Seven Principalities
“Amazing how the niceties of politics can be used to seize total power.” - Asterion the Tyrant

Capital: None
Settlements: Aesik (4,000), Brun (2,500), Opal (2,500), Huq (6,000), Laon (3,000), Mael (4,000), Noen (2,500)
Rulers: The Seven Princes - Huron of Aesik, Latilde of Brun, Vyyzar of Opal, Rokurk of Huq, Leon of Laon, Amitie of Mael, Quarg of Noen
Government: Coalition of Principalities
Races: Erkunae, Human, Lizardfolk
Faiths: Ithreia, Toma Thule, Nemyth Vaar
Resources: Herbalism, lumber (hardwood), seafood, ships, spices
Languages: Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Infernal, Protean
Border Conditions: None

History
Over a thousand years ago an Erkusaan-backed expedition settled the eight islands if Aesik, Brun, Hile, Huq, Laon, Mael, Noen and Torl. The islands were rich in both natural beauty and diverse exports, being home to several heretofore undiscovered forms of plant and animal life, and they boasted ancient ruins in the depths of the jungle that attracted many well-funded expeditions.

The islands flourished as tropical ports for Erkusaa until the empire collapsed in AC 400, granting power to the ‘princes’ who controlled each island. The struggle for total control of the archipelago began immediately: ships—and sometimes swimmers—raced back and forth across the short stretches of water between the islands, raiding and seizing in an ever-shifting battle for territory and resources. The islands remained poised for war with one another for decades until Romos, prince of nowsunken Torl, managed to persuade the other princes to form a council. By giving the princes an arena in which to wage their wars with words Romos managed to broker an uneasy peace between them which, over the next two and a half centuries, mellowed into today’s casual rivalry.

Enter Asterion. No one knows where he came from, but the minotaur was active on the islands for years before he made his play for power. No bestial savage, Asterion possessed all the mighty strength of one of his kind coupled with low cunning, a gift for duplicity, and a keen intellect. He declared that the inhabitants of Huq had colonized an island which rightfully belonged to him and demanded to make a case before the council of princes. The council was dutifully assembled on Torl to see what the minotaur had to say - and Asterion used an ancient artifact to sink the whole island into the sea, drowning everyone on it.

With the council dead, Asterion declared himself ruler of the seven remaining islands and threatened that any who did not bend knee to him would feel the power of his artifact. In chaos without their leaders, and dealing with devastation caused by the waves of Torl’s sinking, the islanders capitulated. Asterion chose Huq as his seat of power and began construction of a volcanosized lair whose labyrinthine tunnels have never been fully mapped. Asterion ruled with an iron fist. He had swathes of jungle clear cut and brought cattle farmers to graze the new land. He opened the island to pirates and those fleeing justice, so long as he got a cut of all His reign lasted for 40 years before a group of adventurers discovered that Asterion’s artifact was single-use only and managed to sneak into his lair and assassinate him. Only Huron, Latilde and Latilde survived, and they became princes after Asterion. Other princes emerged from the squabbling on other islands, and the council of was reformed.

Current Events
With the defeat of Asterion trade has stepped up and wealthy travelers are once again coming to the islands to experience the warm climate and relaxing atmosphere. The trade in spices and exotic woods has picked up again, bringing merchants and their wealth to all of the seven islands. The lizardfolk keep to themselves in the inner jungles, as they have always done, but are common enough sights in markets around the islands.

The islanders still bicker between themselves, but with the memory of Asterion’s oppression vivid in their minds it rarely escalates to more than a friendly rivalry. A more serious problem are the Gray Blades, a large band of pirates who were exiled from the Principalities following Asterion’s death but have found moorings on other islets nearby, joining forces for revenge and plunder. Those willing to sign on as marines for the Seven will find plenty of work.

The island ruins, from the Erkunae Era or before, have always drawn plenty of attention, and now adventurers and scholars flock not just to them but to the old lair of Asterion. They search for the supposedly vast wealth he accumulated in his 40-year reign as tyrant king of the isles. Among those who have the ability or magic to breathe underwater, the coral-choked ruins of Torl are a popular destination. Since the entire island sank, all the treasure of its inhabitants likely remains below the waves - if someone was brave enough to get it.

Settlements
The major settlements of the Seven Principalities are:

  • Aesik is the second-largest settlement, although most of its population are lizardfolk, rather than humans. Tensions between races are higher here than on other islands, thanks to some nasty pieces of work on both sides. Huron rules with all the wisdom of a paladin of Toma Th ule but the history is too convoluted and the bad blood too strong for a simple solution.
  • Brun is situated at the far end of the archipelago, its isolated location making it vulnerable to pirate raids. Latilde rules it as a general, trying her best to keep all safe. She and Huron used to be lovers, but fell out over matters of statecraft; she now watches the disintegration of his society with grim satisfaction.
  • Huq is the largest island and its settlement has the greatest population. Under the rule of Asterion and then the half-orc Rokurk it has become a place for hard workers, hard drinkers, and those who know to keep their mouth shut. Suspicious of outsiders, the people of Huq are annoyed by the endless parade of treasure hunters entering Asterion’s volcano labyrinth.
  • Laon is overseen by the laughing rogue Leon, who changed his name to better suit the island. Under his light-handed rule the town is an anarchic haven where anything goes, so long as you’ve got the smarts to do it where his thugs can’t see.
  • Mael is a quiet town under the rulership of the mage queen Amitie, who delegates most of her ruling duties to her steward so that she may continue her arcane studies of sunken Torl. Anyone who can bring her material from the island will be rewarded, and may fi nd themselves pressed into leading the next expedition.
  • Noen is also quiet, though unlike the contemplative stillness of Mael, this is a silence born of fear. Barbaric lizardfolk and humans run wild in the inner jungles, worshiping the Outcast at ancient altars; every night the lizardfolk vampire Quarg emerges from the jungle to deliver her edicts and receive his tithe of blood. The settlers can sleep safe in their beds, so long as Quarg holds his people back.
  • Opal is the smallest settlement, although the island itself is rather large and home to strange tribes of degenerate erkunae. Vyyzar the 89th, once a lieutenant of Asterion, as been slowly descending into paranoia since the minotaur was slain and is seeking allies in all the worst places: rumor has it he treats with fiends for power; an old habit from his ancestral homeland.

Intrigues

  • A group of power-hungry PCs might find the Seven Principalities ripe for taking over - with all the political strife there are plenty of cracks to exploit.
  • Asterion had four decades to work on his lair, constructing an elaborate underground maze that still holds his greatest treasures. Characters poking around down there might find any kind of treasure, passages connecting the lair to other islands, or secrets of Asterion’s origins.
  • Hunting the pirates of the Gray Blades could be lucrative work for a martially-inclined group of characters. As an added bonus, the islets the pirates occupy might be prime ground for expansion for the current princes.

See Also