The Border Baronies

Border Baronies

The Border Baronies

The border Baronies are a group of frontier territories who declined the generous offers of the Dukes to act as their vassals- and were too far away, or tough, for the Dukes to take them by force. These Baronies are also heavily influenced by the native cultures of the Newer Lands, having mostly been founded when a Lord with a write to claim land either subjugated a local tribe, or integrated with it peacefully, often via marriage of trial by combat against the previous chief. For this reason the border baronies are seen as rustic and provincial, but none question their strength, or the ferocity with which they defend their borders, and hence, the entire region. Due to their relative isolation and the influence of their leader’s powerful personalities, each border barony is also quite distinct, even unique- from the solemn jet-haired warrior-chiefs of the white Raven barony in the north, to the cheerful and robustly prosperous blonde kinfolk of the Fjellvager, who live in the high valleys along the path of the ancient dwarfmarch. Each border barony has it’s own culture, traditions and resources, but all of them share a reputation as fierce warriors and masters of fighting in the terrain of their homelands. Each border barony has at best a single city as it’s capital, with most of the rest of the population living in small villages and farmsteads. The six border baronies are described below:

The White Ravens: The White Raven barony is by far the barony most influenced by tribal culture. It has always been ruled by a high chieftain, who is descended from a lineage created when a powerful tribe of warriors joined with an expedition of adventurers in the very early days of the colonies. The tribe fought bravely in the second golbin wars, and formally claimed the land they currently dwell on after this conflict. They served with heroism again in the third golbin wars, and this secured the legitimacy of their claim to the land, even in the eyes of the most bigoted coastal nobles. The barony is a place of sanctuary for tribals and other outcasts, although all who dwell there must follow the rules of the tribe, and space is limited in the land, which is fertile in spring and summer, but often beset in winter by heavy snows that find their way across the northern dwarflands. The highest peaks of the dwarvern range are close to the white raven barony, giving it spectacular terrain. The current Baron like most of his ancestors is a severe man with the hawklike features and straight dark hair of the northern clans (now long vanished everywhere but here), who’s harsh code of honor is balanced by his hospitality for outcasts and individuals who earn his respect, no matter what their path. In part this comes from his family’s past- his father was killed in suspicious circumstances in the Reconciliation, and many tribals and others fled to the Keep after being driven out by their former allies on the coast.

Champion’s Rest: Champion’s rest was originally founded by an early colonist folk hero who gained control of the local tribe after defeating it’s chief in a test of strength. Since then it’s fortunes have waxed and waned, with the locals serving as mercenaries in the lord’s wars (unlike their more honorable neighbors to the north), and at times seeking to expand their own influence by force. Eventually, after the third goblin war, the barony solidified, and during the rebellion it became a major staging ground and centre for recruitment and training for the rebels. This, along with its actual service in the rebellion and border with the white ravens ensured its safety from Baelamar’s expansion. Since then it has acted as a centre for the training of mercenaries, explorers, and other ‘adventurers’, although due to the stigma, they do not use that term. Native guides and human peasants looking for a new life travel to mightton to test themselves before the guild, and earn a place in it’s academy. The training hardly leads to a life of adventure and fortune, but it does turn out a regular crop of impressively versatile mercenaries who’s training is a mix of colonial and tribal skills. The current baron is an industrious man, eager to encourage people to settle in his lands, and obsessed with making his city about ‘more than just fighting’, something his got his fill of in the revolution.

Gloomlake: Gloomlake is an aptly named land who’s population is concentrated around a large freshwater lake on a plateau in the already high country the border baronies occupy. The gloomlake has always had mystical connotations for the local tribes, and while generations of colonists sought it mainly as a source of water and food, even the most pragmatic of them have grown to respect the lake over the generations. Gloomlake has a tradition of seers, soothsayers and diviners, with several notable wizards and other sort dwelling along the shore, or on small islands in the lake itself. The generally overcast climate and hauntingly terrain combines to make the average citizen of gloomlake a rather morbid sort, and the themes of fatalism and doom that echo the path of prophecy enhance this mindset. Many come to the barony seeking something- guidance, a prophecy, or simply direction- but those who do rarely leave. The lake has a way of. . . drawing people in. Indeed, suicides are common, and drowning tends to be the cause. The lower lands in the vales towards the mountains are filled with thick woodlands, haunted by ill-aspected wolves and clannish farming thorpes. The leadership of the barony can be of either gender, with a bias towards female rulers in the tradition of the old seers, and the current Baroness is a typical example, a wise and cunning woman who, it is whispered, may herself be strong in the seer’s arts.

