Most of my previous campaign took place in the North Meridian Continent, though they did visit the South for a short time, sailing through Arem to Palta and then entering Arem by land. The map below is the map they were shown by the Paltan diplomat in Requiem.
The Southern nations are divided staunchly along cultural lines and for the most part land cannot be taken in the area without moving or expelling the occupants or convincing them they identify better with the conquering nation. Leadership can change easily, as long as the new leaders can convince the people that they represent the national culture at least as well as the previous leadership.
Spurred by the nearness of the two coasts and the large isles in the Arem channel, the tribes of the area found unity culturally from their shared fishing waters. The first King of Arem was arguably the first man to declare himself king in the region when he built a mighty fortress controlling the South side of the channel. His actions were not without prelude. The means to build the castle came from an alliance of tribes who agreed that a unified front to control the channel would be beneficial. Aremis was elected to be the first king by the other tribal leaders of the alliance in a universal decision following their council.
The Arem government is funded largely by tolls on ships passing through the straits of Arem, as well as licensing fees on fishermen who want to fish in the strait itself. Their farmers and fishermen are untaxed and unregulated, though trade across the strait must go through the King’s ferries and imports are subject to heavy tariffs, made possible by Gamlis’s bats which make smuggling impossibly risky.
The nation purports to have had the same king, who never seems to age, for hundreds of years. King Gamlis rarely addresses his people directly because he must do so at night, being a vampire. His origins are unknown to his people, as he appeared from nowhere, displacing the king of the seafaring people of Arem in a single night. Since his mysterious powers were able to in a matter of weeks secure and solidify their land borders, he was accepted. The stability and constancy he has granted in nearly a millennium since taking power has gained him great loyalty from his people.
He was born to a drow, fathered by a dwarven slave, and allowed to be conceived and birthed for experimentation. The house was Jagdiellon, though he did not know it. He was their first successful experiment in creating a vampire. While they were studying the outcomes of the test, he turned into a bat and escaped. Pursuit failed and he was able to make it to the surface, luckily at sundown, and astounded at the size of the overland, flew with all haste until he saw something familiar, a castle to rival the drow house he had escaped. He landed there out of a sense of familiarity and, received with fear, he defended himself with great power. The political power this placed upon him was a great surprise, and he accepted it, doing his best to protect the people who now looked to him as king, for he felt he knew their plight.
Gamlis maintains a strong navy and army, though he personally discourages the sort of spying and scouting necessary preceding a war by personally meeting intruders on his kingdom. The bats inform him of such intruders and if necessary he will spend the whole night striking at them before allowing his soldiers to follow up in the morning if there is any work he could not complete.
Palta became a unified culture around the myth of the folk hero Mardus, a warrior poet figure who in defense of his attempt to build a library in Fairland cast down a number of warlords in the area. This, combined with the spread of his poems and songs about himself and other things, unified the region’s people through shared myths and a shared artistic root. The culturally similar peoples did not become a nation until over a hundred years after Mardus’ death. While by that time thousands of people could claim the blood of Mardus in their veins (he had many mistresses and many children), the scholar king Vermus had some greater claim to his heritage as the keeper of his library. Incursions from Gnomish raiders pushed the people to unite and Vermus became the focus of that union. By the time the region was able to resist the raids, Vermus was highly respected by all and was crowned king.
Under the reign of Vermus, continued efforts to resist Gnomish raiders included the production of a national fleet. During his son’s reign, deep water ships became common and traders became eager to find a Northern or Southern passage to reach the other side of the continent without passing through Arem waters. Prince Ameius led a voyage North to that end, since Southern attempts had so far failed. Being in unknown waters, he saw buildings near the shore on the Northern continent. He naturally approached the elven port and was welcomed. They had not seen humans in some time, and never in that part of the world. They stayed a month in the Shimmering Haven, trading languages and lore and admiring the libraries of Brimahil’s Jewel. The time opened relations and by the end of the month, an elven delegation returned with Ameius to Palta where Ameius married an elven maiden, daughter of a high ranking elf.
