If ever there was a land that was made of entirely minor nobility, this was it. The land is held under charter, and is often divided up between families and knights. The same land is then merged through marriage and treaties. Generally there is no single leader of the Confederate Baronies, often a delegation is sent to deal with individual incidents, or internal problems are dealt with in the simple process of negotiation, war, or marriage.
The land is gifted to former Knights of Light by the City-State of Ithica. This has caused some small problems with the locals that stupidly thought that the land belonged to them.
The confederate baronies was formed when Ithica sought to reward some of the most notable of the royal knights. In the most traditional way of royalty, they claimed land around the most profitable trade route out along the Great River. The Great River was the primary link of Ithica, and the surrounding lands with the rest of Dellan. As many of the other routes out from Ithica were either treacherous, such as the routes through the Outlands, or through the mountains of fire, a route that led through the Eastern Dessert to the Mercian sea made for the quickest and most prosperous route.
The land around the Great River was parcelled out to the most experienced knights. This made it easier to protect, and the baronies became prosperous on the back of that trade.
In order to build the quickly growing kingdom of Ithica, the biggest trade began in stone, precious and semi-precious materials. This was quickly replaced with artisans, followed by slaves. Arguably, the largest part of the wealth of the baronies came from their reliance on slaves in the initial years.
The Obsidian Revolt
The Obsidian Revolt's affect in the baronies was incredibly disruptive. The large reliance on slaves, and their tendency to form peaceful protests, such as refusing to work ground many of the countries to a halt. As the laws of Ithica changed to effectively outlaw slavery, the baronies refused to listen to the authority of Ithica, and themselves attempted to secede from Ithica, claiming that the land belong to them. The newly-formed Knights of Ithica objected to this attempt to secede and began a systematic attack of the Baronies to protect the interests of Ithica. This, coupled with the continuing actions of the Obsidian revolt led to a state of war. It was eventually economic, rather than military pressure that forced the change. As Ithica and Elmar, under public pressure, began to refuse to trade with the confederate baronies. Initially, the baronies closed their borders, knowing that they had one of the most profitable routes out of the geographical bowl. What they were not counting on is the tenacity of the guild of light who were dispatched to establish routes through the Easter Dessert, and the Outlands. It took but a few short years before such routes were open, and logistic stopping places built along the route to ensure that those walking the desert could do so in safety.
The route through the outlands was less successful, predominantly due to the marshy terrain, and frequent floods. That said, there are still a number of good that travel this way, and good money can be earned by the experienced caravan owner.
All of this served to force the baronies into re-opening their routes, and removing of their slaves. However, as the new routes had lower taxes, the damage was done.
The Slow Decline
Following the removal of it's major trade routes, and the loss of it's major source of income, the confederate baronies began turning against each other to gain a bigger part of the great river, and the money that it represented. Ithica still laid claim to the lands, and demanded it's tithe from them for their administration. The war between Ithica and the Baronies was never officially ended, and an uneasy truce was established, where the baronies would pay a smaller tithe, and Ithica would continue to lay claim to the lands. As they became less economically useful and the war was expensive to continue, Ithica ceased it's blockade, but continued to demand tithe.
The baronies found it increasingly difficult to find a trade that would return it to the glory days. Many of them have ostentatious castles and defences that have become impossible to repair. Occasionally, someone will attempt a war of unification against the other barons, but such a move was often ended by brief alliances of barons to protect their interests. Over time, the barons gave themselves titles such as 'kings' and 'queens' though they have no legitimate claim to them. Such titles were frowned upon in Ithica, and often led to political sanctions. This tended to lead to entrenchment of the position, and the barony/kingdom becoming impoverished.
This decline is not unilateral amongst the baronies. Those that fell in line and paid their tithe found that Ithica would, in turn, support them. This was helped by the use of Wolfsbane as the place to send the youngest son of the Ithican line. Originally the most prosperous of the Baronies, it is the gateway into the baronies from the Fertile Strip through the Eastern Dessert.
Each of the baronies has it's own distinct flavour, heavily influenced by it's leader. Many of these are descendants of those that seized power during the Obsidian Revolt, or in the years following when the attentions of Ithica were drawn elsewhere.
Many of these Barons hold onto the traditional Baronial name of their predecessors, but those who are actual descendent are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Despite their claims to being "Kingdoms" they are still, technically, vassal states of Ithica, and those claiming to be independent are, by their actions, defacto at war with Ithica. This war has been a cold war for many decades, with the securing of the other routes out to the Mercian Sea. This means that many of the self-proclaimed Kingdoms are suffering further poverty from sanctions, heavy trade taxes, and a hostile trading environment beyond the Baronies.
