The Bastion Kingdom
Climate: Moist Tropical Area: 124,241 sq miles Demographics: 78% Human, 10% Elf, 3% Dwarves, 4% Halflings, 5% Other Capital: Kith
A lush beautiful country with a hot humid climate. It has an abundance of natural resources and is the breadbasket of the southern half of the world of Atern. It has been ruled since time immemorial by the royal dynasty of Kith since its conception. Its people and resources were stretched to and beyond breaking point. Land was over farmed, forests cut down, so many of its youth will never return.
It is ruled by King Ranarld III who is only twenty years old for the past 5 years after his father was murdered. The queen mother Helga assists her young son who has been left with unenviable task of cleaning up the mess that his country and people are in because of the war.
Of the Human nations of the world, the most important by far is that of Kithonia, forged by the warrior-king King Randolph from the primitive Human tribes of barbarians who inhabited what became the lands of the east, Hallangd, more than 2500 years ago. Although not as skilled in craftsmanship as the Dwarfs or in magic as the Fey, the people of Kithonia are not beholden by the limits of tradition to the same extent as the Dwarfs or Fey and continue to progress culturally, technologically and magically. Having yet to succumb to any threat, external or internal, it is the faith, the sense of righteousness, and the unconquerable spirit of its citizens which gives Kithonia its strength, as well as the ruthless efficiency of its military and religious orders.
The greatest human nation of the world, the Kithonia is ruled by a King and is composed of the descendants of the ancient tribes of Mankind united by the great King Randolph after the Battle of Nine Forks. This battle solidified the relationship between Men and Dwarfs and planted the seeds for the burgeoning kingdom through trade between the two races. Today, the Kingdom is led by King Ranarld III who rules from his court in the capital city of Kith.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Kingdom is not a unified nation ruled by a powerful central government but is a massive confederation of fiercely independent states and provinces whose inhabitants are tied together only by a common language, a shared faith in King Randolph and a mutual Royal culture. Nowadays there are two types of states: the provinces and the city-state. King Randolph was a wise and calculating leader, and he had the foresight to recognise that the Kingdom was far too big to be ruled by a single man. And so, he gave the title of Lord to all the tribal leaders, each responsible for managing his own territory but subject to the King in matters relating to its ruler ship. Their independence was supposed to counterbalance the power of the King should he proved too tyrannical as a leader, as well as to ensure mutual but non-violent competition amongst each of the Royal Lords.
When it became known that King Randolph did not have an heir to inherit the Royal Thorne, the invention of the Lord system was successful in avoiding a Civil War amongst the various feudal Lords, but it however complicated matters even further in creating and maintaining a successive ruler. Those ambitious Lords that wish to become King have been known to give away privileges, titles, and power to any man that will cast his vote for him. The interests of each voters were such that they seldom rallied around a strong candidate, for they may find another of his rivals far more "generous" in their "gifts", which has resulted in the weakening of the Royal system. Even when the Royal Throne is transferred to his heir by majority vote thanks to the previous King's influence, voters were quick to remind the newly elected King to renew the promises made by his predecessor.
While the Kingdom had a fair share of strong and highly competent Kings ruling the Kingdom, many times have the Royal Throne been occupied by an uncaring Lord who allows his subjects to steal and exploit the Royal system and her people, often going as far as to ignore the Royal Edicts once placed by wise and caring rulers of ages past. However, the Royal System continues to work for the Kingdom as was its purpose, allowing any wise and ambitious King to take the throne and used its powers to better the people under his reign.
Royal Law In theory, the King is free to make whatever laws and regulations he or she wishes and have it apply to the whole of the Kingdom. The truth is more nuanced, for laws must pass the review of the Prime Estates, who report to the Lords. A bad report is often all the excuse a Lord needs to quietly not enforce the law or deny it altogether, in times of a weak King. In such cases, the King, if he is determined to see the law obeyed, will exercise diplomatic and even public pressure on the recalcitrant Lord to come to heel. Often this is enough to gain grudging acceptance. But, if the Lord is determined, a King may claim peremptory jurisdiction and have the case heard in his own courts. In rare cases, continued defiance by a Lord may merit military action, as Lord William Pickles threatened against Lord Gustav Gunwale in the case of the Sausage Tax Revolt of 2345.
