Averoth the Barbaric
'Aye, Averoth! Land of banditry and corruption. Not a place for the faint o' heart, let me tell you. So's me and me mates went for a spell in them plains. We was lookin' for treasure, see, and them rovers and corrupt barons had it. So's we went, killed a bandit or two, maybe a couple o' orc tribes, and we made a fortune. 'Course, when we hit the Capital, we lost it all to thieves, hookers, and drink, but still, the memory of the weight of that sack...'
-Old Gerald, man in the pub.
Summary:Â Averoth, commonly called 'the bloody' is aÂ relativelyÂ new state. It would be prosperous and rich, because of the fertile lands it holds, and because its situated right on a major trade route, but any wealth it would make is lost because of the political climate in the lands. Averoth is chaotic. The current King (a boy of about seven years old) lacks control over his lands. His major concern is food and play. This leaves, because Averoth has no laws about what to do for child kings (such as appointing a regent), the various barons to dispense justice as they please. This 'justice' usually takes the form ofÂ oppressiveÂ taxes. Taxes made all the more difficult to pay because of the groups commonly called 'Rovers'- groups that wander, pillage, and steal from theÂ peasants. These Rovers are groups of human bandits, orcs, and other such undesirables. And if this was not enough, some neighboring countries, interested in stabilizing Averoth under their own flag, compete amongst themselves by forming Rovers, bribing Barons, and sending spies. The only reason these countries don't simply declare war is that if the entire fighting potential of Averoth (which is quite a lot, because of the amount of people who live by the sword) fought them, Averoth would win easily. And some groups of mercenaries make their fortune either aiding or killing all the other groups. TheÂ peasantsÂ themselves cannot depend on help from anybody. The Barons are more interested in forming the next tax, the king in his play, the Rovers in the next pillage, other countries in take over, and mercenaries in treasure. So groups ofÂ peasantsÂ either try to leave and escape the country, rule and defend themselves (which sometimes results in yet another corrupt baron), or simply suffering quietly.
The Description of the Plains:Â The only words to describe the plains of Averoth, where most of the vioence occurs, is flat and Â vast. There are pockets of forest here and there, but on the whole, you can see for miles simply by standing on a road. There are hardly any hills in the plains, and the few hilly areas haven been taken as a temporary base for whichever Rover is in the area. The same goes for the few forests, and for that reason, only ignorant foreign travelers go through the forests and hills, or people seeking to join a Rover group. The plains can also beÂ describedÂ with another word: fertile. They have to be, to get enough food to feed the peasants, barons, city folk, Rovers, and soldiers. Most scraps of farmland close enough to the peasants house is farmed. The Averothians have not invented the wheelbarrow, or borrowed the wheelbarrow from neighboring countries, so that not all the plains are farmed. In fact, the border between one Baron's lands and another is marked by a strip of wild, unfarmed lands. Also covering the land is a system of roads. These roads are not kept very well, and are little more than strips where grass doesn't grow. The roads have severe ruts, but the ruts dwindle in size the closer to a town you get.
The Description of the Capitol:Â The sole city in Averoth, it is large and sprawling. Here, the standards of living for the commoners is fairly good. Not as good elsewhere, but better than the plains. The anarchy outside of the Capitol's walls does not quite extend into them, for the King's army keeps the peace in here, and not out there. The streets of the city are a windy, chaotic, and confusing maze, paved with a mixture of cobblestones, mud, and filth on the ground, because the common disposal of wastes is into the chamber pot, and out the window. At least, that is how the streets are in the poorer side of the city. On the rich side, where the nobles and king live, the streets are paved in cobblestones, and is much prettier than on the other side of town. The rich can afford to pay for clean streets. The poor cannot. The poor have enough to worry about getting food on the table.
