The Grand Duchy of Karameikos
“Why should you ever want to go to Karameikos? There’s nothing there – no comfort, no big cities, no luxury, no good food nor wine. Just superstitious natives, humanoids and stupid Thyatian soldiers.” – Boris Gorevitch-Woszlany, Glantrian nobleman
Karameikos is a deep, dark land; mostly wilderness which man throughout recorded history has tried to occupy. Karameikos sits on the south shore of the continent of Brun, west of Thyatis and east of the Five Shires; to the north, broad mountain ranges separate the nation from Darokin and Ylaruam.
Most of Karameikos is covered with thick forests, hardwoods and softwoods, and is largely unexplored. There are broad patches of rich soil, especially beside the broad Highreach River where farming is good.
The capital city of Specularum is a thriving and very active seaport with around 50 000 inhabitants; other notable sites are the city of Kelvin and the town of Threshold, in the northern hill country, a haven for adventurers surrounded by humanoid-inhabited wilderness.
In ancient times the land of Traldar was home to a heroic civilisation of barbarian-like people. About two thousand years ago, a massive army of beast-men attacked the Traldar people. The war raged for years and spawned countless legends (chief among them the stories of Halav, Petra, and Zirchev, the later patron Immortals of Traladara); but eventually, the gnolls were driven out, leaving the glory of the Traldar heroes in ruins. The people, now calling themselves the Traladarans, then founded a nation of loosely allied, small communities in the deep woods.
About a century ago, the Thyatians, on one of their periodic conquest sweeps, moved an army into Traladara, conquering the coastal regions and some inland communities and declaring the nation to be a protectorate of the Empire.
Some thirty years ago, a Thyatian Duke named Stefan Karameikos traded his vast family fortune and homeland, the prosperous Duchy of Machetos, to Emperor Thincol I for clear, autonomous title to what was considered the uncivilised lands of Traladara. He moved in with his own army and followers, taking over where Thyatian governors had ruled, and began an aggressive program of road building, citadel construction, and other fortification.
There are several distinct cultures present in Karameikos. The Traladarans, a pale, dark-haired people, have lived here for thousands of years. Energetic, romantic, artistic and superstitious; they are descendants of the Traldar. The Traladarans are ruled by a conquering class of Thyatians brought here about thirty years ago by Duke Stefan Karameikos.
There are also two elven clans here: the vigorous Callarii in the central parts and the Vyalia in the northern parts of the eastern forests. In the north is a community of dwarves and gnomes called Highforge.
There are many frictions between the Thyatians and Traladarans, but increasingly they are coming to think of themselves as a single nation. Despite the exploitative nature of many Thyatian nobles, who see the Traladarans as a work resource to be used for maximum profit, Stefan has enforced many laws to ensure Traladaran equality.
Government and Religion
Karameikos is officially a Grand Duchy for political reasons, but is effectively a monarchy. Stefan Karameikos, the ruler, chose to be only (Grand) Duke as a political signal to other nations that his nation has retained its ties to the Thyatian Empire, and that to invade Karameikos would therefore be to invade Thyatis. The nation also has several semi-autonomous baronies.
In the western part of Karameikos, on the Gulf of Halag facing the Five Shires, is one of several semi-autonomous baronies, the Black Eagle Barony. Duke Stefan’s black sheep cousin, Baron Ludwig von Hendriks, rules it. Von Hendriks’ minions have raided into Karameikos, Darokin, Ierendi, Minrothad and, especially, the Five Shires, wherever they could slaughter and rob for the greatest profit. Nominally protected by Duke Stefan’s inability to believe such horrid stories of one of his own relatives, Baron Ludwig acts with impunity in this part of the world.
The patron Immortals of the Traladarans are Zirchev, Petra and Halav, the heroic leaders of the Traldar war against the “beast-men”. The so-called Church of Traladara worships them. Thyatians for the most follow the Church of Karameikos, founded by Thyatian priests about thirty years ago.