The Unexpected Heir
The continent The Unexpected Heir takes place on. Located north of the Draesta's Spine mountain range, which separates Carthe from the southern continent of Yesham; east of the Six Kingdoms of Vaestia; and west of the Albernecht Empire in Greszynmyre. Thus far, explorers have not discovered any land north of Carthe.
As Draesta's Spine is considered impassible, large parts of Carthe have only recently been settled. The city-states of Carthe are primarily colonies of the Six Kingdoms, acting as semi-autonomous vassal states. There are some exceptions, however – Arvelmouth is connected by road to Aestnia, the northeasternmost of the Six Kingdoms, and is administrated as part of the kingdom rather than as a vassal state. Aestnia also claims the land west of the Arvel river as its own, and has periodically feuded with the kingdom of Hendrysson, the suzerain of neighbouring Leavensworth. The Albernecht Empire also claims East Carthe as one of its provinces, and has established several settlements around their regional capitol of Helzamgrynd. Finally, Corbensport is a settlement established by the Yvethi Merchant League, a trading group with ports and trading posts spread all across the known world.
West Carthe is home to the following settlements:
Arvelmouth, a moderate size trading town situated at the mouth of the Arvel river, is a property of the kingdom of Aestnia. Having lost large swathes of land in their kingdom's south and west during recent wars with Temgrin and Lethbrand, the royal family has moved their capital to the city of Steingard in the Acacian Basin and largely abandoned their territories to the west of Draesta's Spine in favour of expansion into Carthe. Arvelmouth is connected by road to the Acacian Basin, and its sizable port is both a harbour for Aestnia's sizable navy as well as a center of trade between the Basin and Carthe.
Leavensworth is a small town formed around a commercial port and several logging camps set up around the Leaven Forest by the kingdom of Hendrysson. One of the earliest settlements in Carthe, Leavensworth is surrounded by forest; while this was the reason for its settlement, there is a distinct lack of arable land surrounding it, and the populace is largely reliant on fishing to feed themselves. Most other goods, as well as several varieties of food for those who can afford it, must be shipped from Treftyn, or the Northen Isles or Argai Peninsula west of Carthe. Between this and regular border disputes with Arvelmouth and Enspear, options for growth are rather limited.
Enspear is a small fortress with several small to moderate sized towns scattered around its walls. The center of the kingdom of Denroth's power in Carthe, no expense has been spared to establish the area as a center of power in the region. The Denrothi navy keeps nearly a quarter of their ships docked at Enspear, the most sizable naval presence on the continent aside from Aestnia. The smaller ports of Vaudren and Preslen generally ship to Enspear, where larger cargo ships sail back to the Denrothi mainland. Denroth has claimed the entirety of the Spear Peninsula Enspear is situated upon, and is in a dispute with Leavensworth over part of the Leaven Forest as well as the Disputed Isles, called the Spear Isles by the Denrothi. Privateers operating out of Enspear frequently attack ships sailing between Leavensworth and Trestyn, as well as occasionally raiding outlying villages.
Preslen is another port belonging to Denroth. It is situated in the Azure Bay, the entirety of which Denroth claims. The plains south of Preslen, known as the Vale of Preslen, are prime for farmland. Denroth has also claimed the entirety of this area south of the Grand Prosper Peninsula and west of the Vardan Forest, a dubious claim which is disputed by the other five kingdoms.
Treftyn is a small port city established by Hendrysson. While it is the most populous settlement in West Carthe, it is troubled by Denroth's far superior naval presence, as well as Hendrysson's status as the farthest of the Six Kingdoms from Carthe. Hendrysson is stretched far too thin to seriously assert claims in Carthe, and has been unable to devote Treftyn many resources – this has led to the city's authorities becoming overburdened, and Treftyn is now one of the main hotbeds of criminal activity in Carthe. Treftyn, and Hendrysson by extension, claim the Disputed Isles, calling them the Mavren Isles.
Vaudren is a small town at the very northern tip of the Grand Prosper Peninsula and Denroth's closest settlement to the Bay of Prosperity. The land around Vaudren is some of the finest on the peninsula, and various small settlements exist everywhere north of the central badlands. Very little trade flows through Vaudren, it mainly serves as a feeder port for Enspear.
