All right. This is still background about Meier, the campaign setting I’m building. The PCs will all be presumed to come from the continent of Occident, which is colonizing and exploring the Bocan Islands. The action will happen in the Bocans, but first I want to describe the four major Occidental powers, the lands from which the PCs and their fellow explorers/colonists/adventurers may come.
N.B. Meier has the same deities as Golarion, the canonical Pathfinder setting. For those unfamiliar, the alignments of deities are listed in parenthesie.
Of the four great Kingdoms, the kingdom of Gard is the smallest in land area, though not by much. It is located in the southeast of Occident, and has a strong naval tradition due to its nearness to the Oriental kingdoms of Cipok and Shraa. Gard considers itself the historical descendant of the old empire of Gideon, which once prized liberty above all else. So, while Gard is no democracy, there is a general belief that unpopular members of the nobility can be deposed if their subjects grow too unhappy with them, to be replaced with a more popular appointee. This attitude, not shared by the nobles themselves, has led to a lot of peasant uprisings over the years.
Smart landowners have generous and frequent holidays for their workers, complete with cheap entertainment and cheap drink. Some call this pure politics, but it does lead to a unique popular culture of fights, parties, et cetera. The same tactic works for mayors of cities, who are very similar to the noble landowners, but more corrupt. There are almost never revolts in the cities, due to the influence of trade guilds and their money on the mayors’ decisions. There has also never been a revolt against a king. The same dynasty, the Romm dynasty, has ruled Gard since its founding. The current king, young King Alec Romm, is genuinely fond of throwing parties for his subjects, and often disguises himself as a commoner to walk around amongst them. He’s extremely popular.
Gard is the only Occidental nation in which slavery is illegal. However, Gard also has a somewhat corrupt law enforcement system, and “extended indentured servitude” is usually overlooked by the authorities for a fee, like most minor crimes. Civil cases are rarely brought to the courts, being settled instead either through combat, or by a local lord or authority figure.
Although Gard is a human kingdom, non-humans are integrated into Gardian society as full citizens. Halflings in particular are a very large part of society in cities. There are a few isolated settlements of elves and such which do not count themselves part of Gard, but nobody really minds them. Similarly, almost all religions are tolerated in Gard, although Desna (CG), Cayden Cailean (CG), and Sarenrae (NG) are the favored deities amongst the populace. There is no state church; only a handful of evil deities are banned from worship.
Gard’s army (the Brassshields) is not as powerful as it once was, but its navy (the Drakes) is possibly the world’s best, if not the world’s largest. Gard is a distant second in its control of the Bocan Islands, and it is trying to gain any advantage over Arcland in the New World. Its overseas colonies tend to be rowdy and poorly managed, often becoming pirate havens. On the other hand, Gard has the best relations with the natives, seeing them as potential allies. Gard has a shadow navy in the Bocans comprised entirely of privateers, calling themselves the Bocaneers.
Gard has had a very long rivalry with Arcland, its neighbor. They are currently at war, although there has been little to no action in the Old Country itself. Rather, they’re fighting their conflict in the Bocans.
Arcland is the most populous of the four great Occidental kingdoms, although not the largest in land area (that honor goes to Urst). It is the richest kingdom, too, thanks to the fantastic treasures it is bringing back from the Boucans. Arcland is ruled by King Halga, of the Isp Dynasty that has ruled Arcland since its founding. King Halga IV, like his ancestors, is a tyrant. He rules through a combination of fear, religious fervor, and cheap public works projects that make him popular enough not to brook revolution. He rules from the palace city of Gon. Beneath King Halga is a strict hierarchy of dukes, earls, barons, and lesser lords who rule over peasants, commoners, and slaves.
The nation is located in the flat lands in the south and middle of Occident, with the least amount of contact with the Orient. Arcland’s army (the Gons) is large and powerful body which is mostly employed to keep domestic peace and guard the borders. Its navy, the Seaburns, is the largest navy in Occident, but is horribly mismanaged and underequipped. Wealth and sheer numbers keep them on an equal footing with the Drakes of Gard, although they’re finding it really hard to deal with the Bocaneers, who they treat as pirates.
Arcland has many laws dealing with how non-human races may interact with humans. Generally speaking, no non-human is permitted to own a human as a slave, nor to hold any position of power over a human whatsoever, and they are almost always assumed to be in the wrong if a human brings a legal claim against one. That said, there are many non-human communities in Arcland, each with their own lord, loyal to the human lord who is next up on the hierarchy. Notably, there is entire state of hobgoblins and other goblinoids which Arcland holds as a vassal. Dwarves are rare in Arcland, but duergar are openly accepted.
