Notes on Urenia and Some of Its Regions
Urenia is the greater backdrop in which this story takes place: A sovereign kingdom that has been unified within relatively recent memory, and enjoys a superficial peace. Some notes on it:
Urenia is a little less than the size of England and Scotland, vaguely forming a 30-60-90-degree triangle, of around 500 miles on its longer “leg” and 300 miles on its shorter “leg.” It’s divided into three provinces: Dolomitia (to the west), Regalia (in the central, and where royal power is concentrated), and Colzone (to the east). Overall, there are perhaps three to four million souls in the kingdom. Certain geopolitical divisions are important:
- Royalists vs. Seasiders: Royalists are those aristocrats who support King Marcellinus II, while Seasiders don’t — sometimes openly. Royalists are concentrated in the province of Regalia, and certainly have more favor with the king. Seasiders are concentrated on the Urenian coast; while they don’t have a centralized figure to lead them, they’re wealthier as a whole than the Royalists.
- North vs. South: The real north-south border is the Dolbaccio Mountains, where the dreaded wyrms slumber and rage. The northerners of Urenia struggle against the “barbarians” of the Tribes of the Claw, though some of them have intermarried with them. Urenia’s southerners more often struggle with raiders who attack by shore and from the west: often, these are the monstrous gnolls, ettins, and tieflings. Northerner and southerner often bicker over lending each other support to address these matters.
- Urban vs. rural: Urenia’s Towns are ancient, cultured, and protected; they are poetically compared to serpents and flowers. They are almost always the seats of the power of the highest-ranking aristocrats. However, the vast majority of Urenia’s people live in the countryside, in small agrarian villages and small towns. Likewise, the majority of aristocrats live in the countryside on estates and castles, but most of these are minor lords and ladies, not overlords.
- Peasant/aristocrat vs. hill-folk: The average Urenian peasant is bound to her lord, which is her master and protector. She may own a little parcel of land, but the majority of Urenians rent land from year to year. Her rights, legal and practical, are fairly limited, but at least she toils alongside her fellow Urenian and with the governance of Urenian lords. Taxation, conscription, and corvee keep her busy. Hill-folk exist outside this hierarchy, and live in the relative hinterlands and backwaters, where lordly power is difficult to consistently enforce. Hill-folk consider themselves “free,” neither peasant nor lord nor in-between. Peasants and aristocrats often consider them threats to their safety, or primitive, unhealthy people to be regarded with disgust and pity. (To a hill-folk, the stereotypical peasant is a stupid, compliant farmer constantly stooping to serve her master. To a peasant, the stereotypical hill-folk is a stupid, depraved, inbred farmer without basic morals, common sense, or hygiene.) Not a few peasants, however, attempt to run off to join the hill-folk, and vice versa. Half-orcs, halflings, and half-elves are disproportionately common among the hill-folk.
- Human vs. demi-human: Most demi-humans in Urenia are in Urenia as the result of a diaspora that has been ongoing for the last century or so. Today, demi-humans have shown a tendency to congregate in Urenia’s Towns. They are often forced into their own ghettoes, and mass violence against them is common.
Per the Urenian calendar, it is the 58th year of the Period of the Falcon. Per tradition, the years are measured by the druidic calendar of the Old Faith. Perhaps by fate, the beginning of the Period roughly coincides with the unification of the kingdom of Urenia under the now-deceased warlord King Marcellinus I.
- 15 years before the Period of the Falcon: The man who would become King Marcellinus II is born.
- Period of the Falcon, 3rd-11th year: Wars of Urenian unification, followed by coronation of King Marcellinus as sovereign ruler of Urenia. (He is 51 when he takes the throne.) Following years are unstable as many aristocrats refuse to bow to the new king.
- 25th year, February 26: King Marcellinus I dies, succeeded by King Marcellinus II, his eldest son. Three years of intense strife follows as aristocrats scheme to protect or depose the new ruler. The new king survives, though just barely.
- 28th year: Period of violence between Urenia and the Tribes of the Claw. Northern Cities of Vogilae and Dolmetio are sacked.
- 35th – 45th years: Surge of peasant uprisings, during which there is greater violence than usual, particularly between lord and peasant.
- 47th – 48th years: Flight of the ancient dragon Shaha-Ka-Kairos. Many people die. The beast eventually returns to the Dolbaccio Mountains to sleep.
- 58th year, December 15: Present date. 33rd year of the reign of King Marcellinus II.
The local region in Urenia, in the province of Colzone. Its people, aristocrat and otherwise, are divided between the informal but powerful Royalist and Seasider factions, who respectively support and oppose the current king, His Majesty Marcellinus II. Economy centers around: mining of nickel, iron, copper, and silver to the west; lumber; fish from the Mare Seculari, and of course livestock and wheat, which are fairly abundant thanks to the River Molla Sartinettia’s fertile waters. However, the region is still recovering from the devastating flight of the ancient dragon Shaha-Ka-Kairos, as well as tempests that severely damaged seaside settlements some three to seven years ago.
