The River Kingdom is a landlocked realm in the heart of a great continent. Summers are hot and dry while the winters are cold and snowy. Two great rivers run through these broad plains. The dark, peaty waters of the fast-moving Tane come down from the north-west hills to meet the Dore arriving more slowly from the south-west, pale with silt from the grasslands. Now mightier still the Dore continues eastwards until it is lost in the shifting channels of a vast swamp; the Nilgeh Mire.
Both rivers carry a great deal of trade up and down stream. This is the source of the River Kingdom’s wealth. The capital city, Hurat, holds the point of land where the Dore and the Tane meet and where highways from all points of the compass can make use of its bridges. Other towns can only offer ferries. The roads and rivers bring minerals, metals and timber down from the hills while ensuring that grain and other crops from the fertile lands flanking the Dore are easily shared among the Kingdom’s towns. Exotic goods arrive from the unimaginably distant realms of the Teijent Dagh and from whatever lands may lie beyond the impassable Nilgeh Mire. Luxuries are brought down the Dore by merchants from the Kingdom of Arafaze and north by wagon and pack-horse from the Kingdom of Mervante.
In days gone by, the Earls of the Vale of the Tane owed their allegiance to the Kings of Arafaze. Now Hedvin, Bastrys and Sospirin are the border towns of Arafaze while Gernet remains the most northerly outpost of Mervante. The rise of the Paramount Kings who now rule the River Kingdom is a story waiting to be told…
Three towns flank the Nilgeh Mire; Julach, Scefet and Avelsir, where River Kingdom merchants meet and trade with the Marsh Folk who owe no fealty to any realm and cherish their differing language and customs with fierce independence. The same is true of the nomads who wander the high plateau, a cold, dry desert to the north. Then there are the Barge Folk who live out their lives afloat as they pass up and down the great rivers, heedless of any kingdom’s borders and maintaining a distinct culture all their own.
Outside Hurat, the largest and wealthiest River Kingdom towns are distributed along the three stretches of the rivers, as far as the upstream confluences of the westerly tributaries and half way to the fringes of the great swamp. Smaller farming settlements on the plains pay tribute to the Margraves and Barons who rule these mercantile towns. These nobles owe their fealty to the Paramount King. Since the Paramount Throne was first established, successive rulers have expanded their influence and control through military prowess as well as through more covert means.
These days, companies of cavalry are stationed in the major towns and in garrisons across the plains, ready to ride out and meet any approaching threat with bows and black powder firearms. Well-resourced and equipped, they defend the populace from highest to lowest. Within the cities and towns, constables enforce the day-to-day laws, restraining offenders and rendering them to the local Justiciars. Alongside the priests and priestesses whose magic can detect truth and falsehood, the Justiciars bring criminals to trial before their peers and decide their fate. As long as everyone fulfils their obligations under the law, everyone can live a prosperous and peaceful life. As well as these visible custodians of the Paramount King’s rule, more discreet guardians remain vigilant for hidden threats.