The official religion of Arcland is a church venerating Asmodeus (LE), Norgorber (NE), and Abadar (LN). The worship of select other deities is permitted in addition to these three, as long as nothing is deleted or altered from the state church’s canon. A personified version of the Isp dynasty is also venerated as a god according to the church, although those with knowledge of religion know this is a fiction.
Arcland, as the sponsor of Boca Freemond’s exploration, was the first to send ships to colonize the Bocan Islands. It has the largest and richest claim to the islands. However, its navy is stretched thin trying to protect its claim. While its colonies tend to be well-fortified and fairly civilized, they treat the natives as little better than animals. Treasure ships, laden with gold and platinum taken from the islands, deliver huge amounts of wealth home to Arcland. When they don’t get captured by Gardian freebooters, that is.
The kingdom of Lasant has actually been a queendom since OC 231. In that year, the old Harven dynasty was replaced in a bloodless coup by the Vym dynasty, and the law was changed to grant preference to female heirs instead of males. The law took effect throughout the kingdom, which has made it a de jure matriarchy ever since. Two hundred years is too short a time to really bring such a radical social change into effect throughout the entire kingdom, so the current attitude is simply one of gender egalitarianism.
Queen Heana II, the current ruler, is much beloved by her people. Ruling from her splendid castle in the city of Treen, her edicts have been many, but always to the betterment of her people. Lasant has always had a strong legal tradition, and the laws in Lasant are both strict and strictly adhered to. The laws are fair, and often revised and updated by the House of Judges. Non-humans are tolerated, but most live in autonomous enclaves within Lasant. The most notable of these is the dwarven kingdom of Kisko. Kisko is sizable and lies entirely within Lasant, with which it has always enjoyed extremely favorable relations.
Lasant is in the mountainous western part of Occident, and occasionally trades with the Oriental nation of Songae. It has few claims in the Bocans, although one of these is extremely large and wealthy Argenta. Its navy (the Lasant Trident) is a distant third to the Arcish and Gardian navies, and its army is of average strength. However, the fact that Lasant can call upon its dwarven allies in time of war make other nations wary of attacking it.
Of the four Occidental kingdoms, Lasant has the least religious freedom. The patron of the state is Iomedae (LG). The other lawful good gods, along with Sarenrae (NG) and Pharasma (N), are considered subordinate to Iomedae but legal for worship. All others are considered heretical religions. Like in Arcland, a personification of the ruling Vym family is worshiped in Lasant, as an aspect of Iomedae.
To the north of Gard, Arcland, and Lasant lies the nation of Urst. Urst has the most land of any of the Occidental kingdoms, though not as many citizens as Arcland. It also has no ports along the southern edge of the continent, although it does have a good western port. Urst trades extensively with the Oriental nations of Pin-Tu and Camto, as well as with several smaller Occidental nation-states which are basically vassals of Urst, and lie between Urst proper and Gard and Arcland.
Urst used to be involved in wars with the other three Occidental powers very often. In OC 397, however, the last king of the old Loff dynasty was killed, and Durvil Ossex declared himself to be the new king. He moved the capital from Cuthburg to Tabras, and he largely shut down relations with the other three powers in Occident. His son Vildur Ossex is currently continuing that policy. Limited trade with Gard and Arcland continues through the vassal states of Icam, Dorapo, West Dorapo, and Toshland, but never directly with Urst itself.
The Loff dynasty was an extremely corrupt government, interested in taxation, conquest, and little else. Local barons would actually have private wars with each other for territory; the results of these wars were accepted as legitimate by the Loff regime. Urst’s immense size is mostly due to the veterans of these intra-national wars goin out to take territory from some other nation to resettle; Lasant in partcular has lost a lot of territory to Urst over the years.
The new Ossex kings have put a stop to these private wars. Vildur Ossex is the absolute monarch of all Urst, and anyone capable of fighting is conscripted into his miliatry, and none other. Though what he’s actually using this military for, none can say. Some suggest that he’s either preparing for massive war against Gard, Arcland, and Lasant simultaneously. Others say he’s sending his troops to the Orient, conquering new lands on the other side of the world.
Urst’s army used to be famed for ruthlessness and violence to the maximum extent allowed under the Pact. Its navy used to be the same way, though it was never as well funded as the army was. Whether these facts are true today is not known, for Urst’s military hasn’t been seen in Occident for 50 years. Urst has no claims on the Bocans at all, although agents from Urst have been seen there for unknown purposes.
In terms of religion, Gorum (CN) is probably the most popular. There is no state religion, and no religion is banned. Evil gods are quite popular, except for Asmodius (LE). The presence of Rovagug (CE) worship is an open secret. King Vildur is an avowed agnostic. Nonhuman races, including orcs, are full citizens in Urst (for all the good that does them); they usually have their own pantheons.