Lionel (3.5e Environment)
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In the northern reaches of Halimeda, the Kingdom of Lionel draws its borders at the northern edge of the great Faelorn Forest, bordering Volare to the north. One of the great kingdoms, it has a rich history and many tales and legends have found root in the land. While traditionally ruled by a monarch, the throne of Lionel has been vacant for centuries - the last king being King Oddr, who disappeared into the infamous Dead Marshes when the capital city fell.
Despite this vacuum of power, the various vassals and landed nobles of Lionel still feel a great loyalty to the crown, even if they sometimes have disdain for each other. Because of this, there have been relatively few attempts to usurp the monarchy, and none of them successful. In the current era, the various counties and duchies rule themselves as if they were independent states, often conducting their own wars and treaties within the borders of the realm, but otherwise still identify as vassal-states of Lionel.
Climate, Geography, and Wildlife
Lionel is affected by rather normal but cool climate for its position in the world, most of the year, but suffers from extreme flooding in the rainy season, due to the geographical features of the land. Most cities are built on high ground to protect against this, but some villages still spring up, seasonally, down in the plains below. The western seashore has a tendency to rise as the coastline follows north, resulting in a large, expansive region of cliffs, with beaches to the south. To the east, a large marsh impedes progress, and proves to be an incredibly difficult barrier to pass by. The marsh gives off incredibly foul odor, and it has been known to cause sickness within people who stay nearby for too long. Reports of undead and rabid animals have also been heard of, filing in from the bogs.
Otherwise, the wildlife population is relatively normal for the plains and beaches, with one notable exception. Kraken often populate the waters to the southwest of the region, giving mariners a reason to stray from those areas. This, alongside the previously stated problems to the east, have caused most wildlife remaining to stay around high ground, becoming the prime choice for hunters, since the geography doesn't allow for fertile farming.
As a kingdom whose history is comparable in length to that of Sol and Kaladon, it is considered to be one of the great Kingdoms of old. Despite this, Lionel is a tragic kingdom. Unlike Kaladon, whose territories and states ultimately disintegrated or reformed into other nations and slowly eroded the identity of Kaladon from the masses, Lionel simply became as a man with his head lopped off; The vacuum of a head of state became a problem for foreign policy, and many wars resulted from other nations that sought to take the kingdom in its time of weakness. With the loyalty that the landed nobles held for the crown being so great, becoming fully independent nations was unthinkable, and so the problems persisted, with the people of Lionel fighting off invaders and developing a great mistrust of the rest of the world.
The capital of Old Lionel lies in ruins, and has for centuries, ever since it fell. While the direct cause is unknown to this day, even to the powerful scryers and acolytes of the Gods of Tirr, there were no survivors of the onslaught that befell the kingdom's capital; the few who made it to nearby settlements or to the nearest county of Maulwatch died too soon after to give testament to what had occurred. Furthermore, the immediate appearance and spread of the Dead Marshes made searching the ruins of the capital impossible. Since its appearance, the Dead Marshes have only expanded.
In the current era, Lionel has finally managed an ambivalent relationship with its closest neighbor, Volare; While the relationship is largely still founded with distrust and hostility, the elven nation has largely turned its attention away from Lionel in order to deal with the threats presented by Silverfell. While they still have the occasional raids from hostile groups such as their long-time enemy, Indus, the current time is one of relative peace.
The various lands of Lionel are governed by the remaining noble families and houses that dot the landscape, in what amounts to feudalism. While all nobles still uphold their houses' pledges of fealty to the crown of Lionel, the lack of a king makes the current groups of noble houses and families relatively stagnate. As a result, these nobles rule over their de jure counties and duchies with little challenge. Occasionally, wars within the realm between vassals can result in counties being held by lieges who are not their traditional ruler, but this is usually short-term, as many houses consider any loss of land to be a great stain on their honor and authority, and therefore seek to reclaim it as soon as possible.
Because of the current state of affairs, with governing being largely the responsibility of dukes and counts from various lands, the current ruling system more resembles bastard feudalism, although the ruling nobles aren't known for challenging the authority of the crown, and all standing decrees from the late King have been upheld to the current day.
