Civilized Lands

These are the regions of the area that are “civilized” in the sense that they have organized governments and largely abide by the rule of law. Or, at least are organised some way.  This section describes places as they are in the current days.  History is elsewhere.

Aerinska, Sea Lords of

Aerinska is an island city with a powerful navy but a rather rogue-ish reputation. It is a major trade center, and has much wealth that it flaunts a little too much. Ahros once possessed it, and Valrorim currently lays claim, but the Sea Lords of Aerinska don’t pay tribute anywhere … Most sea trade that moves in or out of the Calardith Bay pays some kind of “passage tax” to Aerinska, which most rulers consider banditry, but it is very civilized and, generally, merchants find it a small price to pay for safe passage between the straits.

Ahros, Kingdom of

Following the Bonegate Blight, the Ahros dynasty rose in the east, originating on the peninsula that bears it’s name now. The Ahros were a fierce tribe of peoples that mounted many campaigns of conquest that eventually solidified the area from the Bardsgate to the coast of Durrow and from Galdurang to the Swelter into a single empire. The borders far away were always unstable, but the Ahros line dominated the region for at least 5 centuries, and their mark is on nearly everything. Over time, however, their grip on sense waned, and the Ahros line fell into a detached, self-absorbed ego. When the Valrorim rebelled a century ago and seceded to form their own kingdom, the Emperor of Ahros mustered the armies it could, but it was shocked at how little reported for duty. The outlying lands had already slipped into a state of local obsession, and the force mounted to quell the Valrorim rebellion was not enough. The Ahros line did not disappear, but retreated to their land on the east end of the peninsula, and still rule the area bounded by Rull, Durrow, and Milngavie. The former Emperor has kept these lands, in title, east of the Balas River, and retreated to becoming a King again. But the King of Ahros is still remote and dissolute, and forever plots his revenge on the Valrorim. The problem with remote governance combined with weak and somewhat despotic local governance, is that the lands became more insular, and wild lands (such as the Howgath Deeps) became welcome to monsters and humanoids. This has greatly increased the risk of the land, and further destabilizes the area, and the Kingdom really only has control over the coast of the Bay of Skulls, from Rull to Durrow, but not penetrating deep into the Howgath Deeps.

The prevailing attitude of Ahros is “lawful evil”. There is roughly a rule of law, but it is harsh, over burdensome to the peasantry, and riddled with corruption.

There are many parts of the former Ahros lands that have fallen into actively evil hands. Much of the Howgath Deeps is impassable by travelers or merchants, due to the rise of some humanoid domains. Bonegate, north of Durrow, has re-awakened. The Swelter is a den of hags, lizard men, and Yuan-ti, with gangs of Merrow and Sea Hags off the coasts – the latter making sea travel around the peninsula to Durrow very treacherous.

Castorhage

Castorhage is the capital of Ahros, and has been their seat of power for centuries. It was once a mighty city, and is still very impressive – sitting on an island in a bay – but it has fallen into a den of depravity and evil. Castorhage is the Frog God Games supplement called The Blight, and it is often referred to that way across the Havis lands. The still-good Valrorim and Havisfolk look upon Castorhage with shudders, and the character of the city, more than anything, caused the Valrorim to leave it’s power largely intact, superstitiously fearing it. While there are seemingly official rules and rulers, the king is all but faded, the Princesses are remote, and at the heart of it all is a deep, seductive, and sinister evil that is rotting the city. Who knows what would happen if that poison began to spread in the world?

Milngavie

This town is as far from Aerinska as Castorhage, and it has a rebellous and independent feel.

Rull

Rull is a bleak, hostile town on the plains in the south marches of Ahros, at the crossroads to Milgavie. Outside of Rull, a bandit lord, Trexler Mains, has established a small territory that is growing in this area that Ahros has lost control of, and Valrorim never really controlled. To the south, the elves of Argiliath weave magic protections and double the guard on any trade on the road.

Durrow Coast (Barony of Durrow)

The coast around Durrow is notorious for it’s sahuagin infestation, making sea trade very difficult.  The bleak, wind-swept coast around Durrow is home to another, more fell landmark.  One thing is for sure, centuries of living in this harsh coast has made the Durrowers a queer and changed folk.

