The Record of the North
Arbellor is a land to the southwest of Cantorhill, once a heartland of the Floran Empire. Most of its population is gathered into six city-states, each ruled by a monarch who also claims sovereignty over the surrounding towns. The six cities are: Reyen, Gallezi, Bosquen, Istri, Ripenso, and Lycon. The Record of the North will begin in Arbellor, and most PCs are assumed to be from that region or the surrounding countries.
Of Arbellor, the historian Evard of Cantorhill writes in his Works:
Arbellor is a land of boundaries, where many peoples and races meet together in the uncertain territory between the civilization of Cantorhill and the unknown, barbarous lands of the south. Through it run two great avenues of travel. The first is the Brighttongue River, whose swift-flowing, clear waters slow as they move west, and branch into the River Sunreach in the south and the River Deeping in the north. The Sunreach is wider and shallower, with slow, lazy currents, while the Deeping flows more quickly and – true to its name – has a bottom that in some parts has never been sounded. Due to the different characters of the rivers, barge traffic is more common on the Sunreach, while deep-keeled boats dominate her sister river. The second avenue of travel is the Arborway, a faded, beautiful road of old Floresan that winds through the country, connecting all of the old Floran cities to each other and, ultimately, to Cantorhill and Rutland. The Arborway is the safest and most pleasant way to travel through these lands, although even it is poorly maintained in parts of the region, and sometimes swallowed by the forest.
Mind you, since the death of the last Emperor, no place in Arbellor has been completely safe. As Floran control waned, the nine old regional governors of the area fell to squabbling and warfare. An age of great lawlessness and brigandry began; one that has abated, but not ended. Three cities were razed or abandoned during the dark two centuries following the sack of Cantorhill, as the sporadic trade with the rest of the empire that had sustained the three most north-eastern settlements – Baeta, Paenon, and Bellara – dried up. The rulers of each of the remaining six cities style themselves royalty, and imagine that the districts surrounding them are their kingdoms. In truth, the claims of each city shift with the passing years – now expanding, now contracting, now overlapping each other – and the ability of the kings to tax, police, and defend their supposed realms is minimal at best.
Indeed, most of the people of Arbellor live in villages fortified by stone or wood stockades, and look more to their village leaders, called Reeves after the old Floran title for a tax collector, for protection. The Reeves in turn hold nominal loyalty to the ruler of the closest city, the ardor of which loyalty varies by the proximity of the village to the city and the military might of the king. It is not unheard of for a Reeve of an outlying village to claim loyalty to two separate kings. Regardless of whom they call their king, all villages live in fear and hatred of local bandits, both human and orcish. Those closer to the cities rely on their king’s army, and those farther away rely on the strength of their arms or tribute to keep their crops and families safe.
The Arbellan Kings, as the rulers of the six cities are commonly called, are a warlike, untrustworthy bunch on the whole. As their fortunes shift, so do their relations with each other and with Cantorhill.