By: Arjan Wardekker
View Map of Khemen (436 kb)
Location/Setting: The Kingdom of Khemen is one of the "Seven Realms"; the dominant countries and powers on the planet Alcarin (see the History of the Seven Realms). Khemen is the Realm of Earth. It is the smallest of the four dominant countries, some 1500 miles from north to south and 1000 miles from east to west. Arquen is its capital city. Khemen's culture, climate and terrain are mostly temperate European; a standard high-fantasy environment. The geography ranges from agricultural areas and grassland plains (coastal areas, east) to extensive forests (inland, west, north and south) and mountains (north and south). Humans form the largest racial group, with significant numbers of Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Halflings, and Fey. The majority of inhabitants are of good alignment.
Economy: Trade is an important part of Khemen's economy. The country is situated along the Great Ocean coast and forms a trading hub between the West Continent (particularly Narre'al) and the East Continent (particularly Nentis and Tholenfold). Other important economical sectors are: agriculture and herd-keeping in the coastal areas and The Wide, wood products, and mining (particularly metals and gems).
Religion: Earth-related religions, such as those concerning nature, agriculture and racial deities, are most popular in Khemen (see Religion & Pantheon). Due to the importance of trade, the religions of the Wing of Water and the gods of Competition/Trade, Fortune/Luck and Prosperity are popular as well. There is no state-ordained preference for any particular gods. Patron deities of the royal house include Calduran (Earth), Drehan (Humans), Nature, Sheela (Agriculture), and Rhaegwyn (Kingship).
Laws and Customs: Laws and customs are fairly common for a high-fantasy kingdom. Slavery is illegal. Personal possession of weapons is allowed. Mercenary activities beyond the scale of a typical adventuring party's tasks, or within the confines of a city, may require a permit or formal permission from a local noble. Notable national feasts include the Harvest Festival, Midwinter, Midsummer, King's Day (his birthday; alternatively Queen's Day, should the monarch be female), and the Skeleton Festival (early spring). The latter festival celebrates the founding of Khemen after slaves overthrew the Necromancer King (see the History of the Seven Realms). In modern days, the event also celebrates the coming spring and summer. Various religions and towns celebrate minor festivals, dedicated to e.g. historical events, local produce or regional traditions.
Government: Khemen is ruled by a King (currently: King Khalimon), who lives in the capital city of Arquen. The King is assisted by a Court of nobles and advisors, and the nation's formal Government, which is elected by the nobility of Khemen. The King also governs the capital city, although day-to-day operations are carried out by a mayor, who is appointed by the King, and a city council, which is elected by the official residents of Arquen. Most other municipalities are ruled by local nobles. The nobles of larger towns and cities are assisted by a city council (appointed or elected), which usually consists of local guild leaders and similarly important characters, and/or a mayor (appointed). Land and castles can be owned privately by non-nobles, but the authority over a community and the right to collect taxes (part of which are due to the King) is a privilege of the nobility. Two Elven cities within Khemen's borders are independent city-states.
Important Cities and Towns (blocks and circles respectively):
Ai'Rhin: This large port city lies at the mouth of the River Ai. Ships sail upstream to Limpeth to connect with the Trade Route.
Andea-Khemen: A small trading town, the "Gate to Khemen" is first settlement when entering Khemen along the Trade Route.
Andea-Narre'al: A small trading town, the "Gate to Narre'al" is the first settlement when entering the Empire of Narre'al along the Trade Route. It lies 50 miles from Andea-Khemen, its sister-town.
Arquen: The metropolis of Arquen (see: Geography: City of Arquen) is Khemen's capital city. It is a beautiful, vast and busy city. Notable structures and locations are the various temples, the marketplace, the vast port facilities and fortresses and The Ridge; a rocky hill that holds the wealthy district, the ancient palace and the kingdom's main military and governmental facilities.
Bharan-Goleth: This large city is one of the more strange in Khemen. Its population mainly consists of Dwarves and non-evil Giants. The city is dominated by the huge structures made by the Giants. Public buildings are Giant-sized as well, but often include smaller entrances for more diminutive people. The city is an important centre for mining, metalworking and stonemasonry.
Cainen: A large town along the Mirror's Flow river. It is an important regional market and shipping point for agricultural produce from The Wide and mining products from Redmine. Ships sailing up and down the river also use it as supply point.
Earmon: Small port city at the mouth of the Mirror's Flow river.
