It’s been a long time since I put up a substantial update and I thought it was time to do so, as I’m wrapping up the Gazetteer part of the game. Some things still remain, but most of the material is there already. It turned into a pretty hefty writeup, something along the lines of 20 thousand words which translates into roughly fifty pages worth of game. Note that I won’t use two-column layout because my editor-to-be will murder me if I use it and also, two columns on a pdf is just terrible.
So, I’ll take you on a brief journey around the Eastsea. I wish I had a map to show you but honestly, I am so bad at drawing and my illustrator and I have a deal that says I have to pay her.
The Main Players
Smack in the middle of all the action is the Swedish Empire, that broke loose from the Danish Union State a while ago. It now has some overseas holdings and has ambitions to control all of the region. The Swedish Empire is backed by three power schools of wizards: the School on Gotland which can fly, the Bifrost Priests who can go into another dimension and travel through it and the Dragon Voices who can turn their words and songs into dragonfire. Sweden is an absolute monarchy and ruled by a powerful king who leads the armies of Sweden against the Danubian Emperor who wishes to control his part of the Eastsea shore. Stockholm is the capital of the Empire.
The Danubian Empire (you could call it the Holy Roman Empire which in effect is what it is) is old and powerful and extremely disorganized. The Swedish invasion managed to crush most of the Emperor’s army in the first battle and several constituent parts of the Empire are now biding their time to see what happens next. The most powerful of these factions is the Kingdom of Transrhein, famous for its Jotun-blooded Hessian nobles and black-gold plate armors. The Imperial House of Hohenthal has a tough time ahead, because the Emperor’s prestige took a big hit after the Battle of Lüneburg Heath. The Vehmgericht, the Emperor’s secret courts are plotting to overthrow the Emperor while carrying out purges against suspected traitors and sympathizers of the Swedes. The Dwarven Holds in the mountains of the Empire are picking their sides in the conflict, too, desperate for relevance and influence. And to make it even more troublesome, the ancient forest of Hercynerwald lies in the middle of the Empire, and monsters are pouring out from the forest every night. To top it all off, the Germans are cursed and they do not possess souls which renders them incapable of doing magic. The Emperor rules from the ancient city of Regensburg on the shore of the river Danube.
The Hanseatic League is a part of the Empire, or at least used to be. Ancient and cordial allies of the Swedes, they helped the Swedes rebuild their economy after the Revolt against the Danes but are now caught in a conundrum: Sweden, who they saw as their little brother in the North has now grown up and is stronger than the League ever was. They need to figure out a path to take and soon, otherwise either the Swedish Empire or the Danubian Emperor will swallow them whole.
The rump state of Denmark lies between Sweden and the Hanseatic holdings, still clinging to it’s territories in the southern parts of Norway and the autonomous duchy of Scandia on the Scandinavian peninsula. A land of wide open fields and prosperous lands, even in its reduced state Denmark has a far larger population than Sweden, but cannot compete against the magical power of the Swedes. Thus, the Danish Crown is looking into darker magics for power. The Kinship of Cold has pledged their allegiance to the Danish Crown, which might mean bad news for the entire world. The Kinship spent hundreds of years underground because a group where every member kills themselves, is resurrected and thus able to raise the dead is not something most people want to ever deal with. The Danish holdings in Norway might one day rise up in revolt against the crown like their kin in Hålogaland did successfully.
Hålogaland is a loosely defined region in central and northern Norway that still hold to the old ways of life after revolting successfully against the Danes. After a large number of Jarls died in judicial duels (the Hålogalanders go into the ocean to wrestle until death in these cases) they decided to not have a king anymore. Now the region has some sixty small Jarldoms instead, and all of these outfit warships for mercenary service. It’s a land of contrasts: warm houses, cold snowy mountains, deep fjords and unexplored highlands. They still occasionally worship the old gods and perform human sacrifice, but at the same time, the Norsemen are very much willing to adapt any new idea they’re presented with.
Across the Eastsea, when you look from Sweden, lies Ostland, a Swedish holding since time immemorial. Ruled by an archduke, it has frequently been fought over between the three parties who want to control it: The Swedes, the Karelians and the Novgorodians. Here, the land is old. There are forests that are older than the Old Empire, forests that have swallowed entire nations in pre-historic times. The Salpa Mountains that run parallel to the coastline hide ancient dwarven holds, small tribes and petty kingdoms. It’s a place where the mythical and the modern meet.
Travelling over the Salpa mountains, you come to the lands of Karelia. More a people than a nation, the Karelians are fiercely independent and have resisted the two great powers on their doorstep for a long time, but their time might be ending. Or maybe not. While Sweden and Novgorod have larger armies, the Karelians have magic, cunning and they own the land. The Karelians can walk through the shadows of the forest and they can ride inside the minds of animals. It’s a harsh and untamed land where quite a few of the remaining elves live and the elves too protect it.
South of Karelia lies the Republic of Novgorod, proud and unbeaten. While Novgorod used to be Novgorod the Great, it’s still a strong player. It’s both a nation and a city, the City of Lights and one of the most beautiful cities on this earth. The merchant princes dress better than everyone else, the cuisine is better and their armies prouder than anyone elses. Novgorod’s ambition is to be Great again and to rule the great North-South trade route supremely, either at the expense of Sweden or Karelia.
And finally, there’s the odd one out, west of Novgorod and south of Karelia, the tiny country of Weirland at the mouth of the Narva river. Weirland is a country where the feudal system of earlier times still exists and is going strong. Their nobles are obsessed with the idea of duty towards the common people and since the Narva river is essential to trade, they have the coin to do so, keeping the common people happy and content. In Weirland, only nobles are allowed to carry weapons because only nobles fight when it comes to war. Their Queen is practically powerless but constantly trying to strengthen her position to modernize the country.
Odds and Ends
In addition to the countries and peoples mentioned above, there’s a whole lot of dwarves in the hills and the mountains and some of them are significant enough to get mentioned. Elves live all over the region, mostly in forested wilderness areas but some have taken a liking to either the archipelagos or the mountains. North of the great powers lies Finnmark, the land of the Saami. To the northeast, there’s the Kola peninsula which holds the last orc nations of the north. And more to come.