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The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Southern/Central Lands
Posted on Fri, October 16, 2009 by LordCeb
Oerthman writes "(Again, the topic could be Heritic's Nest)

The Southern and Central Bandit Kingdoms are a study in contrasts.  From the revelry of the pirate town of Tortage to the grim stoicism of the great fortress of Riftcrag to the darkness of the Tangles to the sleepy farming communities of Midlands, the lands encompass nearly every terrain imaginable.  The legendary White Plume Mountain is here, as is Riftcrag.   Redhand and Reyhu stand prepared to spoil any attack into the rest of the kingdoms, while Midlands grows the grain to feed the armies - even bandits have to eat.


A Gazetteer of the Bandit Kingdoms
CY 576


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 Southern/Central Lands - Redhand

Territory Name:  Principality of Redhand
Ruler:  Prince Zeech (C5/F8)
Major Town:  Tortage
Allies:  Reyhu
Enemies:  Shield Lands, County of Urnst, countries bordering the Nyr Dyv
Troops:  Cav 100, Inf 300

Redhand, along with Reyhu, was carved out of the eastern Shield Lands more than a century ago.  After a string of victories against the Shield Lands and Urnst, the expedition was defeated by the combined forces of Nyrond and Urnst at Trigol.  Krados Redhand swiftly retreated across the Nyr Dyv and fortified the town of Tortage (west of the mouth of the Artonsamay).  Pressing their captured ships into service, bandits based in Tortage took to the water and began piratical forays all around the Nyr Dyv.  Since the founding, Redhand has maintained spies and informants all around the Nyr Dyv to try and get advance warning of any attacks.  Reyhu assists in this, as does Kor of Abarra.

After its capture from the Shield Lands, Tortage quickly became 'a wretched hive of scum and villainy', filled with outlaws from the lands around the Nyr Dyv.  The stolen goods of many countries are unloaded on the docks daily.  Drunken parties are common at all hours of the day and night, and press gangs seeking sailors for new 'voyages' are even more common.  Koalinth, lizardfolk, and merfolk are all known to trade at Tortage, although the mer are wary and watchful when they show themselves.  The town proper sits on a natural deepwater harbor, with a fortified breakwater guarding the entrance.  Attackers attempting to gain the harbor would be assaulted from both the breakwater and the shore with flaming arrows, ballistae, and catapults.  The town is vulnerable to a simultaneous land and sea attack, however, as King Belvor of Furyondy proved in 554.

The territory is ruled by the leader of the Red Brotherhood, a loose association of pirates.  The current leader is "prince" Zeech, a successful pirate raider who gained fame with a wildly successful raid on Leukish.  While retired from active raiding, Zeech directs his 'fleet', making sure that the pirates spread their attacks and do not become too much of a nuisance.  Zeech is somewhat of a dandy and a fop who has held on to his position through a combination of a lightning-swift sword, keen political sense, and the aid of Procan.  While he still is the fastest sword in the Brotherhood, Zeech knows age is creeping up on him and is looking for a way to disappear with as much as possible of his ill-gotten wealth.   Zeech's abilities as a priest of Procan have proved invaluable over the years to his ships.  


The Southern/Central Lands - Reyhu

Territory Name:  Hold of Reyhu
Ruler:  Lord Celdro Reyhu (F10)
Major Town:  Helestria
Allies:  Redhand
Enemies:  Shield Lands, County of Urnst, countries bordering the Nyr Dyv
Troops:  Cav 300, Inf 700

Reyhu and Redhand strongly depend on each other - the threat of flank attacks and raids on supply lines should Urnst or the Shield Lands invade is all that has kept the two kingdoms independent for the last hundred years (shrewd and effective use of spies and informants helps, too). Reyhu only recently resumed paying an annual stipend to support Rift's efforts in holding back the monsters from the Riftcanyon.  Occasionally, some escape the vigilance of the Guardians of the Rift, as in 572 when Richfest saw a flock of harpies, a school of landsharks, and a juvenile purple worm issue from a previously-unknown exit from the canyon to ravage northern Reyhu.

The capitol and largest town in Reyhu is Helestria, and is somewhat of a marvel for its old buildings and classical architecture.  The town grew up around the summer residence of the paladin Tamoren, slayer of Azagur and first ruler of Furyondian Northreach.  When Traidon Reyhu captured it from the Shield Landers, he was taken by the beauty of the town and ordered his men to preserve it.  After the founding of Reyhu, he used part of the great loot from his plundering to build even more grandiose structures.  Students of architecture come from all over the Flanaess (albeit with lots of guards...) to see Tamoren's summer manse, the town hall, and the incredibly baroque cathedral to Norebo.

