Caer Thorne (in theory)
Population: 1,398,940 (72% human, 12 hobgoblin, 6% halfling, 5% half-orcs,
Government: varies by city (militocracy, theocracy, monarchy)
Religions: The gods of Woe, especially Drauluin
Imports: Books, magic items, furs, mercenaries
Exports: Gems, precious metals, food
Updated to: 2806
Ascarlon is a hilly, mist-shrouded land nestled within the
foothills between the Hammersea and the High Forest. It is a
collection of related city-states considered by the rest of
Vatheria to be one nation. However, the cities are as often at
odds with each other as with their inhuman neighbors. Remote and
bordered on all sides by aggressive neighbors, Ascarlon is a land
under siege. To the north and west lies the expanding orc league
of Maekras, while to the east lies the aggressive hobgoblin empire
of Carhallas. The mountains of the south are home to wild and
dangerous trolls, giants, ogres and orcs. Yet Ascarlon is not
without its defenses. It is ringed about with mighty mountains,
wide rivers and the shores of the Hammersea. Its misty hills are
dotted with stout fortresses and hidden redoubts. But most of all,
Ascarlon has its vampires.
The ruling aristocracy of each Ascar city is made up of the
undead and their faithful mortal servants. Once, they were the
mortal rulers of the Ascar empire, an early competitor with
Conorria. But in their zeal to outdo the rising power to the
south, they turned to the worship of evil gods and made a terrible
pact with the darkness. They became vampires. Those who refused
were forcibly recruited or killed.
The people of Ascarlon love all form of physical conflict, from
footraces and hunting to bloodsports and war. They are loudly
passionate about the gladiatorial arena, and even small towns have
a pit or ring for such contests. Gladiators, war heroes and
soldiers are held in the highest esteem, followed closely by those
who glorify them, such as bards and great artisans. Thought by
many foreigners to be drunken northern louts, the Ascar are
exuberant in their love of sensation and life. Nearly all have
some experience with weapons.
Ascarlon was founded on the ruins of ancient Numanthaur, and
for centuries, petty kings and sorcerers carved small realms out
of the vast lands between the Worldspine and Edgemoor mountains
and the Hammersea. In CY -904, the lands were united by the
hero-priest Lodor and a long and relatively peaceful dynasty
ensued. By CY -307, the Ascar had extended their considerable
trading power over the mountains and through the High Forest into
the rich lands of the south. It was here that they would first
come into conflict with the nascent kingdom of Conorria.
By CY 110, the Conorrian senate had decided that Ascarlon was a
threat to its continued expansion and determined to destroy the
power of the northern realm once and for all. A huge army was
assembled, complete with sorcerers and monsters, and the
Conorrians marched forth to destroy their enemies. Their armies
overwhelmed the Ascar in a seven-year war, and their cities were
put to the torch.
But some of the Ascar nobles survived through the use of a
terrible secret of the Shadow Realm. They partook of the
shadowstuff, hoping to become immortal. They succeeded, but in a
manner more terrible than the deaths they sought to avert. They
became the undead, hungering forever for the lifeblood that no
longer flowed in their veins. With their newfound power, they
began to exact a terrible toll on the Conorrian legions,
eventually killing the commanding general in Ascarlon. Worse
still, they entered the Holy City and slew the Empress Valesia,
turning her into a powerful and dangerous vampire whom the emperor
eventually was forced to kill by his own hand. Although they had
defeated the armies of Ascarlon, the Conorrians could not overcome
the agents of darkness, and so they reluctantly retreated south of
the Worldspine mountains, never to return.
Cursed to an eternity of unlife, the Ascar nobles nonetheless
returned to their ruined homes, and soon began to form communities
of mortals who waged war upon each other for supplies, land and
slaves. None of the original Ascar nobles are thought to survive.
The long millennia slowly warped their minds until madness and a
desire for oblivion took hold. But their ‘descendants’ now
rule a decadent, violent and dangerous land in their steads.
