Heroes of Prophecy
Before the Last War, the majority of Khorvaire (and almost all of the habitable regions) were at least nominally under the control of the Five Nations. After the Treaty of Thronehold, however, a number of entities have been given recognition as independent; others are independent in practice, if not in name—with this disparity sometimes causing conflict.
The greatest civilization of the current age was the ancient Dhakaan Empire, which held power for millennia but shattered after the Daelkyr War nearly 6000 years ago. Darguun is a combination of ancient Dhakaani tradition and new mercenary spirit. Before the Last War, the goblinoids of Khorvaire were largely scattered tribes, but the demand for mercenaries during the Last War brought these tribes out into greater Khorvaire. Darguun declared its independence from Cyre ten years before the end of the Last War, when nobody was really in a position to stop them, though conflict did ensue between Darguun and its neighbors. Today the goblinoid nation is involved in mining operation and mercenary export, but it holds a tenuous position among the nations of Khorvaire with little trust lost on either side. House Deneith still holds significant power in Darguun, as the leader of the nation recognizes the need for such associations.
The Demon Wastes
When the dragons and their couatl allies defeated the fiends at the end of the Age of Demons, binding their godlike leaders beneath the earth, many lesser fiends retreated to their nation’s capital in what is now called the Demon Wastes. Located at the northwestern edge of Khorvaire, the imprisoned fiends are openly worshipped here by the Carrion Tribes, which are composed of human barbarians and led by half-fiends and possessed warriors. The Lords of Dust is a powerful group of fiends who work to free their masters from their bindings beneath the earth. The desolate lands lure adventurers with promises of lost treasures both mineral and magical in nature. Many never return, but those who do often bring vast riches back with them.
Droaam is a monster kingdom. Split from Breland at the end of the Last War, Droaam was never very hospitable and became even less so with the coming of three powerful hags known as the Daughters of Sora Kell. Fighting free of Breland, Droaam is now known as a country ruled by hags, medusas, gnolls, lycanthropes, harpies, giants, ogres, and the like. These days the peace between Droaam and its neighbors is tenuous at best, and Droaam is mostly unwelcome to visitors. Under the Daughter’s rule Droaam is steadily growing in discipline and structure, and other nations of Khorvaire will be forced to deal with this region of monsterous creatures as a power as strong as any nation even if they refuse to officially recognize them in the Treaty of Thronehold.
The Eldeen Reaches
While the eastern edge of the Eldeen Reaches is fertile plains, much of the country is covered in forest and has an ancient druidic tradition. Once part of Aundair, during the Last War the settlers in the Reaches were largely abandoned by the crown as it moved soldiers to the front. This in turn led to the rise of bandit lords in the eastern portion, which were put down by an army of druids and rangers from the deep forest. Angry at their abandonment, the people of the Reaches swore loyalty to the Great Druid Olian, an awakened oak who is said to be old beyond time itself.
The Eldeen Reaches have some of the most fertile farmland in all of Khorvaire, and export vast amounts of food to the industrial machines of Breland and Karrnath; animal husbandry under the wing of the entrenched House Vadalis also has a large part in the activities of the nation. Though not exactly cosmopolitan, the people of the Reaches are more accepting of certain races than Khorvaire as a whole; these include shifters (most of Khorvaire’s shifter population is found in the western part of the Eldeen Reaches) and orcs (the orcs of the Reaches have a druidic tradition older than human civilization on Khorvaire, and are thus respected in the area). House Vadalis has its primary holdings in the Reaches, and holds sway over several towns in the eastern portion.
The Lhazaar Principalities
The Lhazaar area, named after the mythical explorer who first brought humans to Khorvaire, has always been very independent. Even during the kingdom of Galifar, the Lhazaar principalities had only passing loyalty to the king, and during the Last War they reverted to piracy. These days the Lhazaar principalities have claimed complete independence, with the islands being divided among the area’s pirate/merchant leaders. While most of the dragonmarked houses shun the Principalities, House Kundarak (reluctantly) maintains a famous prison named Dreadhold on one of the islands and House Thuranni makes its headquarters on another.
