The northern prominence of Arren juts out into the ocean like a sore thumb. Its powerful kingdoms are prone to infighting and war – this has lead to a rush for new technologies and warmachines which in turn has pushed research. As a result, these northern kingdoms are amongst the most advanced nations despite their lower populations. The west of the region has however been quieter in recent years – the Voltasian-Descartesian 12 days war being the most contemporary all out conflict. This is in part due to the slow incursion of the Ebyssus Sultanate pushing into the south east of the peninsula. It is yet uncertain how this will influence local politics in the long run.
Prominent within Arren is the Voltasian Empire; a large fractious mass of loosely allied states under a mostly symbolic figurehead. It largely ignores the southern invasions (they don’t generally raid it) and is in somewhat of a a state of emergency. Recently the Emperor has died and so minor petty wars have flared up within the Empire – attempting to increase the power of certain nobles and place them on the throne. All out war is only avoided due to the intervention of the council of thirteen – generally believed to be the most powerful mages alive, who are in charge of conducting the election proceedings.
Voltasia is technically the dominion controlling the most land within the West Marches – the wild continent past the Neck of the World – but until recently has cared little for them. Now these lands are beginning to make money due to the recent influx of wealth and development and the Lords of Bastionberg, the westernmost state of Voltasia, have begun to take notice.
Primary amongst Voltasia’s rivals is the Kingdom of Descartesia. It is a land of strict hierarchy – the poor are thrust into the dirt and forced to work themselves to death or starve whilst the Nobility engage in the most debaucherous passions and passtimes they can find. Tieflings are common, especially amongst the upper eschelons of society and it has been suggested that demon-worship and even sentient sacrifice are common amongst the nobility. Descartesia has a wealth of geodite, the primary tool of enchanting, and until recently was in control of the trade routes south – a position now controlled by the Ebyssus Sultanate.
The Ebyssus Sultanate is a highly militarised monotheistic nation which adopted a northern-style government a few decades ago, changing from its more nomadic roots. Its willingness to adapt technology, its intense belief in its faith and righteousness and the tactical brilliance of Sultan Mehmed the First has left it with possibly the most powerful single army on the globe. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, carving a place for itself through the blood of older countries. Many have now fallen, but the border with Descartesia and its staunch ally Roystov is proving difficult for this nation to overcome.
Roystov, perhaps, is the weak link in that alliance however. The last winter arrived two months too soon and the harvest was destroyed, leaving the populace starving and the oligarchs deep in debt importing in food to try and deal with this crisis. The outposts along the north passage strangely remain untouched by this – their winter glasshouses and geothermal springs maintining their crops. The northernmost of these – Dost – has even claimed to split away from Roystov – a claim that the republican government in Zdeczow strongly denies.
Dost is a truly unique place within Arren – in the depths of almost eternal winter it is built into and around the roots of a great black barked apple tree. It is a strongly matriarchal nation with most of its population descended from the first 20 settlers who colonised the area. They are a secretive people and generally stay out of the affairs of the outside world, includings its technically suzerain overlord Roystov.
Verdansk is a nation of pirates, perched on the northern edge of the empire. It is said that the first Imperial princes were from here, although their descendants are clear with their disagreement of this idea. Raiders from these lands constantly attack richer settlements along the coast, all the way to Roystov. At several points it has been invaded by the Empire but the trouble of maintaining order has been a huge money and time sink and ultimately it has been released each time. The hierarchy in these lands is entirely based on who has the pointiest stick and conflict is almost constant. All fear the northmen except the Sailors of Ryenar.
Ryenar, the last major nation in the region is technically not on the Arren Peninsula. It is an island nestled in the Brackish Sea between Verdansk and Roystov and its people are staunchly proud of their naval heritage, tempered by centuries of northman raiders. These days Verdansk raiders ignore the black cliffs of Ryenar – too many have died to their frigates. If there is any country that hates Descartesia more than Voltasia it is Ryenar. The two nations share many historical ties and have been in crown unions a number of times in the past – as a result both claim each other’s nation and neither will renounce this.