Capital: The Palace of Bones
Population: 3,000,000, including sentient undead
Colonial Resources: None
For much of Obbittia's history, frozen forests and tundra to the south and the wild forests to the east have been relatively uninhabited, home only to wandering tribes and ferocious beasts. Then, about a hundred years before the rise of Panbbittia, a long series of warm summers brought prosperity to the barbarian tribes of the Great Forest. As the frost receded further and further south, the people of the region were able to settle down and build towns and cities. Fifty years before the time of Aurstin Fuelm, the region was home to a large number of small independent kingdoms. When the mighty Caesar united Panbbittia, he placed the region under the rule of a single monarch, a barbarian shaman and leader of a fairly large tribe by the name of Mapokaj.
Mapokaj was a wise ruler and skilled in the ways of magic. Under her ruler, the land filled with citizens and Snearjt grew prosperous. Even a wise ruler could not make up for a hostile land, however, and soon the summers grew colder. Perhaps the worst of the famine could have been avoided through the use of centralized planning to spread out the produce from the warmer north to the cooler south, but the once-wise ruler suddenly seemed blind to this problem. Mapokaj disappeared from the public eye, as did many of the local lords and barons who were loyal to her. Peasants began turning up in the frozen taiga, malnourished and frostbitten; before they died, many spoke of a great ivory palace being constructed in the ice-locked south coast. Such ridiculous rumors were dismissed by most, of course, until one day Mapokaj reappeared and declared that the nation's capital would now be far to the south in an ivory palace. With her were two hundred of Snearjt's most powerful spellcasters, men and women who had apparently aided her in the construction of the new palace. As a reward for their loyalty, each of these new nobles was given a castle and a fief of land surrounding it. Snearjt was now a feudal society, and for a short while, it prospered.
The cold, however, proved too brutal for Snearjt to thrive. The summers were too short and the winters too long; it was impossible for the people of Snearjt to produce enough food in the short time that they had. Were there more of them, they would have been able to produce more food in the limited time that they had; but of course, with more citizens, Snearjt would need to produce more food, which it could not do. The nobles of Snearjt, personally trained by Mapokaj, had the solution. They began reanimating the dead; at first they animated only those who recently died, but as their need for bodies grew they began digging up the graves and wrenching the ancestors of Snearjt from their peaceful death. Soon, every village in Snearjt contained twice as many of the dead than of the living. There were those who did not like the desecration of the dead, and they, too, soon labored under the necromancers' dark magics. Rapidly, Snearjt was transformed into an undead society. Food was no longer a problem, nor was any other resources; during the summer, the dead would farm, and during the winter they would log, mine, or build. Snearjt prospered, though its living population stayed small.
Soon after, the death of Aurstin Fuelm brought war to Obbittia. As war tore the land, the great armies of the Heartland united under the golden banner of Phybantus and marched on Snearjt, whose use of undead was an abomination in their eyes. Angered by this war, Mapokaj banned the worship of Phybantus or Phybantix in her land. Her undead armies, led by the necromancer barons and the newly formed Mystics of Yalin, successfully drove out the armies of the Heartland Kingdoms. Yet the further they got from the frozen reaches of Snearjt, the less effective the undead were. Zombies and skeletons are unaffected by snow or ice, and so can fight effectively against chilled soldiers; but further north, the undead are outmatched in temperate climates. And so Snearjt drove away the Heartlanders, but could not pursue further.
Snearjt's army is entirely composed of the undead. Skeletons and zombies, armed with weapons and armor manufactured by other undead from ore mined by yet another group of dead, are poor combatants. Their equipment is of poor quality, nearly as poor as their bodies. In a defensive war on the hostile Snearjt terrain, they can drive off nearly any invader, but in an offensive war the dead are simply torn apart. As a result, Snearjt has never been much of a conquering force.
