The Seven Cities
|Map of The Seven Cities|
|The Seven Cities|
|Other Names:||The Confederation|
|Capital:||City of Crosstreams|
|Territorial Area:||15,000 sq. miles/39,000 km2|
|30% Human, 20% Orc, 25% Various Half-Races (Half-Fey, Half-Orc, Half-Elf, etc.), 10% Dwarven, 5% Gnomish, 5% Elven, 10% Other|
|Languages:||Confederate Common, Royal Dobrekanic|
|Deities Worshipped:||Nearly every faith on Avlis is represented in The Seven Cities|
|Head of State:||Lord Heiram Sleighton (Governor of Crosstreams)|
|Military:||Confederate Army of Bulwark, Andarr Confederate Navy. Each city has its own independent militia that can be called upon when the city is threatened.|
|Imports:||Foodstuffs, metal ores, luxury goods, lumber, cotton, etc.|
|Exports:||Manufactured goods, weaponry, luxury goods, ships|
|Trading Partners/Alliances:||Kurathene Empire (major trading partner), Brekon (major trading partner), Dubunat (minor trading partner, frequent enemy), T’Nanshi (minor trading partner), Deglos (major trading partner), Galdos (minor trading partner), M’Chek (major trading partner), Toran Shaarda (major trading partner)|
“No place is home to more beauty and more squalor, more virtue and vice, more good and evil than the Seven Cities. It is where diplomats, soldiers, merchants and wanderers make their home away from home. It is a place for new beginnings, old friendships and converging paths. This is the Seven Cities.” –Khaled Thamaea, A Chronicler’s Tales of the Confederation
The Seven Cities Confederation known colloquially as The Seven Cities is a collection of semi-autonomous city-states located on the western coast of Negaria. The Confederation sits at the cross-roads of Negaria, where individuals from all over the world gather in pursuit of their ambitions. Each of the Seven Cities represents a distinct synthesis of regional cultures and their uneasy internal politics is a microcosm of the continent as a whole. Filled with opportunities and pitfalls, the Seven Cities Confederation is the destination of adventurers, gamblers and those simply looking for a new way of life.
- 1 History of The Seven Cities
- 2 Major Geographic Features
- 3 Points of Interest
- 4 See Also
History of The Seven Cities
Western Negaria has been a major center of civilization and conflict between the great powers of Avlis since the Age of Immortals. The creation of these charter cities made the region a center of commerce that has straddled the influence of major empires to the north and south. The wealth of The Seven Cities and its cultural diversity has also made it an attractive target for ambitious rulers. As a consequence the history of this region is one of intrigue and conflict. The region that is now occupied by The Seven Cities remained sparsely populated early in the history of the mortal races. Sporadic populations and villages emerged after the orcs had been driven to the west coast during The Great War, however the region around the Divalok River where the cities are located was never heavily populated.
Early History (Age of Dawning – 14th Century A.O.D.)
“With the firm belief and conviction that upon the foundation and strength of trade that a nation’s fate rests, I, Heneage Mantith Arvanos, Marquess of Arvanos, Earl of Pleides. hereby petition His Imperial Majesty Emperor Joral Kuras the First, Defender of the Faiths, and Lord Protector of the Amelede Islands to a Crown Charter to establish a city upon the Western Coast of Negaria…” –Heneage Arvanos
The region now known as the Seven Cities remained sparsely populated well into the Age of Immortals. Small fishing settlements emerged along the Blood Coast after the orcs had settled in Western Negaria after The Great War, but the Divalok River Delta was left untouched. The Golden Scythe offered a more comfortable climate for orcs with rich farmland, unhindered by the memories of the imminent destruction of their race.
