This is the first of a series of Gazetteer entries for regions of the Basin Kingdoms in the World of the Vault. The duchy of the Sept comprises seven settled hexads (hence, “Sept”) and an outer ring of wilderness hexads. It is designed to serve as the starting point for a campaign, providing a more or less stable core region surrounded by areas ripe for adventure. It is a bit off the beaten path and slightly conservative in its bucolic complacency, but danger lurks just out of sight in the surrounding wilderness.
The Duchy of The Sept
Population (Total: 138,150)
Urban Population: 16,250 (Just under 12%)
Average Population Density: 36.5 people per square mile
By Race: 91% Human (125,900), 4% Dwarf (5,650), 2% Halfling (2,650), 2% Elf (2,300). All Others Less than 1%: Gnome (850), Half Elf (650), Half Orc (100), Other (50).
Government (Feudal duchy)
Ruled by a Duke, Barinch “the Bold” the 8th Duke Aurumn, and sub-enfeofed nobles:
Knight Commander Collinweld, the 14th Margrave Argentas
Marlion “the Maid,” the 11th Countess Hydragyr
Galwin “Shorthammer,” the 6th Earl Ferroum
Roald “The Rotund,” the 2nd Baron Plum
Althea, the 4th Baroness Cupric
and other minor nobles.
Geography (Mostly fertile farmland and woods)
Land Area: 7 Hexads (3,789 square miles; and some portions of the neighboring hexads sparsely settled.)
Notable Settlements: Junction (6,450), Marshtown (2250), Delve (1900), Biford (1,800), Bridgetown (1750), Ferryport (950), Lodge (850)
Primary Resources: Agriculture (grains, vegetables and fruit), Precious Metals (gold, silver and copper), Iron, Timber, Wool, Meat (domestic and game), Leather
Chief Products: Ironwork, Finished Carpentry, Cloth, Weapons and armor, Ships, Jewelry
The Sept is a region of Seven (or a “sept”) of hexads that was granted by the Moric Sovereign to a nobleman of House Aurumn for his service in the Second Rebellion. It lies within the Basin Kingdoms on the Sunward shore of the Rin River, a few hundred miles downstream from Mor Gilos. Over the centuries, the original area of the Sept has grown to encompass most of the hexads adjacent to the original seven which were granted by the initial charter. However, most of these Hexads are wilderness or lightly settled at most.
The Sept is notable for two particularly fertile hexad regions (The Confluence and The Grange), valuable metal deposits (mined by the Dwarves of Delve) and vast woods to the Waterward which provide excellent timber and game. It is a relatively wealthy and stable area that survived the worst of the Dwindling with minimal disruption. The population is mostly human, but a large dwarven and sizable elvish enclave are included in the domain. There are also two significant halfling settlements and a gnomish outpost. Other races are not represented by individual communities, but can be found in the urban centers of the Duchy of the Sept.
All dates in this brief history follow the Founding Calendar.
Founding. In the year 1426 after the founding of Mor Shorizon and the First Imperium, Ulwin the Unwavering broke the Siege of Mor Gilos, the most violent conflict in the bloody Second Rebellion. As a reward, he was granted a Patent of Nobility in 1430 that made him a Duke and a member of the Sovereign Council. He also received a Charter of Hereditary Domain that permitted him to pass on his domain to his heirs, create minor nobles, and sub-enfeof them within his domain.
The Sept, a heavily forested region of seven hexads located a few hundred miles downstream of Mor Gilos had shifted significantly in the wake of the Rending of 1428. It was this territory that Ulwin claimed with his patent, becoming the first Duke of the Sept.
Role in Civil War. In 1624, the Sovereign Interregnum began after the Moric sovereign died without a direct heir. The Duchy of the Sept was at first spared the horrors of civil war. While several families of house Aurumn battled for supremacy in a rare instance of ambitious plotting, the sovereign title was temporarily held by a council of Shorizonic nobles. The civil war that ensued between the warring claimants and their supporters was notable for being fairly limited to battles between the nobility. Still, the fighting was intense in some locales and many ancient noble families were destroyed.
The hostilities of the interregnum finally intruded upon the Sept in 1629: A border dispute erupted between the Duchy of the Sept and the Principality of Sauer, each side supporting rival claimants to the Imperium. The conflict, known as the Long Skirmish, was quite fierce, destroying much of the Grange. In the Battle of Biford, the Sept’s forces stopped the advance of the Principality of Sauer at great cost to both sides. Several years of border raids and chevauchées ensued.
