In the Empire of Devils ambition and ruthlessness are the norm, and to climb the political ladder in Cheliax one must wield guile and initiative in the very manner of Asmodeus himself.
For your part, you have set your eyes on a new Barony, in an ambitious County, in a powerful Archduchy.
The young Fort town of Varni is in the badlands and foothills south of The Eismonts, north of Anferita Wood. It is the newest Barony in the small but ambitious Gheradescci County.
Gheradescci County is ruled by Count Vocaturo Spartaco. His wife, Olivia Spartaco is a niece of Archduke Kettermaul Charthagnion. They have no children of their own and so have named their niece, Stella Spartaco, to be the Baroness of Varni.
But this Barony is to be Your stepping-stone, the next rung on the ladder, to real power in Cheliax.
Archduke Kettermaul Charthagnion, the self-styled "Archheathen" of the great Longmarch Archduchy, has worked with Count Vocaturo Spartaco and Countess Olivia Spartaco, to arrange a marriage between the young Baroness Stella Spartaco and a member of House Phandros in Westcrown, Francesco Phandros.
The union of House Spartaco and House Phandros could become quite powerful. And if the marriage is a success, Baroness-regnant Stella Spartaco and Baron-Consort Francesco Phandros could become too powerful for you to handle quietly.
The young noble from Westcrown must not arrive in Varni. Or even Gheradessci County.
North of Corentyn, the seat of ArchDuke Kettermaul Charthagnion’s power, lies the deep Anferita Wood. A forest of shadow and fog – and a terrible Druid -- Anferita is the domain of Yeth Hounds, Manticores, Wyverns and yet more dangerous predators. The northeastern area of Anferita, well into the foothills of the Eismonts and the plains far west of the port city, Macini, stands Charthagnion’s Gheradescci County.
This County, ruled by one of Charthagnion’s loyal retainers, Vocaturo Spartaco, is soon to be the site of an important wedding. Count Vocaturo Spartaco’s niece, the newly titled Baroness Stella Spartaco, is to marry Francesco Phandros of the powerful House Phandros in Westcrown.
Rumors have been rampant throughout Gheradescci County that the young Baroness is refusing to go through with the wedding, despite pressure from both her uncle the Count and the ArchDuke himself, far to the south in Corentyn. Nonetheless, the wedding is planned, Countess Olivia Spartaco herself is overseeing the Event and has sent word to nobles throughout the Longmarch Archduchy, from Corentyn to Westcrown, from Macini to Hinji.
And now the Baron-Consort is travelling by caravan from the august city of Westcrown to his new home in the wild foothills south of the Eismonts, just north of Anferita, to meet his Baroness-Regnant and increase the power of both House Phandros and House Spartaco.
The northwest corner, containing two Districts, is the Parego Dospera. It is half abandoned, crumbling and poor. The Homeless and the criminals and the heretics-in-hiding dwell here in hopeless despair.
The peninsula, containing three Districts, is the Parego Spera. This is contemporary Westcrown where 95% of the population live, work and worship Asmodeus and House Thrune.
The island, containing three Districts, is the Parego Regicona, wherein live the nobles. All the Noble Houses of Longmarch Archduchy, as well as several other Houses throughout Cheliax, have fortified mansions like palatial citadels, separated by steep canals. Many of these castle-manors are neglected and understaffed due to deterioration of the Family power and influence. But some are still quite strong.
Noble Houses prominent in the Longmarch Archduchy, especially Seated in Westcrown:
House Phandros - - - - Westcrown; Grand-Count Marcus Phandros
House Jeggare - - - - absentee in Westcrown
House Oberigo - - - - Count Toran Oberigo and Countess Tanith Oberigo
House Grulios - - - - (House Mironeth; House Ici)
House Tilernos - - - - (House Starnon; House Etrovain)
House Khollarix - - - - (House Nymmis)
House Mezinas - - - - (House Vitaron; House Missepe)
Knowledge: Society, DC 33:
Gheradescci County is named from the House that built Citadel Gheradesca so long ago. While no member of that ancient House has ruled the area for many decades, it remains a vital artery for Corentyn, if not the Longmarch Archduchy.