In CY 1547, a new vampire lord, Gauros, rose to prominence in
the city of Caer Thorne. Stronger than his peers, he was a violent
and warlike. He soon began to gather the lords of nearby cities
under his Blood Eagle banner. By CY 1558, Gauros ruled a third of
Ascarlon. He demanded that the other cities acknowledge him as
their master. They refused and the first of many Ascar civil wars
broke out. When the dust cleared, Gauros and his followers had
been destroyed, but the whole of Ascarlon was weakened.
In CY 1902, the vast horde of hobgoblins known as the Kazimaks
arrived in the formerly lightly-populated lands east of Ascarlon.
Their great numbers, size and ferocity made them formidable foes.
Within a generation, they had shattered the power of Ascarlon east
of the Manndaran river, and shut off all trade routes to the east
and south. The lords of Ascarlon began work on the line of
fortresses that now dominates the Manndaran valley, and looked for
alliances with the human barbarians of Rhanalor.
By CY 2389, the Kazimak horde had become the Carhallas Empire
and was pushing hard all along the frontier. Another new lord
arose in the ruins of Caer Thorne, calling himself Gauros the
Arisen. He proved to be an efficient and ruthless war-leader,
driving back superior Carhallas forces all along the frontier.
Many Ascars believe that this is the original Gauros, who somehow
cheated death during the first civil war.
In recent years, Gauros the Arisen, known popularly as Prince
Gauros (now nearly 500 years old) has become the most powerful and influential of the lords
of Ascarlon. He shows little of the impetuousness of his namesake,
and is skillful at playing off his neighbors against one another.
In 2797, the Empire of Frost arrived at the
borders of Ascarlon. As yet, the forces of Hoarwinter have
not crossed the river into Ascarlon, but most observers feel that
the Archons are merely absorbing their conquests in Maekras
first. Others hint darkly that Gauros and Hoarwinter have
come to an arrangement.
Caer Thorne (Large City; population 58,230) Caer Thorne
is a walled fortress-city situated high in the southeastern
foothills, by the banks of the river Rialis. It is dominated by
the Nightmare Citadel, grim and foreboding court of Prince Gauros.
A large and well-used arena, the Kylanor, stands at the
heart of the city. Anything can be found in the city, for a price,
even poisons and narcotics. Prince Gauros actively discourages all
good religions and persecutes their followers.
Denavine (Large City; population 49, 470) Seat of the
Mandrakes, a council of vampire sorcerers who oppose Prince Gauros,
Denavine is the second-largest city in Ascarlon. Situated on the
shores of the Hammersea, it is Ascarlon’s only major port.
Denavine is best known for its many caves, ancient limestone
formations in the high bluffs along the shore which are used for a
wide variety of purposes, from shelter to storage to secrecy. The
caves are said to link to the Underdark.
Kemallaya Peaks - This remote southern range forms part
of the Edgemoor mountains, and is a wild and dangerous place.
Tribes of savage orcs make their homes here, as do rhemoraz,
beholders and dragons. Rumors of a hidden city somewhere in the
high peaks has never been substantiated.
Castle Valad -A looming ruin in the southeastern
hills was once the home of the powerful Valad family, heroes
of Ascarlon. The castle was built on the even older ruins of a
Numanthaur spellhold. This dangerous site is now haunted by its
former owners, but the presence of the great underground citadel
continues to attract and doom many adventurers.
The Firefields - An area of unstable volcanic activity
and connections to the elemental plane of fire, the Firefields are
home to an intelligent race of firedrakes and their mephit
servants. Rumor has it that the Firefields hides a temple to
The Ghost Forest of Eldameth - This eerie forest is
found almost anywhere in and around Ascarlon, but only foggy
nights near to the full moon. Those who find themselves in the
Ghost Forest often report meeting fey folk from other places and
times. Sages say that the Forest is a gateway to other realms, and
that it is ruled over by a goddess with motives she shares with no
The Sinking Land - Along the Amberwash, on the shores of
the Hammersea, there is a large swamp known as the Sinking Land.
Curious geological activity causes the land to rise and fall from
year to year, occasionally covering large areas or revealing
ancient structures. These swamps are inhabited by several tribes
of lizard-men and are home to many rare and valuable plants.