Settlement of the banks of the Divalok River began in earnest around the 3rd century A.O.D as the rise of the Bandit King The’ton in Dubunat became a menace to the Kurathene Empire along its land routes. The increased importance of sea lanes combined with the short range of ships of the period created a need for a safe harbor between the Kurathene ports of Kalionin in the Trenium fiefdom, Brescant in the fiefdom of Arvanos, and the southern nations. The Blood Coast was viewed as an ideal location for a harbor, given its natural depth and easy access to the freshwater from the Divalok River. Temporary trading settlements appeared along the coast, but there was no concerted effort to expand these into permanent ports. Starting in 317 A.O.D., the emperor gave out six imperial charters to the six most prominent noble families involved in foreign trade: the Tochi’larian, Arvanos, Crullath, Clairvont, Al’Aere, and Tyeduan families, who established the cities of Andarr, Dormiria, Red Gate, Stalwart, Bullwark, and Conselia (later Malekia) respectively. Despite competition between the six cities, it was eventually Andarr and Red Gate, one with its access to a natural deep water harbor, and the other with its access to land routes to Brekon that came to dominate the delta.
With this growing dominance, the other four cities slowly found other specialized areas of focus. Nearly all of the cities began to offer land to patrician families in The Kurathene Empire, and it was in the early 5th century A.O.D. that a young knight named Sir Jayden Mourden purchased a tract of land by the Divalok River. The Mourden family acquired influence over the next two centuries, eventually acquiring their own charter, establishing the County of Crossing Streams in 643 A.O.D.
The volume of trade between the Charter Cities increased exponentially over the next several centuries. Much of it flowed through the County of Crossing Streams in the form of raw materials and manufactured goods. These goods would then be shipped out into the wider world through Andarr by sea and Red Gate by land, creating an economic hub that accounted for nearly a quarter of the Empire’s total trade by the 12th century.
Because of their tolerance of races as a business strategy, the Charter Cities began to attract settlers from all across the continent in search of wealth. As these new citizens assimilated with the existing population, the cities themselves began to incorporate a variety of foreign customs ranging from religion, language to art. With their emphasis upon different trades and types of immigrants, each of the cities began to form their own cultural identities distinct from the Empire.
The volume of trade among these colonies grew further as the years progressed, and in the 7th century the city of Crosstreams was founded in the County of Crossing Streams at the center of the Divalok River delta to better facilitate organization among the various trade guilds and merchants that operated in the region. The cities began to attract more foreign shipping and merchants, as the size and profitability of the ventures committed there rose with every passing year.
This also meant the locals gradually began to assimilate more foreign influences. Everything from racial customs, such as those brought by the dwarven, elven, and gnomish immigrants, to acceptance of foreign religions such as Maleki and The Harpinger was incorporated into the existing culture. Each of the Seven Cities began to develop its own distinct cultural identity detached from the Kurathene Empire, and as the population diversified and grew, the percentage of humans originally from Kurathene plummeted dramatically.
Taking advantage of the momentary weakness of the Kurathene Empire in the 14th century A.O.D., each of the Seven Cities officially declared its independence from the Empire, with Conselia changing its name to Malekia, and each adopting a new and independent form of government distinctly different from its predecessor. The fact that many of the Empire’s legions had been exhausted during the wars with Dubunat and Tyedu forced it to acknowledge its cities’ independence.
The cities originally were content to consider themselves independent city-states with no central obligation to one another. However frequent attempts by both Dubunat and Brekon to annex them began to increase the necessity for a full-fledged confederacy. Thus in 1520 The Seven Cities formed a confederacy, with Bullwark becoming the acknowledged center for the new Confederate Army and Andarr the newly established navy.
Independence and Rise of The Confederation (14th Century – 22nd Century A.O.D.)
“We the Representatives of the Estates of the Charter Cities, hereby Decrees that members of this Assembly Shall take an Oath, Never to Separate nor to Rest until the Constitution of this Realm is Established and Freely Independent from the Crown of the Kurathene Empire.” –The Oath of Hawks, 17 Officilun, 1362
The gradual drift away from the Kurathene Empire came to a head in the 14th century. As the original human population of the Charter Cities was now a minority within the realm, many of the recent immigrants began to question the need to pay taxes and tithes to the Imperial Crown. This agitation was particularly strong in Crosstreams, Red Gate and Andarr which had long since shed the vestiges of Imperial nobility in favor of a merchant led oligarchy.
