The Iron Kingdoms
Much has happened since the Corvis Treaties were signed and the rebel armies became royal armies. Here is an overview of the five Iron Kingdoms in the present time.
The Kingdom of Cygnar
Cygnar is the largest and most powerful of the Iron Kingdoms. Its capital is Caspia, located at the southern end of the Black River. It is also the home to Corvis, City of Ghosts, birthplace of the Corvis Treaties, and a critical trade nexus for the realm. Other major cities include Ceryl – second only to Caspia in size and influence, Mercir, and Fharin. Cygnar is a lawful land, led by the good King Leto Raelthorne. It is a wealthy kingdom with a strong military, and it is home to skilled wizards and engineers. Cygnar has a sophisticated government and culture, and is known to all as the jewel of the Iron Kingdoms. Of course, the King's men can't be everywhere, and there is still plenty of lawlessness and adventure in the wild lands that lie outside Cygnar's modern cities and roads.
King Leto “the Younger”, as he is known, dethroned his elder brother Vinter Raelthorne IV, who was a savage and merciless man, as was his father before him. The coup was bloody but quick, and when it was over the land rejoiced and welcomed the new King with open arms. “Raelthorne the Elder” was unfortunately able to evade his execution and escape from his prison cell in Caspia, but he has not been seen for several years. Most believed him to be dead.
Leto’s fiancée, Danae Cresswell, was kidnapped by fugitive inquisitors shortly after Vinter was deposed, and held for ransom. The price was Vinter's release. Though he was released, Lady Cresswell was never freed; and Leto never married. Knowing the Inquisitors she was likely killed. And probably not cleanly.
The Kingdom of Ord
Something of a backwater territory, Ord has a long, rugged coastline, and many of its citizens live near the water's edge and make their living off the sea. It's a dangerous life, for the waters of the western seas are harsh, and pirates from the Scharde Islands are often close at hand. These conditions serve to breed the toughest, most skilled sailors anywhere, making Ord's Royal Navy a force to be reckoned with despite their somewhat antiquated ships.
The capital of Ord is the city of Merin, but the most famous place in the realm is the disreputable town of Five Fingers. Situated near the end of the Dragon's Tongue river, Five Fingers is a trade nexus and naval station. There can be found the roughest sailors of both the rivers and the seas. Sometimes even privateers in service of the Lord of Wyrms will hide their colours and come to port for supplies – or unwilling recruits. Another famous city of Ord is Midfast, which guards the northern border and has repulsed both barbarian hordes and Khadoran skirmishers in its bloody history.
The present ruler of Ord is King Baird II, a great loud bear of a man who is rumoured to have lived a debauched youth and kept the friendship of many criminals and cut-throats. King Baird was third in line for the succession and had the crown thrust upon him after the unfortunate deaths of his older brothers. It is rumoured King Baird secretly enjoys trips to Five Fingers, and that his true court is there rather than among the capital in Merin.
At the third Battle of Midfast, one and a half centuries ago, they say that a scant five hundred Ordic Guardsmen ground up a Khadoran army ten times their size I don't know if it's true, but those Ord soldiers are certainly tougher than they look.
The Kingdom of Llael
A kingdom with little natural resources, magical or technical skill, Llael manages to eke out an existence by exploiting its proximity to the Black River trade route, serving as an intermediary between Rhul and Cygnar. The realm has but one true blessing – ample deposits of coal, without which its economy would be truly crippled. The largest coal town in the realm is Leryn, scarcely a league from where the Black River crosses over into Rhul. Due to the importance of trade with the dwarves, Cygnar has officially allied with Llael and prevented this small kingdom from being gobbled up in border wars with Khador.
Despite being overshadowed by its neighbours, Llael is a proud kingdom with a rich history, including its crucial role in the rebellion against the Orgoth. Wizards and alchemists of Llael worked together with those of Cygnar to invent the first firearms and blasting powder. Pistols and rifles remain very popular in Llael today, many of which are treasured heirlooms passed from father to son and lovingly maintained. Duelling with pistols is a popular means to resolve disputes in Llael, and rumoured to be a leading cause of death among the nobles.
The King of Llael is head of state in title only, and it is the Council of Nobles in the capital of Merywyn that sees to the day-to-day operation of the government. Llael has a torturously complex system of government, making the dwarven Moot look like a paragon of efficiency. Currently, Llael is actually without a regent; when the last king passed on, the line of ascension was a bit muddled, and the matter has been tied up in the courts for eight years. In the interim, the Council of Nobles has appointed a Prime Minister (Lord Deyar Glabryn IX), but it looks like a permanent position a little more every day.
Khador invaded in winter, which no-one but the prime minister was expecting. And the only reason he was expecting it was because he pulled most of the troops away from the border to let Khador in more or less unopposed.
