(This was originally posted by Doc, but I'm adding it here where the newbies can find it)
The DuchysHarkanThe Northern MarchGoverned by ?
Harkan's borders are neatly marked out by the Highway, the road to Y'landara, the Dark Forest, and the Faraway Mountains. Its Duke resides in Raven Keep along the east bank of the River Ganak, astride the Lower Bridge, and is a land with heavy outside influences from faraway kingdoms. This is a harsh land, not like the fertile Duchy of Urath, with wild animals, cold winters, and other dangers, causing the people of Harkan to be some of the fiercest warriors throughout the land; it is said that in ancient history, the king need only have threatened the use of Harkan warriors for the barbarian hordes from the north to retreat. Their prowess is not quite as great as it was in the old days, but they are still a force to be reckoned with.
The Duchy of Harkan is seperated into three Counties, with seven Baronies within them.
The County of Whiterock lies between the Highway and the Road to Liresul, with Talafen inside it, and exports many timber products to other parts of Meliora. Its hunters are legendary, finding game even in the dead of winter, and fur from this part of the country is said to be the highest quality one can find.
County Greymountain encompasses the Road to Liresul all the way to the western side of the River Ganak, with Liresul inside of it. This county has numerous iron and coal deposits, mostly centred around Liresul itself. It also has quite a lot of fishing outposts along the northern part of the River Ganak, allowing for what some agree to be the best fish in Meliora to be found in Liresul. The position of Count Greymountain typically goes to the son of the Duke, due to the fact that Revan Keep is found within.
County Earthsea covers the rest of Harkan, and claims Y'landara within it. It is a blasted land of sand, rock, and ice, but within are found the granite and marble quarries that keep the rich housed, as well as copper, zinc, and tin mines. In this county are found the highest proportion of outsiders, who come through Black Fire Pass, whether coming in to trade or settle in Meliora, and as such is the most culturally diverse part of Meliora.UrathThe Western MarchGoverned by Harel Andimith
Urath duchy is the breadbasket of the entire Kingdom, with lush greenery throughout what little of the southern regions haven't been turned into farms, and even in the north, intensive food production from potatoes, barley, and other cold-climate crops. Its borders are clearly marked by the Highway, the Dark Forest, and the Hidden Coast, but its eastern borders are a matter of some dispute between itself and the Duchy of Adan, causing a few minor border skirmishes as the Dukes pick fights over who gets a tithe of what. The Dukes of Urath traditionally reside in Malach Keep, on the Isle of Malach in Lake Celevon.
Like Harkan, the duchy is split into three counties, but with nine baronies.
The County of Darkholm lies within the Dark Forest and the southern swamps, embracing the city of Absidion within its borders. While the land itself is useless for crops, the Count gets a very large tithe from the semi-autonomous Dark Elves of the Dark Forest, in exchange for him never asking just where it comes from. The one count who asked, the second one, was slain by an unknown assassin in the middle of a crowd, with everyone either not noticing, or giving conflicting statements, leading every other count after him never to ask. The swamps generate no conventional income; however, dangerous reptiles are collected by beastmasters or tribesmen, then sold to gladiatorial contests; the tithe comes in this way. There is some small amount of fishing along the shore of the Sea of Berrenbeck, but there is little enough of that for the peasants, never mind the Count's Tithe.
The County Pepperfield lies due east of Darkholm, with its borders never dipping south of the northermost edge of Lake Celevon. With Charden within, the region is devoted almost exclusively to worship of the Child-Goddess of Time. Pepperfield produces wheat, barley, corn, rice, and almost every other crop known to man, but the peppers for which it is known grow only along the mildly disputed border with Adan, giving the two dukes great incentive to take ahold of them.
Lakeside County is made up of the rest of Urath, and the majority of its income comes from fishing, both along Lake Celevon, for which it is named, and along the Sea of Berrenbeck. Indeed, there are those who say that the best fish in Meliora are found in Lakeside, rather than in County Greymountain along the River Ganak, and there are hotly contested competitions between the two counties. Laying claim to Uuranor, Lakeside is where the borders with Adan are the most heavily contested, with liveried troops fighting minor skirmishes every couple of months. The position of Count Lakeside usually goes to the son of the Duke, as Malach Keep is within this county. RakisThe Eastern MarchGoverned by ?
The Duchy of Rakis is sand-blasted desert; a lifeless wasteland, but nonetheless worth a great deal. Throughout the deserts are countless deposits of precious materials; rare stones, precious ores, and alchemical ingredients for the Colleges and Universities throughout the Kingdom. Rakis' borders are marked by the southern edge of the Faraway mountains, the Road to Y'landara, and the Jewel Coast, but like the Duchy of Urath on the other side of the Kingdom, there is a great deal of dispute over its border with Adan. The Dukes of Rakis traditionally reside in Batur Citadel, right in the center of their Duchy, for reasons of administration and of defense; the largest oasis in the desert is situated within the castle, as in the past, many a Daesertares Youth Pilgrimage Band seeking water mistakenly fouled it in their excesses.
Rakis is seperated into two Counties, with a further three Baronies within each.
