We continue the regions and states of the Kalamar Setting (with some upgrades) with the Reanaarian Bay and its squabbling and fiercely free and independent city-states (with the one we’ve invented in the advanced timeline in Blue):
The Reanaarian Bay – Order From Chaos
“Reanaarians are excellent diplomats. They let you have your way only when they know you are wrong.” – Chelean, former pirate, smuggler, and governor of U’Rudaketa
In the far East, the Reanaarian Bay stretches from the chilly northern shores down to the much-traveled open seas in the south. Protected by a continent spanning wall of high peaks, the most common way into and out of the region is by ship and around the horn. Reanaarians remained cloistered from the imperial designs of their western neighbors and formed independent and free city states all along the western bank of the Bay that served as rich sources of trade, haven, freedom, and ambition through all of the great rises and falls of the nations of the world.
The city-states (and one nation) of Reanaaria can be best imagined as a combination of all the independent port cities of the Caribbean–with their nautical livelihoods and very distinct cultural origins and flavors–mixed with a way to express niche elements of Kalamar. If there’s going to be a place for a mid-level warlord to dream of ambition without incurring the wrath of the great nations of the world–it’s somewhere along the Bay. If there’s an arcane tradition escaping scrutiny–it’ll find its way to the Bay. If criminals are on the run, if political enemies are in flight, if smugglers or deserters or nobles-fleeing-fallen-estates are anywhere–they’re on their way to or from the Bay. Not that it’s all crime. The Bay is where exotic traders, ambitious merchants, wandering preachers of new faiths, and many treasure seekers go and can be found. Every city has its own laws and rules and only true Reanaarians see the regional consistencies between them–to outsiders, it looks like chaos.
Reanaarians, by and large though, are clever and spirited people. They’re skeptical and hardy, unfazed by new things and strange sights.
City-States and Nations – Eastern Shores
Thygasha is one of the largest cities in the Bay, positioned favorably at the northern edge of the hills cresting the great Khydoban Desert on the east bank. Enormous stone walls, heavy gates, and ruled by a dictator known as the Keeper–the most recent Keeper having held his chair from his father in the last two years after murdering his older brothers. Thygasha is not particularly dangerous, as cities go–but it has grown proud and strong, fighting back the horrific things that come out of the Khydoban for centuries. It is well known to be an orderly and safe place, with few of the more liberal habits of the other cities of the Bay. The Masters of Dread consider the place a holy city and make pilgrimages there as part of their faith. Thygashans are proud of their strength and comfortable with travelers, so long as they stay away from places they do not belong.
Baethel stares on from the eastern shores of the great bay at their west bank cousins like a wise older brother. The history of Baethel goes back a thousand years–making it one of the oldest of the city-states. Gnomish royalty and human aristocracy formed an alliance on the edge of the great Khydoban Desert to capitalize on the exotic trade from the strange lands across that unforgiving expanse. A loose caste system with the gnomes at the top, followed by heavily monied human merchants and gnomish mages (plying their low arcane trades), rounds out with the thieves guilds ranking somewhere above the commoners. Baethel stays out of the fights its young cousins around the Bay engage in. It looks at Krinna as just a new experiment from the ambitions Zoans–destined to fail.
The small city-state of Dynaj sits on the eastern shore of the Bay, across from the new Krinna, and with none of the splendors of their fellows. The Dejy rule Dynaj, with its harsh desert climate and barren surroundings–a city for the dead, ruled by old clans of descendants of ancient wanderers. Dynaj is a rest point, growing in popularity over the years, for ships coming to and from the wider world of the West. While much trade still stops at Zoa, more and more cartels and captains find its recent consolidation of power to disagree with their profits and find Dynaj as unconcerned with their cargo as ever. Like an old man, near death, Dynaj cares nothing at all for the whims of those that come and go. All religions. All politics. All traditions. All equally none of anyone’s business. As such, over the centuries, it has come to be a special resting place for kings, nobles, powerful men and women, great heroes and greater villains. The Tombs of the Dead of Dynaj are one of the wonders of the world.