The Bay of Prosperity is home to the following settlements:
Kaspen is located on the easternmost branch of the Grand Prosper Peninsula. First established as a port by a Lethbrand expedition under the command of renowned privateer Sir Cormac Kaspen, the eastern portion of the peninsula has proven to hold some of the best farmland in the region. Kaspen has expanded to be the largest settlement in the Bay of Prosperity, now boasting the population of a moderate sized city on the mainland. Several outlying ports have allowed Kaspen to dominate trade within the Bay, while the now Lord Cormac has established his fortress in a defensible nook between the eastern branch and the main Grand Prosper Peninsula. Lord Cormac is ailing, however, and unexpected circumstances have thrown much importance upon the daughter now expected to succeed him…
Merroland is a small port town vassal to Aestnia. Spanning several islands in a small archipelago north of the Bay of Prosperity, the area boasts few natural resources, but has beautiful coasts and inlets. It is mainly used as a vacation destination for the wealthy from the mainland, mainly Aestnian nobles and merchants, but also allowing citizens of other kingdoms. The southeastern island is off limits to civilians, and serves as a small naval base. Every Aestnian sailor hopes to be stationed in Merroland.
Wystan is a large port town beholden to the Kingdom of Temgrin. Fishing, farming, and forestry all provide the town with plentiful natural resources, and the ruling class is highly prosperous, if not obscenely wealthy. Wystan is infamous for the infighting in its upper circles, and alliances are very fluid in its fast-paced politics.
Senning is an Aestnian port, with a small city spanning the majority of its island. Its advantageous position makes it an ideal port for traders traveling to or from the inner Bay of Prosperity, although the other kingdoms have expressed concern that Aestnia will attempt to use their navy to control traffic through its surrounding waters. This has not yet been done, however, most likely to avoid raising tensions further with Denroth and Lethbrand, both of whom have significant naval forces in the region. Senning is also home to the Temple of the Twenty-Seven, the largest cathedral in Carthe, a popular destination for pilgrims and the center of the Carthe archdiocese. The Archbishop and his allies are members of the Dodecaseptarian sect of the Church of Asthorn.
Ornest is the kingdom of Stalbar's only settlement in Carthe. A moderate size town, Ornest was established by Stalish colonists on Lethbrand ships, as Stalbar's mainland is entirely landlocked. A modest navy has been established in Ornest; although their ships are new and well crafted, they are limited in number, and their sailors are relatively inexperienced. This navy is mainly used to defend Ornest's coastline from pirates and raiders, and to escort merchant ships in the region. They have gained a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy. Ornest's merchant fleet is similarly limited; although some enterprising merchants have struck out with their own commissioned ships, the majority of trade through Ornest is done by Lethbrand or Yvethi ships, with the occasional Aestnian ship. Due to the war with Denroth on the mainland, few Denrothi ships from Myetheinal trade with Ornest, although some are willing to pay the required fees and undergo the required scrutiny in search of a good deal.
Corbensport is the only settlement in the Bay of Prosperity that does not have one of the Six Kingdoms as its suzerain, having been established by the Yvethi Merchant League. Corbensport is a moderate size city, the second largest in the Bay aside from Kaspen. The Yvethi have used their neutrality to great success, allowing them to establish Corbensport as a center of trade in the region. With the chaotic nature of the relations between the Six Kingdoms, Corbensport has established itself as a safe, well-organized port. For those who can afford its significant fees, it is the most reliable market to trade in the Bay, and the markets of Corbensport often trade in goods from the rest of Carthe and beyond. It can be one of the only places in all of Carthe to find some merchandise, and the weird and wonderful abound. In addition, the city-states who prefer not to deal with each other directly often use the Yvethi as middlemen; Ornest and Myetheinal have frosty relations and the vast majority of trade between the two is done through Corbensport.
Brassleaf is a small town established by the Kingdom of Lethbrand. It has only a meager port, and does little trade with outside ships, mainly producing goods and raw materials to be sent to Kaspen for trade or further refinement. The lord of Brassleaf has far less of a mercantile bent than those of the other city-states of Carthe, instead preferring to build himself a fortress and a small army. Brassleaf is mainly sustained by the generous deals offered by Kaspen for trade, and is happy to provide its exports with near exclusivity in exchange. They do trade some goods by caravan with Myetheinal, Dracht, and the city-states of the Carthe Interior, and occasionally other ships will dock to trade, mainly the Yvethi. Explorers have found land south of Brassleaf to be fertile and vast, and its lord is eager to be the gatekeeper to this region.
