Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States - Week 21
Compiling week 21 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 sites, this week political regions of the City-State of Noldrune as shown below.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #141
May 21st, 2023
Name: Noldrune Castle
Location: North coast of Noldrune on Staplefish Bay, northwest of Lapit Bay
Population (approx.): 520 (castle and surrounding settlement)
Brief: Before the invasion of the Ta’arnan Empire from the south, the northern half of Sudeben was known as the land of the Allied Kings. One by one the Kingdoms fell to the might of Ta’arna’s legions, leaving Noldrune, the Swords of the Night, alone. The last King of Noldrune sued for peace and surrendered to Ta’arna at sunrise on the fields outside of his castle along the coast. Years later that same castle became the center of resistance to the Empire, House Noldrune , rising in the darkness and leading the successful rebellion to found the City-State named in their honor. But as a martial and political power, Noldrune was spent and began to fade, propped up by arranged marriages, strength of their faith to Poul, and titles granted to rising powers. 189 years ago, House Claid pushed aside House Noldrune, the latter retreating to their castle where the survivors remain to this day. Traditions persist and many nobles continue to visit Noldrune Castle to “kiss the ring” and pay homage to those who freed the land.
Geography: Noldrune Castle, known as the Nightfort, is a massive fortification on the cliffs overlooking Staplefish Bay. Black basalt walls enclose a substantial courtyard, the main keep itself, a Church of Poul, and attendant outbuildings. Wide ramps and stairs descend the cliffs from the northern walls to a small harbor below. A village covers the grounds next to the moat that surrounds the southern walls centered about the main gate, with its grand towers and imposing barbican. Visitors will note the styles of the village and castle and traditions of the inhabitants seem foreign for their genesis is in the time of the Allied Kings, 15 centuries ago.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #142
May 22nd, 2023
Name: Claid Castle
Location: Northwest Noldrune, east of the Noldrune River and west of Belladorn
Population (approx.): 1,200 (keep and surrounding town)
Brief: In the aftermath of the collapse of the Ta’arnan Empire which enabled the successful rebellion led by House Noldrune, House Claid slowly grew their position and power initially as a stalwart alley of Noldrune to the preeminent and now ruling House of the City-State. Claid did this by presenting a more secular worldview, which appealed to the masses in the aftermath of the battles between the factions of the Six Gods. They gradually grew their capabilities in all aspects; militarily, economically and magically, and at the same time slowly undermined their opposition, notably House Noldrune. Eventually, Claid offered Noldrune a carrot (an arranged marriage to pass (surrender) the title of Baron and a nominal position of respect) or a stick (civil war and likely annihilation). As Claid ascended to the throne of the City-State, the importance and development of the western half of Noldrune grew. Trading with Carasta and Taodeas centered on roads departing Claid Castle. Belladorn (#1) remained the largest city of Noldrune, but political power resided in the west.
Geography: Claid Castle started as a single tower of a landed Knight in service to Ta’arna over 800 years ago. Through cunning, guile and skill, the first Knight of Claid built a House and a Castle. The tower became a tall circular keep, then they built fortress of towers about the keep and now a castle, separated from the fortress by a large courtyard, spreads over the plains of Noldrune. Claid Castle, on a slightly raised plot of land, is surrounded by an oblong curtain wall backed by tall towers every 30m. Two barbicans, at each end of the complex, contain massive gates flanked by crenelated towers. Loyal retainers and servants maintain residences downslope of the walls, flanking the main entrance road, from the castle end, connected to the local highway. A small settlement, mostly Inns and shops, can be found at the intersection.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #143
May 23rd, 2023
Name: Hidden Haldwen aka Downslope
Location: Hidden in the Tuton Maug, north of the border with Taodeas, east of the main highway.
