Geography of Aarenis

Western Nations

Collectively, these nations are referred to as the “Eight Kingdoms”.

Akadi- A fairly peaceful, predominately human country with many halflings and gnomes. Akadi covers a great deal of trade routes leaving Opal and is therefore relatively rich and peaceful. The capital city of Torun hosts the mother church of Torre.

Tsaia- A mainly human kingdom to the north, its capital is Verella. Another important location is Fin Panir, home of the High Lord’s main temple and its paladin order. Tsaia borders on the Ladysforest to the west, the Open Lands to the north and the Dragonspine mountains to the east. The main north trade road from Opal ends here.

Lyonya- Settled mainly by humans and half-elves, Lyonya’s royal family is comprised of half-elves or humans with a large amount of elven blood. Pargun borders it to the west and the two nations have a simmering border war. To the north is the Ladysforest and the south, the dwarven section of the Dwarfberg mountains. A great deal of trade between the Southern City States, Dwarvenhame and the Ladysforest runs through Lyonya. The capital of Chaya in the north is an important trade stop where human and dwarven wagons are turned over to elves and half elves for the last leg into the Ladysforest.

The Ladysforest- Once, all of the lands north of the Dwarfberg mountains and west of the Dragonspines were settled by elves and halflings. Today, the elves claim little besides the Ladysforest itself. Outsiders are rarely permitted inside, and strong elven patrols maintain the sanctity of the forest. Stories abound of towns built into the living trees and lit by magic and conventional homes built on the ground dwarfed by trees that were mere saplings when the house was built. Elven towns are small and well dispersed and there are very few open farming fields within the forests.

Dwarvenhame- This nation is almost entirely underground in the caverns carved by the dwarves. There are a few above ground towns, populated by dwarven merchants and the humans who trade with them. Some call these the “Smoking Mountains” because many peaks are pierced by massive chimneys carrying away smoke from dwarven forges and smithies. In the winter, they are wreathed with mist as warm air from within carries the stale, damp air upwards from hidden towns while fresh air is drawn in. Over the centuries, the dwarves have reached a trade balance with the humans and half elves who live near the mountains, trading forged goods and precious metals for cloth, wood and food that the dwarves could not survive underground without.

Pargun- On the western shore, Pargun is a nation with a strong evil history. While the average person is not evil by any means, most of the nobles and the royal family have been and slavery is legal. Many wars of aggression have been launched by the Pargunese against their neighbors. Lyonya suffers most often, but the support of the dwarves and elves have insured that the Pargunese are kept in check. While Pargun can be considered evil, even here there are only few open churches of Liart, most are still somewhat secret. Nevertheless, there are many people in the royal court who are obviously supporters or worshippers, but it is overlooked.

Teebra- The “kingdom” of Halflings, Teebra is a quiet, pastoral land. Halfling made wood furniture is prized by the dwarves and gnomes alike and the vast percentage of the gently rolling hills and fields of Teebra are covered in farms. Many prefer to work just enough to get by, but there is a large enough human minority to make the country productive. Half elves and even elves are common in the towns near the Ladysforest.

Homecaverns- The gnomish kingdom occupies the eastern portion of the Dwarfbergs and the southern end of the Dragonspine mountains. The gnomes refer to the main part of their lands as being in the Gnomemounts. Gnomes are less dedicated to underground dwellings, their caverns do not go as deep as the dwarves and they have a much greater surface presence surrounding their parts of the mountains. Many gnome communities are more forest dwelling and even have a few druids.

Open Lands

A large area north of the Ladysforest and Tsaia. The open lands are claimed by none, but is scattered with small independent villages or small sections carved out by local nobles, warlords or retired adventurers. Villages on the north coast are often raided by northern sea barbarians.

Northern Barbarian Tribes- The north coast is populated by norse style tribes, many of whom raid to the south by land and by sea. There are some that are more civilized than others. All produce fierce warriors at home fighting in the coldest weather.