Examples of the Major Groups:
The Bloody Axe:Â A group of human bandits, this group heralds to a war banner depicting a dripping black axe on a red cloth. This is the biggest of the Rovers, with 250 bandits in their ranks. The common weapon in this group is the axe, though some favor swords and spears. There is even a small group of archers in their, though their main duties are hunting, fishing, and gathering food to supplement the main troops diet. The Bloody Axe has even taken over a barony, and the leader of the group insists in being called Baron. Ever since they managed to take over a baronry, they get an annual tribute from some of the weaker barons. They generally only demand food from the peasents, and even leave some food for the peasents for the next year, because, as their leader puts it, 'A dead peasent doesn't grow food for me to take next year.'
Fireclaw:Â The Fireclaw used to be all orcs, but have since accepted humans into their ranks. They number 200, with about a two thirds orc, one third human. The orcs either use their own claws, or clubs, whereas the humans tend to use either spears, swords, or bows. They lack a flag. The Fireclaw is led by an orc who is smart (and strong, which is a requirement in orcish society) enough to use tactics.
Leveroth:Â Leveroth is a Lich who realized the potential for undead servant material in Averoth. And so he sacked a town, and got himself an army. He, because he only recently arrived (and because all the Rovers and bandits hate the undead), still has a small force of around 150, with 75 zombies, 50 Skeletons, and 25 ghouls. Leveroth and his host wander the countryside, getting enough people and materials to build a fortress somewhere. Or to get enough people to take a Baron's fortress.
Baron Leurc:Â One of the worse Barons, Leurc's taxes are heavy, and uses human rovers (he hates orcs with a passion) to collect his taxes. These taxes are oppressive enough, without the addition of the 'Tip' the tax collectors demand when they make their rounds. The tax collectors also add various additional taxes of their own on the spot, and infamous example being 'Looking at me, pal.' Failure to pay the Tip, or the extra taxes, usually results in the burning of your home with your family still in it. The Baron, however, does nothing to stop this, because he's getting old and lacks a heir, so why leave his baron in a fit state after his death?
Baron Yotheburt:Â On of the nicer Barons, Yotheburt wants to leave his baron to his son, his only pride and joy. Because of this, Yotheburt doesn't tax hisÂ peasantsÂ so much that they won't live long enough to support his son. Yotheburt has even deployed soldiers to defend theÂ peasantsÂ against Rovers, a rarity among Barons. Conditions are so good that Yotheburt gets a small trickle of refugess seeking a better life, even if taxes are still bad, and much higher than in surrounding countries.
Baron Rotiart:Â Rotiart firmly believes he was born in the wrong country. This belief stems from the large bribe heÂ receivedÂ recently from a neighboring King. Rotiart is now the fetching boy for this other king, and is quite willing to allow this other king to parade his soldiers through Rotiart's lands. He also does everything the other king asks of him (though he skilfuly steers the conversation from him lowering taxes).
The King:Â The young king was recently orphaned by an unknown assassin, at the behest of an unknown group. This act caused the main destabilization of the country, for now the Baron's themselves have no one of note to take orders from. The Baron's themselves send people to the capitol to influence the King to further the Baron's ends. The King himself, though, is a whiny, spoiled brat. He is also easily influenced by whoever talks to him in a suitable tone of voice.Â
Gangs:Â The anarchy of the outlying regions does not quite extend into the sprawling capital. Instead, various gangs have taken over districts of the capitol. These gangs, unlike the Rovers or the Barons, have to remain stealthy- even though the King fails to have a presence elsewhere, he does at home. This keepsÂ theÂ capitol somewhat safe. The gangs can't trash your house, or be too troublesome, or the King's soldiers might take an interest in the gangs. This interest does not extend to gang warfare too much, because if two gangs kill each other off, it can only help the peace. The gangs, to counter this, have set up a simple system to keep money where it should be- in the gangs pockets. They have set up a simple tribute system. A small amount of money each year, and you're given a bracelet that makes you off limits to thievery. If you fail to where the bracelet, then the gang's thieves will take all the money in your pocketbook, and probably the pocketbook too. No one will make the bracelet, and each gang has their own bracelet color. There are still gang wars, mostly for a bigger territory, but these are kept small enough to avoid the eyes of the soldiers.