Population (approx.): 278
Brief: At initial glance, Downslope appears to be one of the many small mountain villages built on the slopes of the Tuton Maug range throughout Noldune and Taodeas. But few know that the Lord of the local manor, Sir Estus Hiden, and his family, are the remnants of House Haldwen (see #6) who were betrayed by House Noldrune centuries ago and subsequently (mostly) destroyed by the Taodean Tribes. During the battles, as tribal calvary razed and sacked Haldwen’s manor and mileforts, the last heir to the House was spirited away into the Tuton Maug. Loyal retainers arrived at Downslope and made it their home, slowly taking over the village from its prior leaders. Many years later, Damosel Enid Hiden distinguished herself in (feigned) service to House Claid and was knighted. Her descendants hold the manor and rule the surrounds to this day. Although the remains of Haldwen are small in number, they are determined and have not forgotten their betrayal. The Knight and his relatives constantly plot and scheme, reaching out to other lesser Nobles and others with no love of House Claid.
Geography: Downslope (aka Hidden Haldwen) is in the western edge of the Tuton Maug range, just north of the border with Taodeas. The village is about 35 miles east of the main north-south road and about 20 miles a bit west of south over hills and ravines to Crystalview (#106). The manor house and the village are surrounded by wooden pallisades, connected by a short trail. The logs are slowly being replaced by stone quarried from the hills. The village is typical consisting of an Inn, several stores, a small chapel and craftsmen of all sorts. Sir Hiden and his men-at-arms have had success raiding The Crystalheart Spires (#7) for gems to fund their plots and plans.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #144
May 24th, 2023
Name: Macad Manor
Location: Coast of Noldrune on the Sea of Hethichol
Population (approx.): 670 (including nearby settlements and the Manor Guard)
Brief: House Macad was formed in the aftermath of the Ta’arnan Empire collapse. The core of the Macad family was a trio of brothers, formidable Legionnaires born on the coast of what is now Noldrune. As chaos swirled about them, they convinced their Legion brethren to stick together and claim a chunk of territory for their own. That land was a roughly 12,000 square mile area bounded by the Tuton Maug range in the west, the Tuton Maug spur to the north, Red Water Bay and the Sea of Hethichol to the east and the Tauoi River to the south. As the City-States struggled to coalesce into functional nations, the brothers, it is said, flipped a coin and joined House Noldrune anchoring the southern and eastern borders of that City-State, withdrawing people and resources from northern Taodeas. This gave Macad extra muscle to deal with a long running border feud with the Clans of Ceannar and leeway to keep their relations, business and otherwise, cordial. House Claid and Macad maintain a tense but cooperative relationship, Macad relying on Claid for resources and Claid relying on Macad’s tradition of well-trained soldiers.
Geography: Macad Manor is a large compound on the coast midway between Far Harbor (#36) and Borderwatch Light (#42). It serves as both a home to the House, when not at Far Harbor or visiting elsewhere, and a stronghold showcasing Macad might. The Manor is an elegant and ornate multi-building complex on a rise beside a substantial wall separating it from the surrounding land. To the south a well-guarded deepwater harbor. To the north a settlement supporting a base for Macad’s 3 House Legions (named for the founding brothers Macad). Count Macad and Lady-Mayoress Macad of Far Harbor enjoy a good military spectacle, hosting parades, drills and wargames.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #145
May 25th, 2023
Name: Berian Manor
Location: Southwest corner of Noldrune, center of County Berian.
Population (approx.): 650 (Castle and settlement)
Brief: House Berian’s densely forested lands flow along the Fanlau River, past lake Loloto Pogisa to their border with House Claid just northeast of Riverbridge (#73). Long an ally of House Claid, the two houses are tied by bonds both of blood and of business. Berian’s trees produce fine bows for Claid’s archers and pikes for Berian’s own heavy infantry. Berian’s origins predate the Ta’arnan Empire, their ancestors being forest dwellers with a fair bit of Faerie in their bloodline. The people of County Berian are known for being in tune with their forested surrounds and by much struggle (political, mystical and magical) prevented the Empire from razing the forest to feed their war machine. Berian maintains a loose alliance with the Elves of Anum Taag (#37) which is prized by the Baron.