The Southern City States

A collection of small “nations”, often little more than a large town or city and its surrounding lands. War is common here in the summers, as paid mercenaries, many from the north, fight for control of trade roads and such. Most of the conflict is formalized, with the losers paying tribute or taxes. The usual cruelties and destruction of normal wars is generally absent as most of the fighting is done by the mercenaries who are interested in winning at the lowest cost of their own troops. There are several alliances and leagues, but these shift every year.

Beryl- One of the largest of the Southern City States, it is worthy of separate attention. A great deal of ocean trade comes here to its large natural harbor. The city however is rather depressing and taxes and tariffs are high. The ruling body is an aristocracy of two noble families who are constantly fighting for control. The only time the city is enjoyable to visit is for the celebration of Simyit’s Gambit in Avril when the city’s repressed citizens go absolutely crazy (think Mardi Gras).

Opal- The greatest of the city-states, Opal is the largest city on the continent. Sited on a natural harbor even larger than Beryl’s and at the mouth of a major river, more trade passes through this city than any other. The city is home to major churches of all the Good and Unaligned gods (and the dark gods as well, but they are well hidden), wizards’ guilds and foreign delegations. Immigrants and a few embassies from other lands (except Rokugan) can be found here, there are several communities of various ethnic groups.

Valdaire is a minor city on the southern side of the Dwarfberg mountains, it as at the foot of a pass with a trade road leading north to Lyonya and Tsaia. It is used as southern headquarters for most of the northern mercenary groups and it makes a profit from meeting their needs and serving as neutral ground.

The Marches- a collection of allied city states who are ruled by a monarchy. The Marches have a Spanish culture and the people are passionate; quick to take anger but quick to make friends. Dueling is common here and the Marches produce many fine swordsmen. They also suffer from Pargunese raids.

Central Nations

Freegate- Home to the oldest standing human city in the western lands, Freegate takes its name from the capital city. The city is built on a plateau, surrounded by an artificial chasm a half mile wide and hundreds of feet deep. The nation of Freegate has many alliances with the steppe tribes of the High Ranges.

Ventimiglia- If Pargun is the shadow of evil, here is its source. Ventimiglia is out and out evil, ruled by an aristocracy of necromancers. Again, the average peasant or citizen is not evil, but they are oppressed by the powers that be. Ventimiglia is a nest of warring factions, each trying to gain supremacy in the ruling council. Border wars with Freegate are frequent and vicious.

Southern Kingdoms

Not to be confused with the Southern City States, these are the predominately Arabic lands of Quashmarra, Herod and Aquira at the western tip of the Southlands. These nations routinely fight amongst themselves, often employing nomads from the east against their enemies. The Southern nomads are a tricky weapon to wield, for they are loyal to themselves and often have turned on their employers after completing their tasks in battle. The Southern Kingdoms trade extensively with the Southern City States and the other nations to the north of the Inner Sea. The populations are a mixture of arabic and african descent, similar to the Moors and Berbers of North Africa.

Southern Nomads

Occupying a large area of savanna, desert and dry plains, the Southern Nomad tribes are raiders and mercenaries. The mercenary forces are family and clan organized, rather than being owned like a business or recruiting outsiders. They produce little, surviving mainly on pay from mercenary work and raiding to supplement their herding. Many require their young men to serve as mercenaries abroad before “settling down” and starting a family. The people individually are honest on average, but when dealing with their leaders or in groups, they are always looking out for themselves. They are mostly of Arabic descent.

Desert City States and Nomads, Al Qadim

This name is general, for there are many large cities along the Great Trade road that runs east from Quarhazaat to Karkor on the coast of the Eastern Sea and there are tribes of Bedouin style desert nomad tribes between them. The natives refer to the area as a whole as “Al Qadim”. The nomads here are more honorable than their brethren to the southwest, and are known for fast cavalry attacks upon magnificent desert Arabian horses. To make up for them, Quarhazaat is an absolute pit of corruption. The dark churches actually have less of a foothold here than one might expect, for the wealthy and powerful of the city are generally too self-centered to worship anyone but themselves. However, the region is home to a number of rival wizard guilds, collectively known as the Sorceror Adventurers. They are much more militant and aggressive than Western guilds, actively seeking magical and political power for their chapters. The ones in Quarhazaat are particularly bad, employing hyena like tactics to take treasures away from successful competitors. They are not particularly skilled wizards, but are better trained in combat and tend to operate in small groups.

