Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven
The Rhysmarch is a plateau in what is commonly accepted to be the Fourth Quadrant of the Second Tier of the Branchlands, by the Gnomish cartographic standards employed by the maps of the Royal Explorers’ Society. It stretches roughly 40 leagues branchward to treeward and 30 leagues sinstward to dextward.
The Rhysmarch is a fertile place, home to nearly a million people of various races. Its climate is largely temperate, ranging from cold and mildly snowy in the stormy season to warm and humid during the summer. It is home to a heavy mix of Cymru and Mysidian peoples, while also having tribes of Thrans, Ur-Skeks and Halflings. There are three major cities in the Rhysmarch: Ostingele, Gath, and the free city of River’s End.
The Rhysmarch is part of the Varslund duchy, which, itself, is part of the kingdom of Dominex. Its nominal ruler is King Ethan the Dark, but it is governed directly by the vassals of Duke Aydan Lawress. There are five of these vassals in the Rhysmarch, each holding the rank of Count. The Rhysmarch is thus divided up into five Counties. The Great Sinister Forest, as it is colloquially known, also exists as an independent region controlled by the Draiocht.
The most treeward county is that of Count Friedrich von Waethe. As Count Waethe is strongly favored by Duke Lawress, his demesne contains some of the most fertile ground in the whole of Varslund. It stretches from the edge of the plateau treeward to the River Amaranth branchward, and the entire width of the plateau sinstward and dextward. Count Waethe’s family has held the territory since the days of the Maximus; as a result, his family is quite wealthy.
Count Waethe is a shrewd ruler and politician, and holds control of most of his demesne himself. He has, however, enfiefed two barons: Baron Getch controls High Watch Hold, a small territory in the treeward mountains containing a number of old Solarian fortifications and a stone quarry; and Baron Karpov, whose fief straddles a major trade road into the Wildlands. Each of these baronies is declared to be non-hereditary, and has been granted to the respective Baron out of the Count’s respect for that man specifically.
County Waethe is one of the largest producers of marble in the whole of the Branchlands. It is also home to River’s End, a major free city. There is also a thriving lumber industry, though most of the exports are handled through River’s End.
Immediately branchward from County Waethe is County Rogas, nominally controlled by Count Malcolm Rogas. Count Rogas, as a confirmed bachelor, has much less interest in the day-to-day governance of his demesne as Count Waeth. He is widely regarded as a good man and a charming host; his parties at his manor in Gath are legendary. However, aside from Gath and the surrounding farmlands, his territory is almost entirely fiefed out to Barons, many of whom have sub-fiefed out the land to Baronets.
County Rogas does a lot of trade in obsidian, as extensive obsidian quarries are located in the mountains outside Gath. There is also a rich tobacco trade near the plateau’s edge.
Further branchward from County Rogas is County Redmond, a sprawling stretch of grasslands governed by Count William de Redmond. It is the most sparsely-populated portion of the Rhysmarch, being home mostly to Thran and Halfling nomads. The county’s only major export is leather and hide, harvested by the nomads from the wandering herds of aurochs.
The River Selena serves as the border between County Redmond and County Torvald, winding lazily through the leagues and leagues of grasslands. The county is home to the huge trade city of Ostingele, built up on the vast Delta Selena. The city, in turn, is home to Count Lers von Torvald, who maintains a kind of lazy control over the county.
County Torvald, like County Redmond, has few native exports, sharing the leather and hide export in an informal rivalry. However, the presence of Ostingele means that Count Torvald’s lands are much more heavily-traveled, and the heavy-growth forest in the shadows of the Ironshield Mountains is extensively harvested for fine hardwood lumber.
Count Richter von Manfield is Count Waethe’s rival in the Dominexian court. His county is the smallest and least prosperous, being comprised nearly entirely of high, rough mountains. Though the people he governs are noted for their hardiness and hospitality, Count Manfield is quietly talked about as something of a conniving politician more concerned with his own personal wealth and status than with the prosperity of his demesne.
County Manfield has quarries of marble, obsidian, granite and coal; however, the nearest trade road runs through both County Rogas and County Waethe. One of Manfield’s long-term goals is to build a trade road through the Great Sinister Wood, so as to circumvent the bulk of his neighbors’ taxes. This plan is highly contested by both the Druids and Count Waethe, but enjoys some support in the Dominexian court amongst those nobles who are jealous of Waethe’s success.
Colfannen Hold is the largest city in County Manfield; however, Count Manfield himself keeps his manor at Manfield Hold.
The Great Sinister Wood
A great forest stretching ten leagues by twenty leagues, the forest is, by agreement with King Ethan, a free, independent territory controlled by the Druids. It is largely untouched, though the Druids do permit some passage and logging to take place around the outskirts.