Not all of Snearjt's forces are poorly equipped skeletons and zombies. Generals, adventurers, and other heroic or skilled warriors from the armies of invading forces are taken to the Bone Palace, where some of the most advanced necromancers in the world twist them into powerful creations: ghasts, death knights, mummies, and from those warriors unfortunate enough to be taken alive vampires make up Snearjt's most elite forces. These powerful, skilled, and most importantly sentient abominations serve as generals in the Snearjtish army, leading the mindless undead into battle. Great beasts such as dragons, chimeras, or giants who fall within Snearjtish lands are also animated, but this practice has decimated the population of many of these mighty creatures, so their numbers are limited. These elite undead, however, are rarely sent away from Snearjt's lands; most invasions into the Heartland have consisted of huge, shambling hordes of zombies and skeletons.
Perhaps just as important as the army's fodder is its true backbone: the necromancers. These deadly spellcasters are very hard to kill and usually refuse to stay dead; as a result, Snearjt's army has a high number of spellcasters, any of whom can raise the enemy fallen. A battle against a division of necromancers is a difficult one indeed, for every ally who falls rises again as another enemy. Though Snearjt's population is low, its army is large enhanced by the walking dead and difficult to defeat.
Snearjt mainly produces food, and it does so very poorly. The northern half of Snearjt is filled with temperate forest which is highly rocky and contains little usable agrarian land; the southern half is frozen for at least eight months out of the year. Thanks to the multitude of undead laborers, Snearjt is able to feed its population, but for every mouth it feeds three or four skeletons must work all through the summer. Food is grown, harvested, and processed by skeletons, at which point it is distributed to the commoners. Other industries mining, simple crafting, and other mindless tasks are all assigned to the undead.
The peasants of Snearjt are freed from any simple manual labor, but as serfs they still must make themselves useful to their lords. They do so by crafting manufactured goods. Each village in Snearjt and there are many of those, for the entire nation does not support a single city specializes in its own craft. Food and raw materials are brought in by the undead laborers and the peasants manufacture whatever their lord decrees. Still, aside from their crafting skills, the real task of the peasantry is to breed. Few people bear the potential for arcane power, and the ranks of the necromancer nobility must be replenished; further, fresh bodies are always in demand.
Unlike the other major nations of Obbittia, Snearjt has no real interest in colonial holdings. Their most important resource, citizens with necromantic powers, cannot be mined from a foreign hill or grown in a tropical plantation.
Life and Society
Snearjt is a feudal, agrarian nation. For the average Snearjtish citizen, life is simple and relatively easy. Each morning a caravan manned by skeletons wheels to the local manor. Accompanied by wight guards, the peasants make their way to the manor, where the baron or count of the region gives a short speech. The peasants gather food and raw materials from the caravan and head back to the village, where they work on their craft for the rest of the day; each village specializes in a particular type of manufacturing and usually sticks to that, though occasionally orders from above are given to their lord, who has them manufacture something else. In the evening, the workday is over; the peasants carry their finished goods back to the manor, load them on the wagon, and return home. The day belongs to the lord, but the night belongs to the citizens; they are free to do what they wish once their quotas have been met.
For most peasants, there is no escape from this repetitive role. One exception exists: those peasants who have a propensity towards magic. Agents of the Tsar travel the land, searching for any commoners who are born with the ability to cast spells. Ideally, these spellcasters are found before the age of nine; they are taken to the Bone Palace to be raised by the undead and taught the ways of necromancy. Away from living humans, these children fail to develop traits such as compassion or empathy, ensuring that they will one day govern as the Tsar demands. Once they learn to reanimate the dead, the spellcasters are given a castle, a fief, and a title, and inducted into the ranks of he unliving.
Government and Politics
Early in the Kingswar, the sorceress and queen Mapokaj decreed herself to be the Tsar, the Snearjtish word for Caesar. Soon after, an attempt on her life was made by agents of her son, whose name has been abolished from history by royal decree and is now remembered by few. Mapokaj eliminated the assassin and her son as well, but realized that her mortal form was vulnerable to attacks on her person. To ensure that Snearjt would always have a queen, the necromancer queen performed the necessary rituals to turn herself into a lich. Since then, she has ruled as the absolute and eternal monarch of the Tsardom of Snearjt, and no force in the realm has even come close to displacing her.
The Tsar of Snearjt rules over the entire country, but does not manage every village in the region. Rather, the Tsar directly manages only the Bone Palace and the surrounding frozen and barren countryside. The rest of Snearjt is divided into four principalities, which are ruled by four crown princes. These princes are not related to Mapokaj, but rather are her four most trusted allies from the time of the Panbbittian Empire. All four are undead: the first is a vampire, the second a death knight, the third a ghoul, and the last a mummy lord. Each of the four has a castle at the center of his principality and manages the major issues relating to the surrounding area.
The four princes of Snearjt are selfish creatures, more concerned about their own self interests than the good of their citizens. Because they are too involved in their plots to manage their land, they relegate responsibility to the barons. Each principality contains a dozen or so barons, powerful undead necromancers loyal to their prince. Of course, loyal is a relative term in Snearjt, and the borders of the principalities shift all the time. Perhaps it is this internal conflict which keeps Snearjt from conquering the rest of Obbittia.
The barons manage their lands, but each village requires day-to-day management to ensure that the citizens are working to their full potential. This is where the lords come in: Snearjt is very much a feudal, manorial system. Every village is built around a manor; the manor's lord manages the village, controls the undead assigned to it in the event of a war, and animates any dead villagers. The lord transfers a certain percentage of his forces to the baron of the region, who controls the local army in the name of the prince. Thus, if a single village is invaded, the local lord's forces hold off the enemy until the baron's reinforcements arrive. If necessary, a prince can order the other barons under his control to aid the lord in trouble.
With necromancy being so important to Snearjt's economy, every government official from lord and up is both a necromancer and undead. A significant minority of the peasants themselves have some degree of necrotic power, although many cannot animate the dead, and so were removed from the Bone Palace.
Teachers of the Palace The palace of Bones is more a school than a palace. One of its wings contains Her Imperial Majesty, the Tsar of Snearjt and All of Panbbittia, Queen Mapokaj; but as an undead lich with no care for comforts, Mapokaj needs less space then her lengthy title does. Her wing of the palace is packed full of arcane laboratories and experiments, along with accommodations for the wretched creatures she experiments on and the deepest and darkest dungeon in all of Obbittia. Yet the Imperial Wing is dwarfed by the great school that makes up the rest of the palace. Here every child with enough magical power to boil a cup of water is brought to be taught the principles of necromancy by some of the greatest spellcasters who have ever lived. Though they have no official powers, these teachers educate and shape every single noble in Snearjt. They are not a piddling force.
The Deathbringers Adventurers, generals, and noblemen foolish enough to lead invasions into Snearjt often find themselves waking up a few days after losing their battles, trapped in their own bodies which are now animated and controlled by dark spirits. Vampires, death knights, and ghouls: these deadly undead creatures all retain the memories of their former lives but have radically different loyalties and personalities. These powerful monsters make up Snearjt's elite forces as part of an organization known as the Deathbringers. The most elite of the Deathbringers guard the Bone Palace and the Tsar, but the four princes and the more influential amongst the barons and lords all have their own elite Deathbringer guards. Most feared of all are those elite Deathbringers selected by Mapokaj herself to operate outside the borders of Snearjt: assassinations, kidnappings, and retrievals of powerful artifacts all of these tasks fall under the purview of the Deathbringers.
With worship of the Duality being banned in Snearjt and the Mystics of Yalin teaching that Yalin is a completely uncaring goddess who cares naught for worship, most peasants do not find religion to be a particularly important part of their lives. Some peasants or barons think that the best way to encourage loyalty is to foster their own worship in the region, and their superiors find the beliefs of the peasantry too unimportant to concern themselves with. As a result, some cults have formed around particularly powerful or personable undead noblemen.
Bone Palace (Palace, 500) The Bone Palace is, oddly enough, one of the most densely populated areas of Snearjt. Located on the southern slopes of Mt. Rapo, the Bone Palace is surrounded by nothing but snow and rocks for dozens of miles around. Inside the magical ivory palace, however, hundreds of Snearjt's best and brightest necromancers learn to practice their craft, preparing to one day govern the land. The Bone Palace also governs all of the land west of the Nappa River and further south than Mount Rapo.
Castle Ragna (Fortresses, 50) Far north of the Bone Palace, deep in the frozen taiga that stretches from coast to coast along the southern half of Obbittia, an imposing castle stands atop a bare hill. This is Castle Ragna, home to Prince Hatto (Mummy Lord Priest 12). In life, Prince Hatto was the high priest of one of the barbarian tribes that lived in Snearjt before its unification. When Mapokaj introduced her necrotic reform to Snearjt, he protested against the idea. Unwilling to allow dissent among her followers, Mapokaj executed Hatto by mummifying him alive. Still, Hatto had much experience leading and managing his tribe, so the Tsar did not wish to waste his skills. Instead, she reanimated him and eventually bent the man to her will. Today, Prince Hatto is one of the most brutal of the princes of Snearjt, but also one of the most effective. He rules over all of the lands north of Mt. Rapo and west of the Nappa.
Fort Blood (Fortress, 50) The relatively small silver of land between the Nappa and Swasha rivers has long been the most contested territory in Snearjt and also the most productive. The two rivers overflow in summer as the snowcaps in the mountains far to the north melt, and the water brings with it rich soil from the plains of the Heartland. The farmland here is rich and productive, but there is danger as well: the Panbbittian Confederacy is just to the north and this crossroads of rivers has often been the site of Heartlandish invasion. A territory that is invaded so often must be managed by a truly fearsome and efficient general, and this man is Prince Alexis (Death Knight Fighter 14). Once the Dralanian general who allowed Aurstin Fuelm to quell the barbarian revolts in modern-day Snearjt, Alexis led Snearjt's forces during the reign of the great Caesar. When the Caesar died, Alexis swore his loyalty to Tsar Mapokaj and ensured that her borders remained secure against all invaders. During the early years of the Kingswar, Alexis was never defeated in battle, but eventually his aging body began to fail him. The legends tell that one day he was disarmed by an opponent and, though he managed to defeat that opponent with his bare hands, he decided that old age was not for him. He asked his dark mistress for aid in the matter and soon arose as a Death Knight, more fearsome and deadly than ever.
Castle Stonecrest (Fortress, 50) The eastern half of Snearjt is isolated on its own peninsula, and therefore relatively safe from invasion. This peninsula is buttressed by the Stonecrest Mountains, a range of rocky and steep mountains that stretches along the interior of Obbittia, serving to separate Snearjt further south than the peninsula extends. But where the mountains end, no natural border separate the Heartland from Snearjt. It is here that Castle Stonecrest was built. Long ago, it belonged to one of the Heartland kingdoms, meant to keep away the barbarian hordes who once filled Snearjt. Since then, the undead have conquered the castle and converted it to their own use. Today, Castle Stonecrest is home to Prince Taggart (Ghoul wizard 8) who governs the fertile forests between the Swasha and Whitewash rivers.
Castle Arlud (Fortress, 200) The most fertile lands of Snearjt lie north of the Whitewash River. This far north, the thick forests are green year-round and snow falls only in the depth of winter. There are more peasants in this region than the rest of Snearjt combined, and likely less undead. It is here that the oldest and most influential of the princes makes his home. Prince Arlud (Vampire Lord (WotC Website) Rogue 10) is no great warrior, powerful spellcaster, or genius general. What sets him apart from the other princes is his cruelty. Aruld built his castle nearly a thousand years ago, long before anyone had even dreamed of uniting the barbarian tribes of Snearjt. He was a foreigner from a distant land, perhaps one of the Heartland kingdoms, who was banished from his home for some grave atrocity. With a few loyal followers, he traveled to the then-barren land of Snearjt and built a castle, tricking or forcing a native settlement to obey his rule. He forged a small barony from the land and, though many armies had been sent to destroy him, none ever succeeded. The cruelty of Arlud was legendary; thousands died under his rule over the eighty years of his natural lifespan. But finally, the terrible monster of a man perished of old age. But a soul as cruel as Arlud's simply could not rest. Before the next full moon he arose once more as a terrible vampire lord; legends claim that he was the first of his kind, and he is certainly the mightiest. When the forces of Aurstin Fuelm gained control of Snearjt, the domain of Arlud was left untamed. When Tsar Mapokaj converted her lands to a kingdom as monstrous as his own, Arlud eagerly accepted his place as Prince.