The County seat today is the small town of Spartaco three miles east of the northern edge of Anferita Wood. It is ruled by Count Vocaturo Spartaco, the House Patriarch, and his Countess-Consort, Olivia Spartaco, formerly of House Charthagnion; she is the niece of ArchDuke Kettermaul Charthagnion.
There are three principal geographical features of Gheradescci County.
The first is the northeast corner “L”-shape section of the Anferita Wood, stretching the NE edge of the forest south for forty miles (and twenty miles-deep into the Wood), and stretching the northern edge west for approximately forty-two miles where the forest ends (also twenty miles-deep into the Wood). This 160-square-mile forested region is where County soldiers become heroes or die. Count Spartaco is responsible for sending troops into this L-shaped stretch of Wood to capture heretics & thieves, kill roving monsters, and seek-and-destroy any potential raiders.
The second feature of Gheradescci County is the long area of rocky foothills and badlands south of The Eismont Mountains. Here, the fort town of Varni has recently been built up as the new Barony for Count Vocaturo Spartaco’s niece, Baroness Stella Spartaco. Varni was built a mile from the site of a recently discovered gold vein; mining continues. While the hills have long been a source of iron and copper, the discovery of gold nine months ago has made House Spartaco and the entire County a bit more ambitious. But the foothills of the Eismont range are no safe haven. Wild beasts have always been a problem for copper and iron miners and plenty of natural hazards abound. The new fort town and her young Baroness are anything but secure.
The final feature of Gheradescci County is a large rectangle of agricultural land east of the foothills and northern stretch of Anferita. Eighty-five miles north-to-south and forty miles east-to-west, the heartlands of the county are dotted with villages and farmsteads producing grapes, olives, tomatoes, eggplant, peaches, cherries, Chelaxian wheat and several goat and pig ranches. While the wine produced from the vineyards here is known in Longmarch, much more desirable are the dairy: goat cheese, cream & milk; and the various salamis, pepperonis, capicola, and prosciutto. Here, in sight of the Anferita three miles west and the badland-foothills two miles north, the town of Spartaco serves as Count Vocaturo’s seat, his impressive castle standing sentry over the community of 850 townspeople, loyal to Cheliax.
Two unusual communities stand apart in Gheradescci County. The northern part of the county, on the edge of the foothills and the heartland, holds a small village of mostly Hobgoblins, Mog. Standing as the County’s northern border, these Hobgoblins are a well-trained and even better valued force, keeping the County safe from brigands. Count Vocaturo’s older brother Viscount Mogranzini Spartaco, while not clever enough to have climbed the feudal ladder in Cheliax enough to hold the County, is the second most powerful person in Gheradescci and holds a Keep amongst the Hobgoblin village with his name. His Tiefling wife, Carnacella is said to be more clever and ambitious than he, though she holds no noble blood of her own.
The second unusual village is on the southern edge of Gheradescci County; a mix of Kitsune, Catfolk and Half-Elves live with their human friends in the vineyard village of Valsecchi, named for the Kitsune who founded it, swearing loyalty to Asmodeus, House Thrune, ArchDuke Charthagnion and Count Vocaturo Spartaco. Valsecchi has not taken a wife and has no heirs, though the cosmopolitan members of his village are loyal to him and they are all quite ambitious for their little village and its winery.
House Spartaco is a small and relatively unknown House in the Longmarch Archduchy under Archheathen Kettermaul Charthagnion. But despite its lack of size, power and influence, and despite its rural limitations, House Spartaco is ambitious.
With the recent discovery of gold in the County that houses Spartaco, a new Barony has been established -- and this is perhaps the engine or catalyst that can put House Spartaco on the map of Chelaxian politics.
Count Vocaturo Spartaco is the head of the House, awarded his title and given Gheradescci County by the Archduke himself. It came with the marriage of Vocaturo Spartaco to one of Archduke Kettermaul's nieces, Countess Olivia Spartaco.
Viscount Mogranzini Spartaco is the older brother of the Count but holds less political authority (or political savvy or acumen) and is his younger brother's top military commander. His Tiefling wife is not from any branch of nobility at all (one of many illustrations of Mogranzini's lack of political ambition). Yet Vidame Carnacella Spartaco, for her part, is much more politically ambitious than her husband.
