Monday, July 18, 2011

7K - So, who are these Seven Kingdoms anyway?

Oh, look, a Seven Kingdoms post!  I haven't abandoned this project.  I've just set aside the posts while I was working on the Shared Fantasy series.  I have a few in the backlog that I'll share over the next several days.

One thing I noticed while going over some of the older posts is that I've actually presented surprisingly little setting information.  I should catch everyone up on that.  We're going to start with the titular Seven Kingdoms themselves:


Is-Ka'ander is the home of the Empire of the Lich Lord Acnev.  It is an ancient land, and possibly the only land with ruins that date to before the cataclysm.  It is certainly the oldest continuous Kingdom of the Seven.  This is also not the first time that Is-Ka'ander has attempted to conquer its neighbors, though it is arguably the first time that the entire known world has been united under their rule.

The culture of Is-Ka'ander is largely based off of ancient Persia as filtered through the Ottoman Turks.  There is a very strict and very complex caste structure.  In fact, "very strict" and "very complex" can be used to describe nearly every aspect of Iskandrian culture.

There is one simple rule, though.  Magic is the province of the nobility.  Every noble must be able to call on at least a modicum of the arcane arts.  Anyone who is not noble, however, incurs the death penalty for doing so.  Due to long-standing tradition, this rule is not extended to visitors from other nations, nor has it been imposed on the rest of the Empire.


The Kingdom of Tsoi is a realm of contradictions, with a history of sorrow.  It has a wide variety of very rich natural resources, from fertile soil to copious mines.  These resources all require armies of peasants engaged in back-breaking labor to harvest, though.  The economic pyramid in Tsoi may rise very high, but it has a very wide base of the impoverished.

With its vast reserves of wealth and position between the imperial ambitions of the Iskandrians to the south and violent Arran raiders to the north, Tsoi has seen more than its fair share of war.  Even the internal barons feel that they must maintain standing armies for defense, and then must send those armies to attack their neighbors to keep them from getting restless.  For a land of the proverbial milk and honey, the people seem uncommonly focused on destruction and loss.

Tsoi takes elements from the various cultures of Eastern Europe, from Romania and Hungary in the south to Poland and Ukraine in the north.  It is not a homogenous kingdom by any account.  The watchwords for the culture are "stoic" and "tenacious" (or, less kindly, "grim" and "bloody minded").


As the great Lohe Selg mountain range curves over the north of the Bay of Ser Syrthio it creates a massive roll of craggy hills.  Hidden deep in these highlands are stocky fortresses and large pens of livestock.  There are also the Arrans, a fierce and lusty people. They are known for three things: art, fighting, and really excellent parties.

Arras is heavily based on the old Gaelic cultures of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, as seen in tales such as Cuchulainn, Finn Mac Cuimhall, and the Táin Bó Cúailnge.  They have a very decentralized government, which relies heavily on the old feudal ties.  At the top is the Ard Rhi, or high king.  His primary power is simply as an arbiter between the kings under him.  His Council of Kings holds most of the true power and wealth, each of the fifteen controlling a different section of the country.  This structure made it very easy for Acnev to conquer the land, but has made it very difficult for him to control it.  Open revolt is a constant threat.


Of all the kingdoms, Heilgrund has suffered most severely from Imperial occupation.  Its swamps and dense forests made it difficult for Acnev to root out his opposition, so he ordered them all burnt.  The capital city of Elfenbeinturm had an impenetrable harbor, until it was betrayed, and then also burnt.  The land then became the primary launching point both northeast into Arras and west into Lianna, suffering under the tread of countless boots of war.  Nearly fifty years on, it is beginning to recover.

The Grundi are most similar to the Germans, primarily Bavaria, with areas of Dutch and Belgian influence.  The land stretches down from the lower slopes of the Lohe Selg into lowland bogs which transition into islands and sandbars.  When the Kingdom was prosperous, an intricate series of dikes and canals kept the salty sea water at bay and the fields and orchards well watered.  Now the coast is a briny mess, and crops are hard to come by.