Royal Law concerns itself mostly with revenues, security from foreign and internal threats, the regulation of sorcery, and the rooting out of traitors. Many Kings have claimed jurisdiction over the succession to Lordly thrones when the succession is in dispute, and even the right in extreme cases to depose Lords, elevate new families to the Lordly rank, and even give whole provinces to another Lord, as was the case with Dunsworth under King Mandred. Though rooted in ancient law and the precedent set by King Randolph himself, no Lord formally acknowledges this right and all resist it in any but the direst cases, lest a lasting precedent be set.
Royal courts exist in all the major cities of the Kingdom, including the capitals of the Grand Provinces, with judges appointed by the King through the office of the Royal authority over the case, leading to extended wrangling while the defendant or parties to a civil case swing in the wind.
The Council of State Due to its size, the Royal Government is considered far to large and complex for a single man or woman to function properly. It is common that each day, the King must devote attention to dozens of questions, from newly introduced tax policies, the final appeal of a prisoner convicted of treason, or even the official opening of a ceremonial fairground. To succeed in establishing a priority order in this complex system and ensure that only individuals whose cases are crucial get an audience with the King himself, successive Kings have often surrounded themselves with advisers chosen from members among the most prominent noble families so that they may assist on legal, financial, diplomatic and military matters in the Kings stead. Over time, this gathering of Ministers turned into a formal meeting, which officially became the Council of State. These Ministers of State have great influence over the entire country and they are the keep the workload of the king boiled down to what’s essential for him to deal with personally.
A deeply superstitious people, the Kingdom of kith has always looked to their Gods for hope, prosperity and salvation upon a world that is awashed with misery, destruction, and corruption. Generally, nearly every village, town, and city has dedicated a portion of their wealth and land to the construction and maintenance of at least one deity. It is from these temples and shrines that people deposit their daily offerings, hoping to curry their favour and perhaps improve their lives in some way or form.
These religions possess considerable political influence on the workings of the Kingdom, be it through religious or fiscal means. Such is the case that even the religions of Heironeous and Pelor have Lords as their heads and enough power to choose who shall become ministers, a power that is usually reserved only for the royal family. Currently, the religion of Heironeous holds the strongest influence within the kingdom's large web of bureaucracy, and also provides the mainstay of the Kithonia knights.
The Cities of Kithonia
Each city claims to be great, but the accolade of greatest city of the Kingdom must be given to Kith. Not only is it here that the King holds his court, it is also in Kith that one will find the Colleges of Magic, the School of Engineers and the center of the various faiths as well as many forward-thinking universities and the Knightly orders of the Kingdoms. Kith is the economic center of the lands of the upper Pate, and is an important hub of trade, controlling goods from Wissland, New Heidleburg and Tomna. The money from this trade has established many universities, and provided the resource for the founding of the famous Gunnery School. The largest and most reliable artillery pieces are forged in Kith and the Lords will pay a high price for such pieces or to hire the services of the rightly feared Kith cannons. The people of Kith also take great pride in their bridge, which is the last crossing of the River Pate in one span before the sea. This engineering marvel has a centre section that can be elevated or lowered, to allow ships to pass or to create a defensive barrier across the river.
Mernith is a beautiful old town on the north east coast of Kithonia. It has a keep and castle on a hill over looking cobble streets and whitewashed houses. It was a busy bustling place with active docks and had a beautiful coastline that looked out at crystal blue seas and a series of little lush green islands Surrounding the town itself were a scattering of tiny hamlets with large farms that grew vast fields of maize and corn. There were large fruit tree groves growing naturally everywhere and a few local business created and maintained orchards. It was ruled by Lord Francis until recently, the latest in a line of kindly rulers born and bred in the town. The town had a relatively low violent crime rate, there were incidents but nothing more then one might expect in a town that had about 11,000 people living in its centre with many more making up the farms and hamlets. Its current Lord is Lady Leona.