Lord Celdro Reyhu is a direct descendant of Traidon Reyhu, the victorious general who founded the Hold.  While the rulership is not hereditary, the Reyhu family have provided many of the Lords in the last hundred years.  This is primarily because they (quite literally) know where the bodies are buried.  He and Zeech of Redhand are strong allies, unusually so for bandit kinglets.  Reyhu began his career as an adventurer on one of Zeech's ships before turning inland and becoming a member of the Guardians of the Rift.  He gained much experience and many scars before returning to Helestria and defeating all comers to become the new Lord of the Hold.  Celdro has carried his experience fighting monsters over to battling human and humanoid opponents:  he is completely ruthless and merciless where enemies are concerned.  This has caused problems in the past, and Celdro has sworn enemies in both the Shield Lands and Urnst who are looking for any way to bring him down.


The Southern/Central Lands - Rift

Territory Name:  Domain of the Rift
Ruler:  Plar Lintoff (T13)
Major Town:  Riftcrag
Allies:  Tangles
Enemies: Riftcanyon
Troops:  Cav 150, Inf 350, H (gnolls) 200, (bugbears) 50, (ogres) 10

As might be expected, the Dominion of the Rift is dominated by the Riftcanyon and the creatures that dwell in it.  The only population center of note is the fortress town of Riftcrag; the rest of the Domain is dotted with small watchtowers, especially along the edge of the canyon.  Larger fortresses block the less-difficult exits from Riftcanyon. Because of their never-ending struggle, the people here are pragmatic, tough-minded, and focused inward.  They give lip service to the Pact of the Free Lords, but feel that the real enemy is the Riftcanyon and the mindless beasts it spews forth.  The surrounding territories - Reyhu, Tangles, Johrase, and Artonsamay - pay to support the watch.  Mages are relatively common in the Domain, welcomed for their help in facing the rarer creatures from the rift.  In turn, mages are drawn here for the chance at exotic spell components available here at lower cost - cockatrice blood, purple worm ichor, giant slug venom, etc.

Riftcrag is built across the easiest exit from the Riftcanyon.  The floor of the canyon rises steadily if steeply traveling east toward Riftcrag; nowhere else is it so easy to reach the surface from the floor of the canyon.  Those who see the mighty walls of Riftcrag for the first time often think they are overbuilt; that attitude does not usually last past the next horde of slavering creatures boiling up out of the rift.  Riftcrag is dominated by the Guardians of the Rift, what passes for a knightly order in the Bandit Kingdoms. The Guardians are sworn to keep the creatures confined to the Riftcanyon, and hunt them down if they escape.  They send hunter-killer teams into the rift on reconaissance-in-force missions (basically looking for trouble) and have been known to hire capable adventuring groups for these missions.  While deadly fighters, many of the Guardians are less than sane after so much time combating abominations.  

A grizzled veteran of the Guardians and their hunter-killer teams, Plar Lintoff spent years scouting the Riftcanyon and knows it better than anyone yet living.  He recently made the decision to fight fire with fire, hiring some humanoids as mercenaries instead of driving them off.  This is causing great debate among the Guardians, and may result in Lintoff losing his position (and probably his life).  At the meetings of the Lords, his single-minded focus on the Riftcanyon puts him out of step with most of the other leaders.  That is unfortunate, as he is as apt at scouting political terrain as he was in the canyon.  Kor of Abarra has realized this, and has begun to use Lintoff to vet some of the political intelligence he gathers.


The Southern/Central Lands - Tangles

Territory Name:  Earldom of the Tangles
Ruler:  Earl Reynard (B8, F6/T7)
Major Town:  Archer
Allies:  Rift
Enemies: Shield Lands
Troops:  Cav 200, Inf 550

The Tangles is a land of two faces.  The northern part of the land, along with Midlands and Johrase, is the breadbasket of the Bandit Kingdoms.  The crops are usually abundant, mostly wheat and corn, and even a few vineyards.  In the south, the forest of Tangles and the barrens north of the Riftcanyon barely support life.  The barrens are too dry and the soil too poor to support more than hardscrabble agriculture.  Occasional infestations of monsters from the Riftcanyon only compound the problem.  The eponymous Tangles present a different problem - too much growth.  The forest is literally tangled, with few trails and even fewer clearings.  Only the foolhardy, desperate, or insane live in the forest. Settlers tend to disappear, their dwellings flattened and cleared land quickly turning back to forest.  Some whisper of an ancient tree spirit protecting the woods, others of a band of exceptionally misanthropic druids.  The people of Tangles have a reputation for being rustic, stolid and unimaginative, although still fierce fighters. Mentioning this in the hearing of a Tangler is begging for a black eye, or worse (especially if the pejorative 'Tanglefoot' is used).