County Sandyhome is home to diamond, gold, silver and sapphire mines, and hosts quarries of granite, marble, and basalt from the slopes of the three semi-active volcanoes within. The ancestral home of the Daesertares, Sandyhome claims Hyrai within its borders, and see the volcanoes as a mark of their God's blessing. Indeed, near Hyrai are found the only source of the beautiful Fire Diamonds, red-tinged diamonds that the faithful of Fire wear. Along the Jewel Coast in County Sandyhome are the only productive farmlands throughout the entire duchy; the rest of the food is imported, though not much need be, as Sandyhome's farmers are expert at high-intensity crop production.
Faraway County is home to the southern end of the Faraway Mountains, a favorite holiday destination of the ultra-rich, and uses the profits from this, as well as the iron, coal, copper, tin, zinc, and silver mines from which most of the Kingdom's weapons and armor-grade metals come from. The smithies of Faraway are the only place that the Knights of the Silver Sword and the witch hunters of Meliora can get ahold of their silvered-steel swords. Faraway, along with Earthsea County in Harkan, is credited with being the ancestral home of the Frijidaires. Without a God's City to claim within its borders, Faraway instead uses Batur Citadel as its County Seat, and for this reason, Faraway is usually the seat of the Duke's heir.AdanThe Southern MarchGoverned by ?
Adan is a land of great differences, with tropical jungle in some areas, desert in others, and frigid temperatures in stil other places, Adan is credited with being the most cosmopolitan Duchy in the Kingdom. The seat of learning, the economic capital, and the most difficult group of people, Adan is one big city calling towards the rural populace of Meliora. The Duke of Adan resides in Stormwind Citadel just outside the Docks, and always ensures that he gets his cut of every bit of profit-legal or otherwise. Bounded by the Hurricane Coast towards the sea, and the Duchies of Rakis and Urath on either side, there are minor skirmishes nearly every week, with individual farms being fought over-usually with a minimum of blood, but bodies are good fertilizer, so no real problems as far as the Dukes are concerned.
Adan is divided into four counties and an ever-fluctuating number of baronies, depending on just what sort of agreements the Duke made with his counterparts elsewhere as to this year's borders.
County Greenacre encompasses the Market Town, and a great deal besides, reaching down to the Bridge of Adan, and Rayne's Jungle across the River Ganak. Apart from County Pepperfield, Greenacre has some of the richest farmland in the Kingdom. All manner of foodstuffs, herbs, and cash crops are grown here, and animal farms are in abundance. Depending on the year's borders, there may or may not be peppers in Greenacre, but usually there are a few in Market.
Crystal County stretches from the Jungle of Rayne all the way to the Hurricane Coast, bound by the River Ganak, and is home to the city of Valaista Vesi. Here are found opals, sapphires, amethyst, and many other forms of precious and semi-precious stones. The Ruins are said to be located within Crystal County, somewhere within the Jungle of Rayne, but others insist that they lie within the Twin Forests to the northwest. Whatever the case, many is the expedition mounted, and many are the people who never returned.
County Attica is a very small county, almost as small as a barony, but makes up for this with the fact that Istien City lies within its borders. A University town, dominated by magicians, scholars, and books uncounted, Istien is the cultural capital for many who never have, and never will, see the Imperial City.
Cutthroat County is the last remaining county in the Duchy of Adan, and holds the Docks within it. Filled with enforcers, thieves, pirates, brigands, mercenaries, lawyers, and other distasteful but necessary parts of the Melioran Culture which Adan so dutifully espouses, the entire county is a place where something is always happening. The Duke makes his residence within the County, so as better to take his cut, and as such Count Cutthroat is usually one of the Duke's heirs.SalusThe IslesGoverned by Heinrich van Hal
The two islands that make up Salus are anomalies; both are tropical paradises, with fresh fruit growing year round, enormous amounts of game, and only minimal natives making the Duke's life difficult. However, it is because of their tropical nature that the Duchy of Salus is one of the smallest duchies throughout Meliora; disease runs rampant through every town and city almost year round, taking a murderous toll.
It is because of this that the smaller island, Lankha, has become a penal island, where the worst criminals of Meliora find themselves. Invariably, they are initially delighted with their new circumstances; this fades once they find other prisoners, who tell tales of the unseen predators in the jungle, the swarms of insects, the venomous plants, and of course the ever-present threat of disease. Lankha is small enough that there is only a baron nominally in charge of the island, but what little he gets is a stipend from the Kingdom for use of the island as a prison camp.
Aera, the larger island, is split into three Baronies, ruled by two Counts. These two Counts are easily balanced; while one, the Count of Aera Major, has two of these baronies, the Count of Aera Minor has the more enriching barony under him, with emerald, ruby, and gold mines studding his barony. Besides this, Aera Minor also encompasses the Barony of Lankha, leaving the two Counties roughly balanced in terms of population; an inducement to keep peace between the two Counts.
Aera Major's major population center lies close to the Ducal Palace at Whitecliff Harbor, which is on the western side of the island, and the only major port in Salus, and has as its major sources of income things to do with the timber trade; sales of hardwoods, furniture-making for the rich, charcoal sales for the poor, as well as fruit and nut sales.
Aera Minor has its major population center right on the border with Aera Major, and its major sources of income revolve around the mining industry, with all forms of precious metals and stones being mined, refined, and crafted into beautiful pieces for the wealthy.