Religion was practised freely but there were very few actually temples and people would gather at one another's homes fro various services. The streets were tight and narrow and it often lead to carts being stuck. The people dressed light due to the heat and humidity and everyone living there as local developed a tan quite quickly.
As well defended as Kith is, the most impregnable bastion of the Kingdom is, without a doubt, Wissland a great mountain that rises up out of the forests like a spear. Wissland sits atop this mile-high pinnacle, reached by four winding viaducts, and its commanding presence can be seen from all across the surrounding forests. The center of the Wissberg is a catacomb of natural tunnels and caves, which have been further expanded by centuries of Dwarf works. Though regular patrols of soldiers are sent into these dark depths to make sure nothing foul takes up residence, and the majority of entrances into the city proper are sealed and guarded Wissland is a bastion that remains untaken through all its history and when danger raises its head, people flock to it and hide in its vast tunnels until its safe to come out once more.
New Heidleburg is located at the centre of a large large valley, surrounded by three mountings and the sea and the land within the rim of this natural barrier is highly fertile. Through the port of Twain on the River Floke, the produce of these farms is sent west to Kith or to Wissland by way of the Kings Road. The formidable obstacle of the natural landscape itself is further bolstered by towers and bastions, some built onto the forest-covered ground, others carved from the rock itself and connected by walkways and galleries beneath the ground. A standing force of many thousands of men is required to garrison the Floke wall, but it has never fallen to an enemy.
New Heidleburg is a younger city and came into being when the previous king of Old Heidleburg lost a war and was forced to flee across the sea. The king of Kithonia granted him the request to settle and the title of Lord of Heidleburg and thus the city was born, its people share a mixture of their old traditions and those they picked up from native Kithonians. However they share a dislike for people from Old Heidleburg and often refuse them passage or entryway.
Tomna is a sunny city southeast of the Kingdom It is bordered by three rivers—the Allii to the east, the Iros to the north, and the Fikra to the west—and sea of blades to the south. Despite these impressive natural barriers, Tomna suffered invasions as pirates, orcish raiders and even Oppressors used the nearby islands as staging points to attack the city and as a result its people are a grim and determined lot and less cultured, according to some at least. Two forces dominate Tomna—merchant houses and mercenary companies. The merchant houses rose to prominence first, acting as middlemen between humans and the orcs, hobgoblins and goblins of Arad drumu. Large caravans of expensive trade goods required protection, and the hired guards of the early years evolved into powerful mercenary companies over the centuries. These became key to both the defence of Tomna as a whole and the wars between the various city-states. Sellswords are so common in Tomna that is often referred to as “the land of the mercenary.” The two facets of Tomna are also expressed in the two most favored Gods of Tomna. Mercenaries honor Kord above all others, and merchants honor Wuakeen.
The peoples of Kithonia
Kith & its citizens
The citizens of Kith believe themselves to be the most advanced and modern of all their kinsmen. Having wealth, culture, and far more amenities than the crude tribesman of other regions, Kith’s people benefit from well equipped armies and a finger in most of the national politics. Many people, from wealthy citizens to peasants can afford clothing cut of decent cloth, as well as expensive dyes and patterns. Men typically shave, at most wearing large moustaches and sideburns. Women, on the other hand, are at the forefront of the Kingdom’s fashion trends, setting the standard for the courts throughout the world. Their tastes are fickle, changing hems, necklines, colours, and accessories each year. Currently, though it’s changing even now, low-cut long dresses in bright colours along with colourful plumed hats are the current rage. As ever, the practice of slashing garments to reveal bright, sumptuous fabric beneath is still practised.