City-States and Nations – Western Shores
Saaniema was a vassal city-state of Zoa many centuries ago, and so in many ways it feels much like it. Their government is led by an assembly of the powerful and rich, they’re open and engaging with foreign travelers, their military is relatively lax, but their city defenses well kept, districts for artisans and nobility are clearly apart from the dregs of the city, etc. Zoa in miniature. One of the chief differences, however, is that while Zoa has a large half-elvish population (and elvish population less talked about), Saaniema was founded by Brandobian nobility from old Mendarn and some cultural habits die hard. There are virtually no demihumans of any kind in Saaniema, and laws exist to disenfranchise the elvish and elvish-blooded. In recent decades, the wealthy and aggressive rulers of Saaniema have made it clear that they cede no authority to anyone and will meet any infringement on their sovereignty with fire and steel and unleash untold hells.
Giilia is one of the unluckiest cities in the world in recent years. For a century, now, storms and disasters and plagues have reduced its population by half. Their economy has tanked and were it not for the might of their ruler, an elvish vampire nearly 700 years old, the state would have long fallen. But with a small military of undead and long-standing agreements in the city’s charter allowing for several faiths to worship freely (including the Halls of the Valiant and the Assembly of Light), she has managed to keep just enough goodwill in the region (granted, only in the Reanaarian Bay could she have) to keep Giila safe. The population’s decimation has taken its toll, however, and while her servants dig new catacombs and fortifications to protect who still resides there–Giila is not likely to survive another disaster.
Geanavue is a more cosmopolitan city-state, a diverse mixture of humans, dwarves, gnomes, and helf-elves with plenty of foreign travellers coming and going. Nestled within the crux of the mountains, with the city splayed out before it down to the shore, Castle Geana looms over the port city, it’s walls embracing the old city heart like a mother embracing its children–the most defensible and impregnable castle in the known world. Geanavue is an artisan’s city. Resources from the mountains trickle down into the shops and halls of several world-famous guilds of smiths and tinkerers. Most of the taxes on the trades go to a wellpaid and no-nonsense constable force many times more numerous than a foreigner might guess. Geanavue has resisted the entreaties of Zoa to join the League and expand Krinna’s borders–the wealthy city has long valued its independence and worries about what entanglements might come with entering the fold.
Aasaer–also known as “The Cove” by the locals and “Piratetown” by those that aren’t–is a small port named after an infamous pirate from centuries long past. There are no formal guards or authorities beyond the strong captains and commodores who call Aasaer home. Ever since the rise of Zoa and the establishment of Krinna in the last ten years, Aasaer has had more and more pressure to join the league of city-states in their new attempt at a national identity. Several small wars and skirmishes have been fought while Krinna grows and the pirates survive.
Krinna is the name of the newest nation of the world–recognized by Kalamar just this past year–and feared by the city-states of the Reanaaran Bay. Zoa, their capital, was the largest city-state only ten years ago–a peer–before the cults of an ancient, long-dead wizard took power. The Spiders had always had a presence in Zoa, amongst the aristocrats and merchants and low life scum–but it was mostly just a common superstition and had no real organization. Then, suddenly, in a year of knives and upheaval, the council that ran Zoa declared for the Devourer and shortly thereafter so did anyone not wishing to die over it. Zoa still holds the busiest markets and most trade for the Bay, though taxes and chaotic bureaucracy plague those who remember more free and easier times. Even with the customs and regulations, though, Zoa remains the place to be for traders and travelers in and out of Reanaaria. Krinna also boasts the most free and best supported arcane academies and scholams in the world–with a whole ministry of state dedicated to spreading arcane knowledge and identifying talented youths. The nation is ruled by a council (all Zoan) of the most powerful mages and sorcerers, and the population and common folk tend to see the dark magics ruling over them as a fair trade for being safe. Xaarum, a northern neighboring city-state, used to be a monarchy–ruled benignly and with great reputation in the Third Age. It was a solid rock in the often tumultuous sea of cities and interests in the Bay. All of that changed during the Zoan Conquest, Xaarum was the fourth (and largest) city to fall–and the only city of significance. The Zoans had been content to take over large towns in their expansion–few cities of the bay were concerned. But then, Rask–the winged, skeletal dragon and servant of the Devourer–showed itself during the storm of Zoan soldiers that came to seige Xaarum and the battle was lost in hours. That was six years ago and the city rebuilds still. Their walls nearly repaired, but the great towers still rubble. The barons who served the Duke who ruled the city stayed on after his execution and have proven to be useful puppets for the Zoan power within the new nation of Krinna. Life chaffes under Krinnan rule (Zoan-rule, truly, but the Zoans are quick to remind that they are now only the capital of a nation of many cities). Taxes are high. Thieving has run rampant. The dysfunctional governance of Zoa is felt here. Powerful are the mages, but poor governors they are.