These lands were originally occupied by tribal kings and settled with Zanthians as early as 309 CM. Over the next 179 years the borders of these kingdoms changed hands and the lines on local maps were redrawn countless times. The armies of Imperial Prince Aekil, Emperor Temmeras’ second eldest son, successfully conquered the following kingdoms between the years of 328 CM – 344 CM. Conflict with Xar Zanth in a prolonged campaign known as the War of the Splintered Crowns carried on until 488 CM at which time Zanth soldiers withdrew from the region completely and marched West to Belltros in 489 CM.
Rich in gold and quartz deposits, the Hillvales stretch for nearly 800 miles. The climate and terrain varies slightly along this path, but usually the region goes through a long dry season followed by a short wet season beginning in Candlemoore and ending in Bladewater each year, the result of which has riddled the area with natural caves carved from flash floods. Seismic activity is common in these kingdoms, a handful of minor earthquakes each year are typically expected from the local inhabitants who have learned to live with the annoyance.
The Painted Hills: The Painted Hills, so named due to their alternating red, green, purple and black hills, sits at the Western end of the Golden Hills and the Calemil Mountains. These lands are bordered by the Grand Artise River to the East, the Calemil Mountains to the South, Grey Lake to the North and the Broken Crowns to the West. The Lesser Artise splits the nation down the center running North to South. The capital city of Folrshold rests on the Southern shore of the Grey Lake and the Western bank of the Lesser Artise river.
People: The people of this region are often called the painted folk. A long dry season leaves natives of this kingdom darker than the typical Mordanian, the painted folk also average slightly taller and leaner than typical humans. Tribal warriors from this land paint their bodies and the giant lizards they ride in thick coats of chalky paint harvested from the nearby hills. This region is mainly populated by tribal humans, giants and other bestial humanoids, with bands of mountain and hill dwarves not uncommon.
Government and Alignment: (Tribal Monarchy, CN) The Painted Hills are governed by a tribal monarchy consisting of several tribal elders that pay homage to Ulk Fourbrows, the current elder of Folrhold. Tradition dictates that the oldest tribal leader gains possession of the city Folrhold and ruler ship over the Painted Hills for life upon the death of the current ruler.
Major Settlements: The Painted Hills ranks 15th overall in the empire in regards to population, most of its inhabitants live along the coast of the Grey Lake, the Grand or Lesser Artise Rivers or high in the Calemil Mountains. The largest cities of The Painted Hills include the permanent tent city of Folrshold (Large City) Population: 20,224, Ridgerun set in the fork of the lesser and grand Artise Rivers (Small City) Population: 6,205, the high mountain castle of Greenrock Pass (Large Town) Population: 4,650 and the valley town at Cor’s Folly (Large Town) Population 2,223.
Tearvolan: (Ruins) A people known in song and legend as a brave yet foolish folk, stout of heart but full of feathers between the ears. The warrior people of Tearvolan would not bend knee to the empire, or provide tribute as its neighbors did. Its sixty foot high walls held the armies of two emperors at bay for over 65 years. The blood thirsty armies of Tearvolan were never defeated outside of their gates, winning over a dozen battles while all the time outnumbered and out provisioned. But alas as the years went by the empire grew, and the people of Tearvolan dwindled as skirmish and war took their numbers down. The last of the city states in the South to fall, Tearvolan eventually broke against the unrelenting shore of atrophy as the enlarged armies of Kelterran entrenched the city and waited them out of existence. The crown of the last Shield King was never recovered, and as a warning to all that may resist the empire the city was torn to the ground.
Religion: The people of The Painted Hills are primarily tribal, with little to no organized religion. Instead, it is common for tribal shamans and druids to lead communities in spiritual matters. Very few in this region worship the Five or the Shattered Pantheon.
Conflicts: The nation’s warriors are in a constant state of alert, expecting at all times an invasion from neighboring orc and goblin tribes that live deep within the Calemil Mountains to the South. The people of the Painted Hills maintain a wide berth from the Kingdom of Candletop but otherwise have little interaction with the undead kingdom. The lairs of several Red Dragons are known to rest along the Painted Hill’s Western Border with Torkar.
