Coldforged: The 10 Kingdoms

Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, having finished the general histories and overviews, I am going to start winding down the regional information, starting with detailing the 10 Kingdoms of Tyndaria

When Ten is Eleven

The region of Tysis know known as the 10 Kingdoms was once a singular stable Kingdom, but one that was formed from the ashes and bones of others before it. Occuran, Eshkin, Alora, Morestii, and Elthrim all came before and each has fallen in turn, defeated by one enemy or another and all subsumed into the Kingdom of Tyndaria. Nothing, they say, is indefinite. Everything must come to an end, and in the last two decades, the might of Tyndaria has begun to waver, sputter and fail.

Where once a single Kingdom stood, there are now eleven different kingdoms, each creating alliances, waging war, and forging their own histories from the corpse of their parent. Some, like the Silentknife Duchy, are actively playing their part in the downfall of Tyndaria. Other, like the Princes of Vale. Simply took advantage of the vulnerability to further their own interests. While it is called the Ten Kingdoms, not all of them are kingdoms, nor are there, in truth, simply 10. Let’s take a very brief look at each.

Tyndaria

A quick note: Prior to the war, the High Houses of Tyndaria were divided into three factions vying for power to influence the king: Popular, who believed in doing what was best for the Kingdom as a whole, Orthodox, who believed that the laws that had been established long ago held primacy, and Loyalists, who believed in the absolute power of the King and Crown.

Tyndaria is still the heart of the Ten Kingdoms and makes up the bulk of the territory. It holds dominion over the central duchies that were once the breadbasket of the kingdom as well as the southern trade routes along the River Sornim, though access through the sea passes through the rebel Kingdoms of Vale and Tenil. Wanderer holds sway as an absolute monarch throughout what remains of the Kingdom of Tyndaria, having long done away with the High Council. Noble houses, many of them newly formed due to valor in the wars, swear fealty directly to the King in a yearly ceremony, and the penalty for treason is death. During the wars, many orthodox houses and a few popular houses supported King Wanderer, as the rule of law and his penchant for doling out harsh justice equally between noble and peasant gained him respect, while many loyalist houses were pushed to rise up, along with a few popular houses, against what they saw as a usurpation of the true process of Kingship. Unfortunately, the Loyalist houses also had the strongest militaries and were prepared to fight the hardest for their cause.

While Tyndaria still stands, it is clearly in a weakened state. The Blades, King Wanderer’s personal bodyguard, and sworn army have grown in size and power, and now occupy forts along the borders with multiple other kingdoms, as well as marshaling armies in the king’s stead. Staunchly loyal and unbreakable in their faith to their King and Patron, who has elevated many of the blades from dirt poor peasants to rich and powerful military leaders, the blades are the strong and clear military force of the kingdom.

The Silentknife Duchy

The first rebellion of the Silentknife’s, decades ago, was a tough and drawn-out endeavor, with the Silentknives eventually winning the war through sheer grit. The forces of the duchy were able to outmaneuver Wanderer’s forces so far from his base of operations, disrupting supply lines and waging a war of attrition. Though the capital of the duchy, Irin, was besieged and sacked, once the Tyndarian troops withdrew, the city was rebuilt and is now the stronghold of the Duchess of Silentknife.

Duchess Ilyria Silentknife rules the land as a monarch, beholden to no one but her whims and that of her house, where she quickly established primogeniture to enable her daughter, Duchess Keria, to inherit the throne as she did from her father. The Silentknives refuse to be crowned kings and queens, as they broke from a tyrant who abused their powers and vowed to never again suffer the same.

The Kingdom of Althrus

The Kingdom of Althrus was once part of the Silentknife duchy when it originally broke away from Tyndaria in the first rebellion. However, when Duchess Illyria refused to be crowned King, a small group of the nobility dissented. Years later, after Wanderer had returned and multiple rebellions had created a buffer of sort between them and the Tyndarian forces, Althrus broke from the duchy and proclaimed himself king. Quickly, a number of counties of the Bishopric of Kalron also revolted and joined the Kingdom, desiring a more traditional rule than the harsh theocracy that had evolved in their homeland.

Now, the Dwarven King Sits on his throne in the city of Yorell, having aligned himself cautiously with the Bishopric of Kalron to the Southeast, granting him powerful allies against his former lands. The largest barrier, however, is the powerful river Arasur, which he wisely chose to be the barrier between himself and the duchy. Though he has little in the way of natural resources, the land is extremely arable and provides a plethora of food for his people.