Argiliath, Kingdom of

This land of forest and meadow is the home of most of the High Elven population, with Wood Elves living in the northern reaches, closer to the Spine of Ahros Mountains. The High Elf King, Gilbalith, remembers the building of Delis, almost 400 years prior. The main center of Argiliath, and the capital "city", is the Great Tree – a massive Hornbeam, hundreds of feet tall, that is anchored in the material world and the Feywild at exactly the same place, in and around which nearly ten thousand elves live. Outside of the tree town, the elven realm of Argiliath is a strange land where the material plane and the Feywild overlap in many places resulting in strange phenomena, making it quite forbidding for non-elves and fey.

The forests of Argiliath are home to many fey, both fair and foul. While the main paths are generally safe for non-violent travel, it is very risky if you take one step off the path. The elves of Argiliath know the paths and are on generally good terms with the fey of that realm, but not even they can always control, or even predict, how some of the wilder fey will act.

Because Argiliath shares the peninsula with Ahros it has also been the site of notable and bloody skirmishing between the species.  The northern edge of the woods, and the southern edge of the mountains, are riddled with battlefields and barrows, as well as some lonely elven watch-towers.

Galdurang, Jarldom of

This mountainous country is the home of the dwarves, and their mines riddle the Spine of Ahros, although they have never called the mountains that. Their name is Khazrum. The actual city of Galdurang is partially outside the mountain, and partially inside. What is outside is very impressive. There are tall spires and imposing masses of structures have a solid and ageless feel. Great halls line stone-paved streets in the outer face. On the inside of the mountain, it is even more impressive. Great halls hewn from the rock, galleries, hallways of apartments, shops, bazaars, and (of course) forges everywhere. Visitors are usually kept to trading and “visitor services” (i.e. inns, taverns, markets, stables, etc.) in the outer city. It is a rare honor of the dwarves to invite a non-dwarf into the inner city. Many dwarves still hold to the traditions of the Great Sequester, in which they turned away from the surface world, at the beginning of the Bonegate Blight.

Hrachek Cantons

The orcs of the South Skywall Mountains have organized into a series of cantons that are independently ruled, but occasionally band together to raid into Ahros or Galdurang.

Rakat

Rakat is the closest thing to a humanoid city, with half the city delved deep into the hills surrounding it.  Rakat is very organized, and trades heavily (although in secret) with the Hrachek Cantons and the giants of Jotenvale.  Rakat is ruled by a half-orc named Varkol Splatterfist.  Varkol has done much to consolidate power in the foothills of the Skywall Mountains, and seems to be waxing in power.  The folk of Bend keep a close watch on Rakat.

Silith

Perched on a plateau in the south Galdus Steppes, Silith is an independent city-state that is widely regarded as a decadent den of danger and sorcery. It is far from the halls of Valros or Ahros, and the people of those places are just as glad. Nobody has successfully conquered Silith, and few have even tried. It is a dangerous place, full of sorcerous magics, and is lead by a secretive cabal of wizards called The Council. Nobody really knows who they are or what their aims are, but agents of Silith are frequently encountered seeking out rare components, or skulking around alleys in the larger cities. Nearly everybody is afraid of Silith, despite it not fielding a particularly fearsome navy or army … The general path of migration of humans into the area did not come through this region, and while so much of the oldest of architecture and many layers of different civilizations sit under Silith are a mystery.  There are ruins rumoured to be older than the elves.

Valrorim, Kingdom of

The current dominant power in the region is the Kingdom of Valrorim. The Valrorim were a subject people under the Empire of Ahros, but were hard to rule, and they revolted, creating their own kingdom based in Endhome, and eventually overthrew the Ahros. But political control is hard across the Calardith Bay and past the free city of Aerinska. Valrorim claims all lands from Longknife to Durrow, and from Far Borea to the Swelter. But really only the land east of the Great Forest is truly all civilized, and the Great Forest Road forms the northern border of what the Valrorim really control. Bend and Longknife are very remote march towns. Bard's Gate is nearly an independent city state. Valrorim is currently looking to solidify control around the Calardith Bay, feeling like the lands of the Havis are not as resentful as the Ahros.