Economy: The Painted Hill’s proximity to the Calemil Mountains, the Artise Rivers and Grey Lake would lead most to think this area should be an economic powerhouse. However this regions tribal traditions and problems with nearby orcs and goblins make the economy a secondary consideration for its residents. In addition, The Painted Hills are not as rich in natural resources as its neighbors, its isolated location from the center of the empire make what few exports they possess troublesome to send off. The Painted Hills ranks 14th out of 18 in overall economic resources among the Kingdoms of Tirmordane.
Relationships: The Painted Hills maintain a strong military alliance with the Kingdoms of Torkar and Baskhold in order to dissuade the Lich King of Candletop from “expanding” west. One of the more isolated kingdoms from the imperial capital in Kelterran, this region recognizes its subservient duty more in name then action.
Candletop: The kingdom of Candletop rests in the Southern most section of the Empire. Its Western boundary runs along the Grand Artise River, to the East the Ash Fall Spires, a massive volcanic range of granite peaks, separates the kingdom from the neighboring kingdom of the Golden Hills. The capital city of Candletop shares the kingdoms name and rests along one of the major North South mountain passages into Xar Zanth, the mountains rise sharply to the East and West of the capital city, carved in eerily detailed statues of the past undead lords of Candletop.
People: The people of Candletop are an isolated and feared folk, over half of the “population” is comprised of mindless undead that toil in large quartz and onyx mines day and night. Mostly human, the people of these lands are often light of skin due to the shady mountain and valley cities in which they dwell. The occasional mountain elf or dwarf is sometimes seen in these lands, with concentrations of most other races unheard of.
Government and Alignment: (Triumvirate, LE) Candletop is ruled by a trio of undead kings whom few have ever seen. Cel Lesark, an Arch Lich, Arkus DelVaine, a vampire of extreme age and power and Pulrin Martain, a devout wight cleric of Rafar and the Bedlam Road. These three rulers maintain control of the kingdom from Candletop, the kingdoms capital mountain citadel, also known as the City of the Damned.
Major Settlements: Candletop ranks 16th overall in the empire in regards to population, however if its undead population were included it could easily rank 10th or higher. The largest cities of Candletop include the gothic metropolis of Candletop (Metropolis) Population: 21,550 living souls, 30,100 undead slaves, the volcanic fortress Caldera (Large City) Population: 8,506 living souls, 10,455 undead slaves, the city of eternal night Markus (Large City) Population: 7,210 living souls, 6,382 undead slaves, the necromancers palace of Bone Gate (Small City) Population 4,101 living souls, 5,885 undead slaves and the mining community of Yelsdt (Large Town) Population 2,685, no undead.
Religion: The people of Candletop primarily pay homage to the Five, with an emphasis on Rafar and very few shrines to Glitanius or Radiance, with the largest church located in Candletop. Large temples dedicated to Infernis, Mire and Forganis can also be found in Caldera.
Conflicts: The people of Candletop have few conflicts. They have scoured their lands, destroying most of the primitive cultures, and raising entire civilizations of goblins, orcs, kobolds and even hill giants as mindless undead slaves. The town of Yelsdt survives within the borders of Candletop but shares no love for undead servants. The ruler of Yelsdt, Lord Rulik Axebreaker, maintains a level of sovereignty and peace with the undead kings with the tribute he pays them from the rich gold mines of his region. It’s often feared that this peace will last only as long as the gold and that the fate of Yelsdt’s people is uncertain.
Economy: The lands of Candletop are poor for cultivation with its dark volcanic weather, this area imports food, wood and other finished products from the northern kingdoms of Baskhold, Zend and Shield’s End. In addition, this region has very little usable water outside of its developed cities which are typically built around sources of drinkable water. The land is rich in gold, quartz and onyx deposits, which it uses to pay nearby kingdoms for the items they cannot naturally produce. In addition, slavery of “lesser races” is legal in Candletop, the slave trade of primitive mountain races and Reg’Ostrans is common and accepted. Candletop ranks 15th in overall economic power within Tirmordane, its relative low rating is due to the amount of imports the region must maintain in order to simply survive and the lack of nearby trading partners for its wealth of slaves.
Relationships: The kingdom of Candletop maintains shaky relationships with its trading partners of Baskhold, Zend and Shield’s End. Its neighbors Goldkeep and The Painted Hills have no love for the undead masters of this Kingdom and have rebutted all attempts at diplomacy. The dwarflords of Goldkeep have even gone as far as to impose a blockade upon Candletops eastern border, a move in which they explain to the imperial seat as routine border security. Candletop maintains good relationships with several dens of Wyverns and a few powerful dragons that lair within the Calemil Mountains.