Duchy of Olreth

When Davis was given Stewardship over the throne, after Wanderer vanished, House Whisperwind was one of the first to take advantage of his naiveté and general ineptitude. At the prompting of the Duchess Illyria, the house broke from Tyndaria and declared themselves an independent kingdom. As the keepers of the border with the Silentknife’s, this was a powerful and potent betrayal, and Davis sent The Blades to deal with the uprising. The war was one without quarter, as the Whisperwinds were rumored to psychically torture prisoners until they broke, and then created mindless, powerful warriors from their husks. The Duke of House Whisperwind fell early in the war, at Three Hills, a battle that the Blades figured would be decisive. Unfortunately, Lord Or’gid Ironhand quickly rallied the defeated forces of Whisperwind, and led a glorious defense until the Silentknife army was able to arrive and relieve the beleaguered troops. Over the next two years, the combined Ironhand and Silentknife troops surrounded and, in the Battle of Iker’s, completely destroyed the forces sent against them. Davis never sent another army.

Now, Duke Or’gid rules the duchy from Sellira, a city on the river Arasur, where he is the bulwark, supported by both Silentknife and Althrus, against the Tyndarian forces. Though he lost much of the Whisperwind land that originally rebelled with him, and some of it he rules in name only, his combined Thraxian and Drimmen forces have proved their mettle and cherish their united duchy.

Pontifate of Kalron

When the Silentknife rebellion began, House Moonfire provided many of the first troops to defend the sanctity of Tyndarian unity. That did not last long, and when The Blades arrived, they took over running the operations and never gave two thoughts about the Moonfires. This roughshod treatment of both the local nobility and the High Council seat of Moonfire eventually lead to the house’s rebellion shortly after Wanderer vanished.

The Moonfires had always been a deeply devoted lot, and when they contemplated what type of kingdom they wished to create, it was clear that they needed to impose harsh religious rules on the populace, leading to the creation of the Bishopric, ruled by a Pontiff elected by a council of bishops. This pontiff has absolute rule over the life and death of each individual in the Pontifate, and their singular word is law. These choices eventually lead to a handful of displaced nobles in the western portion of the pontifate to rebel and declare allegiance to Althrus when he declared himself King, but there was little the Bishopric was prepared to do about it at the time. The capital city is Gonju, located at the border of the Kingdom of Tenil.

Kingdom of Tianalus

While many of the Rebellion against the Kingdom of Tyndaria happened due to perceived abuses or an inability to come to an agreement, the Kingdom of Tianalus exists due to laws written centuries ago.

When Lord Magus Enttiri Kal(ithrialitanias) swore his oath to the king of Tyrndall, one Urrik Bladebreaker, the contract of their oaths and their vows of loyalty were wreathed in formidable magic. Hundreds of years later, when Wanderer unwittingly broke the terms of the vow by leaving the throne without a sitting king, machinations were put in place to create the Strongbow Kingdom Enttiri had truly wanted. Though ultimately successful, the Strongbow lands have been Heavily reduced, though Tianalus is the largest Kingdom outside of Tyndaria, partly due to striking against a number of their neighbors simultaneously in a surprise offensive that enabled them to grab sections of land from Tenil, Kalron, Silentknife, and Tyndaria at once.

The capital city of Hasiial is the seat of King Enttiri, Lord Magus of Tianalus, from where he frets continuously over possible attacks by allies and enemies, both real and unseen. He relies on divination, both arcane and divine to determine his plans, though it often takes weeks to put them into place as he calculates all possible angles. He leaves the day to day running of the Kingdom to his Seneschal and intimate companion, Xe’ran Lionclaw, who has an eye for detail and aptitude for organizing.

Kingdom of Tenil

House Rockheart Declared their independence alongside House Silentknife in the first rebellion but were quickly removed from the rebellion as the Blades struck hard and fast southward from their fortress at East Talon Gr. When Wanderer left, they maintained their loyalty to Davis, but within just a few years, they had had enough, and rebelled once again, striking at East talon and razing it to the ground. With their rebellion they took the gates to the sea with them, controlling the mouth of the river Sornim, and blocking all southern trade. Here, the war was long and hard, with Three Rockheart Kings being slain in battle, in turn, first King Hergert the Elder at the Battle of the Forks, then King Hergert the Younger when the Blades took the City of Josuit, and lastly King Groleth, Brother of King Hergert the Elder at the Battle of Kyros. Finally, a competent King emerged, Lord Traul Rockheart, who took the crown under duress as the last of the direct Rockhearts. He managed to lead a brilliant set of defensive battles over the course of four years to eventually push Davis out of the majority of the lands before signing a treaty enabling Tyndaria to use the river Sornim for trade but ensured that any military on those boats would be Rockheart loyalists.

The Kingdom of Tenil is ruled from its capital, Tenil, on the coast of the sea where King Traul sits overlooking the ocean from his throne room, often considered the grandest throne room in the ten kingdoms.