Spies:Â Each neighboring countries, and some countries that are simply fed up with the lack of stability (and the extra costs on imports forced to go the long way around Averoth), have espionage programs in place in the capitol. These groups areÂ regularlyÂ making treaties and breaking them, to further their country's own ends. These spying groups create more chaos in the capitol than do the gangs, because of the wars between two groups at times,Â reminiscentÂ of the real world's Cold War. Even espionage groups attempting to stabilize the country to not take it over, but to lower (put import here) costs, war with each other. These wars are never official wars, and never extend to the battle field, except if one group hired a Rover or two to attempt and kill the other Rovers (though this technique will fail, because some other Rover group would form and fill the hole).
Operation: Stabilize.Â The Kingdom of Shiliferon has had enough. The commoners are complaining about the price of iron, which Shiliferon imports from a country on the other side of Averoth. If Averoth were stabilized, and the trade caravans could go through Averoth, iron prices would drop, meaning happy citizens. And since Shiliferon's spies in Averoth have made no real progress, Shiliferon has decided on a different approach. Namely, hiring a bunch of PCs do stabilize the country.
This Quest Leads Where?!?Â In some dungeon, the PCs find a book telling of the wondrous (fill in name here), which apparently can (fill in some power here). Or, perhaps, some arch-nemesisÂ the PCs are trying to kill, or there's a race with that arch-nemesis to get to the Ancient's doomsday device. And this magic item, that enemy, that device, are in Averoth. And so the PCs elude dangerous Rovers, avoid inquisitive Barons, and ignore starvingÂ peasants, to do that mission.
Protecting theÂ Peasants:Â The PCs stumble across a group of peasants that have simply had enough. They want to make this land that their families have farmed for generations their own. And to do that, they need military power. The peasants would like the PCs to teach them to fight, and maybe help with the construction of the walls while they are there. And, of course, defend against the wrath of the Baron, who will not be pleased at his lack of taxpayers.
Snap dat Axe:Â A Baron has had enough. For too long has he paid tribute to the Bloody Axe, a petty group of commoners! The embarrassment alone! And not to mention the lack of money in the treasury... It is time for them to go. And this Baron wants the PCs to do it. He wants them to get rid of this problem, however they want. There might even be money involved.
Protect the King:Â Apparently, some unknown party wants the king dead. And yes, they feel perfectly fine killing an adorable child. And another party likes this state of anarchy, and would prefer to keep things how they are, for at least a bit longer. And so, Operation: Bodyguard begins. Protect the King as men in black with green stuff on their daggers burst through windows at unexpected times, or fake butlers serve Cake a la Poison. Or perhaps the reverse- cooking up the perfect plot to knock off that spoiled brat.
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? Responses (4)
A sort of more stable Somalia.
Any unstable poor country really. Trying to figure out why the peasants would stay for one. My second main question would be what keeps these lawless crews from constantly pillaging or invading the surrounding countries. Sure seems like they would be much easier targets than staying local with all the different enemies available.
Also, the king...wow. Place would be insane to be in. No friends anywhere and unless you can defend yourself, you are dead. Crazy.
Extra points for describing the bands, people and adding some plot ideas. I can see somebody using this, or at least parts of it, in a game!
The thing that keeps the Raiders from raiding other countries is that the border would (probably) be fairly well defended. Why would you let such Averothian violent riff-raff into your nice, pristine country? So the neighboring places would probably set up walls and patrols and such. And as for the peasants, well, this is there home. They have buried generations in this soil. They know nothing of the outside world, so they have no idea whether or not the Averothian conditions are the norm, or even better than most. All they know is what they do. Added to the inherent danger of moving (getting past the baron, the raiders, and the border), they mostly just suffer in silence. There are some groups who have tried and succeeded, but they have no way of telling their buddies about how great this new place is.