Rise of Nations
The River Kingdoms
Notable Settlements: Avendale (population 11,280), Deadbridge (population 4,113) Daggermark (population 27,460), Gralton (population 9,200), Mivon (population 10,870), Outsea (population 6,700), Pitax (population 8,790), Sevenarches (population 4,340)
Rulers: Various warlords, megalomaniacs, bandit kings, retired adventurers, and exiled princes
Government: Too numerous to mention, including regions of absolute anarchy.
Languages: Common, Hallit
Religion: Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Gorum, Gyronna, Hanspur, Lamashtu, Norgorber
The massive Sellen River basin drains all the eastern lands, carrying waters from the Lake of Mists and Veils north of Brevoy, the massive Lake Encarthan, and lakes and rivers all over Galt, Numeria, and Ustalav down to the Inner Sea. As the tributaries pass through the hundred marshes and forests of the River Kingdoms, they seem to carry an especially heavy freight of sin, treachery, and thievery, for the River Kingdoms are where desperate men go to escape their pasts and carve out new lives.
A true history of the River Kingdoms could fill a number of tomes, for the kingdoms that currently thrive or struggle here are but the most recent. Dozen, if not hundreds, of kingdoms have risen and fallen in this region over the past several thousand years— some, like Razmiran, have managed to stabilize and become their own nations, while others have faded forever into obscurity. War is the constant here— anything that cannot be defended is seized by the strong. Those who hide here and bide their time to grow strong include hardened criminals, necromancers, vicious princelings who lost a succession struggle, exiled nobles, firebrands, and religious zealots— anyone most people would rather not have as neighbors. These hardy but treacherous folk possess very little trust, but they tend to follow the strong code of the Six River Freedoms. Those who rule are strong, wily, and willing to do anything to keep their hold on power.
Each of the tiny River Kingdoms follows its own ruler or council, and each possess its own idiosyncrasies. Most are city-states of a few thousand souls at most, ruled by a despot and his shieldmen. The River Kingdoms are bound by the Six River Freedoms and by the Outlaw Council that gathers each year in the wretched city of Daggermark, a town known for its effective assassin’s guild (and thus rarely a target of conquest) and also for the quality of its poisoners. At the Outlaw Council, the freemen and women who call the River Kingdoms home gather, argue, fight, and plan how to keep their freedom for another year against the larger forces arrayed against them, and which neighbors to tap for tribute and which to leave alone.
The only thing that can unite the River Kingdoms for even a brief period is a threat from Galt, Numeria, or Razmiran, and even then, each princeling vies with his fellows to lead the resistance. Larger realms find the River Kingdoms useful sources of mercenaries and a convenient place to exile undesirables who might make trouble at home. Attempts to seize and hold River Kingdoms territory generally prove expensive, thanks to skills honed by years of infighting being turned against the less experienced and less daring soldiers of the wider world. Furthermore, the River Kingdoms represent one of the geographically larger political entities in Avistan, comparable in size to Varisia or Cheliax, and larger than Andoran or Qadira. Taking the land might be relatively standard warfare, but occupying it is another matter.
The Outlaw Council
The Outlaw Council was suggested by the twin guilds of Daggermark (the Assassin’s Guild and the Poisoner’s Guild respectively) over ninety years ago following the upheaval caused by the sudden death of the King Anthanasius XIII of Daggermark. They sent emissaries to the other regions of the River Kingdoms, suggesting a council be established to address the issues affecting the kingdoms. The other regions agreed, and in the following year the Outlaw Council, as it was dubbed, met in Daggermark. Its first act was to officially codify the Six River Freedoms.
Consisting of leaders from the most significant kingdoms, the Outlaw Council provides the only political stability the land has ever known. Rulers from all kingdoms are invited to this yearly council, but only lords from the more established regions— Daggermark, Gralton, Lambreth, Mivon, Pitax, the Protectorate of the Black Marquis, Sevenarches, Tymon, and Uringen are truly respected. Other kingdoms are considered too transient to merit full consideration in the proceedings, though in the spirit of unity, they are allowed to attend and speak occasionally. Unlike in other meetings, proxies are not allowed to address the Council; a lord must attend personally in order to have a voice.
Topics of yearly discourse include negotiating treaties, defense against mutual threats, food distribution, recognition of sovereignty, and solving smaller, interpersonal matters before they become armed conflicts. The meeting hall where the Outlaw Council gathers is considered neutral territory— no king rules any other there, even Livondar, Lord of Daggermark. However, Daggermark’s famed assassins are on silent duty as servants throughout the meeting, making the Outlaw Council the worst time of the year to attempt a Daggermark coup.