The region is perhaps 150 miles east to west, and 60 miles north to south. The population is perhaps 200,000 to 300,000 souls.
Worship of Python, the Urenian god of tranquility, time, and nature, is popular in Ebanaci, but so is worship of the Urenian God of Chaos, believed to hold sway over storms, dragons, and calamity.
The highest-ranking overlord of the region is Her Splendor Lady Countess Judith di Moura, of a fairly powerful aristocratic house, which supports the king yet is being gradually swayed to the Seasider faction. Anyway, political power — to raise taxes, to gather conscripts, to distribute rights to natural resources, to grant or rescind ownership of land, to oversee use of magic and worship, and so on — is actually more horizontally distributed across a clique of the Countess and 12 lords and ladies, who belong to six aristocratic families.
The “capital” Town of Ebanaci. Of some 9,000 souls, it’s perhaps the 11th-largest of Urenia’s 21 primary Towns. The town is notable for being a site for religious pilgrims, and home to several communities (“ghettos”) of “demi-humans” — in other words, elves, halflings, half-orcs, and dwarves.
As one of the major trading sites in eastern Urenia, Salvarenia’s rulers and guilds uphold very strict laws around commerce and violence. Visitors without official papers (which are mainly available through upstanding residents of the Town) can be expected to pay to enter Town, to have their weapons confiscated during their stay, to have their belongings searched at will, and even detained should they match the description of some criminal or other.
Trade is also strongly regulated and taxed to protect the nobles’ and guilds’ prosperity. Likewise, officials from Salvarenia occasionally ride out to larger villages to ensure trade agreements are being upheld. Naturally, these rules, as well as those of other areas in Urenia, have produced a thriving black market and economy of smugglers.
There are several districts in Salvarenia:
- The Witches’ Quarter: A large district on the city’s west side, which houses most of Salvarenia’s sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards. The neighborhood has a general eerie quality to it, and is seen as disreputable, even evil, by the rest of the city.
- The Southern Quarter: A middle-class area this quarter is home to many craftsmen of lower social station. There is considered to be nothing of great social importance in this part of the city, though there are some rowdy, exciting taverns. The streets are narrow and twisting, smelling of smoke and offal and sawdust.
- The Small Quarter: Just south of the Witches’ Quarter, effectively a ghetto for a dwindling halfling, half-orc, and elven population numbering no more than perhaps 500 souls. The population is being coerced into dispersing into the countryside, as the Magistrate is responding to the popular call for demi-human expulsion.
- Temple Quarter: A relatively clean and wealthy part of the city, this area is home to several public shrines, and a temple for each of the three Powers Above. Here, ornate fountains flow with shimmering water, and dutiful guards keep an eye out for trouble.
- The Castle: Castle Moura sits atop the hill, overlooking the city proper, and accessible only by a winding, well-guarded path off-limits to the public. From here, Countess di Moura, Lady di Tama, and other aristocrats rule.
A small, tranquil village on the River Molla Sartinettia, of some 500 souls. It’s home to Lord Snow’s manor. North of Salvarenia. Lord Snow divides his time between his manor here and Salvarenia. It is perhaps 35 miles, or more than a day’s travel, from Snowhaven to Salvarenia.
Lil’ Plum: A small village about halfway between Snowhaven and Salvarenia.
A seaside village southeast of Salvarenia, of perhaps 800 souls. Home to a small community of sorcerers, including Mrs. Marta Calvino, Dracian’s maternal aunt and mentor. It is perhaps 12 miles, or nearly half a day’s travel, from Shorehaven to Salvarenia.
A seaside village on the tip of Cape Corsio. The ruling aristocrat here is a minor knight, Dame Marcia di Tama, relative to Lord Edith di Tama in Salvarenia. From Froghaven, one can hire sailors to travel to Corsio Island and other islands. However, the dame’s grip on the village is weak; she and the villagers have long feuded with hill-folk to the north, who often raid livestock and kidnap for ransom. Lady di Tama and Lord Snow worked together about three years ago to brutally execute some of the criminals, but their actions have only incensed those hill-folk, including Critchley the Invisible.
This is one of the largest islands on the Urenian coast. It’s not good for that much, however, especially given its vulnerability to raiding by bandits, both Urenia, from gnolls, and from the Tribes of the Claw to the north. A minor noble, Lord Garja, governs the island in the name of the Countess and their King, but in reality he lacks the wherewithal to truly control his people. He is also an ally of Lord Edith di Tama and therefore unfriendly to Lord Snow and his representatives. The island thus lives in relative peace, and relies on extensive fishing and shepherding for its prosperity. Nevertheless, its prosperity is limited due to the aforementioned raiding.
Goosehaven: The principal village on Corsio Island, consisting of perhaps 1,000 souls, including Lord Garja’s manor and small force of men-at-arms. Salted goose eggs are a renowned delicacy here. The residents somewhat openly propitiate the Urenian God of Chaos, such is its reputed power over tempests.