Archer is one of the towns founded by the original Oeridian settlers of the area.  It remains a fairly sleepy country town, with a large farmer's market every Starday.  The town militia is much higher quality than usual, training regularly and stiffened by an unusually high proportion of experienced veterans.  One organization of note in the town is the Fellowship of Fletchers.  From the name, one would think it a simple guild dedicated to the art of bowmaking and fletching arrows.  In truth, it is one of the finest schools for the art of archery anywhere.  Teachings include building stamina (necessary to win long battles), mounted archery, and trick shots.  All of the earl's troops have been through at least the basic archery training of the guild; all of his cavalry are trained as mounted archers.

Earl Reynard is an expatriate from Greyhawk, having made (in quick succession) both the Mercenaries Guild and the Thieves Guild too hot to hold him.  Spending some years in bardic studies, he came to Tangles after an incident in the Pale (the Palish do not take kindly to satire - one performance of "O Blinding Lice" was enough to get Reynard put to the question).  To his surprise and that of the townspeople, Reynard got along well with the Tanglers.  He rose to command the town's militia, and from thence to the earldom when the previous earl was killed in a raid on the Shield Lands (Reynard sang a very nice dirge at his funeral).


The Southern/Central Lands - Midlands

Territory Name:  Grafschaft[1] of Midlands
Ruler:  Graf Venholtee (C3/F7)
Major Town:  Wheatfield
Allies:  Abarra
Enemies: Johrase (mild rival)
Troops:  Cav 200, Inf 450

"Even bandits and brigands have to eat."  That sums up most of Midlands perfectly.  Throughout its history, the grafschaft of Midlands has been the breadbasket of the whole area.  The land is the most fertile, and is dotted with small farms and villages.  This generally sleepy territory is also the meeting place of the Council of Free Lords, in an old castle outside Wheatfields.  The castle sits abandoned most of the year, its walls crumbling and overgrown.  Because of this site, and the agriculture of the region, Midlands has been less affected by the periodic battles in the rest of the Bandit Kingdoms and has managed to remain neutral for the most part.  This neutrality has never stopped ambitious chieftains from inviting themselves to the Council, however.   

Wheatfield, the capitol, sits at the end of the old north road from Furyondy.  Lesser tracks lead further north to Rookroost and Greenkeep.  Because of its generally peaceful history, the city proper has many old buildings from the Aerdy and Furyondian days.  Most everyone is involved in agriculture to some extent - providing goods and services to farmers, trading livestock, or exporting the products of the region.

Graf Venholtee is a wily old bandit turned peacemaker in his retirement.  He is often the voice of reason in the Lord's Council, smoothing over disputes and enabling deals to be made.  There's a good reason for this - internal squabbles are bad for business.  Venholtee worships Xerbo in his aspect as the god of money and business - he's not averse to a little raiding into Tenh, but he prefers to invest his loot rather than squander it in drunken revels.  The graf is slowly squeezing out many of the smaller, marginal farmers in his territory and buying their land for a pittance.  Some of the other landowners have noticed this and are beginning to plan for the day he moves against them.

[1] Grafs rule "Grafschafts".  Deal.
"
 
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Re: The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Southern/Central Lands (Score: 1)
by Mystic-Scholar on Fri, October 16, 2009
(User Info | Send a Message) http://mysticscholar.blogspot.com/
Another well researched and informative article. This should enhance game play for any group venturing into the Bandit Kingdoms.

Well done, Oerthman.



Re: The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Southern/Central Lands (Score: 1)
by Wolfsire on Fri, October 16, 2009
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Re: The Bandit Kingdoms CY 576 - The Southern/Central Lands (Score: 1)
by Argon on Sun, October 18, 2009
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Nice article again great job informative to the point anf it can stand on its own.  




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