Dragonshire Province

The Dragonshire sits between Heartland Province to the west and south and the Kingdom of Men to the north; it also borders on the Glass Sea, where, in other times, it might do brisk trade with the Human and Goblin nations.

A province long defined by the cooperative co-evolution of its Dragon and Drake nobility, its elites, its guilds, and its common folk. A history of trade and conflict with the neighboring Kingdoms of Men have led to the development of both prosperous trade-routes and sophisticated military doctrines.

Population: 135M

Common Languages: Rak, Noble Weal, High Kobold, Royal, more

Common Races: Human (55%), Drakes (25%), Kobolds (10%), more



Centuries ago, before the first Charter, the land that would become Heartland Province was cut off from Empire of Man when the dragon named Karrach led a rebellion — supported by a faction of the local wealthy and Imperial administrators — that allowed him to claim a swath of Imperial territory for his own. (Karrach could speak Old Imperial, and gave "Karrach" as his name when addressing Humans in their own language; in Commonwealth Standard, he is called the Red-Scaled King.) The territory, once the frontier of the Empire, had grown wealthy and urban in its own right, and the elite of these new cities chaffed at their duties to the distant Three Cities; in Karrach and his kin, they had a chance at independence.

The rebellion began in early winter in Year-of-the-Old-Empire 226 (CY -227), in a year when the army was not mustered; Karrach's rebellion had only to subdue the local garrisons, which was easy enough if they where denied the support and quarter of the locals. Forces from further west where cut off form Imperial command; and also frequently found that they could not depend on the support of the locals — west of the Dragonshire, there was no great love of the Three Cities. Cut off from much of their territory beyond the Golden Plane — and with much of their distant territory having no great willingness to pay tribute to the distant Three Cities or comply with a levy — the Empire of Man found it difficult to muster an army to reclaim their lost territory.

Karrach granted his kin noble titles, and shared the rule of the Dragonshire with them; however, their numbers where few — enough so that they could not control their new territory without the tacit consent of the elites among their new territories. The two consequences of this — the need for the Dragon nobility to compensate for their small numbers, and their need to maintain the support of the Human populace — shaped much of the Dragonshire's early history.

Karrach immediately began to enlist the support of other Dragons; beyond his immediate kin, he extended an offer of land and title to any other dragon who would bow to his rule — as long as they had the wisdom to keep the good will of the Human subjects they ruled. Dragons are few, long-lived and cautious — but Karrach's terms where generous; a steady stream of dragons came to serve him, and where granted lands and titles. In the Dragonshire's early years, Karrach distributed lands carefully among his new nobles, and kept a careful watch over them — even as he desperately needed a dragon nobility to govern his new territory, he could not afford for them to be disloyal or incompetent.

Early on, even while the Empire of Man desired to regain their former lands, the wealthy of the Dragonshire and their new Dragon lords tested one another. In the short term, Karrach preserved the system of taxes and levies that the Empire had used; he used the taxes to fund a small professional force, and a levy of labor to both grow those ranks and to upgrade the fortifications along his eastern border. Ultimately, Karrach and his nobles cooperated with his Human subjects much more than they undermined each other; while the elite among his Human subjects did attempt, as ever, to avoid his taxes and levies, they ultimately had to ensure that Karrach's forces remained strong enough to repel the coming attack from the Empire of Man.

In Year-of-the-Old-Empire 231 (CY -221), 234 (CY -218) and 241 (CY -211), the Empire made attempts to regain the Dragonshire; each was repelled. During this time, the Dragon and Human populations found ways cooperate with one-another, and built a body of custom and agreement that would continue to serve them after the immediate threat of Imperial reclamation subsided.

Ultimately, though, Karrach knew that he could not depend on a few dragons — from distant lands, with no bond of kinship or prior culture — to rule his lands; he needed a people. He put out a call to any Great Spirit who could provide him with one; ultimately, in Year-of-the-Old-Empire 331 (CY -121), he was answered by a mercurial and mysterious spirit, which variably identified itself as the Bulrush God, the Rainstorm Shepherd and the Osprey’s Father, amongst other names. The Bulrush God gave Karrach the ability to crate holy sites, and a ritual that they could perform there to turn a dragon's egg into an egg for a new type of creature — a drake. Drakes where smaller and less powerful than dragons, but far more fecund; they would provide Karrach with his people.

Early on, Karrach pursued peace and good relations with the former Imperial territories to his west — what would become the Commonwealth. His enemy was the Empire of Man, who would attempt to bring his territory back under their control. This peaceful relationship continued as the Commonwealth formed and the Empire of Man weakened and collapsed; the Dragonshire was a useful barrier between the free lands to the west and the Empire, and trade between the Commonwealth and Dragonshire was highly profitable. In CY 17 a peace-treaty was signed, and in CY 41 the Commonwealth and Dragonshire became allies; this proved invaluable to both. Besides continuing prosperous trade, the two profited from being "brothers back-to-back" — the border between the Dragonshire and Commonwealth could be undefended, so that the Commonwealth could focus on fighting the Shaded Sea while the Dragonshire focused on resisting the Empire of Man (and, later, the Kingdoms of Men).