Foreign Relations and Military
While Lionel has never managed to secure any long-term alliances with other nations, it does have its share of traditional enemies. Originally, Kaladon was the traditional enemy of the great Kingdom, but its fall left behind the two nations of Indus and Kerrigan, with only Indus maintaining the hostile relationship with Lionel. The Elven nation of Volare has historically had many boundary disputes with Lionel (Indeed, the Elves have had these problems with all human nations on the continent), but largely enjoys lukewarm relations with the kingless land; both parties largely leave the other to their own devices, but maintain mutual distrust.
Most Lionelian counties have their military might characterized by the county from which the levy is raised, with a slight favor for mounted knights in positions of command. Mercenaries are hired for major conflicts, and almost all conflicts in modern history have been raised against other nobles in the Lionelian realm, as the nation has managed to exhaust its would-be foes for the most part, and turn its attention to old rivalries.
Language, Religion, and Culture
The largest majority of the Lionel speaks Common, but other languages are commonplace depending on the region. Elven is commonly spoken by individuals in the southern duchy of Melika and some parts of Lonia, and Undercommon is spoken in regions that have contact with the drow and hobgoblins that live beneath the surface of much of Halimeda.
Religion doesn't play as big of a role in the common person's life as it does in many other nations, as the state and community are often stressed with far greater effect. Ironically, this does tend to attract many worshippers of Mara to the nation. Many religions flourish in the varied states of Lionel, however, largely thanks to the great variations in culture and diversity between different counties. Almost each major city has a temple devoted to some deity relevant to the culture, there.
Culturally, Lionel is largely indistinguishable from a medieval setting, where social status is broken up between differents castes and held in high regard. Serfs and Peasants are among the lowest rung, but are afforded the rights of citizenry, and many of the nobles they serve do attempt to make good on their promises of shelter and civil service, although the trust between lord and servant does erode occasionally, and under the right circumstances, rebellion and insurrection is a very real concern. Slavery is an enterprise that is frowned upon, but still thrives in economically rich regions of the land, and is usually justified as a manner of debt-repayment. Due to the large number of slaves that happen to be elves or kin, there are rumors of unfair treatment that do cause more than a few problems for those who pursue such businesses.
Lionel, Capital of the Lionel Region
A once grand city, now reduced to wretched ruins and horrid, ghastly abominations as the souls were tormented by their deaths, Lionel no longer stands in its former glory, and can arguably stand no more. The seat of the region, as no other has dared to usurp the leadership of the late king, the would-be governing body would still reside here, though some take up hope the royal family took refuge in the tunnels beneath, belonging to Drow and other races, and earned safe passage to a place far beyond. This hope is relatively slim, however, but the capital remains a fact: Lionel fell.
The dead marshes are a terrible sight to behold. The entire wasteland has been reduced from once lush, and fertile plains, to a disgusting, hellish muck. This area surrounds the late capital of Lionel, and has been slowly spreading, like a glacier, over the adjacent areas, and threatens to swallow up all of the region. It somehow stops at the border of Volare, suggesting that the Fae spirits of the forests are able to ward off the evil energies of the marsh. The air is blasphemous, and the marshes themselves even more so, as the mass amounts of blood and corpses that littered the city decomposed and transformed the area into what it is.
A small fishing city, located on the northwestern cape; Crow's Point is arguably the largest settlement still inhabited in the region. It is home to a former baron's family, though this family has long ceded authority to the people in exchange for their wealth and residence, which was agreed upon. The land around Crow's point, like many other cities in Lionel, is infertile, due to the flooding that occurs seasonally, and commerce is rare, due to the nearest landing being plagued by Kraken. The city has earned its name due to the crows that gather, feasting on those who die of famine, or the carcasses of previous hunts.
Other Notable Sites
- Ladinea - A small settlement near the northern coastline.
- Alua Lann - A border settlement at the edge of Volare's border. The elves of Volare frequent here, and while they maintain disdain for most humans, trade and negotiations are discussed here with civility; The plight of the citizens of Lionel has moved the Elves.