Empires, Kingdoms, Fiefs, and City-States

The noted populations are only rough estimates; the actual figures fluctuate wildly with the seasonal depredations of war, plagues, and other acts of the Gods. Any listed here is by necessity incomplete: towns, hamlets, and even some cities were passed over due to incomplete records and cartographical disputes. Local lords and elders should be always consulted before the beginning of any journey.

At first glance, the Known Realms might appear to be a patchwork of nations covering every league of Ńereth, but veteran explorers know better. Each nationís borders extend only as far as its lordís ability to enforce his rule, leaving vast swaths of borderlands given over to roaming bands of escaped slaves and serfs, violent outlaws, monstrous humanoids, and far worse. Passage between nations without armed escort is attempted only by the bold or desperate.

The majority of Northlanders live in simple villages and hamlets, earning their livelihood by farming, herding, and hunting. The average farmer passes his entire life without traveling more than twenty miles from his homestead.

Cities and towns are essential hubs of trade, defense, and religion. Any time a city is sacked by marauding hordes, the surrounding lands suffer.

Similarly, the cities rely on outlying farms to provide the enormous amounts of grain, vegetables, fruits, and meats necessary to support their swollen populations. A prince that punishes his people with high taxes and refuses to defend them in times of distress quickly discovers how difficult it is to maintain a cavalry without grain, or arm his knights without iron.

Exceptions to this rule are plentiful, and benign despots are few and far between. In the hostile realms of the North, civilization is best thought of as a curious anomaly in a long history of savagery and barbarism.