Population: 1,232,450 (56% human, 16% halfling,
13% half-orc, 9% gnome, 3% centaur, 2% elf)
Imports: Trade goods, glass, hides, precious metals
Exports: Trade goods, pottery, grain, fruits,
inks, cast brass and bronze, ships
Situated on the north shore of the Golden Sea, the Harkorian
League is a collection of independent city-states struggling to
recover from centuries of terrible oppression and slavery at the
hands of the Daerond Empire. Its once-great cities are now largely
ruins, and its fabled merchant navy is now but a pale reflection
of its former glory.
The League is trying to rebuild itself amidst the destruction
of its traditional ruling class. At the same time, it is
struggling with powerful monsters in the east along the Edgemoor
Mountains and the rising power of the Mahadran pirates in the
west. Then too, there are bandits throughout the League. Desperate
and dangerous, many of them are deserters from the armies of the
League or of Daerond. There is much work to be done for those
brave enough to seek their fortunes here.
The League is ruled by representatives of the surviving ancient
trading families, who meet in the port city of Morthales. This
League Conclave has entered upon an ambitious project to build a
small fleet of merchant ships, believing that its ancient
traditions are the best means of returning the League to life.
Still, there are strong voices in the Conclave and elsewhere which
argue for a more martial stance, building an army and recruiting
mercenaries to secure their northern border.
Physically, Harkoria is a land dominated by its seasons. In the
spring and early summer, the winds are out of the north and it is
hot and dry except in the east, where it rises to meet the
towering Edgemoor mountains. During the fall and autumn, it is the
rainy season. The winds rise up out of the south and west and
bring with them the torrential downpours that sustain the region
the rest of the year. The whole of northern and central Harkoria
is dominated by a vast region of lightly wooded hills, while the
land along the coasts is gentle, rolling grassland or marsh.
The simple fisherman and farmers who lived on the north coast
of the Golden Sea were transformed by the coming of the Conorrian
Legions in C.Y. 812. The great Northern Road, the via brythnia,
brought a great volume of trade and commerce. Even before the
legions entered the lands they would name Harkoria, Conorrian
traders reached out from their ports in Aelissia and from
Carrenthium in Brythnia, and made contact with the prosperous
people of the north coast, trading for copper and tin. Under
Conorrian rule, Harkoria became a powerful center of commerce, and
ports were built all along the coasts which brought Conorrian
goods to markets in the far north.
The merchant families of Harkoria were in the thick of the
intrigue that preceded the Mage Wars, and there are those who
believe that it was the House Kyartes, or one of its associated
houses, that hired the assassin who killed the Emperor in Luxur.
Whatever the truth of that, what is true is that the
sorcerer-priestess Niome, called "Griffonhawk", first
supported Markimillien the Great, and later betrayed him to the
sorcerous cabal known as the "Five-Who-Are-One". As
Griffonhawk made her home in Morthales, and made her final stand
against the archmage there, the city and region suffered terribly
in the wake of his assault on her. The unnatural peak of rock
which arose in the center of the city to consume her is still
known as Niome’s Tomb.
In the wake of the Mage Wars, Harkoria became a province of the
Miletian Empire. Her influence in that soldier-dominated society
waned as that of Lorraine and Corland waxed. Trade continued, but
Harkoria herself was now troubled by evils which the Conorrians
had always managed to hold at bay. Fell monsters from the Edgemoor
mountains were more frequently found upon the eastern marches, and
evil cults rose to power in nearly every city. As the Miletians
ruthlessly hounded the cult of Malbor in Daerond, it found
sympathizers in Harkoria. So too did the Unseeing Eye and the
Shadow Hand, both dangerous cults since time immemorial.
Two characteristics of the Harkorian people conspired to bring
final disaster to the Miletian Empire: their thirst for wealth and
their love of intrigue. Merchant houses seeking to weaken the
imperial stranglehold on trade aided the barbarian army known as
the Darothic Horde, hoping to profit if the empire were forced
into war. These deluded schemers were swept away with nearly all
else as in 2282, the Horde descended upon the Empire in numbers
undreamed of, savagely looting all that they could carry away, and
burning the rest.
In the wake of the Horde’s destruction, it was generations
before the Harkorian city-states would again rise in importance.
Contrary to their ancestors’ hopes, the fall of Miletia meant
that trade between the Successor States rapidly declined. Hoping
to reestablish trade with the south and defend themselves against
the rising power of Daerond to the north, the city-states formed a
loose confederation known as the Harkorian League in 2428 and
began to sail beyond the Golden Sea, trading along the coasts as
far south as Har’akir and as far north as Tirgonia.
The League was to remain independent for less than a century.
In 2525, the Daeron armies of the Black King invaded, and quickly
conquered the entire country. The final battle between the
Harkorian and Daerond armies was the siege of Orleos, which
resisted the necromantic power of the lich-king for five months
before falling to his minions. The city was burned to the ground,
its inhabitants and defenders slain to a man and its fields
Harkoria proved easy to conquer but difficult to rule. The
fractious Harkorian nature meant that resistance and outright
rebellion were frequent. Although the fertile lands and coasts of
Harkoria were vital to the growth of the Daerond empire, great
numbers of troops, spies, wizards and inquisitors were necessary
to keep order in the cities. Outside the cities, Daeron power was
slow to take hold and extend beyond the sight of Daeron troops.