Goldkeep: The kingdom of Goldkeep is located in the Southeast section of the empire, bounded by the foothills of the Calemil Mountains, the Golden Hills, to the North, the Thornmantle Forest to the East, the Ash Fall Spires to the West and the Calemil Mountains to the South. The capital of Goldkeep shares the Kingdoms name and is located near the center of the Golden Hills.
People: Goldkeep maintains the highest population of Hill and Mountain Dwarves within the entire empire. The remains of King Myylith’s vast domain fled to the surface of this region in 255 CM and established modern day Goldkeep. The kingdoms close proximity to the Dwarfhold of Dull’marr further increases the areas dwarven population, and with Hill Dwarves making up the largest concentration of residents the kingdom of Goldkeep portrays an artisan/utilitarian feel. Hill Dwarves populate the vast reaches of the Golden Hills, which they often refer to as Rombfissle, meaning Hillhome in the Dwarven tongue. The human residents of this kingdom tend to be taller and stouter then humans from the River Kingdoms.
Government and Alignment: (Monarchy, LG) Goldkeep is ruled by King Lovar Clovenbeard, a direct descendant of old King Myylith. King Lovar wears the Rampart Crown and rules his lands with gentle words and a firm hand. Husband to Merith Tallowbraid, the royal family boasts dozens of children and hundreds of grandchildren. The various cities, towns and castles of Goldkeep are all ruled by Lovar’s direct children, ensuring that Lovar’s lineage should rule for a thousand years.
Major Settlements: Goldkeep ranks 14th overall in the empire in regards to population, and 1st overall in regards to Dwarven population. The majority of its inhabitants live exclusively within the borders of the Golden Hills and at the base of the Calemil Mountains to the South. The largest cities of Goldkeep include the shining towers of Goldkeep (Large City) Population: 17,347, the deeply entrenched mining city Malachite Halls (Small City) Population: 5,780, the underground town of Dug Town (Large Town) Population: 4,822 and the high mountain town Ratchet Falls (Large Town) Population 3,748.
Religion: The largest and most impressive church in Goldkeep is the Hall of the Masons located in the city of Goldkeep, this temple revers the gods Pallar, Xenis, Aaramor and Zelkar. A large church dedicated to Pilbo is also located in this city. Smaller churches and shrines dedicated to the Five, Forganis, Mire and Infernis are also common in most cities.
Conflicts: The people of Goldkeep are in a constant state of alert. While not currently at war the nation is well aware of its savage neighbors. Goldkeep is bordered by the undead kingdom of Candletop to the West and the feral kingdom of The Fanglands to the East. The worst threat that king Lovar faces is an organized band of sell swords that call themselves the Jovial Squires, this faction of the Myriad plagues well established trade routes and even has been known to launch raids against smaller mining operations. Otherwise this kingdom enjoys a relative level of peace and security.
Economy: The kingdom of Goldkeep is an economic powerhouse, with the 3rd highest level of wealth in the empire. A fact not lost upon the avian lords of Arn and Kelterran. The wealth of Goldkeep is housed within its massive gold mines that dot the surrounding hills and its trade agreements with the Dwarven kingdom of Dull’marr under the Calemil Mountains, from which is receives a steady supply of Dwarf forged steel, finished gems and exotic metals for distribution across the empire. Most of Goldkeep’s land trade travels North to the Emerald Tower and then West to Kelterran under heavy imperial guard.
Relationships: Goldkeep distains, distrusts and outright despises the neighboring nations of Candletop and The Fanglands. The kingdoms trade routes require king Lovar to maintain strong relations with Shield’s End, in fact these two nations are well known to be military and technological allies, sharing resources when it becomes beneficial to both nations. The avian lords of Arn and Kelterran likewise maintain excellent relations with Goldkeep, several of the more successful of these merchant lords maintain vacation estates in the Golden Hills.