Khazad: A small woodland city along the Fey Trail. The town is known for its timber, honey and other woodland products.
ImriŽl: This large city, hidden in the wilderness of the Forest of ImriŽl, is a city-state and kingdom of the High Elves. As is traditional for Elven woodland cities, it is largely built in the trees, at various elevations. Its existence is common knowledge, but not many know its actual location within the extensive forest.
Isarion: This large town is a city-state and kingdom of the Grey Elves. It has several great libraries and is known for its practical, hewn-stone buildings. The city houses a number of capable wizards and sages.
Laurea: This is a large and important trading city on the crossroads of the Trade Route and the Fey Trail. Many caravans pass through the city and stay there for the night. The city is well-known for its good inns and taverns. Regional agriculture, woodcraft, and mining provide for provisions and repairs.
Limpeth: A large trading city on the Trade Route. The River Ai, which passes through the city, is sailable for only a few miles beyond this city, and the city functions as a transfer point between sailing and road transport. The surrounding countryside is an important agricultural region.
Mirrorglade: A port and large trading town on the shores of Mirror Lake. It is used as a trading post for ships that sail up the Mirror's Flow. Trade caravans make their way up to the Fey Trail at Starkeep, and turn north or south from there. Halflings form the town's largest population group, which has had an obvious impact on its architecture, culture and cuisine. Mirrorglade is well known for its cosy atmosphere and small buildings. Most public buildings are human-sized.
Northkeep: Khemen's northernmost settlement. This small, well-fortified town serves as a defense from potential attacks on Khemen from the north. The warlords and barbarian tribes in the Northern Kingdoms are the garrison's chief concern. The town is very similar to Southkeep, in the far south of the country.
Redmine: A large mining town in the Peaks of Galaecia mountains. A large part of the town's population is Dwarf. The region's mines produce various metals, minerals and other precious materials; particularly gold and silver, but also iron, mithral, salt, gems, and some adamantine.
Sairel's Tower: This large, well-fortified town is built around a large granite tower. According to legend, it is the second tower built by Sairel. This great mage wanted to live in solitude, and he built his tower in the middle of nowhere. To his agony, it wasn't long before the safety that his power brought, attracted settlers. Sairel decided to move and he built a second tower far away from the first. History repeated, as people began to live near his tower yet again. The mage left once more and reputedly built his final tower in a place so inhospitable and impossible to find that none would ever come near it again. The location of the first and third towers are unknown.
Southkeep: Khemen's southernmost settlement. This small, well-fortified town serves as a defence from potential attacks on Khemen from the south. The various monsters and monstrous humanoids dwelling in the Fields of Many Eyes are the garrison's chief concern. The city is very similar to Northkeep, in the far north of the country.
Starkeep: A small, well-fortified town along the Fey Trail. It serves as a defence against possible incursions in Khemen from along the Fey Trail and the south-east in general. As such incursions are rather rare, Starkeep is a sleepy place. The main concern for its garrison is occasional bandit activity on the Trail and sprites playing 'practical jokes' on merchants near the border with Ksť-Fliph.
Thir: A large town at Khemen's coast. It is the regional marketplace for agricultural and fishing produce. Several small rivers, running from the Far Hills, provide the town and region with fresh water and high quality trout.
Tsi: This small city on the Fey Trail is the capital city of the Kingdom of Ksť-Fliph. It is built partly inside the trees and partly underground. The city is home to a variety of Fey and the buildings range from tiny to large in size. The city's atmosphere is very natural and fairytale-like. A strange place to humans.
Uma'esh: A large Dark Elf city, deep under the Far Hills. It has handful of surface connections in the region, but surface raids in Khemen are rare. Few people know of the city's existence, and fewer know its actual location.
Important Sites (triangles):
Elfbridge: This large stone bridge over the River Ai, between Laurea and Limpeth, was built by the Grey Elves. A road leads north from here, to their city of Isarion.
Goin's Rest: The tower of the powerful Dwarven wizard Goin, high up in the mountains. He retired to the place many years ago and lives here with a few apprentices. A few meters from the tower, a spring forms the source of the River Ai. The site is difficult to access, but certainly has a nice view.
Veomir's Camp: The hidden grove of Veomir, the Grand Druid of Alcarin. It is a beautiful place, where nature shows her best side. Beside a large variety of common plants and animals, the grove is inhabited by plant creatures, magical beasts, Fey, druids and several rangers. It is warded by powerful magic. None who means harm can enter. Druids are always granted free access. Others may enter if they have business with the Druids, and are expected to bring a small gift. The location is known to high-ranking druids, local Fey and Elves, and a handful of important Khemeni characters.
