The Witchfire Trilogy
The Lands of Men
Cygnar is arguably the most advanced and influential of the Iron Kingdoms. Its capital is Caspia, located at the southern end of the Black River. It is also the home to Corvis, City of Ghosts and birthplace of the Corvis Treaties. It serves as a critical trade nexus, particularly for riverboats. Other major cities include northwestern Ceryl—second only to Caspia in size and influence, southern Mercir, and centralized Fharin. Cygnar is a generally lawful land led by the good King Leto Raelthorne.
It is a wealthy kingdom with a strong military, and it is famed for its skilled wizards and engineers. Steam engines have brought an age of machine power to Cygnar, whether in the form of steamjacks laboring at the docks and fighting on the field of war, rumbling trains carting supplies across the miles at record speeds, or the dozens of steamships traversing up and down its rivers. The faith of Morrow is very pervasive and is the state religion of Cygnar, centered in the Sancteum inside Caspia, the nation’s capital.
Khador is a vast and harsh northern land with rich but scattered resources. Its people are particularly tough, grim, and large of frame. Most citizens are simple folk, but all are fiercely proud of their nation. Khador has a strong military tradition; every able bodied citizen is considered to be in the military reserves. Khador has recently undertaken massive efforts to modernize and strengthen its position in the world. Their arcane mastery has been growing in recent decades, and the crown has encouraged engineers to thrive in the capital Korsk, which is undergoing a full industrial revolution.
Though Khador has named Morrow as the state religion for decades, Queen Ayn Vanar XI has softened this stance in recognition of the nature of its citizenry. Despite a slight Morrowan majority, a numerous and vocal minority follows the Menite Old Faith. The popular queen praises both religions in equal measure. Historically they have fought many border wars against all of their neighbors including Llael, Ord, and Cygnar. Khador has a longstanding rivalry with Cygnar in particular, for they are the two most dominant nations of the region. Full war looms on the horizon between these two great nations as inevitable as the turning of the seasons.
Llael is the smallest nation and has limited resources and industrial capacity, yet it has eked out an existence by exploiting its proximity to the Black River trade route and by serving as an intermediary between Rhul and Cygnar. The realm has the blessing of ample deposits of coal and blasting powder used in firearms and cannons, without which its economy would be crippled. Due to the importance of trade with the Rhulfolk, Cygnar has allied with Llael and thus far prevented this small kingdom from being gobbled up in border wars with Khador. Wizards and alchemists in Llael helped to invent firearmsand blasting powder during the rebellion, and pistols remain popular in Llael today as lovingly maintained and treasured heirlooms passed from father to son. Dueling is a popular means for resolving disputes and is rumored to be the leading cause of death among nobles. When the last king passed on eight years ago, the line of succession became extremely muddled.
Prime Minister Deyar Glabryn IX seized power and rules virtually as sovereign by manipulating the everscheming Llaelese Council of Nobles. King Leto does not consider Glabryn the lawful ruler of this nation, and it has strained their alliance. Llael embraces the Church of Morrow as its religion, but few of its ruling nobles pay much heed to faith.
Ord has the dubious distinction of being the poorest of the Iron Kingdoms although it is larger and more populous than Llael. Possessed of a long rugged coastline, Ord’s citizens mostly live near the water’s edge and make their livings off the sea. It is a dangerous life, for the waters of the western seas are harsh, and pirates from the Scharde Islands are often close at hand. These conditions serve to breed the toughest, most skilled sailors anywhere and make Ord’s navy a force to be reckoned with despite somewhat antiquated ships. Inland the nation is dominated by the proud landed castellans, whose varied wealth derives from raising cattle and exploiting difficult farmland.
The capital of Ord is the city of Merin, but its most infamous town is the disreputable Five Fingers. Situated at the opposite end of the Dragon’s Tongue River from Corvis, Five Fingers is a smuggler’s haven. The ruler of Ord is “The Bandit King” Baird II, a hearty bear of a man rumored to have lived a debauched youth and kept many criminals and cutthroats as friends. He is well loved by the common man for his tiered system of taxation, but this has put him at odds with the richer gentry. Morrow is the state religion of Ord, but their citizens are reputedly less scrupulous about attending church than in some nations.
The Protectorate is the newest nation, born of a religious schism within Cygnar just over a century ago. This was the Cygnaran Civil War which erupted when the worshippers of the ancient god Menoth could no longer abide the influence of the Church of Morrow. Their discontent simmered for years while they assembled a secret army of zealots in eastern Caspia. This erupted into full warfare in the streets of the walled capital and divided the city at the Black River.
The eastern section became the city Sul, named after Sulon—the leader of their cause martyred during the brutal street fighting at the end of the war. After the war Cygnar retained nominal control of the eastern territory, but the Menite followers were allowed to form a theocracy and govern their believers as they saw fit. The arrangement persists on paper, but in practice the Protectorate of Menoth is a separate nation. Any citizen or visitor who breaks the strict rules of conduct is punished severely, and the worship of Menoth permeates every aspect of life. The mortal leader of the Protectorate is His Eminence, Hierarch Garrick Voyle, who works to muster a great crusade against the decadent Morrowan nations.