The Protectorate is actually pretty pissed off with Khador because they stopped supporting them in their illegal arming campaign. And they've agreed, through Severious, to assist Ashlynn in retaking Llael. What exactly this means as far as Cygnar's interest in Llael is unclear. I mean, they really need those trade lanes to Rhul opened back up. And access to the coal and gunpowder supplies is something they'll be wanting to deny Khador and the Protectorate both. So I can easily see Cygnar and Protectorate both fighting Khador in Llael, if not fighting together "for" Llael.
The Protectorate of Menoth
The Protectorate is the newest of all the Iron Kingdoms. It was born of a religious schism within Cygnar just over a century prior, wherein worshippers of the ancient god Menoth began to contest the state religion, the Church of Morrow. Menoth's followers were relatively small in number, but their faith and piety were unrivalled. The devout and vocal group felt that the Church and the Kingdom as a whole were sliding into corruption and decadence. They warned of the price of wickedness, and of the coming Armageddon, producing portents and prophecies to support their claims. The common folk put little stock in their alarmist tales, and the matter was given no official attention by Morrow's Primarch. Ultimately, this was a critical mistake – the worshippers of Menoth, weary of being ignored, decided to take action.
Their discontent simmered for several years while they assembled a secret army of zealots. What once was a good intentioned (though misguided) movement began to take on sinister cult-like traits. The extremist group began a campaign of sabotage, designed to destabilise the state Church and provide "evidence" for their prophecies of disaster. Their campaign was not wholly successful, but it did touch off open hostilities involving the Church of Morrow, Menoth's followers and Cygnar's standing army.
When the dust settled Menoth's followers were in control of a fragment of the eastern region of Cygnar. After weeks of negotiations it was decided that Cygnar would officially retain control of the eastern territory, but that the state religion would be different there. The arrangement persists on paper to this day, but in practice the Protectorate of Menoth is a separate kingdom, ruled by a strict theocracy. Any citizen or visitor who breaks the strict rules of conduct is punished severely, and the worship of Menoth permeates every aspect of life. The mortal leader of the Protectorate is the High Scrutator and Fist of Menoth, His Eminence the Hierarch Garrick Voyle.
The Kingdom of Khador
This rustic realm is a sharp contrast to the more modern kingdoms of Cygnar and Llael. It is a large and harsh land with scattered resources, many of its expanses sparsely populated by a tough and grim people. Its citizens are simple folk, but they are intelligent, honourable and fiercely independent. Their ruler, Queen Ellyn Vanar XI comes from a long line of warriors, and can trace her lineage back to the first landed nobles that fought against the Orgoth invasion centuries ago. Not surprisingly, the Khador have a strong military tradition. Everyone trains in arms and tactics from almost the time they can walk, and every able-bodied citizen is considered to be in the military reserves. Even the Queen herself will take to the battlefield, fighting shoulder to shoulder with her soldiers. Despite a reputation for clinging to old ways, Khador has recently undertaken measures to modernise and strengthen itself. Wizardry is still uncommon among the Khadorans, but their arcane power has been growing in recent decades as they have implemented their own order of wizardry and also encouraged engineers to thrive in the capital.
In years gone by, Khador has had an aggressive, expansionist agenda. Centuries past have seen skirmishes with its neighbours, and Queen Vanar's ancestors have even annexed resource-rich land from Llael and Ord, under the pretence that the territory was rightfully theirs by the agreements of the Corvis Treaties. Khador may appear too interested in trade today to seize more territory, but Llael and Ord are still not eager to try and take back the lands they lost – despite their poor resources in magic and technology, Khadoran warriors are second to none, and any military action against them is bound to be expensive. Both neighbouring kingdoms secretly fear Khador intends to conquer them entirely, should conditions arise where it could be done swiftly and without reprisal.
Khador has a long standing rivalry with Cygnar as the two most dominant kingdoms of the region. There are periodic bloody skirmishes between these two nations, particularly along their shared border. Other battles are sometimes fought by intermediaries such as hired mercenaries, although both governments usually deny responsibility for these hostile actions. Tensions continue to mount and some major armed struggle seems inevitable between King Leto and Queen Vanar. Such a war could plunge the entire region back into chaos and strife.
Regarding the age of Empress Ayn Vanar; while she is the youngest of the current sovereigns, she's 37 years old in 606 AR, not 18. She was 18 in 587 when she took the throne. Leto is 46, so 9 years older than Empress Vanar, but she had been ruling Khador for 7 years already by the time Leto succeeded in his coup.
Beyond the Iron Kingdoms
The Iron Kingdoms are by no means the only nations and lands of western Immoren. There are sizeable enclaves of dwarves and elves adjacent to the lands of Men, and far to the west across the dark seas of the Broken Coast there is the island realm of the Lord of Wyrms, Toruk.
Rhul – The Land of the dwarves
Compared to the dynamic kingdoms of Men and the strange doings of the inscrutable elves, the dwarves are a bastion of order and reason. Their society has been without major upheaval for over a thousand years, and the history of Rhul traces back longer than any other established civilisation in the region. Even their civil wars are more like duels, being organised and adjudicated by the dwarven Parliament, known among their own kind as the Moot. The traditional leaders of the Moot are the Stone Lords, aged and respected dwarven paladins who can trace their bloodline all the way back to the Thirteen Clans who first founded the dwarven nation. The other members of the Moot are representatives from the Hundred Houses, the most powerful landed clans. It is this group that is responsible for forging the laws of dwarven society, using an incredibly lengthy set of procedural rules called simply the "Codex."
