Arcane Lands

The Arcane Lands

The Place

The Arcane Lands are a realm of rolling hills and the occasional lone mountain, stretching north and south on the eastern side of the Barrier Mountains and Sundered Valley. It's a loose coalition of duchies, princedoms and other small nations where arcane power tends to be the rule of law. The only laws that stretch across all of the Arcane Lands is that no mage from one nation may interfere with another, and that if the Kingdom of the Ivory Sea marches upon any one of them, all of them shall respond.

To the far northwest they border the sea, to the northeast the little-explored realms of the wood-elves and it is said that there is a vast wasteland at their eastern borders.

The People

While many nations are ruled by well-intentioned mages, or nobles who are merely advised by their court enchanters, most of the Arcane Lands are either puppet states ruled by more manipulative mages from behind the scenes, or actively dominated by arcane despots. There are also many churches outcast from the Kingdom of the Ivory Sea, though they rarely seek power, instead advancing their deities' goals and intentions with their own means rather than those of nations.

Most of those who live here are human, though there are also many half-elves, and a few rare nations dominated by civilized orcs, half-orcs and goblins. These warlike races are accepted by the Arcane Lands for the military backbone they lend whenever the crusades are at their doorstep, as well as for their tendency to provide useful mercenaries for the less ethical kingdoms.

The Kingdoms of the Western Arcane Lands

Charnel Plain

Ruler: His Black Majesty Azoth Monpezant(Human, Necromancer)

The aptly named Charnel Plains are where most Ivory Crusades end, and as such it largely consists of vast fields of ground, blighted by blood, death and destructive magic used in turning back the crusaders. It's also a place rich in corpses for Azoth's necromantic studies, and he maintains a vast standing army of skeletons and zombies, animated by his apprentices and associates while he pores over ancient tomes in search of the secrets that will allow him to reach lichdom.

A dark pall seems to hang over Charnel Plain at all times of day, leaving even noon seeming gray and foggy, while at night the stars are barely visible. Those few living residents who still call the Charnel Plains their home live in heavily fortified cities among the less blighted lands in the east of the country.

Charnel Plain borders the northern half of Sundered Valley's eastern side.

One-Eye Peak

Ruler: Chieftain Goretusk One-Eye(Full-blooded Orc, Ranger)

One of the newest additions to the Arcane Lands, One-Eye peak includes not only the lands immediately south of Charnel Plain, but also some of the mountainous peaks in the Barrier Mountains due south of Sundered Valley.

One-Eye Peak was once a human nation of little note, but during an Ivory Crusade several decades ago, an enterprising army of ogres, goblins and orcs marched upon the nation(already weakened by the first waves of the Crusade) and conquered it, then assisted the other Arcane Lands in pushing back the crusade. For their assistance, as well as the fact that their powerful army and shamen was more than any other member of the Arcane Lands wanted to tangle with, they were granted the lands they had taken, and rulership over them.

Humans and elves are second-class citizens of One-Eye Peak, usually treated as slaves unless they buy or earn their freedom, while dwarves and the other short races are treated with grudging respect(and muttered curses).

One-Eye Peak is known for its many flourishing mines, and the fact that it'll sell weapons to anyone who has the gold to pay for them. Most worship centers around spirits of nature or the warlike deities of the monstrous demihumans that make up most of the population. Deities of profit and merchants are also on the rise, though, as many residents of One-Eye Peak are realizing that there are ways to earn gold that do not require putting their necks on the line.

The Kingdoms of the Northern Arcane Lands

the Kingdom of Eisenhuf

Ruler: King Wulfrich Hierant VI (Human Thief)

One of the older territories in the Arcane Lands, a kingdom marked by periods of aggressive expansion, heavy isolationism, and stagnation. Originally founded centuries ago by wild barbarians from…well, the stories all disagree on that note. The official history is ambiguously useless, as it claims that the original founder, King Uft the Unquenchable, was the son of a Marilith, fifteen feet tall, and capable of breathing fire from his mouth. Nobody is sure whether this is actually true, or if he was a normal warlord making things up for posterity, but nobody wants to disagree just in case he is real and can still hear them. "King Uft Breathing Fire Upon the Hapless Weaklings" is viewed as one of the greatest pieces of art in the kingdom, and has traditionally hung in the throne room. The tendency to portray the heads hanging from his fanged beard as those of rival kings in official art and statuary has been responsible for more than one diplomatic snafu.

Being a proper king, Uft parceled all land and fiefdoms to the horrible, fur-clad warriors who comprised his jarls, war-buddies, and in at least one case, his favorite shoemaker (the man had, according to legend, developed boots that could fit comfortably on a clawed foot while still being capable of kicking a mule's skull in). Over time, however, the barbarian lords realized the value of things like clothing, fine eating, and killing their enemies with poison rather than an axe to the face. Eisenhuf became more-or-less civilized, developing a culture renowned for its fencing salons, good food, horses, and vineyards. These comprise many of its exports, along with a fair number of iron mines.