Mernith and its citizens The people of Mernith greatly distrust bureaucrats, and nobles. They see the people of Kith as decadent and womanly. Instead of the pampered clothes of the capital city, they tend towards tough long lasting materials. They disdain the face powder, silk, soft materials, and strange pretensions of the captial. They have slightly wild appearances, as they often wear their hair long and sport full beards that are sometimes braided like a Dwarf’s. Women are encouraged to avoid the decadent clothing of the captial, and most shy away from revealing clothes for conservative, modest garb. This is not to say that they have little use for colour. It is quite the contrary actually. The citizens embrace some of the most garish colour combinations of all the kingdom in their cloaks, shirts, and plumes, seeing such unusual combinations as a point of pride. Amongst nobles, the quality and richness of the dye in clothing worn is seen as an important social marker
Kithonian society is divided between nobles and peasants. The division is enshrined in law, and the laws governing the two classes are very different The notion that all people are basically equal seems laughable to most Kithonians. Every Kithonian is born into one class or the other, and it is almost impossible to change. A noble is someone who can show that all his (or her) ancestors for five generations were nobles. As the names and pedigrees of all members of the nobility are recorded in the Registers of the Peerage, this is merely a matter of showing all your ancestors are in those registers. Everyone else is a peasant. Thus, in particular, the children of a noble and a peasant are peasants. Since a peasant cannot inherit a noble fief, landed nobles never marry peasants.
There are two groups of exceptions. First, foreigners are not Kithonian and are thus neither noble nor peasant. This also applies to the Dwarfs, Elves, and Halflings etc in the kingdom. Such characters are treated with the respect that seems to be due, which in practice means that they are treated according to their clothes. Second, all clerics and fellows of a similar position stand completely outside the system, being treated with respect by everyone. The relations between nobles and peasants influence all aspects of Kithonian society. The basic relationship, however, is simple. Peasants live to serve their lords. The nobles, in return, should protect the peasants and provide justice. Lords do, however, have other duties than to their peasants, most notably to their own lords, and these other duties are generally regarded as more important. Almost all nobles regard all peasants as their inferiors. Exceptions are incredibly rare; player characters are likely candidates, but otherwise a character might meet one in a lifetime. Even then, the noble is likely to recognise no more than a handful of peasants as equals. Many peasants regard the nobility as their superiors, but exceptions are much more common in this direction. Peasants who regard all nobles as useless parasites on society are found across the kingdom.
Nobles can be stripped of their title by order of the King or ministers. This equally affects all of their descendants, so this is not done lightly. The King and Ministers can also raise a peasant to the nobility, but in this case, they must both agree.
In the whole of Kithonian history, only three peasants have been raised to the nobility. The children of an ennobled peasant are not themselves nobles, as their grandparents, on at least one side, are peasants. Thus, unless they were also ennobled, by the agreement of the King and ministers, the noble line would die out immediately. Such additional ennobling has never happened, and all of Kithonia’s noble lines can trace pedigrees back to the foundation of the kingdom. All first born male nobles are expected to become royal knights, and the overwhelming majority do so. Female nobles are not allowed to become Royal Knights however they may join the military and some along with most last born male children join the musketeers and are expected to keep house for their husbands, being a fine ornament to his household. Women however often join religious orders and become knights of those orders.
The divide between men and women is the second major divide in Kithonian society. Noble men are required to be polite to women at all times. Insulting a woman is a terrible breach of etiquette, and men who violently attack women are punished particularly severely. Noble men should stand when a woman enters the room and should always let her go first, unless climbing stairs, in which case the man should go first. Women are served first at meals and given the more comfortable rooms in inns. Of course, these requirements only apply within a class. Noble men are not required to show this level of courtesy to peasant women, though some do and are well regarded for it, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
On the other hand, women have a lot more freedom with their behaviour, but yet a Knight is found on his death in battle to be a woman at least once per year. Female adventurers and merchants from foreign countries benefit from the courtesy, often to their advantage.