The great Harkorian merchant houses were either purged or forced
to work closely with Daeron authorities. Some collaborated
readily, while others later claimed to have worked in secret to
support the growing number of secret societies opposed to Daeron
Despite the conquest, Harkorian trade never stopped. Its
profits now merely flowed through the merchant houses to the war
coffers of their Daeron masters. Over time, the restraining hand
of Daerond meant that Hakoria lost its preeminent place among the
merchants of Vatheria, but among the Successor States, their
red-hulled ships remained a common sight.
The 2641 death of Dyrethis in Tirgonia, and the subsequent
destruction of the Daeron armies in that country sparked murderous
rampages against Daeron troops and authorities across Harkoria. A
brutal series of reprisals against Harkorians living in the
affected cities restored order and the traditional fear. Most of
the rebels were crushed by the ruthless efficiency of the Black
Dukes’ inquisitors. Harkoria was plunged into a century of
oppression far worse even than that it had suffered under the
hands of the Black King. Whole cities were razed and their
populations forced to work on slave farms, or taken north for the
entertainment of the mob in Acherai.
It is during this period that the mysterious Ghostwalkers began
to wage a subtle war upon the oppressors. In the countryside,
small bands of troops loyal to the Black Dukes would simply
disappear. In the cities, well-protected governors and Inquisitors
would be found dead inside their tightly-guarded homes. No one
seemed to know who was responsible, and the usual method of
terrorizing the peasantry produced no one who would or could
betray them. The Ghostwalkers became a legend, one that kept
Daeron toops staring into the Harkorian night with fear, and
filled the Black Dukes with fury.
The Daeron civil war was spurred on by a failed attempt on the
life of Bishop Morbanes in 2770. As the Black Dukes warred among
themselves, Daeron power in Harkoria collapsed almost overnight.
Disciplined legions marched quickly northward towards the bridge
at Erzarus, while less disciplined troops went on rampages,
looting and burning as they left. After two and a half centuries
of Daeron slavery, Harkoria was suddenly free. But it was also a
rubble-filled ruin whose population had been reduced to half its
former size and left leaderless and unskilled.
Amidst the monuments to terror left by the Black Dukes, the
once-great trading people now struggle to find their national
identity. The region is once again known as the Harkorian League
and is led by the Conclave, whose membership is made up of
representatives of those ancient merchant houses whose members
survived the long occupation.
MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS
Morthales - (Small city; population 36,970) Morthales
lies at the mouth of the Golden Sea, across the straits from
Aelissia. Left in smoking ruin by the retreating Daeron armies,
much of the rubble has now been cleared away. Here and there
amidst the devatation, new civic buildings rise, and the wreckage
of ships has been towed away from the harbor entrance. But many of
the citizens of Morthales still live within makeshift shelters or
even tents. Nonetheless, a strong, almost fevered atmosphere has
gripped the population, a determination to create a truly
Harkorian city. Trade with Aelissia, Lorraine, Tirgonia and Har’akir
has brought new wealth into the city’s coffers. The Iron Citadel
of the Black Duke Harrow still squats above the city like an evil
bird of prey, and those few who return from its halls tell tales
of terrible guardians set to protect Harrow’s property until he
returns for them.
Cadares - (Small city; population 28, 430) At the mouth
of the river Osgalin stands a bluff of limestone carved by the
Miletians into the likeness of two gargantuan Knights Legionnaire
holding up the city which stands above them. This city is Cadares,
and like its famous carvings, it weathered the Daeron storm better
than most other cities. In part this was because it’s governor,
the Black Duchess Brialle, was a patron and protector of the arts.
But this was also because the ruling merchants, House Breakstone,
gave the Daerons very little difficulty and indeed made them a
fortune. Thus, the position of Cadares in the League is a
difficult one. The city is rich and carries the largest merchant
fleet in the League, but is mistrusted because of its past
association with the conquerors. The cliffs west of Cadares are
home to many species of wild birds and a colony of wild griffons.
Erzarus - (Large Town; population 16,920) This strategic
town guards the only bridge across the lower Narglaurith river,
the border between Daerond and the League. It is guarded by six
hundred Harkorian soldiers, garrisoned in the grim, grey castle
built by the Daerons more than a century ago. The Narglaurith is
rich farming land, and the small communities which stretch along
its banks bring their goods to Erzarus every two weeks. Many of
the buyers there are Daerons, and the relationship between the two
sides remains tense.
IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES
The Ruins of Orleos - The city which resisted the Daeron
advance to the bitter end was cursed by the lich-king Dyrethis.
Its population, slain to the last man, woman and child, now guards
the city in a deathless half-life. Before the fall, the great
treasures of this great merchant nation were removed to Orleos for
safekeeping, and they rest there still, watched over by those who
died to protect them.
The Titan’s Throne - In the hills north and east of
the Osgalin, a flat stone the size of a great ship rests upon four
great boulders. It is believed to be a place inhabited by faeries,
and is occasionally the site of duels between mages. It has no
known magical properties.
Long Strand - On the island of Naxarius, off the
Harkorian shore, there is a two-mile-long strand of golden
beaches. It is to this place that the mer-folk were said to come
of old to trade their wares and lustrous pearls to the men of the
surface world. None have come to the strand since the Daeron
The Ryarch Pass - High in the Edgemoor mountains to the
east, lies the narrow pass between Ascarlon and Harkoria through
which portions of the Darothic Horde passed some five hundred
years ago. Some dark presence now lives in the Pass, corrupting
all around it. Few Harkorians know of the existence of the place,
and none know what evil may lurk there, where once a proud
Miletian garrison stood.