The Mror Holds
The ancestral homeland of the dwarves, the Mror Holds were brought into the kingdom of Karrnath by the original Karrn the Conqueror. However, early in the Last War the Holds banded together and declared themselves an independent nation. The dwarves of the holds are primarily interested in the archetypal activity of mining, but they also have leveraged their vast amount of precious mineral resources into a major banking industry across Khorvaire, primarily seen in the banking power of House Kundarak. The dragonmarked house is one of the most powerful organizations in the area, wielding far more power than it should in the government considering its official neutral status. Others are the miners of Clan Mroranon and the bankers of Clan Soldorak, who have great influence in the Iron Council. House Sivis, with its close ties to Kundarak, and House Orien, with its skilled diplomats, maintain most of the trade roads within the Holds.
Created at the beginning of the Last War by those who felt a greater loyalty to the Kingdom of Galifar itself rather than their individual nation, Q’Barra was originally sought by those fleeing from the Last War and is currently has a major concentration of Cyran refugees. However, even though they avoided the Last War, the founders of Q’Barra encountered another conflict in their never-ending battle with the native lizardfolk. Today Q’Barra avoids most contact with the Five Nations that it sees as traitors to the old kingdom, and instead tries to forge ties to the independent nations and the Inspired of Riedra. House Tharashk is the only one of the dragonmarked houses with any presence in Q’Barra, and even they have trouble dealing with the less-than-enthusiastic settlers.
The Shadow Marches
To most people, the Shadow Marches are seen as endless marshland full of savages, insects, snakes and other swamp dwellers. Those who have actually been to the Shadow Marches know that there are mysteries and wonders hidden here far beyond what one might expect. The area has a number of different clans and tribes and little real development; the only dragonmarked house with any presence here is the one that surfaced in the Shadow Marches, House Tharashk. They control the dragonshard trade from the area and represent the only real centralized power in the area.
The Talenta Plains
The halflings of the Talenta Plains are traditionally nomadic, and that spirit largely continues to this day. The warbands fought for independence from Cyre at the beginning of the Last War, and then largely avoided the conflicts that took place on the plains between enemy armies. The Treaty of Thronehold gave the Talenta Plains their independence.
The warbands are composed of between fifty and hundreds of individuals, and they have a deep tribal tradition involving hunting, herding, and war on their dinosaur mounts. The only permanent city in the area is the town of Gatherhold, maintained as the headquarters of House Ghallanda, though the House also maintains a traveling fair named the Wandering Inn which provides a gathering place for many tribes wandering the plains. House Jorasco also has a presence in the Talenta Plains, though some of the Talenta halflings see those with the Mark of Healing as traitors to ancient tradition as that House has become largely tied to the more “civilized” area of Khorvaire.
At the beginning of the Last War, the beleaguered Cyre found allies in the militant elves of northern Aerenal. Though they fought with Cyre in the beginning, forty years ago the mercenaries declared Valenar their own kingdom and forcefully broke from Cyre. Possessing the greatest cavalry in Khorvaire, the elves of Valenar have little interest in peace even after the Treaty of Thronehold and continue to raid Q’Barra, the Talenta Plains, Karrnath, and other areas. The Valenar elves have a great warrior tradition, and the elvish tradition of revering ancestors has been focused among them on the warriors of their glorious past. Few of the dragonmarked houses have influence in the region, with only the half-elves of House Lyrandar having any influence on the stern leaders of Valenar. The elven Houses of Phiarlan and Thuranni are banned altogether, as is House Vadalis due to horse theft.
The homeland of the gnomish people, Zilargo is a country booming with activity. Always somewhat sly, the gnomish people have a habit of avoiding most wars; when Galifar’s armies came toward Zilargo a millennium ago they managed to integrate themselves into the kingdom as an independent state without a drop of blood shed. During the Last War, Zilargo was at first neutral and then sided with Breland by providing arms and intelligence, resulting in the country being virtually untouched by the war and its western neighbor deeply in Zilargo’s debt.
While its libraries do not quite match the standards of Aundair’s arcane academies in magical knowledge, the gnomes are gifted artificers and the general knowledge found in Zilargo is unmatched in Khorvaire. As House Kundarak holds great influence in the Mror Holds, House Sivis holds great power in Zilargo; some allege that the dragonmarked house is the true power behind the entire country. House Kundarak, with its close ties to House Sivis, also has significant voice in Zilargo, and the great library of Korranberg is a powerful entity in its own right. To outsiders, Zilargo is an incredibly open society, with residents often seeking out news from travelers and a number of tabloids, most notably the widely distributed Korranberg Chronicle, which operates within Zilargo’s major cities.