The Viscount and Vidame have one child, newly titled Baroness Stella Spartaco. It is she who has been awarded the new Barony where gold has been found. Her seat is the newly-built fort-town of Varni.
A marriage proposal arranged by Countess Olivia Spartaco between a minor noble from the powerful House Phandros in Westcrown -- on the other end of the Archduchy -- is intended to make House Spartaco stronger, announce Spartaco as a new 'player' on the Chelaxian political scene, consolidate Stella Spartaco's title, and gain an alliance with a powerful House, even as a subservient to Phandros.
Emilia Spartaco, now 'Spartaco-Aranovitch,' is Count Vocaturo's younger sister. Not terribly bright or ambitious, Lady Emilia married a minor noble in Corentyn (seat of the Longmarch Archduchy) named Lord Sabino Aranovitch, a swashbuckling Captain.
Incorruptible warriors and agents of Hell's Order of True Law, Hellknights are purely merciless officers of True Law and Hell in Cheliax. Unerringly rigid and disciplined each Hellknight is ready to serve as judge and executioner; en masse, a squad or legion of armored Hellknights is enough to terrify anyone.
Because the threats and enemies of Hell's True Law are many and diverse, Hellknights are assigned to Orders that focus on specific agendas in the Hellknight mission.
Listed in descending sequence of membership and importance are most HellKnight Orders:
Order of the Scourge .... Cheliax Capital
Root out corruption and lawless individuals in society, publically
Order of the Rack .... Westcrown
Book-burners: Destroy all non-lawful expressions of humanity and
arrest those who either create publish/reproduce such wasteful
and indolent idealism.
Order of the Gate .... Pezzack
Summon Devils and learn from them, especially to use the info to help mortal concerns
Order of the Godclaw .... Isger
Serve All of the ArchDevils and Princes of Hell, not merely One, battle Chaos on the grandest scales
Order of the Chain .... Corentyn
Bounty-Hunters & jailers: Keep people ‘chained’ to their Lawful lot in life
Order of the Pyre .... Ostenso
Hunt and eradicate blaspheming & heretical witches, warlocks &
cultists, eccentrics and those opposed to Law
Order of the Nail .... Korvosa
Bring Law and Order to savages, barbarians, uncivilized peoples
Order of the Coil .... Sargava
Prevent foreign and alien influences from polluting Lawful citizens
Order of the Cipher
Former chapter of the Order of the Scourge, work as spies & secret agents to gain intelligence on any manner of chaotic threats
Order of the Quill
Aggressive forensic accountants, revenue agents and auditors, investigators of fraud and counterfeiting and forgery
Order of the Scalpel
Seek out any persons allied with the Hellknights who through defection or corruption, become threats to the purity of Law – including Chelaxian nobles, politicians of power and Chelaxian merchant lords & tycoons
Order of the Scar .... Cheliax Capital
Hunt assassins and spies in preemptive strikes
Order of the Rod
Correct and ‘medically’ treat chaotic behavior in the asylums
Order of the Pike .... Senara
Kill chaotic monsters and threats to society
Order of the Crucible
Former chapter of the Order of the Gate, they use Fleshwarping to make themselves stronger, and hunt down chaotic people who are “unclean” or altered with immoral elements
The Bellflower Network:
The Bellflower Network is a secret society of Halfling freedom fighters whose exclusive goal is to free Halfling (and other) slaves, especially from Cheliax.
It is almost certain that the Bellflower Network is given considerable resources from Andoran, including monetarily, magically, residentially, etc.
Bellflower agents work in isolated cells, hoping to protect other Bellflower freedom fighters from themselves should they get caught.
Years ago they would communicate by sketching one half of a bellflower in the sand or on some parchment or whatever was handy. And if the person or persons with whom they were speaking completed the drawing of the bellflower they knew they were members. Obviously if the person or persons did not finish the bellflower, one could scratch out the doodling and be safe. Unfortunately, after only a few years, Order of the Cipher HellKnights discovered this secret way of introduction and it can no longer be used safely. It is unknown how they communicate now.