A victor finally emerged in the dynastic conflict in 1650, and a new Moric Sovereign was crowned: Imperor Haldian the 1st. Haldian’s victory helped bring the Sept’s own conflict to a close. Indeed, because his faction of the Aurumn was distantly related to that of the Dukes of the Sept, it is rumored that Haldian even sought refuge in the Sept for a span of a few years. In the ensuing peace, the Principlaity of Sauer was brought to heel and the Duchy of the Sept was granted dominion over the hexads known as the Foal Fields and the Herdlands, though the latter title is nominal at best. The loss of the Foal Fields and Ferry Port became a long held source of enmity between the two dominions. However, in a gesture of accommodation, the Baron of Foalage, the house Tynha hereditary rulers of the Foal Fields, has been confirmed in his reduced title of baronet and made vassal to the Margrave of Biford.
Dates after this point are generally recorded as being from the era of the New Imperium. The old calendar ends at 1650 years after the founding of Mor Shorizon, and the new calendar picks up at year 1 after the founding of the New Imperium.
Greenshade’s Incursion. Almost 145 years after the founding of the New Imperium, the Sept’s rulers learned that a powerful Verdant-Green dragon in the Deep Wood had forged an army of vicious and unusually disciplined goblins. Greenshade, as the dragon came to be known, first warred against the Cupric tribe of Einolar elves of the Deep Wood, destroying their Pillar Trees of Curithor in 148, before moving on to threaten the Sept itself. The dragon’s forces invaded the Sept in earnest three years after the carnage at Curithor. Meanwhile, Kuehlan elves in the Sentinel Woods beyond Mor Gilos offered sanctuary (but not aid) to the local Cupric elves, but a large faction of the Cupric Einolar refused to retreat, staying to help the Sept fight off the onslaught.
Despite a heroic defense by the Sept, the goblins penetrated deeply. Late that year, in an event called the Ravaging of the Orchard, most of the Orchard territory was overrun and destroyed. The goblin intrusion also reached into Huntwood and the Rising Hills, and to this day tribes of goblins may still be found in their deepest reaches. Pleas to the Principality of Sauer fell on deaf ears, and the Baronet Foalage briefly appeared to revert to his old allegiance, threatening trouble on another front.
Finally, a relief force from Mor Gilos — a faction of Kuehlan elves from the Sentinel Woods who regretted having failed to aid their brethren earlier — sailed down the Rin on Fleet Arcis and bolstered the defenses of the Sept. In the Battle of the Bridge in 152, the newly revitalized defenders of the Sept forced the invaders back over the Lefflow. The exhausted defenders paused to shore up their defenses and bring the unruly Foalage back into line before embarking on a protracted war of attrition against the goblinoid forces now called the Ranging of the Deepwood,
Two years later, a large group of adventurers and supporting elite forces invaded Greenshade’s Lair. Bern the Bulwark, a bastard scion of Hewl, Margrave of Biford, slew the great wyrm. although the dragon and her forces killed Margrave Hewl and many other Sept nobles in the battle, they succeeded in routing the Deep Wood goblins, and the dragon’s threat ended. For their part in the fight, the Cupric Einolar elves were granted the territories of Bridge Wood and the Hunt Wood, while the former Warleader of Deepwood was made a Baroness of the Sept and given the town of Lodge as her seat.
The Dwindling. The Sept recovered from the traumatic events of Greenshade’s Incursion and remained a fairly peaceful backwater until 350, the year of the Dwindling: a massive invasion of evil chromatic dragons and a variety of fiends, that coincided with a massive shifting of hexads and a darkening of the Solunar Orb. Elsewhere in the kingdom, beyond the Sept, the capital of Mor Shorizon was lost, and horrific forces besieged Mor Gilos and Mor Ithel. A group of legendary heroes recalled by ancient magics managed to destroy the draconic and fiendish forces, but much of the Basin Kingdoms lay in ruins and both the capital and the Sovereign appear to have been utterly lost. Making matters worse, whole sections of the Basin Kingdoms once thought stable and fixed have vanished or moved, and strange new hexads and their attendant inhabitants have appeared up and down the length of the river.
The Present. Twenty years have passed since the Dwindling. The Sept has mostly recovered from the losses of the conflict, which only touched the nearby region fairly lightly. Still, the Shorizonic Imperium is silent, and all along the Rin, the Basin Kingdoms have begun to reassert local territorial authority. Mor Ithel survived the Dwindling relatively intact. Although the city has made gestures at reinstating the former Imperium, it does not have the clout or resources to assert its writ more than two hundred miles from the city. Mor Gilos suffered savagely in the Dwindling and is still rebuilding; spectators suspect it will remain unconcerned with the larger political situation until it can recover from its devastation. The Principality of Sauer, long a rival of the Sept, appears to be asserting itself as a regional power. The Duke of the Sept still professes loyalty to the Shorizonic Imperium but as the Silence of the Sovereign enters its second decade, it can only be a matter of time before his loyalty to the lost order is tested..