Indian Kingdoms

Several nations of Hindu culture. They are more peaceful than the Southern Kingdoms, but perhaps because they have less to fight over. They are often raided by the Southern Nomad tribes.

Old Kingdoms

These are Greco-Roman nations, populated by the descendants of the people who lived in the now vanished nations of the Hammered Lands. Many are particularly fervent in their religion, perhaps to atone for the unknown sins of their ancestors. To the north and west of the Hammered Lands is an area of open lands, again controlled by petty warlords and such. There are gypsy style nomads here.

Dusarra is a city in the far north east, it is known for its open worship of ALL gods. Even the dark gods have public temples and their followers openly display their allegiance. The city rulers discourage the sacrifice of locals, but the evil churches sometimes prey on visitors or usually import victims from slave traders. The city is primarily neutral and the good gods have only token presences here.

Geographic Features

Dragonspine Mountains- A long, high, treacherous mountain range dividing the Eight Kingdoms from the High Ranges. Most of the mountains are uncivilized and uncontrolled and goblinoids live in many areas, surviving by raiding the lowlands. The Opal-Verella trade road frequently suffers their attacks. Many other monsters live in these mountains, there are a few passes, but none are patrolled or secure. The southern end is home to a gnome population, but not as large or successful as the main gnomish lands in the eastern Dwarfbergs.

Dwarfberg Mountains- These mountains run from the western coast almost to the Dragonspine mountains and the harbor at Opal to the east. Most are occupied by the dwarves, but the far western end is occupied by goblinoids and gnomes in the east. Not as high, rugged or difficult as the Dragonspines, they can still be difficult to cross in the winter. There are many well maintained passes.

The Inner Sea- The calm Inner Sea is crisscrossed with trade routes. Piracy is not uncommon and slavers operate in the area as well.

The Western Sea- A vast ocean, extending far to the west. Little is known about it, sailors bring back tales of sea monsters, haunted islands and lost lands. But no one takes them seriously.

The Eastern Sea- An ocean surrounding Rokugan and separating it from Aarenis.

The High Ranges- A vast savanna covered by wild herds and their predators. Humans live here too, the Horseblooded and the Howlebeau. The Horseblooded are nomads whose very existence centers on their horses. The Howlebeau are little more than savages, but live in partnership with the giant wolves of the Steppes. Both groups have treaties with Freegate.

The Hammered Lands- Once the center of human civilization, a millennium ago the people of these lands committed some transgression so great that the gods caused stars to fall from the sky and destroy the capital city, whose name has been forgotten. The center is a wasteland of craters surrounded by a desert of rough, gritty sand. There are many ruins in the area surrounding the desert and ancient treasures are often found here. But strange and evil creatures roam here as well.

Dark Swamps- A huge, swampy delta larger than some nations, populated by lizard men and goblinoids. Unpleasant at best.

Other Continents

Rokugan- A large island continent east of Aarenis, it has a Japanese culture dominated by feuding clans under an emperor. The gods have less power here, for the people worship the spirits of the land and ancestors instead of the gods directly. The southern tip is blocked off by a vast, fortified wall, built to contain an area overrun by evil creatures released from some dark plane. There are many strange creatures and magics here, unknown to those on the main land and vice versa. There is a very limited trade between the Empire and Desert City States.

The Dark Continent- Not given a true name, this continent resembles southern Africa with its deep, dark rain forests. Even the people of the Southern Kingdoms know little of this land and only the most educated students of the Eight Kingdoms have even heard of it.