Myetheinal is a Denrothi port town of moderate size. Aside from sitting upon the coast as well as the caravan trade route connecting the Carthe Interior to Myetheinal, Brassleaf, and Dracht, it boasts little of note.
Dracht is a small city established at the fork of the Vardan River, although it has many outlying settlements all the way along the Vardan, including a modest port at the mouth of the river. This port is mainly used by the city-state's merchant fleet, with only a minimal naval presence, relying on their ally Wystan to patrol the seas. The lord of Dracht has built a sizable fortress for himself, and has some notoriety as a robber baron in the region. Despite the ceasefire between their suzerains, Dracht frequently raids Senning's settlements on the mainland, and is not above harassing caravans traveling along the caravan route Dracht is a hub upon. The only alternative to the well-maintained road connecting Brassleaf and Myetheinal to the Carthe Interior is a bridge further south, but the road past it leading to Forell, Burradge and Esselby is in poor condition, and Dracht does not patrol the road – it has, however, been known to tolerate and even sponsor highwaymen along the path.
The Carthe Interior is home to the following settlements:
Forell is a city-state established by traders from the Kingdom of Lethbrand. A small town, it sits at the terminus of the East Vardan River. Unlike most settlements in Carthe, Forell is not considered a lordship by Lethbrand, and is operated by a council of merchants. Its status as a minor settlement has likely contributed to this decision, and the council is fully aware they can be made subservient to a lord at the king's whim. Most trade from Forell travels along the caravan route, either to or from Dracht and its port, or between Esselby and Burradge further into the Carthe Interior. Quarries of marble and other stone are operated around Forell, and the castles of Dracht, Brassleaf, and even Senning are made of stone from Forell.
Harker's Grove, commonly just called the Grove, is a small town in a large clearing in the Vardan Forest. In addition to the forest itself, the hills nearby contain several useful and precious metals, and is a major source of wealth for the Grove.
Burradge is the easternmost settlement of the Six Kingdoms in Carthe, and the largest by far. A small city built upon a peninsula reaching into the bountiful Grand Sun Lake, the forest south of Burradge is also a large source of wealth for the city, being home to many trees, flowers, herbs, and exotic animals in demand on the mainland. The Bolghyr, a nomadic people whose tribes have been driven south and west by the Albernecht Empire, once raided Burradge, but peace has been made. Burradge pays small "tributes" to the tribes – more symbolic than anything, although these small gifts can be significant to the smaller tribes – and the tribes leave the city alone, even trading their kills and crafts. Burradge also allows the Bolghyr who wish to settle to reside in their city, providing a source of cheap labour, and those who join the city's military forces or very long term residents are eventually granted citizenship.
Esselby is a small town on the edge of the Twin Lakes. The town is mainly engaged in fishing and farming, with small mining and forestry industries. Trading is done exclusively along the caravan route connecting to Burradge and Forell. Esselby has the unfortunate distinction of being the closest to the Albernecht Empire's local settlements; no trade is conducted with the empire, as they claim all of East Carthe as an imperial province, including Esselby's land. They also cope with Bolghyr raiders.
The Imperial Province of East Carthe is home to the following settlements:
Helzamgrynd is the seat of imperial power in the Albernecht Empire's newest province. Already a large city, imperial citizens are given incentives to move to the colonies, and soldiers are allotted land at the end of their service, contributing to Helzamgrynd's explosive growth. As the center of the imperial province, Helzamgrynd is where most settlers are directed, and make their way throughout the province from there. Currently, there are four other major settlements in the province, although the Empire claims far more territory than they currently occupy. The Empire has not specified exactly where their claims end, although official imperial cartographers have marked territory as far west as Wystan and Myetheinal as part of East Carthe.
Strassgrand is a large town further inland from Helzamgrynd. Not only is it situated near a vast forest and sizable freshwater lake, Strassgrand is also a source for many of the horses used by the imperial cavalry in Carthe.
Ironmont is a moderate size mining town, exploiting the nearby area's vast mineral resources. The surrounding hills were long used by the Bolghyr for grazing, and some bold warriors have attempted to raid Ironmont. The imperial army has stationed a legion nearby, however, and most would be raiders dare not approach.
Northwatch is an imperial navy dock positioned to command the nearby seas and serve as advance warning to Helzamgrynd should a fleet be foolish enough to attack. Only a small village of civilians is nearby, and kept separate by a drawbridge.