The Kings of Fideia from its inception have always been massive men with unusual powers over the land. Anciently, it seems there were multiple bloodlines with the land powers, but over time as Fideia became a unified kingdom, the lines were merged or pruned through war until now only the king and his children have these powers. When a new king is named, his rival siblings are slain. For a time when the bloodlines were being gathered in, the powers grew stronger over many generations in the kings of the land. For some time now, the kings have been becoming less potent, though they still have power over the land.
The Fideia kings are tyrants who rule the land within their inexplicable control with a pseudomagical fist. On the one hand, while the people revel in the prosperity that the king’s control over rain and soil can bring, on the other, punishments against communities come in the form of crop blights and famine and absolute obedience is demanded. Rebellions are fairly easy to crush and even if successful bring with them the spectre of losing the protection and prosperity the king offers. Given their primitive state of serfdom, it is generally believed that the loss of the royal line’s power would ultimately result in local leaders devolving into warlords as before the merging of the bloodlines, only now vulnerable to invasion from organized Palta to the North.
In an attempt to temper the tyrants of Fideia, the centaurs have long worked to gain a place as advisers beside them. The last couple kings have accepted such advisers, turning to the centaur deity Likiraa as a means to supplement their fading power. The inherent contradiction of a tyrant looking to a deity of anarchy and individuality makes this effort largely vain and the tyrants grow impatient with the ratio of censure to blessing their adopted advisers are able and willing to provide.
The seed of Vimeia was planted when Titan-blooded humans fled the hunts of rising tyrants in Fideia. Over the course of a few generations, the titan landrule power began to adapt to their new land. As the Vimeians were yet nomadic in the region, the local people quickly correlated the gentle rain and bumper crops with the mighty and humble gypsies that sometimes visited. When a particularly dry year struck their lands, the people for hundreds of miles begged them to bring rain to their lands and rule over them. The Vimeia families accepted the mandate, establishing seats throughout the land from which to guide the people. Their patriarch was crowned king of the region and the people unified by respect for these nomads turned rulers.
The Vimeians for many generations have been benevolent kings and local rulers, affording their people prosperity and great freedoms. They have avoided mixing with the locals, marrying amongst their families. While this has created a noble caste quite removed from the people, it has also preserved the titan power of the nobles to a greater extent than in the Fideian kings. The separation is largely accepted by the people, who still see the Vimeians in godlike reverence. It is, however, a tenuous position, heavily reliant on the rulers continuing to be seen as generous and loving by their people.
Rusteth is more a confederacy of city-states than it is a kingdom, though the city states to accept the leadership of the elected “king” of the confederate forces. Their culture is one of great independence, though they strongly resisted the secession of the city-states that made themselves part of Medes when it unified the mountain peoples against the kingdoms that previously divided claim of them. The northern city-states have a fair degree of orcish heritage in them, some even rumored to be among their leaders.
A nation of mostly orcs amid human lands, Credith is troubled with the difficulty of efforts to create and grow strong relations with the surrounding nations. From Credith originated the orcs of Stormguard, led by Craith who became their wilderness deity. The orcs of Credith have since grown more civilized and their reverence to the memory of Craith the Wild had grown lesser. The loss of their mountain mines severely weakened their export capabilities, making foreign relations still more of a sore spot for the kingdom.
Medes is the youngest of the southern nations, born out of rebellion against the nations that had previously claimed a share of the mountains and their minerals. The rebellion was led by a powerful warrior from among the mining slaves who is now deified in Medes. The young nation enjoys a measure of liberty unprecedented in the Meridian Continents, led by their rebel god. The power of that god protects them from the surrounding nations that rankle at the cost of buying ore from those who were once their slaves.
Do you enjoy overviews of a series of neighbor nations? You might want to take a look at Ipiera, a land in which I am very, very slowly writing a novel.