The Twin Kingdoms of Genat-Orvan
The twin Kingdoms were originally founded by two mages sometime at the end of the Wild Times. They created between them a magical defence, and are credited with building several mechanical marvels to bring water to their kingdoms. The sites chosen had already been in use for centuries as temples of Helios (The Kingdom of Genat),and of the moon (The Kingdom of Orvan). It was not until centuries later that it was proposed that these twin kingdoms could be used as a gateway of protection for Ithica and to better regulate the flourishing trade along the Great River.
It was perhaps the well-intentioned act of Ithica of granting each Kingdom to two knights that began the problem. The Knights were lovers, as history had recorded that Genat and Orvan were lovers, and it seemed appropriate that for their service this twin kingdom would be granted to them. However, as their children, and their children's children grew up in this kingdoms, they forgot the debt they owed to Ithica, and as the familial ties between the related kin became watered down, when the Obsidian Revolt swept the land, they saw no reason to give up their slaves, and rebelled against Ithica, along with many of the other Baronies to keep a hold of the primary source of their wealth and comfortable life.
It was during the Obsidian Revolt that the ties between now-distant kin were stretched to breaking point. History differs as to who attacked first, but what is known is that one Kingdom decided that during the confusion of the attack from Ithica this would be their chance to seize the other half of their Kingdom, and to rebuild a unified whole. This opened up a war on two fronts that was ruinous for both Kingdoms, with each blaming the other, and both blaming Ithica for their audacity. The two Kingdoms have remained at war ever since.
The Kingdom of Genviere
The Kingdom of Genviere has at it's heart one of the oldest known temples of Helios. The central glittering spire, and the buildings around it were designed to reflect the light of Helios making it a shining beacon of light. In it's initial use, the temple became the natural administrative building, and then later the natural home of the baron. During all of this the temple continued. It was not until the Obsidian Revolt that the priests of Helios were evicted. Seen to be a symbol of the Royal Knights, and therefore a symbol of Ithica. Worried of angering the great Helios too much, they were allowed to retain what had been the temple of the novices as their own.
In 1017, the Kingdom is ruled by Lady Genviere. She has very definite ideas about how Royalty should be, and is over-conscious about her lack of royal standing. As such, she plays the part of Queen, but more a Queen of children stories, rather than one that must deal with the important, but tedious, work of state. Lady Caroline Genviere, like many of her compatriots have a deep hatred for the Kingdom of Ordan, and seeks to end the war once and for all, with her as the victor.
The Kingdom of Ordan
At the heart of the Kingdom of Ordan is the Temple of the Skies, a temple to Tenebris. This great observatory forms the heart of the Kingdom, but rarely now does the great Telescope of Orvan look up to the heavens, but is fixed on the Kingdom of Genviere, seeking what knowledge that can bring.
In 1017, the Kingdom of ruled by Baron VonOrlock. He presides over a crumbling kingdom, his predecessors having poured most of the wealth of the country into the machinery of war, and then let it rust. The Baron, despite his acerbic nature, and his tendency to anger genuinely cares for his Barony, and those closest to him suggest that his anger comes from frustration at the state of his kingdom. He, like his fellow countryfolk, place much of the blame on the Kingdom of Genviere, their constant refusal to enter into a treaty with Ithica, has blocked their attempts to get the trade embargoes lifted. There is also some anger at Ithica, who has constantly postponed the negotiations.
The Kingdom of Maliktavia
The Kigndom of Maliktavia is ruled by High Chancellor Malik, and is basically a military state. This is the kingdom that takes the entire middle stretch, and is the same size as the kingdom of Genat-Orvan. This kingdom is made up of a series of castles up either side of the valley, and one large, once-prosperous town along the Great River. This main town, Stockport, was the last major point inside the Confederate Baronies for trade, and for restocking on food before the final leg of the journey towards NewTown, the last port on the Great River. The ease of access to Stockport, both along the great river, and along the once-well-appointed roads ensured it’s survival. Following the breakdown of trade, the port began to levy heavy taxes on anyone passing through in order to make money. It taxed it’s own citizens, under the auspices of paying the tithe to Ithican. The central castle of Stockport is lavish, and so are the areas around it. Only the very rich can afford to live in Stockport central.