Eli's 4e Game
This predominantly human city was once the seat of a great civilization. Known for its art and culture as much as its wealth and power, the Calthounese empire slid into ruin three centuries ago. A few scattered farms and villages within a day’s travel of the former capital occasionally pay their taxes or ask for help with bandits, but little else hints at the greatness that was. The city of Calthoun itself is quite beautiful still, and visitors marvel at the majestic palaces and fine temples that remain. Several years ago saw a great shame visited upon the city, when the manipulations of an evil wizard nearly caused a war with neighboring Listria.
The old Listrian empire fairs somewhat better than Calthoun, as a few smaller towns near the former capital still recognize their old allegiances. Listria boasts one of the few standing armies that is of noticeable size and strength, though nowhere near as mighty as it had been. The empire crumbled more than a century past, when war with the plains tribes to the north ended in the surprising defeat of the Listrian army. Some still believe the empire can regain its former strength. Many humans fear the reemergence of the elves and the sudden arrival of the great citadel Melinoch, all within the last few years.
To the north of Calthoun is the dwarven fortress-city of Forge’s Flame. Long ago it was the gateway to a vast mountain kingdom. Now even this former outpost of the dwarves is half-deserted. While there have been successful efforts to drive out the humanoid tribes and restless spirits that haunt these ancient halls, many battles are yet to be fought. The dwarven people are scattered throughout the land. Many live as merchants and craftsmen in human lands, with no desire to reclaim their homeland.
To the west of Forge’s Flame and to the north of Listria stretch vast plains, home to the nomadic Skysight barbarians. These hunters and horsemen are feared for their skill with the spear and the bow. Great mystics and seers hail from this tribe, and they have repeatedly saved their people from catastrophe with the power of their prophecies. Farther north, in foothills that always carry the chill of winter, the Wolf and Bear tribes make their homes. Little is known of these hardy savages, save that they grow tall and strong despite the inhospitable conditions. It is whispered that these tribesmen are barely human, that they actually have the blood of their totem spirits running through their veins.
Trade between these isolated groups is kept alive in large part by the River Folk. These barge-dwelling wanderers have maintained their strange way of life for nearly a millennium. Legends say that their actions brought about a terrible cataclysm ages ago. So great was the devastation that every member of the clan swore an oath never to bear arms again. Events of recent years have caused some of these secretive nomads to break that oath, though most still follow the old ways. For now, they seem content to ply their trade and remain apart from other people.
While the river folk rarely venture out to the sea, the sailors of the Stormkin tribe spend most of their lives there. Their shipwrights are the finest in the world, and their sailors are renowned as fierce berzerkers. Only the most desperate pirates consider attacking a Stormkin ship. Alas, rumors abound that some of the tribe have turned to piracy, dishonoring their people and making the seaways dangerous.
The Grey Woods
The last few years have brought many changes, beginning with the reemergence of the lost elven nation. Hidden deep in the Grey Woods and besieged by an ceaseless plague of undead, the elves had fallen victim to a curse. Unable to seek help, they had no choice but to fight a seemingly endless war against an evil that would not stay dead. When the curse was finally broken, the world was shocked by the reappearance of the elves. Now they are embroiled in a campaign to reclaim their ancestral lands, the vast forest south of Calthoun.
This was only the first of several great changes. On the heels of this revelation, another lost city was found. Deep in the Elemental Chaos, the citizens of the great citadel of Melinoch fought a similar battle against terrible elemental dragons and hordes of insane slaadi. Through some great ritual, this vast walled city was transported out of the Elemental Chaos and into the world. It now forms an island perhaps a hundred miles south of the old Listrian empire. Even sages cannot say whether the city’s inhabitants- dragonborn and tieflings- are originally of this world or another.