Lefent: Lefent is a corrupt and lawless territory only marginally controlled by the lords and baron who dwell in the walled city that is it’s capital. The territory has always been a haven for outcasts, in particularly wealthy, powerful families that have been cast out of other places in the colonies- wether they be criminals, disgraced nobles robbed of their lands, or merchants fleeing debtors. Originally it was little more than an outpost on the frontier, a provisioning centre populated by those who were not welcome on the coast, but disinclined to go further and seek their fortune in exploration and trade. Over successive generations it was dominated by a patch-work of powerful families, who dabbled in banditry and other more sophisticated crimes to keep their coffers full and their decadent urges sated. Each era saw the arrival of new ‘houses’, who bought their way into this ruling oligarchy with coin and contacts, of the kind that tend to fade for anyone who has spent more than a few years in the region. Newcomers came for many different reasons- some had been on the losing side of a power struggle or great game of trade, and were forced to flee with whatever fortune they had left. Others had addictions or predilections so unsavoury that even the pleasure houses of Tonerre could not satisfy or tolerate them. For a time during the lord’s war, Lefent was considered ‘neutral ground’, a place where adventurers could winter and spend their ill gotten coin, safe (in theory) from rivals or revenge. This status collapsed spectacularly one winter when a particularly large band of vigilantes rode in and burnt down half the town. Since then, the sprawling, corrupt borough has limped along in a bitter and petulant fashion, each family looking for the big break that will bring it to it’s apex. The powerful families in the city, known as ‘houses’, form a ‘cabinet of worthies’, who advises and elects the baron, in theory a progressive model, in practice, an alliance of thieves. The current Baron is a desperately paranoid man chosen by default by a cabinet who’s factions were each unwilling to give power to it’s real rivals.

Fardale: Fardale was the original frontier town of the colonies, in fact it’s people insist that ground was broken on it before Tonerre was even pondered, let alone founded. Whatever the truth, the frontier territory had a long and storied history, first as a military outpost used as a springboard to explore further inland, then later as a trading centre with the tribes that dwelt beyond. It’s Lords have always been known as canny merchants, and before the Dwarfmarch was even put into action, the then Sheriff of the city was sure to be welcoming towards dwarves, knowing that their explorations and movements through the region hinted at greater things to come. When the dwarfmarch begun, fardale stood ready to support it, and it has profited greatly ever since, acting as the central pin of the tradeways between Dwarfholm in the west, and Prowmeet and Tonerre on the east coast. The realm’s prosperity afforded it great safety, and apart from a few skirmishes with bandits from Lefent, it was unmolested by it’s neighbors during the lord’s war- few would risk enraging the Governors by damaging the path of the tithe, after all. During the revolution Fardale stayed stubbornly neutral, and it’s then Lord rose to preeminence in the great reconciliation that followed the end of the conflict, promoting peace and stability and the rule of law, and acting as kingmaker for the Arch-Barons of Tonerre and Stormpoint, while they pressed his neighbors in the north and east into fealty. Fardale has remained independent and respected ever since.

Niederneukuckucksuhrheim am Berg: Known as NeiderBurg by outsiders, this barony is a cheerful and idyllic land, centered around a lush valley hidden in the mountain range between the border baronies, and the duchy of fjellvig. It’s people settled there long ago, a single ethnicity who came from the old country in the sevenfold realms, settling across the mountains from their kinfolk in fjelvik. Little is known about the land before their coming, but the tribes further north claimed that the land was not even habitable in the years before their arrival- possibly this is due to the vicious wolves who still dwell in the dark forests in the foothills. The people of NeiderBurg eked out a passable existence in their early years, wary of the dark forest that seemed to spring up from the land even as they tilled it, and learning of the ways of the wild from the few tribals they mixed with. But their fortunes raised spectacularly when the dwarfmarch occurred- the dwarves, headed to the mountains to the west, built their road through NeiderBurg with the help of the Niedervölker, who’s valley was the perfect pass through the mountains, and resupply point. since then the Niedervölker have profited greatly from their place on the highway, and their taverns are many and full of dwarves and human merchants to-ing and fro-ing from the great dwarvern land with tithe and trade. The Niedervölker joined their kinfolk in various wars, including the revolution, always returning to the peaceful fastness of their valleys. The current baron is a typically cheerful and somewhat unambitious man who’s chief aim is to export more of the region’s fine beers and sausages to the outside world.

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The Border Baronies

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