Across all the known lands dwarvenkind are renowned for their fine craftsmanship, engineering, and prowess at building. Any child knows the quality of dwarven stonecraft, and the stout folk's love of gold, gems and other treasures of the earth is a truism. What many people do not know is that the dwarven skill in stonework is not restricted to the dark spaces of tunnels and dungeons. They also craft many magnificent castles, keeps, towers, temples, and bridges, a fact that shocks most first time visitors to the great city of Ghord.
Ios – Home of the elves
Elvenkind are reclusive, secretive– many would even say xenophobic. They are also chaotic and unpredictable, at least to the more ordered minds of Men and dwarves. There is one thing for certain, though– those who approach Ios without being invited do not return. What little trade there is between the elves and other races is done in such a way as to conceal the homeland from the sight of strangers. There are rumours, of course... some say that elvenkind are masters of strange mechanika and magic, that the trees and stones whisper secrets to them, or that their cities are built around the temples of living gods as old as the world itself... but no one can or will confirm any of it. Even the rare elves that choose to leave their homeland are silent on the topic.
On that note, any Elf seen outside the homeland fits into one of three categories. First, there is the occasional well-protected diplomat or merchant lord. These powerful individuals may be spied rarely on the streets of major cities, concealed in a palanquin, conspicuous only by the masked elven guardsmen that surround them. Second, there is the rare elven outcast. These pathetic (and often dangerous) individuals have been driven from their homeland for unspeakable crimes– among the long-lived elves, exile to the "barbarian lands" is a fate worse than death. Lastly, there is the rarest elf of all, one for whom wanderlust and curiosity about the world overcomes their natural fear, distrust and disdain for the outside world. Some of these wanderers belong to offshoot religious sects not welcome in the homeland.
The Nightmare Kingdom of Cryx
Far to the west, in the pirate-infested coastal waters past the Broken Coast of western Cygnar, lie the Scharde Islands. Upon the largest isle lies the kingdom of Cryx. The jagged, foreboding coastline of Scharde hints at the realm's true nature– it is a land even more dark and treacherous than it appears. Its inhabitants are fell evil trollkin, beastly ogrun, evil Men, savage gobbers, and warped half-breeds. Dwarves and elves are all but unknown in Cryx, except perhaps as cowering slaves in the obsidian palaces of the wealthy, or as expensive livestock at the waterfront markets.
The inhabitants of the blighted land all live in fear under the shadow of their ruler, an ancient dragon named Toruk. The Lord of Wyrms, as he is known on the mainland, has utterly dominated his territory for centuries, and his privateers terrorise the western coasts of Cygnar and Ord. Toruk is believed to be the oldest dragon in the world– perhaps even the first dragon. He uses his immense size and power to stay personally involved in the politics of his realm, gleefully putting down would-be rebels or rabble-rousers with claws and fire. His royal court is held in a gigantic black stone palace, warmed by the heat of the wounded earth beneath. For now, King Toruk seems content to rule his remote island realm, but everyone fears the day he decides to expand his borders. It is whispered Toruk's ego knows no bounds and he forces his minions to worship him as a god, forbidding all other religions in the land of Cryx. The veracity of this claim troubles mainland religious leaders, for it is said his clerics do indeed have dark powers.
The Bloodstone Marches
Although not a kingdom by any means, the Bloodstone Marches are a daunting and significant region adjacent to the Iron Kingdoms, one which has drawn recent attention by current events. Situated north of the Protectorate theocracy and east of Cygnar, this land is dry and harsh. Thin forests quickly give way to spires of reddish rock, baked earth, and blowing sand. The land is hostile and so seemingly worthless that little exploration has been done to date, and the few brave adventurers who have attempted to cross the desert have never come back. The common wisdom is that the Bloodstone Marches are an unbreakable barrier, and what lies beyond is surely not worth the price of the crossing. It is for this reason that little is known of eastern Immoren.
Very few live in this blasted and withered realm, although it is not as entirely uninhabited as most people believe. There are some few vicious Devourer worshipping barbarian tribes which dwell in the fringes of the Marches, along with some hardy adapted gobbers and trollkin. But their numbers are extremely sparse given the great open expanses. The nearest true settlement near the Bloodstone Marches is the small mining town of Ternon Crag. The Crag lies on the edge of the Marches, a few leagues from the Black River, and the hardy folk who live there make their living digging for coal or gold to ship it out to Cygnar and Llael. The Crag-folk know more than almost anyone about the Bloodstone Marches, but their advice boils down to this– stay out. Further to the south on the border of the Protectorate dwell some old nomadic Imer tribesmen who will offer similar advice to those who ask.