The royal line has changed hands repeatedly since its inception. Originally, according to the official history (assuming it's true, and he didn't just die normally or wander off when he realized kingship involved activity beyond brutal, unwarranted murder), as Uft burned his way through the substance of the Planes itself he ordered his many, many bastard children to settle things among themselves. Not wanting to wait long enough to organize a proper civil war, they promptly slaughtered each other until Gloft the Unpleasant claimed one of the few crowns not taken back to the Abyss, and declared himself King. His line ruled for a dozen generations until they were riddled by incest, perpetual bad hygiene, and the tendency to sprout tentacles due to several Queens being actual fiends (whether or not Uft's legend is true, his descendants had a reputation to uphold). Their status as insane, and more importantly embarassing overlords prompted the Maebach family, who traditionally held the posts of both Grand War-Leader and Royal Executioner, to depose them. According to common humor, they did so by not reminding the current King to breathe, but more likely the transfer of power was conducted with several swords through the gut.

King Hieram Maebach I was the first ruler to have an Elf Policy beyond "Murder" or incomprehensible babbling, and established…after five years spent glowering at the Wood Elf ambassador…both some semblance of an alliance and trade. His propensity for lithe, pointy-eared women ensured that the Maebach line was almost entirely Half-Wood-Elves, and renowned for being absolute dicks to everybody, although considerably less insane than the Line of Gloft. However, almost none of them after Hieram I died a natural death. Half-Elves simply lived too long, the heirs would grow tired of waiting and assassinate their predecessor, and the diplomatic ties between Eisenhuf and the Wood Elves had grown strong enough to ensure that the Royal Family was riddled throughout with brownish skin, unhelpfulness, and pointed ears. Interestingly, the wars with the Wood Elves did not stop during this time period, and many queens were coronated beneath a statue of King Uft with a rendition of her own father's head dangling from his beard or crushed beneath his foot. A dowager class of Wood Elvish mothers to the various royals would have become a serious problem, if it hadn't been for the charming tendency of the Maebach to murder their mothers if they stayed in human lands long enough to become annoying. Eventually, fed up with poems about archery and riding high on the wave of pro-human nationalism that was the only possible response to Wood Elves in general, a coup was launched. The leader of the coup was a distant royal cousin, Wulfrich Hierant, one of the few far enough from the throne to be completely human. Of course, the coup essentially boiled down to burning the Royal Palace (moved from its original basalt citadel to a more elvish, wooden, and flammable structure) to the ground, and surrounding it with his house troops armed with pikes, to push the fleeing royals back into the blaze. In commemoration, chestnuts and swine are traditionally roasted on the anniversary of the coup, along with vast bonfires of needlessly harvested lumber.

The line of Wulfrich Hierant, currently on its sixth king, is notable for both courtliness and a devotion to the subtle Eisenhuf ideals. The new Royal Palace or "Castle of Unending Noon", is a masterwork of mirrors and cleverly hidden magical light surfaces, designed to be both visually wondrous and throw foreign dignitaries off-guard. Subtle hints that it used to be a demonic fortress still exist, like the imposing walls and many, many statues and portraits of previous rulers crushing the skulls of their enemies. King Wulfrich Hierant VI is a generally quiet and aloof man, fond of gambling. The most notable event of his reign was banning the practice of dressing servants up like foxes and releasing them in the woods, forcing the nobility to hunt real foxes instead.

Being a direct neighbor with the Wood Elven lands, Eisenhuf has engaged in petty wars with them almost since its inception. Most of which amount to almost affectionate acts of passive-aggressiveness. Eisenhuf really doesn't need the lumber, but will nevertheless send lumberjacks to cut back the forest, while the elves will respond by brutally murdering the lumberjacks with arrows and tamed bears. Eisenhuf also doesn't need to sell captured Wood Elves to the least-rural nations it can find, but does it anyway. Overall, the Wood Elves and Eisenhuf are the closest mutual allies both nations possess, probably.

Fencing, riding, and assassination are glamorous noble pursuits. There is an official church devoted to King Uft, said to have burned a hole clean through to the Abyss in a fit of rage and boredom, once he had conquered too many petty kings to fit all of their crowns on his horns, and was on the verge of having to actually act as an administrator, but it's generally only paid lip service to except on the major holidays. The holy symbol of King Uft the Unquenchable is blood. There is a strong artistic tradition, mostly painting, architecture, and sculpture. Dueling is a common pasttime, feuds between families tend to be blood-soaked and furious. The noble class owns pretty much all of the land, with the capital city being a direct fiefdom of the King.

Cults are a common diversion among the nobles, essentially functioning as social clubs with demon summoning, many of Eisenhuf's magic-users are members of these cults. Talented wizards are also kept on retainer by the nobility, both as amusements and as a weapon against other nobles, the King possessing a full cadre of them led by the Mage Royal.

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