The pair also had a mutual enemy in the Goblin Kingdoms. As early as Year-of-the-Old-Empire 231, almost two hundred years before the Commonwealth formed (CY -194), an alliance of powerful Goblin Kings on their northern shore rose to threaten both the Empire of Man and the Dragonshire — which forced the weakening Empire to abandon its attempts to reclaim the Dragonshire, but also furnished both the Empire and the Dragonshire with a new enemy. The Goblin Kingdoms would remain a vital enemy after the Empire of Man collapsed in CY 87, continuing to threaten the Commonwealth and Dragonshire for almost four centuries; the power of the Goblin Kings finally broke with a disastrous failed invasion of the Dragonshire and Commonwealth in CY 148.

The collapse of the Empire in CY 87 and the failure of the Goblin assault in CY 148 marked the ascendancy of the "brothers back-to-back" as the preeminent power on the Emerald Plane.

Ultimately, the Kingdoms of Men would rise from the ashes of the Empire of Man; successive eras of Goblin power would also come and go. Through the centuries, the Commonwealth and Dragonshire remained powerful allies; finally, in CY 744, the Dragonshire joined the Commonwealth as a province.

Sharing Power

Over time, power in the Dragonshire has tended away from the nobility, and towards the general populace.

In CY 177, the elites of Forge-of-the-Mountaineers — its wealthy guildsmen, landlords and land-holders, and clergy — formed the Steel Council, to concentrate their political power when dealing with the Lord Steel; they where careful not to overstep their bounds, and the Lord Steel shrewdly considered their "council." In the following years, more "Freeman's Councils" where formed — and met with greater and lesser degrees of acceptance, depending on how bold they where, and how accommodating the local Lords where. In CY 197, Karrach issued the Free-Council Decree, which formally granted the elite of his territories the right to form Freeman's Councils — and spelled out what conditions those councils had to meet, and what obligations the Lords did and did not have to them.

As Karrach's domain grew and prospered, so to did the wealth and power of its common population. Karrach had abolished Slavery as such in CY 16; in CY 241, he formally limited the conditions that could be placed on tenants and bondsmen — effectively increasing the basic right guaranteed to (almost) all in his domain. (These changes where resisted by the Freeman's Councils, whose elite membership resented the reduction of their power). In CY 244, Karrach issued the sweeping Citizen's Reform; this granted every resident on his domains the status of a Citizen, and spelled out the minimum rights and privileges guaranteed to each Citizen. It also create the Citizen's Councils (which where open to any Citizen who did not meet the property requirements for the Freeman's Councils) and the Guild's Councils (to which every guild in a manor could elect a representative).

Growing pressure from the Second High Kingship (starting in the Kingdoms of Men in CY 361) and the first King-by-the-Assembly (appointed by the Goblin's Noble Assembly in 378) began to lay bare the need for a more efficient, centralized bureaucracy. Rather than attempt to consolidate power under himself — a move that, besides being less than moral, would have been resisted by the Freeman's and Citizen's Councils, at a time that the Dragonshire could ill afford internal conflict — Karrach began to work on a centralized body drawn from his Nobles and their Councils, that could govern with the support of the all the Dragonshire's various classes and interests. In CY 391, after much political negotiation, Karrach, with the support of his nobles and a large majority of their Freeman's, Citizen's and Guild's councils, created the Dragonshire Parliament, and reorganized much of the Dragonshire's government beneath it. The Parliament consisted of three chambers: the Noble's Chamber, representing those with titles; the Elite's Chamber, representing the Dragonshire's monied and propertied interests; and the Citizen's Chamber, which represented the common citizenry. (Though he had abandoned direct control over the administration of the Dragonshire, Karrach remained its king, and became also the Lord of the Noble's Chamber.)

The Culture of the Dragonshire

The Dragonshire's Military

The Northland Corridor

The Northland Corridor is a strip of land running north-to-south along the Worldspine Mountain. Historically, the area was settled by both the Commonwealth and Dragonshire — leaving control of the area disputed. The dispute was settled in CY 65, when an agreement seeded the territory to the Dragonshire, under the condition the Dragonshire had to allow the Commonwealth-aligned settlements to operate under certain terms of the Commonewalth Charter, and that the Dragonshire had to allow Commonwealth traders free travel through the area.

The Northland Corridor became something of a vital trade route, connecting the Commonwealth to the south with the Dwarves and Orcs to the north — what would eventually become Northland Province.

Even now that the Dragonshire is a province of the Commonwealth, the Northland Corridor remains an important trade route, connecting Heartland and Northland provinces.

Katarina: the complex web of legal statuses in the Corridor — combined with the fact that, historically, traders from Heartland could just wander through there half-outside the Dragonshire's jurisdiction — has meant that there's been a fair amount of smuggling going through Northland.

Fire: Sort of makes you wonder why the Dragonshire doesn't shut it down, doesn't it?

Chandra: I've heard that the High Road sometimes finds it useful to have a way to move people around off-the-books.

Fire: You've heard.

Chandra: I've heard.