Geography: Berian Manor was built in the depths of the Lolot Forest, about 30 miles east of the north end of Lake Loloto Pogisa the source of the Noldrune River. The Manor is a collection of a dozen ornate carved and grown wooden buildings carefully built in and about the trees of the forest, mainly along a stream flowing west to the lake. A road follows the stream to the lake and runs east into the central plains of Noldune. Countess Dayntree Claid, a druid of significant skill, rarely resides at the Manor, preferring to wander about her lands, tending to the flora and fauna, her, some say, preferred Kin. She does hold court, once a year, at the Forest Games in Lumberton (#119).
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #146
May 26th, 2023
Name: Minneh House
Location: North coast of Noldrune, east of Belladorn
Population (approx.): 440 (manor and adjacent settlement)
Brief: Some noble houses start in or grow to a position of power, others have it thrust upon them and must adapt or squander the opportunity. Once Claid had ascended above Noldrune to claim leadership of the City-State, they slowly peeled away areas formerly controlled by Noldrune and handed them over to loyal minor Houses. House Minneh was such a minor family who for years ensured that the governmental functions of the City-State, especially in the capital, Belladorn (#1), ran smoothly for they had a knack for bureaucracy (in all its forms including legal, performance, subterfuge and espionage). Baron Claid promoted the master of the house from Viscount to County and handed Minneh a goodly chunk of Noldrune land bordering County Claid to the west, Staplefish Bay to the north, the Tuton Maug to the south and eventually County Tolland to the east. Minneh struggled initially but regrouped and applied their organizational skills to a task that was an order of magnitude larger. The County flourishes as long as you follow the letter of Minneh laws and all your papers are in order.
Geography: Minneh House is a rather spartan manor house on the main highway from Belladorn in the west across the City-State to Lanumouth (#38) and the City-State of Ceannar. Resembling a hotel or even an office building, the capital of the County was enclosed in a tall outer wall after the House’s promotion. Guard towers at the four corners watch in all directions. The settlement close to the manor is very orderly and regular, streets built in a grid pattern, but the layout becomes looser and irregular on the far side of the main highway. This is said to irk some of House Minneh to no end.
Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #147
May 27th, 2023
Name: Other Counts and Viscounts of note in Noldrune
Location: Varies, see below
Population (approx.): Varies, see below
Count Tolland – One of the second tier Counts of Noldrune (Claid and Macad being the first tier), Tolland finds themselves in a constant tug of war between the surrounding factions (Claid, Macad, Ceannar and even traditionalists of Noldrune). The Count plays a very careful game of political chess to keep everyone happy or at least not unhappy. Fortunately having the favored haunt of nobles, Lanumouth (#38), with his borders gives him ample opportunity to curry favor with the surrounding factions.
Count Ulste – Also of the second tier, Count Ulste rules a swath of farmlands about one of the main arteries of the City-State. His most important duty is maintaining the border with the Tribes of Taodeas to the south. The Count certainly does not want to repeat the folly of House Haldwen (#6) centuries ago, but at the present day his military forces, backed by Berian pike and Claid archers, are sufficient to keep the plains riders at bay.
Viscountess Delacor – Part of House Claid, the Viscountess’ lands are technically part of the City-State of Carasta. She continues to serve Claid as best she can.
Viscountess Pembroke – Also part of House Claid, the Viscountess rules a pastoral area of farms in and about the hills of the Tuton Maug.
County Tolland – Eastern Noldrune with County Minneh to the west, Staplefish Bay and County Noldrune to the north, City-State of Ceannar to the east and County Macad to the south. Includes the Lanumag River and borders Lapit Bay. Tolland Keep (population: 1,750 keep and nearby town) is midway along the Lanumag River.
County Ulste – Southern Noldrune with Count Berian to the west, County Claid to the north, the Tuton Maug to the east and the City-State of Taodeas to the south. Ulste Castle (population 2,100 castle and surrounding town) is on a hill just east of the main north-south highway between Claid and Taodeas.
Viscounty Delacor (#108) - Western border of County Claid along the Noldrune river, the land is technically within the City-State of Carasta but owes fealty to Claid.
Viscounty Pembroke (#112) - Southeast corner of County Claid in the foothills of the Tuton Maug.