Principality of Vale

Unfortunately for the Kingdom of Tenil, the war with Tyndaria was not the end. Shortly after their victory, the Princes of Vale, a semi-independent region of the Rockheart territory provided demands to King Traul, which the king was simply unable to meet. The princes took advantage of the weariness of fighting of Trauls troops, and pushed to Tenil and besieged it in a surprise assault. Traul Quickly submitted to their demands and drew their borders at the river Sornim. This earned the enmity of both Tenil and Tyndaria, though both now have significant physical barriers to cross in order to attack the Principality, bordered by an arm of the Drimmen Mountains to the north and the River to the West. Tyndaria proposed, much to Tenils dismay, that they would allow Vale merchants within their lands as long as they, too honored the treaty allowing access to the River Sornim, which they quickly agreed to. So protected, as they had been for hundreds of years, the people of the Principality live out their lives in relative peace as traders and merchants throughout the kingdoms.

The Princes of Vale rule from Vale itself, an idyllic town in the center of a peaceful valley far from the chaos of the world at large, and though they form a council of princes, they are more concerned about the intrigue and dynamics between themselves than they are of ruling, which they leave to liege lords and mayors of independent cities throughout the land.

Kingdom of Virtus

The Kingdom of Virtus is Twin to Edriz, though separated physically by the duchy of Hilea. Hailing back to the Kingdom of Alora, the Soulshammers believed in the power and sanctity of the King of Tyndaria until Wanderer left the throne empty. Unwilling to accept the empty throne, and feeling in dire need of a king, the Soulshammers rebelled across their territories. As the border with the Thraxian and Killbaran territories, the forces of House Soulshammer were well trained and able to strike hard against Blade enclaves within their territories, winning battle after battle and pushed into the territories held by the Crown, stretching their forces as they did. The Soulshammer leaders quickly realized that they would be unable to make an attack on Tyrndall and force a king into existence, so they settled for the territory they had already won, declaring the Kingdom of Virtus, with King Dressus Soulshammer as the rightful King of Tyndaria. The kingdom now trains its soldiers for war and bides its time, waiting to attack Tyndaria at a time of weakness, but knowing that Wanderer is simply the better general, and would outmaneuver them quickly in the field.

The capital of Virtus is located at Castle Ocher, where the King bides his time and rules over the hand with a strong but tempered hand. He is respected as king by his knights and lords, and those who know his wrath never forget it.

Duchy of Hilea

The second of the Soulshammers Territories in the North, The duchy of Hilea has a very different story. Long forgotten by lords, kings and tax collectors, the city of Hilea and the seat of the Dustmaker family had figured out how to live on their own. A hub of trade between the former Killbar and Tyndaria, Hilea fell onto hard times with the destruction and disruption that followed those two entities. The city went through a time of turmoil following thousands of refugees from Killbar and an attempted coup, as well as the sudden illness and death of both lord and lady Dustmaker, the ruling lords.

Thankfully, Alira, Duchess Dustmaker, was able to straighten out the city with the help of some well-positioned individuals, and brought order to the once defiant city. She followed up with a declaration of independence from Tyndaria, which has never been challenged. It could be that Hilea lies in such a position that any Tyndarian army that tried to march through the territory would be within easy striking distance of the other two Soulshammer armies, preventing a large scale assault from ever being contemplated.

Hilea controls little land outside of a day’s travel from the capital, Hilea, where it exists more as an independent city-state than it does as a true duchy, though it is ruled by the Duchess Dustmaker.

Kingdom of Edriz

The Kingdom of Edriz follows the same basic pattern of Virtus, though the name of the king and the direction of conquest differs.

When Virtus declared its independence and crowned King Dressus Soulshammer, lord of Soulshammer, Edriz was still wary. Unable to rouse his fellow lords to rebel, he fought on his own. Lord Kelvin Hammerbane, instead of striking south, struck north, into the wildlands in a crusade against monsters and villains he yearned to enact for years, but had been unable to garner support for in the highest halls of power. Now unchained, he drove his forces deep into the lands between Thrax and Tyndaria, sacking towns, razing warrens and burying hundreds.

A templar of great renown and power, he has gathered what he refers to as a holy host of templar crusaders to push north, and with all of their attention divided with wars and other Kingdoms, Tyndaria was relieved to see their opponents heading away from them, though they are still considered rebels to be brought to heel one day. King Kelvin leads a crusade each spring into the northlands to conquer more territory and fight against the dire villains therein. He has attacked Thraxian outposts, Orcish Raider bands, Wraithholt temples and every other form of unholiness he can detect. He has even conducted raids into neighboring Drimmen settlements (now filled with giants, half giants, and dragonkin) and Hilean protectorate towns, though Hilea can do little about it. The Capital city of Whyith lies close to the old northern border of Tyndaria long the Old Amruthian Road but now is fairly central in the Kingdom