Outline – Carathan & The North

Presented here are my draft notes on the major geographical features and social/political divisions. All of this is subject to change as the setting is refined.

The north of the known world is dominated by a single landmass that once housed the elven Over-Empire of the Arch Heretic and the elven Free Kingdoms. It is also the ancestral home of the Dwarves and the birthplace of Carathas. Politically it is dominated by the Carathan Empire but there is a wide variety of people and cultures within the Carathan borders.

 

Far West:

This land of arid steppes and broken mountains is the home of the blackblood clans – a nomadic and warlike race of humanoids that has warred with the Carathans for nearly 3,000 years. The blasted landscape was once the heartland of the Over-Empire and the remnants of their war-torn cities rise up from the steppes like the wind-bleached bones of long dead predators. The clans avoid these sites completely, having learned long ago how dangerous elven ruins can be. No learned man can say how far west these wastes reach and no one has thought to ask a blackblood, but the eastern border is marked by the Dragonwall mountains that stretch from the southern coast all the way north, describing a gentle eastwards arc as they join the northern alps. Somewhat west and south of the Dragonwall is a peninsula, jutting out into the ocean 100 kilometers, composed entirely of fused black glass. Atop the cliffs at the peninsula’s tip lies the once proud city of Mereth-Aran – site of the ritual that sundered the Three Pillars. Legend has it that the city is haunted by the souls of those murdered to fuel the ritual although this is merely hearsay as no human explorer has set foot inside the walls in well over three millennia.

The West:

From the Dragonwall mountains to the River Glimerin is the Western Marches of the Carathan Empire. Gently rolling hills become progressively higher as they reach the Dragonwall and the many streams that feed the Glimerin make the area quite fertile. The valleys and woodlands of the Western Marches were the first lands to be settled by the people of Carathas after the Second Exodus and, for many years, formed the base of ther power.  The Dragonwall Fortress, built across a massive rent in the mountain chain, kept the Carathans safe from blackblood incursions for 2000 years until it was recently overrun with the aid of fell sorcery. It is now home to several clans of blackbloods that raid the Marches regularly.

The Tower, home of the Empire’s most formidable military body, stood for 2,500 years in the northern part of the March. Built to train the Cohorts, the Tower’s teachings were key to almost every Carathan military victory since its inception. It has been sacked by marauding blackbloods since the fall of the Dragonwall Fortress but the tower and surrounding fortifications still stand. The Battlemaster has denied all requests to retake the Tower although he is keeping his own counsel as to why.

Tor Egan, the oldest city of the Carathan Empire, is the capital of the Western Marches. It sits with it’s back to the Glimerin and hills to the north offering both excellent defense and access to resources. Once proud and beautiful the city is now choked with refugees from the west and soldiers from the east. Rumours hint of foul goings-on in the courts and other searts of power and Tor Egan may face more problems from the corruption in its heart than the encroaching blackblood clans.

The Midlands:

The Carathans have a saying – “As the Midmarch, so the Empire” – that reflects the power and influence of the Midmarch and the people that live there. Geographically the Midmarch is defined as all teritory bounded by the River Glimerin (west), the Brown Grass Hills (north), the Eastmark River (east) and the coastline of the Forsaken Seas to the south. Within this area is a wealth of fertile farmland supported by fortified manors and trading posts. The bounding rivers are surrounded by expansive woodlands that provide material and food although they are fairly young compared to the primeval forests of the East March.

There are two large settlements in the Midmarch – Tor Glimerin, in the south-west, is a coastal city that serves as the primary hub for trade from the Western and Mid Marches to reach futher east. The inhabitants of Tor Glimerin are reserved, hard working and pious – model citizens of the Empire. The other main city – the largest in the Empire – is Tor Carath, the Imperial capital. A stout stone ringwall surrounds the outer wards that lie on the shore of Lake Serenos. The city proper, including the Monolith of the Sisters, the Imperial Palace, the Magisterium and the Collegium, is built on an artificial island in the middle of the lake and is connected to the mainland by seven bridges – one for each of the Daughters of Carathas. All law and policy spring from Tor Carath, as does most of the cultural influences to be found throughout the Empire.

The East:

Beyond the Eastmark lies a vast and ancient forest. Although a large wedge heading east has been partially cleared by Carathan settlers the true extent of the forest is unknown. Many of those travelling more than a few days ride past the last homestead are never heard from again. Those that return tell fearful tales of a never-ending green hell – trees that walk and thirst for blood, monstrous serpents capable of swallowing a wagon whole, and savage tribesmen living in the ruins of the long dead elven Free Kingdoms. The people of the Eastern March are, unsuprisingly, hardy folk well used to a rough frontier life. While their manner is frowned upon by cultured Midmarchers they are perfectly suited to soldiering and the Battlemaster has elected to build a new Tower in the heart of the region. The only settlement of notable size is a fortified town, Ban Cuilligh, three days ride from the Eastmark River. It is a heavily fortified keep and trading town that serves as the primary garrison for Imperial forces as well as a trade hub for western goods.

The North:

The Northmarch is considered by most to be simply an extension of the Midmarch and, in terms of culture, this is rather true. However, the lands north of the Brown Grass Hills are both distinct and important. Consisting primarily of rolling hills leading to highlands, most of the land is given over to the farming of sheep and other hardy livestock. Nestled at the base of the Northern Alps is one of the Empire’s most important fortifications – Tor Nordia. This impressive fortress houses the Marshall of the North and a garrison the size of a small army. It is the primary defence against the predations of maruders from the Chaos March and has stores to withstand seige for well over a year. With the recent emergence of the dwarves it also serves as the major link for trade between duer-folk and Carathans. The dwarves themselves call this area home although their steadings are deep beneath the Northern Alps.

For now the dwarven home-stead of Refuge is off limits to outsiders, though many of the duer-folk have established surface dwellings near the entrances to Refuge. A large skydock, nestled in the mountains above Refuge, is a constant hive of activity as the dwarves attempt to establish trade routes and rediscover the world they hid from millennia ago.

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