The Charter Cities had established their own Provincial Council in the 12th century, and had begun to take many of the functions of government from the traditional estates. With the outbreak of war with Dubunat in 1320, the Council elected to form the Charter Militia Legion, an army independent of the Imperial Army detachments. Over the next two decades, the Council expanded its privileges as the Imperial government became increasingly bogged down in the war in Dubunat.
When the war with Dubunat ended in 1360 with the Empire’s defeat, the Provincial Council led by Governor Sir Michael Hawke of Crosstreams took the first steps toward independence. In 1362 he and the Council signed an oath affirming their commitment to the independence of the Charter Cities. Later in the same year, the individual estates of each city ratified the call for independence.
On the first day of the new year in 1363 the Provincial Council of the Charter Cities, with Governor Hawke in the lead presented their declaration of secession to the Imperial Army garrison commander, Legate Warren Hale. Rather than risk bloodshed, Hale accepted the declaration and departed with his garrison for Brescant. When word of the declaration reached the ears of Joral Kuras, he paused, nodded his head and was the first leader to acknowledge the independence of the city-states of Andarr, Bullwark, Conselia, Crosstreams, Dormiria, Red Gate and Stalwart.
With independence the Provincial Council quickly found itself superseded by local interests. The city of Conselia was the first to secede from the alliance as it renamed itself Malekia. It was quickly followed by Dormiria, Red Gate and Stalwart, who sought to avoid paying the costs associated with maintaining the army. With the obligations to the central council removed, the cities quickly started to squabble with one another, leading to an escalating round of trade barriers and skirmishes over territory lines.
The nations of Dubunat and Brekon found the squabbling city-states in the Delta to be an attractive prize. Over the next century and a half, both nations sent expeditions to annex one or more of the cities, which were driven off repeatedly by a coalition of militias from Crosstreams, Bullwark and Andarr. After a particularly large invasion attempt in 1518 by Dubunat, the Lord Governor Curtis Allendale of Andarr proposed that the seven city-states form a confederation as a common defense against their enemies, and to mediate disputes between the cities. Six months of tense negotiations later the final Confederate Charter was ratified by all seven cities. With their security assured by their shared commitment to defense, The Seven Cities steadily gained influence and wealth. The death of Joral Kuras in 1815 and the subsequent collapse of the Second Imperium helped fuel this growth. By the end of the Age of Strife in the 22nd century, The Seven Cities Confederation had become the center of civilization and culture on Avlis, the envy of all civilized nations.
The prosperity of The Seven Cities led to the flowering of egalitarian values, particularly within Crosstreams. Though the wealthy mercantile families had steadily entrenched themselves as new nobility, there was a gradual move toward creating greater political opportunities for the common class. The governors of Crosstreams and Dormiria became positions chosen by popular vote, while the Confederate Estates-General was diversified with the addition of a third estate made of tax-paying citizens, with the franchise opened to all citizens of the Confederation.
Major Geographic Features
The Seven Cities occupies a delta where several rivers branching off from the Spriteblood River flow out to the ocean. As such, it contains lush vegetation and fertile soil that was carried westward from farther inland. Its location also makes it a major crossing point for trade goods going out to and coming in from ships, which then proceed either northward to The Kurathene and Tyedu or southward to Toran Shaarda, Mikona and beyond.
Blackwater Fenn is one of the largest forests on the delta containing The Seven Cities and home to what is thought to be the largest population of fairy-kin in the area. This makes it a popular camping and expatriation site for settlers that come from T'Nanshi and Elysia, but the cover of the woods also makes it a dangerous haven for bandits and those that live outside the law. Criminals fleeing justice from The Seven Cities frequently band together here and ply their trades of murder, robbery, and pillaging.