The Fanglands: The savage Fanglands are located in the absolute Southeast corner of the Empire. The most isolated and primal of the Folded Kingdoms, these lands are separated into three distinct regions. The Northern third of the kingdom is rolling grasslands and foothills, known as the Verge. The central portion is comprised of the Thornmantle Forest with the Southern third of the kingdom stretching into the Calemil Mountains. Unlike the rest of the Hillvale region this kingdom receives a high volume of rainfall each year, with more days of rain then without. The joining of the Calemil and Heman Dal mountains create a convergence zone centered on the Thornmantle Forest in the center of the kingdom, in addition the warm air currents that flow down from the Thunderpeaks break upon the mountains here, creating a pocket of year round warm winds and making the Thornmantle Forest a unique subtropical forest in a normally temperate region. The kingdoms capital of Keckspire is located in the center of the Thornmantle Forest, perched high in the forest canopy.
People: The residents of the Fanglands vary significantly from the other kingdoms of Tirmordane, in fact this is the only “civilized” kingdom in the empire where bestial humanoids are not an uncommon sight within the various cities and towns. Bugbears, Hobgoblins, Goblins, Kobolds, Ogres and Gnolls are all common, as well as wood elves, humans, dwarves (both mountain and hill). The humans of this region tend to be shorter and stalky, with straight dark hair and light skin.
Government and Alignment: (Monarchy, CN) The Fanglands are ruled by Kork Bonebrow, an Ogre Mage of terrifying reputation and brutality that usually maintains the form of an old hunch backed man via his Alter Self spell like ability. King Bonebrow enjoys his position at the top of the food chain. It is well known that he encourages the lesser warlords of the Fanglands to jockey for position and favor. Barely subservient to the empire, the people of the Fanglands are watched closely by the imperial crown. This kingdom has rebelled six times since they were conquered in 340 CM, the most recent rebellion was stanched in 2256 by the Eastern garrison of imperial soldiers from the Emerald Tower in a war known as the Bonebrow Rebellion. This war ultimately resulted in the death of the previous ruler Tuk Bonebrow, and the succession of his brother Kork Bonebrow to the Fang Throne.
Major Settlements: The Fanglands ranks 18th overall in regards to population, last in the empire. This is primarily due to the savage nature of the regions bestial residents. The largest cities of The Fanglands include the twisted walls of Keckspire, (Large City) Population: 15,558, the sprawling tropical city Grunk’s Grotto (Small City) Population: 8,100, the mud fortress of Talon, high in the Heman Dal (Small City) Population: 5,611, and the ever changing town Kortooth (Large Town) Population 3,610.
Religion: The people of The Fanglands offer worship to a diverse range of gods. The Five are not as revered in this region as they are throughout the rest of the empire. No significant House of the Five is present at any major settlement. Large shrines and temples to Vellarious and Aireot, Veneriz, Tall Heart, The Stain, Relk, Wark and Aaestroper can be found in most cities. A massive temple called the Savage Halls dedicated to Bol the Furyborn can be found in the primarily hobgoblin city of Grunk’s Grotto.
Conflicts: Residents of the Fanglands battle more within their borders then without. Each warlord or tribe shuffles for favor and position, this usually results in bloodshed, subterfuge or outright civil war. The Eastern garrison of imperial soldiers located at the Emerald Tower in Shield’s End, maintain a constant watch of this kingdom’s borders to ensure the internal squabbles do not spill out into more civilized lands. The imperial crown turns a blind eye to the internal conflicts of the Fanglands, but constantly prepares for the areas next rebellion.
Economy: Economically very weak, The Fanglands rank dead last in overall economic resources among the Kingdoms of Tirmordane. Trade routes are constantly disrupted by savage raids, and infighting stunts most economic growth. While the Thornmantle Forest provides a limitless supply of furs, wood and exotic plants, these resources are nearly untouched. Multiple endeavors by the Avian Lords of Arn and Kelterran to set up forestry operations have all ended in utter disaster.
Relationships: The isolated location of this kingdom from the heart of the empire and its savage nature leads most surrounding kingdoms to simply ignore their existence. However for some, mainly Goldkeep and Shield’s End, a vigil of border activity must be maintained. It is commonly known that the dwarf lords of Goldkeep share no love for the beasts of the Fanglands. During the Bonebrow Rebellion the Eastern garrison of imperial soldiers coupled with legions from Shield’s End decimated the savage armies of the Fanglands, a fact not forgotten by the current king Kork Bonebrow.