Freemen of the Northern Reaches

The Freemen of the Northern Reaches is not a nation proper but rather the cities of Illanëa and Ketan, the community of Stonewatch, and the small druidic communities in the Whitehart Forest.

Ratial Makeup
Human 55%, elvish 20%, gnomes 10%, dwarves 5%, other 10%. The elvish population is concentrated in the city of Illanëa. Faekin are common throughout the Whitehart Forest and sometimes settle down in the human and elvish communities in the area. Awakened animals sometimes also live in the human communities.

History, Reputation, Politics, and Society
Cities

  • Illanëa serves as a sort of ad hoc capital. In ancient times (until the year 1200), it was the northern stronghold of the elves, Anea, but the human population in the settlements around the city soon outnumbered the elves. The elvish city was absorbed into the human settlements, leaving only a memory of its name. One particularly interesting property of the city is its defense from the Whitehart forest itself: The forest is alive and protects the city. Animals are also frequently more intelligent than elsewhere on Letania, some because they have been awakened by the druids but others because of some unique magical properties of the forest itself isn’t entirely understood.

Though Illanëa is a protectorate of the Middle Kingdom, they are treated as strange due to their attitudes about magic being a part of daily life and sometimes as backward.

Illanëa has a particularly strong alliance with the elvish city of Ierani. Illanëan druidic culture is heavily influenced by that of the elves.

  • Ketan is the home of the Ketani monks, who operate a large network of monasteries that offer spiritual and martial training. They are treated as a neutral party by nearly all peoples of Firseid, but are not officially allied with any nation (despite being a protectorate of the Middle Kingdom). A Ketani monastery can be found in nearly every city on the continent, and Ketani roadhouses are in the most difficult to reach and inhospitable places of the world, most famously in the Cinderpeak Mountains (south of the ruins of the City of Wildflowers, the Great Eastern Desert (at The Desert Gatehouse, and at the Northern Lighthouse).

Ketani monks wield considerable soft power as advisers, and superstitions abound about bad luck coming to anyone who harms a monk. Although monasteries grow most of their own food, alms and local government assistance help support the monks’ daily needs.

Though the monks themselves lead austere lives, the monasteries where they live are typically beautifully constructed.

  • Stonewatch is a large town that grew up around a stone circle that lies an hour’s journey east of the town. To many in the Middle Kingdom, the citizens of Illanëa could be considered normal to those of Stonewatch. Unlike the live-and-let-live attitude of the druids of Illanëa, Stonewatch enforces druidic belief as a requirement of residency, and balance is enforced by a rigid code of ethics and laws. It is not uncommon for children that grew up in the community to move away as soon as they are of age, but many of the remaining residents claim that the structure given to their lives makes Stonewatch a pleasant place to live.

However, the druidic counsel of Stonewatch claim that the laws of balance are necessary to “hold the world together.” Many in Stonewatch believe that the stone ring is a place of power. Most from outside the town, of course, think it is nonsense or a way to attract pilgrims and tourists.

Military

  • In Illanëa, a militia primarily of professional officers, mostly high-ranking druids but also rangers and fighters, is only form of standing army. Conscription was necessary in times of defense, but the protection of the Middle Kingdom — and especially that of the forest itself — has rendered that unnecessary. Illanëa has not seen an invading force in three hundred years. Tactically, Illanëans favor stealth and of course most of their offensive power comes from magical support.
  • Ketan also has no standing army, but they rightfully ask "Who would want to invade us? Given that nearly every citizen has had basic training in martial arts and the density of some of the most powerful monks in the world, even if an invading army succeeded in reaching the city they could not hold it for long. The monks of course favor hand-to-hand combat, but stealth and clever tactics make them formidable opponents.
  • Stonewatch is heavily reliant on the protection of the Middle Kingdom, but sitting as it does near a nearly impassible section of the Whitehart Forest to the north and friendly nations to the east and west, the town has little reason to fear an invading force.

Magic

Except for natives of Ketan, all natives of the northern reaches may choose one of the following traits: Just Like Mom Used to Make: +1 bonus to all use magic device checks; or Practice Makes Perfect: spellcasting classes may choose a single 0th level spell that they can cast as a spell-like ability 1/day. Natives of Ketan may choose: Quick of Body: you gain +1 to reflex saving throws or Keen of Mind: You gain +1 to saving throws against mind-affecting spells.

Except in Ketan, all communities in the Reaches think of magic as a part of daily life. Basic Druidic magic in common use, and many citizens are able to cast at least one or two simple spells. Worship of nature deities is most common among clerics. Arcane magic tends to be focused on sorcery or witchcraft, though there is a small mage’s college in Illanëa.

Katani generally treat magic as unnecessary, but the don’t discriminate against its use. Since the non-monkish population is frequentlu drawn from the surrounding lands, magic use is common in the city. Just not by the ethnically Ketani for the most part.

Technology

Illanëa and Stonewatch have little truck with technology, which is thought to interfere with the function of magic. (This may be true in some respects.) However, gnomes will be gnomes, so it’s not uncommon to see a magically-powered piece of technology floating around (sometimes literally). The Ketani, on the other hand, take a neutral view of technology as they do with magic.

Trade

Magical weapons and armor are some of the most important items that leave the Reaches, along with furs and textiles. However, as a whole mercantilism is not this land’s strong suit among humans. The dwarves in the region do traffic in gold and gemstones, but it’s a closely guarded secret where they are mined from, since the closest mountainous areas are outside the Reaches’ borders.

Freemen of the Northern Reaches

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