Brothers of the Tor
High Marcher Kingdoms
The High Marcher Kingdoms are a collection of states with a uniform culture located on the far western edge of the Northern Continent. The Kingdoms are territorially expansive, economically prosperous, militarily powerful and politically influential. The Marcher Kingdoms were once the westernmost possession of the Bythennian Empire, but since establishing independence and throwing off the yoke of Imperial rule near 500 years ago, now bases its national identity around opposing the once monstrous power which looms over their eastern border. Along with the Bythennian Empire, The High Marcher Kingdoms are the largest and most powerful single entity throughout all the realms of the known world. The title of High-King of the Marcher Kingdoms is not a hereditary one, it is instead granted through a process known as Exaltment, in which a High-King is elected from amongst the various lesser Kings, Dukes and Princes (known as Electors) of the region by the Electors.
States of the High Kingdoms
The High Marcher Kingdoms consist of a series of semi-sovereign Kingdoms and Dukedoms that have formed into a union in order to prosper and thrive as a collective, as well as to ensure mutual protection and increased global influence. The primary partner states that make up the Kingdoms with their respected number of votes for Exaltment elections are as follows:
-The Chalim Confederation (30)
-North Gate (6)
Due to the nature of sovereignty within the High Marcher Kingdoms politics is an important day to day factor of life for the upper nobility. The process known as Exaltment, in which the ranking lords elect a new High King upon the death of the previous holder is the core reason for this. Any lord who covets the title of High King must acquire the support of other electors to achieve this lofty goal. In total there are 95 votes, and depending on the prestige and power of each respected kingdom it is rewarded a larger share of the votes. For example Colonne, the most powerful individual sovereignty within the Marcher Kingdoms holds 22 votes, and Austrova the next most powerful state holds only 12. The 30 independent dukedoms that together form the Chalim Confederation hold only a single vote each. Modern internal politics of the Marcher Kingdoms are largely dominated by the long seated rivalry between the Kingdom of Corlonne and the Kingdom of Austrova. Internationally, the Marcher Kingdoms politics focuses primarily on its military rivalry with the Bythennian Empire to the east and trade agreements with the city states and free republics of the south.
The history of the High Marcher Kingdoms is long and prestigious, filled with many glorious victories and crushing defeats. Though the history of the land is dense, much of the regions cultural tradition is defined by but a few events. Prior to human migration into the Marcher Kingdoms some 3,000 years ago, the land was mostly uninhabited, with only a few pockets of Elven civilization and the occasional Dwarven hall spread thinly throughout, located chiefly along the southern and western coasts. When humans first began traveling westward they lived in relative peace with the elves and dwarves, keeping mostly to the eastern lowlands of the peninsula. In time however warlords rose from amongst the humans who went on to colonize the whole of the region, striking asunder the great elven cities and driving the dwarves deeper into their subterranean realms. In the centuries following nations rose and fell but in time the basis of the modern kingdoms and duchies began to take form.
The Marcher Kingdoms carried on in relative obscurity, poorer and technologically less sophisticated then elsewhere in the human populated world. Eventually, mysterious invaders from the distant west landed on Marcher shores, remembered by history only as the Euors. The Euors, described by the few remaining sources of the time as 9 foot tall creatures with few features on their bodies and long slim limbs, conquered all before them. The inhabitants of what would become the Marcher Kingdoms were pushed into a slave like state, forced to scrape a livelihood off what they could find and living in constant fear of the lash of their alien overlords.
After decades of oppression and darkness legend says hope was given new life in the form of a young girl, Anorra. Anorra was bestowed with a vision of a figure clad all in white. At first Anorra thought the vision to be that of Pelor, but as the vision was revealed to her again and again she knew otherwise, it was the father of all, now known as the Patriarch. With the blessing of her new god, Anorra rallied her people and in time all the men and woman of the Marcher realms were behind her. Battle raged across the lands of the west as the Marcher Kingdoms fought against the Euors while Anorra spread news of her new single god to her followers. After a dozen triumphant victories it seemed Anorra would bring liberty to her people but in the climatic battle of the war Anorra was struck down by a cruel arrow, and though final victory was achieved the Marchers had lost their leader. Leadership went to Anorra’s sister, but a jealous general of Anorra struck her down and never again would there be a single monarch of the Marcher Kingdoms. While the Marchers were fighting the Euors so were other peoples to the east, and as the Euors were pushed back to the sea the legions of Bythos were close on their heels. With the Euors gone the Marchers however were faced with a new threat, for though the Bythennian troops arrived as allies and liberators, they stayed as conquerors.
For close to a decade after the Euors were expelled the Marchers ruled themselves once more, but this was short lived. Bythos, which had emerged as the most powerful realm of man while the Marcher Kingdoms were cut off from the world, left troops in the Marcher Kingdoms. These troops which were originally left to help defend the Marchers from a possible return of the Euors eventually turned their blades on the people of the Marcher Kingdoms, and brought the lands of the west into the domain of their Emperor. Over the next two centuries the Bythennians conquered near all the known world, spreading their culture and martial might from the great sea to the west to the High Edge Mountains to the east. The great Empire of Bythos however was not destined to last. Tired of excessive taxes and cruel treatment peoples throughout the Empire rose up in revolt from the Marchers Kingdoms to the City States of Thacia and threw off the shackles of oppression. The Empire of Bythos which once knew no bounds was now limited to its city walls and dozens of separate kingdoms now dotted the lands.
The Marcher Kingdoms ruled themselves for a time, but in order to better prosper it was agreed they should form together into a union, and so it was agreed that each major Duchy and Kingdom would maintain its own monarch and a certain amount of independence, but ultimate power would rest in the Hands of a High-King elected from amongst the various Marcher Monarchs.
From this time on the Marcher Kingdoms went from being an obscure backwater to a powerful and influential power. The Marcher Kingdoms expanded territorially north and west and opened diplomatic and trade relations with states throughout the world, trading extensively with the Warring States of Thacia and the Upper City States across the North Sea. They also dealt extensively with the dozens of minor Kingdoms that made up what was once the heart of the Bythennian Empire. All was not peaceful for the Marcher Kingdoms however. Arithai and North Gate were constantly raided by tribes of savage barbarians and Hobgoblin tribes meanwhile minor lords quarreled among themselves. Additionally the rivalry between Austrova and Corlonne would occasionally escalate to bloodshed, resulting in civil war. The bloodiest of these conflicts almost tore the realm apart, but peace was achieved and to avoid such disunity and disorder again the Order of the Tor was created, given the sacred mission to defend the realm and everything in it from threats both within and without.
While the Marcher Kingdoms thrived in the West, the city of Bythos slumbered within the walls of their great city, not forgetting all they had lost centuries earlier. In time they slowly expanded out, going from a city state that could hardly be considered a regional power back to becoming a full fledged nation. They began to expanded at the expense of their neighbors, and before long the heart of their old empire was under the domain of Bythos once more. The Bythennian Empire now borders the easternmost edge of Austrova and has already attempted several times to bring the Marcher Kingdoms back under their control, but has been beaten back each time by the Marcher Kingdoms. But while the Marcher Kingdoms hold the Bythennians in the west, Nations in the east fall one by one to the will of Bythos as its returns to its former power.
Today the Marcher Kingdoms thrive as a powerful and wealthy realm, but their future is uncertain. The Bythennians are a capable foe, and in recent years raids by savages, cult activity and monster sightings have been at a all time high forcing the realm into a state of uncertainty as it faces trials to come.