The settlements that used to be part of the Republic were compelled to change to survive the years after the Cataclysm. Mercenaries are used extensively to guard the caravans and otherwise bolster a towns martial prowess against threats from other cities, seeking an edge.
They look with envious eyes at the new magical guilds that have sprung up in the Kingdom, secrets of these guilds being unavailable to them and depriving them of ultimate superiority.
Although this has impacted on their prestige, it has little impact on their incomes as the magical materials required for these techniques mean that these items are far too rare to have any impact.
With the discovery of the Vale, this could change.
History of the Shieldlands
The Shieldlands are now the home of all the disposed refugees from the Republic including the remnants of the VI,IX and XIV legions who now fight at the Wall of Iron to hold back the Undead threat. This is an area of constant warfare and the people who live here are well versed in the hardships of living in a warzone. The reality is that they are fighting a losing battle against the Undead to the east.
The Republic of Qadaq was a massive and wealthy state spanning the known world. The capital, Remus, thousands of miles to the east of the Kingdom, oversaw a sprawling expanse of regions under the control of the Senate of the Republic. The senate ruled this vast realm which ran from the borders of The Theocracy in the west, beyond the buffer state of Elland to Remus, thousands of miles to the east beyond to the eastern most lands of the known world. It coordinated the laws, civil service and mercantile activity throughout the Republic.
The ruling class, the patricians, were leagues above the common folk and had a firm grip on the sociological and economic policies of the nation. The arrogance of the patricians had them openly flaunt their wealth, with lavish parties, orgies and even gladiatorial entertainments.
When the Days of Fire came, the area around Elland which now forms the Northern Alliance was separated from the rest of the Qadaq Republic. The plateau known as the Lichfells, rose to the east, destroying the region known as Sobek and separating the western most part of the nation from the rest of the Republic. A massive, towering escarpment split the land from north to south, extending even into the waters of the Rime Sea to the north and the great bay to the south. Contact between the human lands surrounding the Kingdom and the rest of the Republic was completely lost. To this day no one knows what has become of the state or the senate or indeed if the Days of Fire have had the same effect on the rest of the world.
The region was particularly heavily hit by the forces of nature as the Great Escarpment rose from the earth. The north and central region of the Shieldlands was hit the hardest by Cataclysm. This region is now a blasted wasteland home to the ruins and husks of many former republic strongholds. It is a place of death and the haunting memory of a nation long forgotten.
A melting pot of refugees and mercenaries; former republic settlements have become independent states that have their own militia and governors. Each has its own symbols or coat of arms that are borne on the flags they fly and the shields of their mercenaries and soldiers.
The region is come to be known as the Shieldlands by the Kingdom and The Theocracy because it stands as a buffer zone to the east protecting them from the forces of the Lich King.
Many settlements eke out an existence in what is commonly known as The Barrens, by its inhabitants. Small fortified towns and villages protected by mercenary bands survive in the wastelands. They scrape a living by exploring the ruins for anything that can be found and sold to the cities of The Sisters or the remaining patricians.
The denizens of these fortified towns have a reputation of being some of the most resilient stock that still live in the Shieldlands. They live in an area that is unforgiving and dangerous and it is not only the forces of the Liches they need to protect themselves from. It is a hardy individual indeed that lives in this unforgiving and hostile land.
In the south of the Shieldlands rest the last remaining vestiges of the Republic in the region. The cities here avoided wholesale destruction by fortune being sheltered in part by their position in a range of hills and valleys. There are four large towns called cities by their inhabitants, Denastra, Segentum, Verentis and Lerentium, which are ruled in the old style of the Qadaq patricians from before the fall. They no longer have the power or support of Qadaq, however, the proud traditions of that nation are upheld by the current rulers of these lands.
