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The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Western Lands
Posted on Mon, September 28, 2009 by LordCeb
Oerthman writes "The western Bandit Kingdoms - Warfields, Wormhall, Freehold, Abarra - stand as the barrier between the rest of the kingdoms and the evil of the Horned Society.  The barrier may be cracking - Wormhall is making overtures to the Society, while Warfields and Abarra turn up the pressure.  As always, the only constant in the Lands of the Free Lords is conflict.

Gazetteer of the Bandit Kingdoms
CY 576

All dates are CY unless otherwise noted

The Bandit Kingdoms (or the Lands of the Free Lords, as the inhabitants insist) are a diverse region of the Flanaess, encompassing wildly varying terrain:  thick forests and rocky hills in the north, rolling prairies in the midlands, barren wastelands around the Riftcanyon, and coastal plains in the south.  The people are just as varied:  Oerid, Flan, and Suel, with a sprinkling of Bakluni.  Half-orcs are so common as to be unremarkable, and humanoids are not uncommon, especially in the western lands.

To outsiders, the Bandit Kingdoms seem continually on the verge of collapse. Internal strife is common - skirmishes and short wars between rival groups of bandits occur each year.  Remarkably, this petty collection of semi-independent, squabbling freeholds has lasted for more than 250 years as an independent 'state'.  Any external threat brings a swift end to internal conflict and a violent response.  This unity in the face of external danger is partially the result of the Pact of the Free Lords, signed in 445.  Honored as much in the breach as in the keeping, the pact holds the kinglets together in a web of self interest.  It provides for regular meetings of the leaders, methods of resolving internal disputes without conflict, and passage to the borders for raiding bands.  While the leaders give lip service to the conflict resolution section of the pact, strength of arms is far more likely to resolve problems in an acceptable way (to the strongest, of course).

There are seventeen current territories in the Bandit Kingdoms, but only four of the leaders control the council of lords.  Plar Teuod Fent of Rookroost is foremost, due to the wealth he receives from the vassal territories of Groskopf and Fellands.  Fent has held this position since 568, but the self-styled Viscount has seen his influence wane in a series of political blunders, military defeats, and strategic mistakes.  His position is uncertain, and weakening.  Next in power is Rhelt Kor of Abarra, a powerful assassin.  He has spies everywhere, both within the Bandit Kingdoms and in many other lands.  King Selnon of Johrase and Szek Winvid of Dimre round out the cabal - Selnon is respected for his valor in keeping the Tenha host at bay, while Winvid does the same for the Palish and Nyrondese by his cunning.  The rest of the Lords seek to gain the favor of these four, or form temporary alliances with others. The annual meetings of this group are loud, raucous, and occasionally deadly.

Each territory is ruled by a single leader, at least in name.  Often, this rule is acknowledged only when forced by the presence of soldiers.  Only major towns are listed, but there are many smaller villages (at least one per hex on the map).  These are usually clustered around a small fortification of some sort, and are ruled by bandit chieftains.  These chieftains demand tolls of all who pass through their territory, unless they can be convinced that the travelers are on 'official business' from the ruler.  The troop strengths listed are those belonging the ruler of the territory.  Depending on the territory, an additional 50-150% can be raised in a few weeks from subterritories, mercenaries, and (in some areas) wandering humanoids.

The Bandit Kingdoms are broken into four groups:
- The Western Lands:  Warfields, Wormhall, Freehold, Abarra
- The South/Central Lands:  Redhand, Reyhu, Rift, Tangles, Midlands
- The Eastern Lands:  Artonsamay, Johrase, Dimre, Stoink
- The Northern Lands:  Rookroost, Greenkeep, Groskopf, Fellands

The Western Lands - Warfields

Territory Name:  County of Warfields
Ruler:  Guardian General Hok (half-orc F11)
Major Town:  Battleford
Allies:  Abarra, Tangles (uncertain)
Enemies:  Horned Society, Shield Lands, Wormhall
Troops:  Cav 300, Inf 500

Warfields has been settled longest of all the Bandit Kingdoms.  Its original inhabitants were the nomadic Rovers, who were displaced by migrating Oeridian tribes nearly a thousand years ago.  The Oerid settled and farmed the land. Resisting all attempts to dislodge them has bred a stubborn streak into the people of the area, and no small amount of pride in their strength.  That pride led to a fall in the early part of the century, as their leaders were subverted by the Horned Society.  Eventually, the folk of Warfields threw off their yoke, but not before losing many to the altars of the Horned Ones.  The character of the people here has changed over the past 60 years as well.  While still stubborn, they are prone to cruelty and callousness, and the sight of humanoids is a common thing in these lands.