The Blackwater River is a branch of the Divalok River that splits off right in the middle of the City of Crosstreams to terminate at the ocean on the western coast of Negaria within the City of Andarr. Its depth allows it to carry heavy ship traffic back and forth between the two cities and as such it acts as a major trade and defensive artery for the confederation.
The coastal area outlining the western edge of the delta where The Seven Cities reside is known as the Blood Coast. The name is taken from the bloody battles and wars, both declared and unknown, that have traversed the area. Most of these can be traced back to the competing influences of The Kurathene and Dubunat. Notably, a great number of these battles were at sea and not on land. For most of the way up and down this coast, the beaches are sandy and quickly give way to forested plains, except near the points where rivers empty into the ocean. Those spots are occupied by cities, like Andarr and Malekia where the coast can support embankments and docks.
The portion of land jutting out from the northern reaches of the delta is referred to as Cape Cold for its cold water currents coming down from the oceans near Tyedu and for the occasional Tyeduan raiding parties that have made their way down the coast. This is the farthest known southern point of a Tyeduan raid, since the oceans north of the delta have been patrolled and cleared by the navy of Andarr since recent memory.
The Divalok River refers to the largest branch of the Spriteblood River that flows within the confines of the confederacy. This river is deep and thus is able to carry a great deal of boat traffic from both nations. It is naturally capable of supporting some of the largest merchant ships in service, and the extensive canals that have been dug by each of the cities in the confederation allow it to be used as the primary form of transportation within the region.
The Hidden Isles
Off the northern coast of the delta, near the City of Stalwart is a cluster of islands that were unknown to sailors until the founding of that city. Prior to Stalwart's establishment, the islands blended in with the land behind them and sailors passed them by, thinking they were the coast of the mainland. However, once the city's founders selected its site, they noticed that the islands were separate from the land. Because of their location, the islands have become a haven for smugglers looking to move their goods. At times, certain islands in the area have been taken and held by organized smuggler and pirate groups against the authorities of Andarr and The Kurathene. Inevitably they are dislodged, only to pop up on other islands. It has become a general thorn in the side of the naval forces over the centuries.
Prior to the arrival of The Wight Lord Jorbaren in 1,405 A.O.D., the area now known as the Irsenkline Hills was flat farmland along the Divalok River. During the spell rituals that erected Jorbaren's Peak, however, residual magic brimmed out from the central target area and rippled the land with slowly rolling hills that gradually increase their frequency until they reach the foot of Jorbaren's Peak. Despite the changes in the landscape, the soil in the area remained fertile, and some hardy farmers still make their living there because of its proximity to the City of Crosstreams and the ease of reaching its markets. Problems sometimes occur when the denizens of the nearby mountain dungeon flow out through the area, and the local farmers frequently call upon the aid of the local militia and intrepid adventurers to ensure their safety.
As the tallest geographic feature on the delta, Jorbaren's Peak looms 2,000m above the City of Crosstreams. It is thought that the mountain is mostly hollow because it houses a massive fortress and dungeon built by Jorbaren The Wight Lord's minions after 1,405 A.O.D when he rose up out of the Underdark and sacked Crosstreams and began his campaign to take over The Seven Cities, Brekon, and Dubunat. The fortress at the top of the mountain and the prisons within are officially abandoned which makes them prime real estate for evil creatures that wish to lurk out of sight. However, it also makes for a popular spot where adventurers go to test their mettle against said lurking creatures.
The Loxtran River branches off from the Divalok River and the Spriteblood River within the City of Red Gate on the eastern side of the delta where The Seven Cities reside. It acts as the major artery of trade and transportation between the City of Dormiria and the rest of the confederation, connecting directly between Dormiria and Red Gate. Like the other rivers of the delta, it runs deep and allows some ship traffic, though it is not as capable of handling the amount of traffic as either the Divalok River or the Blackwater River.