Although these states now hold but a fraction of the power that they once did, it is still enough for the armies of the four cites to hold sway in the region. Each city provides representatives to sit on a senate in mimicry of the political structure of days past. These senators make all decisions relating to the upkeep, management and defence of the region. There is a considerable rivalry between the cities however, and wealth and political power is a key factor in each state’s prosperity and survival. The constant battle in the halls of the senate to gain approval for each city’s undertakings is as aggressive and fraught with danger as the war against the enemy. It is the senator with the most skill that gains the most for his or her city and in doing so avoids the quiet blade in the dark that waits for any unsuspecting politician.
The four settlements are each governed by an elected consul who administrates the affairs of the city. The consul in turn has a general who is in charge of defence and a number of praetors to administer the law and civil service. The cities are independent of each other in all things but one. It is agreed by all that the defence of the nation is reliant on the Wall of Iron being manned at all times by a sufficient number of troops. This tithe of men and supplies is agreed by the senate and each city sends its portion of said tithe every month to the wall in the east to repel the forces of the Undead.
Unlike the settlements in The Barrens and The Sisters, the southern cities do not use mercenaries but rather train their soldiery in the old style of the Qadaq legions from before the Days of Fire. These brave men and women are conscripted into the last legion and spend 6 months fighting at the wall. If they survive they are sent home and may live without fear of conscription again for a year in their home city.
In the southwest corner of the Shieldlands, on the border with Elland lies a pair of islands known as The Sisters. These lands hold the two free city states of Tyrras and Toleda.
Years before the Days of Fire two noble houses of southern Elland were highly influential traders with Qadaq. They controlled a huge amount of trade between the Kingdom and the Republic, the wealth this brought, raising them up as powers in their own right. The influence they held with the Republic Senate gave them leverage over Elland’s royalty and as the relationship grew and these families became more intertwined with Qadaq society, it became difficult to see where their real loyalty lay. Eventually these two families, by now known as the Calabra and Veneto had intermarried with a number of Qadaq noble families and their Kingdom heritage had blurred to the point where their original house names were all but forgotten. The Senate gifted each family one of the southern islands as an independent state of the Republic. The Kingdom protested but the power of Qadaq brushed aside the requests to overturn the decision and the two clans became the merchant princes of The Sisters.
An alternative story, “The Legend of Tyra & Leda”, is told in the port taverns and drinking caves of the Toledans and Tyrrasani. In it it say that the two families originate from a pair of feuding noble sisters: one miserly and money-grabbing, with the other being free-spirited and exuberant…or indeed, one sister being precise and and financially astute, with the other being frivolous and lusty – depending on which island you believe.
For years these families thrived due to their unique position, gaining riches and status beyond measure. The Calabra clan held power on the eastern island in the city of Toleda while the Veneto took control of the western twin and formed the city of Tyrras. The Veneto banking concerns became one of the richest and influential in the region. The Calabra master smiths of Toleda made the clan famous as the foremost supplier of high quality weapons to both the Kingdom and western Qadaq provinces. Not all was well in The Sisters however. The seeds of envy and jealously began to form between the two families, growing to a point where a state of icy hatred was beginning to emerge between the two clans. Toledan Privateers, sailing with Letters of Marque from the Arch Duke, preyed on the heavy-laden trade ships sailing the major sea-corridors. Tyrrasani “inspectors” impounded Toledan arms shipments, on the grounds of improper documentation, or some such crime. Both islands were only nominally not at war with each other.
Then the Days of Fire came.
The Republic fell leaving the Kingdom as the principal power. The two cities survived the collapse and from their vantage point it seemed that they had fared much better than the rest of the Republic. With Elland rising as a power in the east, the trade possibilities were huge and both cities survived by making themselves immeasurably important in rebuilding and defending what was left after the cataclysm. Tyrras was able to loan a huge sum to The Patrician Cities to fund their defence of the eastern border of the now called Shieldlands against the Undead invasion. Toleda was kept busy with orders for Legion, Kingdom and mercenary steel in a new and dangerous world.