The only city in Warfields is Battleford, originally built by Oerid settlers. As its name implies, Battleford has been the site of many skirmishes and battles for control of the only ford of the Ritensa for many miles north or south.  The westgate of the city guards the eastern end of the ford, and is heavily fortified.  The ford's western end is dominated by a single black tower, topped by the horned skull of some tremendous beast.  When the moon is full, the eyes of the skull glow red.  Only the foolhardy or extremely desperate dare the streets of Battleford on those nights - and they often vanish. Many humanoids live in Battleford, remnants of the Horned Society's rule, but they are regarded with suspicion by the human populace.

The ruler of Warfields is Guardian General Hok, a half-orcish former mercenary.  He rose through the ranks of the Horned Society's occupation force, but grew disillusioned when he was denied command of a company because of his orcish blood.  He was one of the instigators of the uprising that led to the expulsion of the Horned Society from Wormhall and Warfields.  Hok is hard and brutal with little compassion.  He has a good grasp on Bandit Kingdom politics, as well as a recognition of his exposed strategic position.  With bitter enemies to the north, west, and south, uncertain allies to the east, and a price on his head, Hok walks a tightrope.

The Western Lands - Wormhall

Territory Name:  Barony of Wormhall
Ruler:  Baron Oltagg (human F4/T9)
Major Town:  Wormhall
Allies:  Horned Society (uncertain)
Enemies:  Warfields, Abarra, Freehold, inhabitants of Fellreev
Troops:  Cav 150, Inf 400, H (gnolls) 100

Formerly named Haven, from 194-245 Wormhall was the territory of the green wyrm Azagur.  The dragon leveled most of the buildings of Haven, and lived in the great hall of the keep (hence the name).   Azagur was killed in 245 by a group of adventurers led by the paladin Tamoren.  Tamoren used the dragon's hoard to rebuild the town and was eventually appointed the first Earl of Furyondian Northreach by Thrommel I.  More recently, Wormhall was occupied by the Horned Society.  In 563, a rebellion led by Hok of Warfields and Fria Vigdisdotr, a barbarian slave from Wormhall, led to the expulsion of the Society. With strong support from Hok and the populace, Fria was installed as baroness of Wormhall. The current leader, Oltagg, was her commander of troops.  He betrayed her in 565 and pronounced himself baron.  No one has seen Fria Vigdisdotr since.

The town of Wormhall is the only large town in the territory.  It is built on and around a steep hill (sensibly called Wormhill), on which sits the keep.  This prominent feature is the only high ground for many miles around, and affords a good view of any approaching force.  In addition to the keep at the top of Wormhill, there are two other fortifications in Wormhall.  The city wall surrounds the town at the base of the hill, and another wall circles the hill halfway up.  There are only two gates in each wall.  The lower gates face east and west, and the upper gates north and south.

Baron Oltagg of Wormhall is a thoroughly despicable man.  He betrayed and presumably murdered the previous ruler, a popular figure.  Hok of Warfields has publicly accused him of murder, and challenged him to a duel to the death at the last gathering of the Free Lords.  Oltagg's court at Wormhall is an evil place, with mass executions and debauched revels equally frequent.  He maintains power only by his personal guard company of gnolls.  To keep their loyalty, he allows them to raid the Freehold, Abarra, and Warfields for slaves.  Most are kept in Wormhall to work the land, but a few wind up on the tables of the gnolls (this is not common knowledge).  This has earned Oltagg the enmity of the surrounding lands, and he has made overtures to the Horned Society offering alliance.  If word of these talks got out, Wormhall would swiftly be awash in rebellion and blood - the people remember the years under the Hierarchs all too well.

The Western Lands - The Freehold

Territory Name:  Freehold of Northkeep
Ruler:  Master Eab Huldor (MU9)
Major Town:  Northkeep
Allies:  Abarra, Midlands, elves and rangers of the Fellreev
Enemies:  Greenkeep, Wormhall, humanoids of the Fellreev
Troops:  Cav 350, Inf 800

The Freehold of Northkeep was established in 522 after an occupation force of orcs and gnolls from Wormhall was defeated.  Evaern Huldor proclaimed himself Master of the Freehold and granted land and freeman status to the mercenaries that formed the core of the relief force.  Their descendants make up Freehold's army. The Freehold has the distinction of being the only semi-democratic land in the Bandit Kingdoms.  While the Master runs the day-to-day affairs of the hold, the Assembly of Freemen advises him on policy.  The Assembly is open to all who have served in the Freehold military.  One-third are elected yearly for three- year terms.