Important Roads and Rivers:
Coastway: A very long, ancient road that stretches along Khemen's coast and far beyond. To the north, it leads to the Northern Kingdoms, to the south it leads to the Black Coast. It was constructed by the kingdom of Morrogh Ambath, when it ruled much of the West Continent, long before Khemen was founded. The road is paved and, within Khemen, well-maintained.
Fey Trail: This road leads from Laurea and the Trade Route south to the Ormathor Jungle. The road is unpaved, but reasonably well-maintained.
Mirror's Flow: The river that flows from Mirror Lake, a large lake in central Khemen. Near the coast, it splits into two branches. The northern branch is easily navigable and reaches the sea at the port of Earmon. The southern branch flows through a wetland area and is difficult to navigate, due to the many shallows. The river can be sailed all the way up to Mirrorglade.
River Ai: This river springs in the Far Hills, at Goin's Rest, and is fed by the many springs and glaciers in the mountains. It flows along the Trade Route to Limpeth and Ai'Rhin. It is sailable up to a few miles upstream from Limpeth, after which it becomes too rocky and shallow for most cargo vessels. Most traders transfer to road transport at Limpeth.
Southern Route: The road from Redmine to Southkeep. It is used to supply Southkeep. It is also heavily patrolled, to safeguard southern Khemen. The road is unpaved, but well-maintained.
Trade Route: The road from Arquen to Middon-NasŠr, the capital city of Narre'al. It is teeming with merchant caravans, and is heavily patrolled by guards. Villages and campsites along the way provide lodging for travellers. The road is paved and well-maintained for the entire stretch.
Far Hills: The hills and snow-tipped mountains north of the Trade Route. Most of this region is rough and inhospitable, and has a sizable population of Trolls, Giants, Dragons and other dangerous creatures. It is however rich in resources, and many human and demi-human settlements can be found in the valleys. Dwarven mining operations, often fortified, are common as well.
Fields of Many Eyes: This vast wilderness of rocky hills south of Khemen is full of monsters and evil demi-human tribes. Its name is derived from the many many-eyed aberrations that roam the region. The tales that adventurers bring home from the Fields of Many Eyes always make good bed-time stories - nightmares guaranteed.
Fields of the Dead: An ancient battlefield from the great wars that once raged between the Seven Realms. Many have died horrific deaths in these fields, which stretch out north from the Trade Route in Narre'al. Today, it is a barren and evil place where undead roam. Travellers are strongly advised to stay near the Trade Route.
Forest of ImriŽl: A large forest that stretches from the Fey Trail to Ai'Rhin and from the Trade Route to Mirror Lake. It is named after the Elven city-state of ImriŽl, located deep within the forest's reaches. Quite a number of non-independent villages, home to various races, can be found as well.
Ksť-Fliph: The Fey Kingdom of Ksť-Fliph is a small, strange, enchanted country west of Khemen. Teams of invisible Fey patrol its roads and borders, and keep a close eye on any visitors. The country is not unwelcoming, but warm and generous to travellers. However, any abuse of this hospitality will be dealt with sternly and swiftly.
Nairel's Shadow: The circular sea north of Arquen is named after one of Alcarin's two suns; likely only because of its circular appearance.
Narre'al: The Empire of Narre'al is the Realm of Fire; one of the Seven Realms. It is one of Khemen's neighbouring countries and an important trading partner.
Peaks of Galaecia: A mountain range that serves as a natural barrier for the monsters of the south. It contains many Dwarven mining communities, which produce various types of metal, gems and other materials. The mountain range is named after the Moon Goddess Galaecia, due to its moon-shaped appearance.
The Wide: These extensive plains of heath and moorland, interrupted by occasional patches of forest and farms and fields, stretch between the Forest of ImriŽl and the Mirror's Flow. The region hosts many small farming communities and herdspeople, and is well-known for its cheeses, wool and meat (mutton in particular).
Wanderwood: A large, untamed forest between the Fey Trail, the Mirror's Flow, and the Peaks of Galaecia. Its name originates from the many plant creatures that live in the wilderness. Entire 'cities of walking trees' are said to exist. While this is somewhat exaggerated, several large communities of sentient plants do exist.
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