The Threat of the Orc Khanate from the South forced both cities to maintain a sizeable naval force to repel raids from the River Clans and keep their island nations protected from the enemy. Up till now they have managed to keep their cities safe from invasion, but with both clans hatred for each other, it is not only the Khanate that threatens to destroy them …
Since the discovery of the Vale, both the city states have joined the Northern Alliance and sent representatives to Elland to be included in the expedition. The Doge of Tyrras, Carla Veneto has already sent a number of her most trusted envoys to be her eyes and ears. Who Arch Duke Don Ferdinando Calabra, Il Strenuo di Monte-Scintillante di Toleda will send, is still unclear but they will need to have a care that old feuds do not become new problems in this new political climate…
When the Days of Fire caused the Great Escarpment to appear, it cut off this part of the Republic from the rest and brought the Undead horde of the Lich King marching through Black Gate and swarming into the devastated land.
The armies of the Undead fell upon the remaining elements of the Qadaq legions and thus began the first battle that would shape the future of the land. The legions held the Undead for months and eventually by selling their lives dearly they turned the dead warriors back and for a brief and quiet period there was hope that it was over.
It was the sharp military mind of a legion general named Titus Lupus, the Wolf of Qadaq, whose actions at this point stemmed the flow. The Wolf ordered the remaining legions to combine and build defences and forts along the new border some 50 miles from the Great Escarpment. Within three months his forward thinking paid off as the dead once again walked on Qadaq soil. This time the fight was controlled and the armies of the damned broke on the fortifications of the legions.
However, no defences can exist forever and over the last 10 years the forces of undeath have crept inexorably closer to the lines of the Kingdom. The last vestiges of the Republic now lie in the hands of the southern cities who send legionnaires to the Wall of Iron to join the last legion that still fight their endless battles against the forces of the dead that ebb and flow like the tides of the Sea of Blood.
Most of the legion are recruits from the southern lands, but all are expected to do their six months of duty along the now named, Wall of Iron. Legion Undead hunters scour and scout the area around the wall, hoping to pick off Undead and defend against more subtle attack. The failure of the legion and the walls defences was a lack of coastal protection and many Undead break into the Shieldlands to assail the land from the north and south coasts.
The remnants of the Quadaq Republic retain a great deal of the old elements of fashion and style from its days of greatness before the Days of Fire.
The Shieldlands are by far the most diverse in its styles and fashions due to the desolate nature of the region and the amount of scavenging that occurs by those attempting to survive in this blasted land. In general, the Qadac Republic was predominantly Roman in style and culture. Its core and elements of this culture still exist especially in the military styles, although there were huge regional differences in the various provinces, especially those the furthest from Remus. This has been diluted somewhat now with the styles of the Kingdom and other areas such as The Sisters influencing the area and the region growing and developing their own diverse styles.
Dependant on where you come from in the Shieldlands will determine your general style of dress. The following should help to provide some inspiration on the varying traditions and styles that you should be aiming for in relation to the area from which your character comes.
The harshness of The Barrens is reflected in the substance over style look of this culture. Soldiers will wear whatever they can to protect themselves with equipment being worn but reliable. Common dress is either scavenged or recycled and everything has a feel of need before greed in this harsh landscape. The mercenary units all have individual heraldry which is unique to them. Most paid mercenaries in the employ of the settlements wear the emblem of their employer on shields or tabards or simply as a badge or pin.
The Patrician Cities
Distinctly Roman or classical feel to common dress with the toga and robes being favoured by the higher classes and politicians. Lorica and other classical armour styles are favoured for the military but ordinary soldiers wear whatever equipment they can get.
The Sister cities occupy a place between the cultures of both Elland and The Patrician Cities. As such their style and culture is a strange mix of the two influences with nobles mixing the fashions of the two or choosing a specific style from either the old Qadaq way of dress or the more traditional and flamboyant way of the nobles of Elland.
The Last Legion
The last bastions of the old Qadaq Legions are modelled on the roman legions and their auxiliary’s.