers (many of whom rose from the dead to fight for the witches). Even in defeat, the witches cursed Maldar, promising the Empire would suffer ten times in blood and suffering what they had inflicted.
PALADANTHIS, THEOCRACY OF
This northern realm occupies the northwestern corner of the continent. Originally founded by Lord Marshall Caiden of the Nine Kingdoms, Paladanthis quickly developed into a theocracy dominated by the churches of Bahamut and, to a lesser extent, Pelor. This is a grim domain where faith and devotion to the (correct) gods dominate life in virtually every aspect. The knights and warriors of Paladanthis number among the best-trained and bravest in the world, and their armies enjoy the might of numerous clerics, paladins, and crusaders.
Wraithstone Tower: This tall tower of black stone has stood in this spot since before humans existed in this region. The tower predates the realms of Anderland, Paladanthis, or Maldar. Indeed, the stories passed down from generation to generation by elves suggest that this tower predates their presence in the region, too. Scholars and students of history believe that this tower is a relic of lost Bael Turath. For reasons lost in time, the tieflings constructed this tower at the height of their conflict with Arkhosia. Some historians disagree with this conclusion, as this region is far north of where Bael Turath held any influence. There are a few stories that suggest a handful of foolhardy souls have penetrated the tower’s secrets, but all such stories are highly suspect and wildly contradictory. Regardless of the tower’s origins or purpose, it possesses a dark and unwholesome aura. This aura kills vegetation and has rendered the soil around the tower infertile. Wildlife will not approach the tower, and even the best trained war horse will go nowhere near it. On certain nights, the sky over the tower lights up with blasts of reddish-green lightning and the air becomes redolent with the smell of brimstone.