The Shifting Woods
The woods south of Crosstreams takes their name from several weird qualities and occurrences associated with the area. Proximity of the forest to a settlement known as Lycanhaven, where those infected or born with the curse of lycanthropy are known to settle and congregate means that there are often denizens of that village cavorting through the woods, especially during a full moon. The sheer numbers of them running through the forest on those nights are said to look as if the trees themselves are shifting in motion. Another aspect peculiar to this area are reports of occasional portals that open through unknown sources of magic. No one knows if they are created through deliberate wizardry or if they appear naturally, and they are never permanent. However, rumors have told that these portals can lead to other areas of Negaria, both far and near, or to other planes of existence entirely. The third peculiarity that may give The Shifting Woods their name is the high number of changelings that inhabit the area. They seem to prefer the relative solitude to the bustling cities, and can often be found wandering in the area.
Stormrift Bay is the main inlet leading to the City of Dormiria. Due to the shape of the land around it and its deep waters, traveling in and out of the bay during rough weather is especially precarious. Rumors hold that a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water exist at the bottom of the bay, but this has never been substantiated, even by the nearby nixie population of Qwandlerine. Adventurers attempting to make their way down there have never returned. Nevertheless, the depths provide good clearance for large ships to enter into the port of Dormiria and the fishing industry of that city continually prospers.
Over the course of history at various times, the slave trade between The Kurathene, Brekon and Dubunat has waxed and waned. During some periods, cities like Malekia and points farther south were involved in it as well. Inevitably, as the crackdowns occur and slaves rise up aided by the forces of good to crush the slave traders, there are casualties and forgotten souls of those conflicts. Many of them wind up in Tugaguk Woods. Predominantly populated by giant-kin, these forests are just to the southeast of Red Gate and act as a first point of escape for fleeing slaves originating in Brekon and points north. Though these ex-slaves can come from any walk of life, most are generally unhappy with their situation and often turn to banditry or raiding of caravans to make a living. It is regarded as a dangerous area barely under control of the armed forces of The Seven Cities in a given year.
Points of Interest
The area around these woods south of Red Gate near the border with Dubunat is called Bandit's Rest. As the name implies, this is a major jumping off point for organized banditry originating from Dubunat, sometimes sanctioned by the government there. Attempts by the military of the confederation to subdue the area are often met with force from Dubunat's military, leading to brinksmanship and at times war. This lawless area close to the edge of the delta's influence to its extreme eastern border is therefore overlooked. Problems are contained using forces from Fort Valan, but the bandits still manage to fatten their purses through raids in the delta that originate here.
Though there are many forts around the delta populated by the armed forces of the confederation, Fort Valan is the major resupply and staging point for defense of the southern borders. Facing Dubunat, the fort watches for invasion from that area into the eastern reaches of the delta. Since this was a common route of invasion in the past, the fort is well stocked and provisioned and houses some of the most well trained soldiers out of Bullwark.
Technically, Klal Village lies over the border in the neighboring country of Dubunat, but through various times in history the Kurathene military has taken control of it and held it. As a battleground village, this settlement is accustomed to war. In times of peace, Dubunat uses it as a staging ground for its perpetual aggression toward Malekia. Additionally, Klal Village is a pilgrimage site for those faithful to Valok because it is thought to be the site where Valok once rested during his battles with The Negerai Prime.
Originally a leper colony, Lycanhaven became a safe place for those afflicted with lycanthropy to live normal lives and receive accommodations for their curse during their changes. Over time, it also became home to natural lycanthropes that wish to live a civilized life during their humanoid days. Due to its stigma as a curse-bearing population, most residents of The Seven Cities avoid Lycanhaven for fear of catching the disease. However, for those brave or foolhardy enough to mingle with the packs and clutches that dwell there, it has a charm and political web all its own.
The nixie village of Qwandlerine is located under the waters just north of Stormrift Bay and the City of Dormiria. It acts as a small hub of trade for the nixie population and has close relations with the much larger settlement of Qwandovia to the north. At times the relations with the nixies and the delta have been contentious, but in general the water fairies are neutral with regard to the surface complications between the orcs, confederates, and the imperials that surround them.