Endhome

Endhome is a major trade city on the Calardith Bay, and one of the major 3 cities of the area, along with Bardsgate and Castorhage. It was a Havis-founded settlement, and still has some of that character, but It is now the capital of the young kingdom of Valrorim. It is basically transplanted from the FrogGodGames Lost City of Barakus setting.

The main nervous system of the kingdom is the road that leaves west from Endhome. There are substantial towns a couple of days travel apart along the coast and they are surrounded by fertile farm lands.

King Svarden III is the third of his line, and the first to be more an administrator than a warrior.

Varos

Now considered one of the Havis Keeps, the foundations of Varos were built by the pre-Havis Barakites, the same people that built Barakus. The Havis peoples found the ruined foundations from when the elves drove out the Barakites, and built Varos into a full castle, before losing it in 4381AR to the Valrorim early in the rise of the Valrorim.

Fahla

Fahla is a large island (90 mi long) 60 mi off the coast of Valrorim. Despite its strategic position in the shipping lanes between the Straits of Ahros and Havis, it is abandoned. There is the ruins of an old keep and tower there, and it is deeply haunted. Folk claim it’s only the water that keeps the undead there contained, and so nobody takes boats there, for fear of giving them passage!  The folk tales are partially true - it is abandoned of living inhabitants.  The island is forever cloaked in fog and mists, concealing a place teeming with undead, ruled over by a vampire lord.  Looks a little like this:

Havis (Duchy of)

Havis is no longer a kingdom on it’s own, but rather is a province of the Kingdom of Valrorim.

The area is named from an even older kingdom that built ancient fortresses around the bay to control the waterways. In fact, the common reckoning calendar is based on the founding of the Havis kingdom, as it signals the first real human civilizations in the area after the Elven Empire.

Killat Hills

These hills in the middle of the Calardith Peninsula form the uplifted heart of the area. There are rich mines here, but their real cultural significance is as the ancestral home of the Havis hill people – the longest resident humans of the Calardith area. The northern edge of the Killat Hills, however, also houses a low-grade steady stream of monsters that settle and emerge from the ruins of Barakus – the long lost capital from an even older time. The original Havis might have been escaped slaves from that city, and have some old folk tales that still reference that place as a synonym for hell. In addition to the old Havis, the Killat Hills are the home of a sizable population of gnomes.

City of Bards Gate

The city of Bards Gate is a very old settlement, and has grown up over time. This city was the heart of the Havis kingdom. Bard's Gate is one end of the Great Forest Road, which was the overland trade route to Endhome. The Frog God Games locale of Bard’s Gate is the reference.

The old kingdom of Havis was based in Bard's Gate at the mouth of the Balas River, making that a very old city, and the Hornkeep the first of the Havis Keeps. The Havis people traded and warred around the Calardith Bay, gradually consolidating power over a span of about 300 years, until Ahros came in.

Havis was prominent 900 ybp – 600 ybp and is the first major recognized kingdom of the area.

Lunaris

Lunaris is a town at the headwaters (and bridge over) the River Orut.  This river forms the boundary between the Kingdom of Valrorim and the Dutchy of Havis, meaning that Lunaris has a lot of trade, and a reputation as a place where tariffs are taken very seriously.

Delis

In the mountains at the southern end of the Spine of Ahros, and overlooking Lake Ård,  lies the watch-tower and keep of Delis.  Delis was established when the Havis allied with Argiliath in the Second Goblin War, and again in the Bonegate Blight.  Despite the general elven withdrawl, Delis has remained staffed by both Havis and Argiliath.  The somewhat inevitable result is that Delis/Lake Ård is the homeland of most of the half-elves of the Calardith region.

Glimmerun Towns

The Glimmerun Towns are the string of towns that support river travel from the Longknife Shire all the way to Calardith Bay.  See here for more about Bend and Topfield.

Willow

Willow is a village on the bridge over the Glimmerun along the Great Forest Road.  It is at the mid-point of the journey thru the Great Forest from Lunaris to Endhome and is a well-appreciated merchant rest stop.  There is a once-per-decade carnival in Willow that allows the regular world to trade with the fey wild.

This article was updated on August 8, 2022