Nations of the Steadfast
Iscobal is a coastal nation-state ruled by King Noren ti’Kalloban. Years ago, he staged a coup and usurped the country’s rule from the long-running Sarromere clan. At the time, it was understood that the Queen had destabilized the kingdom due to her obsessive focus on numenera.
The capital of Iscobal is Mulen, a city of about 100,000 poised on a bay that overlooks the sea to the west. Mulen is a few hours’ ride unencumbered from the delta of the Wyr River. The city is pocked by tall, sky-scraping glass towers left behind from a previous era.
To the direct north of Iscobal. Draolis is the most populated land in the Steadfast and also one of the wealthiest. Its banner depicts six interwoven spheres, but most people refer to it as the Tiger Banner. Power in Draolis is controlled by the Council of Spheres, rather than a monarchy. And that council is based in Qi, the largest city in the Steadfast.
Qi is also the site of the Durkhal, home of the Order of Truth and the Amber Pope himself. More than a half million people live in Qi, a city of spires and fantastically huge helium or hot-air balloons and dirigibles. The common saying “Half of Qi is in the sky” is an exaggeration, but it feels accurate when you’re there.
To the north of Draolis, hugging the coast. Known for its coastal trading ships, the so-called Sea Kingdom of Ghan is a relatively peaceful land. Ghan has little in the way of an aristocracy. Most of the people are free citizens owing fealty only to their king. Few people own slaves.
King Laird protects his borders and maintains a careful vigil from his capital, the City of Bridges.
To the east of Ghan and northeast of Draolis. Navarene is one of the largest and most prosperous kingdoms in the Steadfast. Disliked by all the other lands, the people of Navarene are thought of as aloof, difficult, and even arrogant. “Wealthy as a Navarene merchant” is a saying in the Steadfast that almost always has implied negative connotations.
The southern part of the kingdom is known for its rich farmland. Simple farmers and herders work for wealthy landowners who in turn pay fealty to a small number of aristocratic families, each of whom answers to the queen, who rules from her capital of Charmonde. Queen Armalu is known for being both shrewd and ruthless, and her kingdom prospers as a result.
One of the smaller and least prosperous kingdoms in the Steadfast, Thaemor is often overshadowed by its neighbors. In fact, the other kingdoms consider it something of a joke. Its current ruler, Holiva, rules from its capital of Auspar, perched on the Wyr River. What the city lacks in population—only 20,000 of the kingdom’s inhabitants live within its borders—it makes up for in height. Some call Auspar the City of Needles, for everywhere its skies are marked with tall, thin structures: buildings, columns, banner poles, public works of art, and more.
To the southeast of Iscobal. Known for bleak landscapes and people tested by hardship, Malevich’s tale is one of war and would-be conquest. Yet after crushing defeats in decades past, its warlords are now quiet. Yorvic, the current king of Malevich, is no bloodthirsty despot, as was true in previous generations. He is, in fact, a three-year-old boy. His cousin Ellabon serves as regent and likely will continue in that role until young Yorvic passes through the ritual of second birth at age thirteen.
Numerous villages dot the landscape of Malevich. These farm communities are usually small and poor, gathered in defensive circles around a communal pen for the shaggy goats they tend. Their fear is not misplaced. Malevich is threatened at all times by bands of abhumans and clans of bandits. Though not its capital, the current seat of rule is Stirthal, poised atop a massive rent in the earth known as the Voil Chasm. About 100,000 people live there, making it one of the largest cities in the Steadfast.
The Pytharon Empire
Far to the south. Possibly the oldest of the Steadfast kingdoms, the Pytharon Empire once commanded most of the southern region, including Milave, Iscobal, and Ancuan. Although the empire collapsed almost a hundred years ago, it regained its footing and began to prosper under the previous empress, Challadien II. She consolidated old holdings into Imperial rule again under the auspices of protection.
Now the new, relatively young empress, Challadien III, rules from the great city of Rarmon, home to about 80,000. This old settlement of marble, stone, and glass once fell into a state
of decay but now is being restored to its former grandeur. Everywhere, scaffolds and workers cover important buildings, restoring crumbling facades.
From Nomilla Eron, Milavian noble: Once Milave was a region of the Pytharon Empire, when its red banners flew from every tower in the South. Now that name is given to a loose
confederation of small noble states and even a few so-called republics. The latter, of course, are nothing more than backwater counties too wretched for any proper noble family to desire position, and where the merchant classes give the peasantry fool-headed ideas of ruling themselves.
The only thing that truly binds Milave together is fear of invasion by the empire. Milavians have few similarities, but a memory of the hard-won independence from Pytharon is one. Ostensibly, Milave is ruled by a council of representatives of disparate governments, clans, and factions who meet in the city of Orrila.
A broad, fertile, and peaceful land, Ancuan is blessed on many fronts. Its rolling hills teem with bountiful herds of animals, its fields flow with produce and grains, and its long shorelines offer fish and other valuable commodities. Of course, Ancuan is not without its troubles. Pirates ply the shorelines, preying on coastal trading vessels. Bandit raiders threaten villages.
King Asour-Mantir rules from a castle of stronglass 20 miles (32 km) outside the city of Glavis. Glavis itself is sprawling city almost like a grouping of three towns located in close proximity by chance, with a sparse collection of buildings and roads among them. One of the three sections, primarily a port, is on the minor River Frohm. The second is atop a high hill called Nurel’s Hill. The third is a farming community filled with markets for produce and livestock.