The Shining City sits at the heart of Lianna, a remarkably rich and luxurious kingdom.  Unlike Is-Ka'ander, the richness of Lianna bred contentment and relaxation among its people.  Freedom has long been the watchword, and the populace is, by and large, willing to live and let live.

All that changed nearly fifty years ago, when Acnev set his sights on the kingdom.  The natural magic of Lianna, along with the powerful Cudowny Crystal, had always kept invaders at bay.  Acnev was not to be denied, however, and destroyed her defenses, along with her Queen and the Crystal itself.

Many of the trappings of Liannan culture are similar to the French, but the actual culture is far more egalitarian than that.  Children are free to pursue whatever profession they wish; women are respected and given equal voice in business and politics; advancement is largely a matter of merit and not breeding, and; those who use and abuse others are ostracized and belittled.


Occupying most of the western peninsula, Davrakotia is a poor and benighted Kingdom for the most part.  It has two primary resources: vast salt plains in its interior, and a highly skilled populace (primarily artisans, sailors, and mercenaries).  The King brokered a deal with Acnev, in which prisoners from all over the Empire are sent to Davrakotia to mine the salt.

It is apparent to even the most casual of observers that Davrakotia and Is-Ka'ander have strongly influenced one another's cultures.  Davrakotia ranges from the Arabia of Sindbad to the Spain of El Cid.  The desert is a constant presence, and water is a precious resource. 


Easily the smallest of the Seven Kingdoms, and the youngest, the tiny state of Amazza occupies the archipelago in the center of the Bay of Ser Syrthio.  Strangely enough, it has only truly come into its own since yielding to the Empire of Acnev.  Hundreds of years ago, a ship of slave women crashed upon the islands in a storm.  They escaped, and formed a colony where women were supreme.  That colony became a beacon for other downtrodden women, and the population grew.  At the end of the Great War, the elders of Amazza welcomed many of the creations of the merlanes, who had been made solely female in an attempt to prevent them breeding.  The shores of these islands are now protected by mermaids, harpies, and the dread medusae.

Amazza has one pair of sacrosanct laws.  Any woman who sets foot upon the island is immediately freed of any of the burdens of her former life, be they slavery, marriage, or debt.  Any man, though, is immediately rendered a slave.  To accommodate trade and Imperial officials, a huge city made of rafts has been built between the largest islands, within which men may live without setting foot upon the land.

The Amazons have a culture patterned on one of the ancient (and only half-understood) civilizations of the world.  Imagine if a group of late Roman citizens chose to build a colony based largely on Greek civilization as described by Plato and Aristophanes.  That is largely how it runs.  It is largely propped up thanks to the economic boon of large deposits of the metal starmilk, along with a number of unique plants and animals that have been changed by the islands.


  1. When I first saw this, my thought (for good or ill) was of Game of Thrones. I have a question though. Is it primarily a human game? I did see something about lich and there was a city named Elfenbeinturm, which could be coincidence, but it also means it could be a city of elves.

  2. *sigh*. I just found out about the GoT connection. FWIW, I came up with "Seven Kingdoms" before the first GoT novel was published, and I've never read the books or seen the show. I'm still debating if I want to change the name of the setting.

    It is a primarily human game. If you scroll back through the 7 Kingdoms posts, you can find more information. I'll try to come in here tomorrow with some links. And, yes, there is a Lich. No elves, though.

  3. Good, I like the primary human angle. I want my game to be that way too, but I have to convince my friend of that change. Not sure he will go for it.

    Leave it. People will make a connection, but hell it may make it easier to sell it. :)

  4. So, here are a few key links to get you up to speed on the setting:

    The original-ish rough cut, which now has some inaccuracies:

    An overview of the races of the setting: Note that many of the core races of D&D are missing (especially elves and dwarves), but the goblinoids are much more viable as PCs.

    A description of how the races fit together with the mechanics: