The Weight of Rubies
The over-arching principle to keep in mind with regards to “what’s going on in the world” is that it’s all about controlling, keeping control of, taking control of, or expanding control of trade routes and the like.
So what are the major goings on that the PCs might (or might not, depending upon their background and personal curiosity) know about?
The Halveetian League, consisiting of the city-states along the southern coast, is constantly seeking to expand its footprint and to consolidate its control of the coastal trade-routes. This is leading to growing conflict with:
Towns/villages/seaports along the coast that do not want to be blessed with the advantages of League “protection.” Until now, this conflict has been mostly limited to seaside communities that are located somewhere between Darilei in the west and Visaiyain in the east. Recently, however, following the events of the PCs first story arc, League forces have aggressively moved seize control of Seawell, as well as the lighthouse on the eastern side of the peninsula south of Visaiyain. This move happens at the end of Interlude III.
The Vind Hall, which has posted – and continues to post – notices from blockade runners who advertise for volunteers to evade or break League blockades around coastal communities. The notices are phrased in terms of resisting oppression, though those with a suspicious mind might suspect that the blockade runners … or smugglers, who want to evade League taxes … have their own economic interests in mind. As shown in Interlude X, the League wants to force the Vind to identify the individual(s) behind the postings, but the Vind – who consider their obligation to protect client confidentiality – refuse to do so. As an aside, Cassick found out in Week XI that his sister Finnella Arnaud is behind at least some of the postings. Fortunately for Finnella, her involvement remains unknown to the League and she has so far managed to keep herself off the League’s own postings at the Vind Hall for assistance in locating and arresting known smugglers.
Middle Redding horse clans: The growing size of the League cities requires ever-more farmland to support the urban populace. This conflict is especially pressing in the plains north of Chade, as farming families move further north and attempt to fence in farmland to protect it from wild life as well as Middle Redding riders. The farming communities have advertised in the Vind Hall for mercenaries to aid in guarding the fenced land. The PCs saw a bit of the results of the growing conflict during their river journey northwards to the clans’ Autumn Conclave at the end of Week XIV.
Other communities at the borders between League-controlled land and other “countries.” For instance, the League city of Darilei controls a significant amount of inland territory, as shown within the bounds on the map. Darilei continues to expand its hold west and north, causing renewed conflict with Seldez Recently, a small city, Chatterton, that sits at the far western edge of the Seldez/Darilei borders, was the scene of an armed conflict between the two. The League won that fight, and arrested half a dozen community leaders who had either advocated for Seldez or for continued independence. Those individuals – known as the Chatterton Six – are on trial in Darilei, as noted in Interlude IX and in Vermillion’s individual interlude.
The Clunne: The Clunne hold lands west of Darilei (off the map). Commonly known as a collection of disorganized, uncivilized and unwashed barbarians, the Clunne have recently become organized under the banner of a chieftain known as Owen of Clun. In the past few years, they have harried League caravans and otherwise interfered with the expansion of League trade overland to the west. The conflict with the Clun is mentioned in Interlude VIII.
More information about Torei’s efforts to establish its own fleet, and its efforts to gain support from the League by offering more opportunities for trade, can be found on the tab for Torei’s leader Arkus. Sa’iph claims that the Jotunn are also building a war fleet for Torei that could be used to control the sea routes to and from Sa’iph on the eastern coasts.
Sa’iph has brought a protest to the the High Council in an effort to get the High Council to put pressure on the Jotunn and/or the League to make commitments to support Torei’s independence or its establishment or a war fleet. This is also mentioned in Interlude VIII, as well as in Boeden’s individual interlude – his brother, who specializes in the design and construction of war-ships, is making a trip to Torei. The League’s own council has been less than receptive to Sa’iph’s protests to date, given that at least half of the League cities are human-controlled and less than sympathetic to Sa’iph’s position on the debt-marked.
The High Council’s historic position as the over-arching political power, however, has been fading; the days of the historic Shal-dominated oligarchy is over. It’s ability to call the shots, to “force” the League to do anything, is lessening every day. Further, the ability to influence the Jotunn is likewise limited. The Jotunn homeland of Farolan is the key port for trade in the northern seas, and the Jotunn recognize the leverage they have as a result. As a courtesy, they will listen to Ellinden So, the Lady of Sutton whose holdings control the main pass and overland trade route between Farolan and the southern lands, but both she and the Jotunn know that is only a courtesy.
The Council also has been distracted recently by a struggle for control of the seat traditionally held by the A’nari house, which has been left vacant for nearly fifteen years since the family was essentially wiped out and the A’nari Keep sealed. With control of the seat comes control of the vast A’nari land holdings. The only two known heirs, Iaondrin Shal A’nari and Morgan Shal A’nari have refused to answer the Council’s summons – and in fact are wanted for lending aid to the Clunne. This was first mentioned in Interlude VIII and Iaondrin made her first appearance in Interlude XI. In the current intermission of the campaign-as-a-whole, Vermillion has taken up her cause, become engaged to her, and has begun to investigate what happened at the Keep.