The heart of the town of Northkeep is the keep itself, built in 173 by Kerdric of the Aerdy house of Tomund in response to a series of humanoid invasions.  The keep has fallen only twice in its four-hundred year history, both times by treachery.  The first fall came in 203 when Earl Vaden of the house of Rax visited, feigning friendship, only to seize and execute the ruling baron and his family for rebellion against the Overking. The second time was in 521, when a mistreated slave betrayed the inhabitants to the besieging humanoids.  Surrounding the town are many small farms, originally worked by the mercenaries who freed the town in 522.  Most farms are still owned and worked by the sons and daughters of the mercenaries.

The current Master of the Freehold is Eab Huldor, grandson of Evaern.  Unlike his father and grandfather, Eab pursued the study of magic instead of arms.  This caused some grumbling among the army, but Eab has proved a masterful strategist, tactician, and leader.  His tactics have consistently allowed his forces to win with little loss of life, something his soldiers appreciate.  His strategy, initially disdained by his advisors, of reconciling with the druids, elves, and rangers of the Fellreev has reduced humanoid raids and allowed him to concentrate forces against his southern neighbors.

The Western Lands - Abarra

Territory Name:  Free Lordship of Abarra [1]
Ruler:  Rhelt Kor Abarra (A10)
Major Town:  Bloodmeadow
Allies:  Freehold, Warfields
Enemies:   Wormhall, Greenkeep
Troops:  Cav 400, Inf 600

Abarra is the battleground of the eastern bandit lands.  From the initial Oerid settlement to the vicious battles between rival lords, the most common choice of battlefield has been the rolling plains of Abarra.  Over the past 250 years, more than 100 large-scale battles have taken place here.  Bones and rusted armor are common sights for travelers in the land, and undead (mostly skeletons) are occasionally seen as the dead grow restless.  The old north road from Furyondy provides easy access through the land, connecting Battleford, Bloodmeadow, and Wheatfield.

Founded as Restholm by the original Oeridian settlers, Bloodmeadow was renamed after a series of particularly bloody battles were fought nearby during CY320-325.  While there is no keep as such, the town center is surrounded by a strong, well-maintained curtain wall with only one gate.  Within these walls dwell the Rhelt and his 'court', a nest of intrigue, treachery and villainy.  The outer city wall has suffered much from neglect over the years, but the current Rhelt is working to repair them.  All citizens of the town are required to work one day a week on the walls (or provide a substitute in the form of gold or a slave).  Periodic sweeps of the Low Quarter net additional workers, and reduce the population of beggars and poor.

The territory of Abarra is ruled by the head of the Abarra family, descendants of an Aerdy noble house who turned to banditry centuries ago.  The current head is Kor, a powerful assassin.  Due to his contacts with the guilds of assassins and thieves in many cities, Kor currently acts as the intelligence chief for the Free Lords.  His network of spies, both internal and external, keep him well informed of events in the Flanaess and beyond.  Not all the information he collects is reported.  Though he despises Eab Huldor and General Hok, he has made an alliance of convenience with them.  Kor's spies have informed him of Wormhall's contacts with the Horned Society; for the moment, he has kept this information to himself, waiting for the right time to reveal it.  Kor nurses a deep hatred of Lord Yanboli, the half-elf ruler of Greenkeep.  The source of this hatred is unknown, but the feeling is mutual.  The two are barely civil to each other at the meetings of the Lord's council and have nearly come to blows several times.

[1] There is some confusion as to the name of this territory.  In the table in Dragon 56 that accompanies the Bandit Kingdoms map, it is called Kor, ruled by Rhelt Abbara. In the text, the ruler is "Kor, Rhelt of Abbarra".  I like Abbarra better as a place name (sans an extra 'b').

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Re: The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Western Lands (Score: 1)
by Mystic-Scholar on Wed, September 30, 2009
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Plot hooks, intrigue, betrayal and murderous rulers ready to be toppled, everything the adventuring party could want. A high level adventurer ready to retire could find himself a job here as the "new ruler" with just a little work.

Well written, informative, imaginative, a nice job indeed.

Re: The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Western Lands (Score: 1)
by Argon on Mon, October 12, 2009
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I knew you wouldn't disappoint me nice submission I am glad I got to read it. I like the intrique and rivalry in the kingdoms and I think you expressed them well. It felt very smooth and vivid my only complaint is that when I got to the end of the submission. I was ready to play though you fasiled to provide me with any players. Bastard!

Actually great job looking forward to reading more of your work. 

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