It's widely believed that the founder of the Bellflower Network was a Halfling slave in Corentyn. After gaining freedom he fled to Andoran. After only a brief period (months?, a year?) he returned to Cheliax to free other Halfling slaves. The only name known for this person is "The Farmer."
The Bellflower Network works mostly in the Longmarch Archduchy, especially Corentyn and Westcrown. Of course, Bellflower agents, called "Tillers," work toward freeing slaves all over Cheliax, and occasionally Absalom and Osirion or even as far south as Katapesh.
Rahadoum, because of its proximity to Corentyn, has been a bit of a 'safe place' after freeing slaves from the Longmarch Archduchy on the way to Andoran. But rumors have recently surfaced that some in Rahadoum believe the freedom fighters have worn out their welcome and it's possible that the Bellflower Network is becoming unwelcome in the mountainous, desert country. (Rahadoum does support the practice of slavery.)
Archduchy of Longmarch:
Queen Abrogail II has divided Cheliax into six Archduchies. The Longmarch Archduchy is geographically the southwest arm of Her Infernal Majestrix's empire.
It is ruled by Archduke Kettermaul Charthagnion, the self-named, 'Archheathen.' House Charthagnion rules the Archduchy from Corentyn on the southwestern tip of the Archduchy (and empire and continent).
In addition to Corentyn, the Archduchy includes the cities of Westcrown, Hinji and Macini, and the towns of Westpool and Khari. It contains the Turanian Hills, the entire Anferita Wood and the badlands just north of Anferita, into the Eismonts.
After House Charthagnion, several other Houses vie for second-most-influential or powerful in Longmarch. These include Houses Phandros and Arvanxi, and also Mezina, Oberigo, Drovenge, Grulos, Tilernos, and Julistarc. Beyond those eight powerful Houses are dozens of smaller, less influential or powerful Houses, trying to gain more influence and power, including House Spartaco.
Finally, the Longmarch Archduchy includes two Hellknight citadels, Gheradesca housing the Order of the Chain, and Rivad housing the Order of the Rack.
(House Battori is part of the capitol Archduchy under House Thrune.)
Port city in the Longmarch Archduchy between Corentyn and Hinji. (Closest city to Gheradescci County)
“Sharp as a Macinian Magistrate” is one of the highest compliments given to a person regardless of which of the six Archducies one lives. In Macini, the magistrates, judges and sergeants-of-law are famed all throughout Cheliax and beyond for being incredible experts on the minutia of the labyrinthine and seemingly in exhaustive legal code of Cheliax.
As a significant port city, Macini possesses all the typical accoutrements -- a flotilla of naval ships, merchant lords from the sea, and oceanfront mansions – but like most of Cheliax’s southern coast, the hot, arid, scorchingly parched red clay threatens to encroach into the city herself. Luckily for Macini, and the sole reason she can support a population large enough to be called a city, only eighteen miles northwest of her the southern desert ends in over four-and-a-half thousand acres of arable land, one for each loyal, law-abiding citizen.
Still, the law school is Macini’s most notable institution and every noble in Cheliax who wants to practice law in the Empire of Devils wants first to be accepted into Macini’s excruciatingly selective law school.
Unlike many Chelaxian citizens, people of Macini still openly revere Aroden. While his Temple has been rechristened for Asmodeus, and the ancient law school and judicial buildings have been remodeled from Arodenite to Asmodean, The people still look up to the deceased god of Man and Cities.
Knowledge: Society, DC 20:
Without the apparent ruthlessness and ambition of many young Chelaxian nobles it's not surprising that his maternal second-cousin's grandfather, House Patriarch Marcus Phandros, has agreed to arrange his marriage to the smaller House Spartaco to be a Baron-Consort. Marcus Phandros is rumored to have not even accepted the wedding invitation in Gheradescci County.
The lad himself is nineteen years old and seems to be more of a scholarly aristocrat-- managing accounts and finances, reading law, and deconstructing poetry and opera.
He is known to be especially adept at managing labor from House slaves.
It is a bit incongruous that this urbanite would be moving to live in the wild badlands & rough foothills between The Eismonts and The Anferita Wood.
Francesco Phandros was a 3rd level Aristocrat who would have advanced by marrying a Baroness and becoming a Baron-Consort. (So the marriage would have given him the XP to level to 4th.)