The Heartlands: These are the seven central districts.
The Confluence: (Population: 36,750) This broad stretch of relatively flat and fertile land lies between the rivers Wend and Rill, at the confluence of which sits the town of Junction. It is the most heavily settled portion of the Sept and most of the land between the rivers and up to the Wooly Hills is under intense cultivation. The territory under the direct control of the Duke of the Sept, though he has sub-enfeofed a number of minor nobles. Villages here tend to be large and prosperous, well settled, and complacent.
The Wooly Hills: (Population: 7,850) A series of low rolling hills with plenty of springs and pasturage make this the perfect location for raising herds of sheep. To the north east the hills are rougher and deposits of shale are common. Dwarven shepherds tend their flocks in this part of the region, which is held by the Earl of Ferroum in Delve. The western portion of the hills near the Wend is very gentle and home to human and halfling shepherds who take their wool to the Shepton side of Bridgeton. They own nominal fealty to the Countess of Bridgeford, but in reality act independently and simply pay taxes to her. This is especially the case in the central cultivated vale, where the halflings have their own municipal structure in the settlement known as Broadhollow.
The Hunt Wood: (Population: 1,150) A well-tended but still mostly natural wood, this region is the hunting preserve of the nobility of The Sept, who have the right to pursue their favorite sport here. Deer, elk, boar and other animals appear in abundance as are some poachers. The trees are mostly oak, ash, yew, maple and beech, though more exotic varieties can also be found. Some limited logging is permitted, but acres of forest that have never felt the bite of an axe exist away from the rivers and trails. The small town of Lodge, more properly a village, has nominal control of this region, though all nobility are allowed to use the woods for sport. Several smaller elvish villages, really just collections of a few families, are scattered throughout the deeper portions of the Hunt Wood, but they are surprisingly hard to find. The forest is patrolled by a contingent of Yewsmiths who pursue poachers and the occasional goblin tribe or other more exotic threat that makes its way into the woods from the Rising Hills or Bridge Wood.
The Orchard(s): (Population: 7,550) Both the singular and plural forms are used interchangeably. The portion closest to the Rill and the Duck Fen is composed of vast fruit orchards, including a variety of citrus and nut trees. Further north and east, the orchards become sparser, with natural stands of oak and ash interspersed with apple and pear orchards that predominate the closer one comes to the village of Lodge. Marsh Town lies at the southeastern corner of the district on the shores of The Eddy. The region is sparsely but widely settled. Unlike other regions where homes cluster together in close villages surrounded by open fields, the Orchard is known for large freeholds. Each tends to be held by a single extended family and focused on a large manor. These families are collectively known as the Yeoman of the Orchard. Independent and often quite well off, they are renowned for their skill with bows and their fierce protectiveness of their status. They owe tax for their land but owe no direct service to their lord in Marshtown.
The Green Sward: (Population:14,450) This region comprises excellent farm land close to the Wend and good pasturage to the south, though it becomes boggy as one approaches the Duck Fen and Black Mire. The district is split between direct administration from Junction to the east and administration from Biford in the west. Incursions by Lizardmen from the Black Swamp have kept settlement of the region down, though in recent years more villages have sprung up in the regions farther from the Wend. A number of these are independent steadings with no direct lord. This has caused some concern among the nobility of the Sept, but the issue has not yet come to a head.
The Grange: (Population: 32,600) This is the best farmland in all the Sept and is heavily tilled and cultivated, especially near the Wend. Vegetables grown here can reach immense size, grain yields are always plentiful, and even the domestic animals seem more robust, as do the peasants themselves. Biford is the seat of this district, which is held by the Margrave, though most of the population lives in small villages scattered throughout the region. Despite the fertility of the soil, it is not quite as heavily settled as the Confluence owing to the proximity of the Scrub and the Herdlands from which dangerous predators and even more unsavory elements sometimes issue.
The Pasture: (Population: 21,550) This grassland is very flat and particularly lush near the Wend where there are some small and scattered farms. Just to the west of the river the land is perfect for grazing and large, sprawling ranches dot the landscape. Farther west the land dries out and the ranches become sparser and less productive, though herds of cattle are grazed throughout the domain and even into the adjacent scrubland. The region is the demesne of the Countess of Bridgeford.
There are seven major settlements in The Sept, though only three of them really qualify as true towns. The largest settlement of Junction has a population of just over 6,000 and is the only true city in the Sept, though it is much smaller than the metropolises of Mor Ithel and Mor Gilos.
Junction: The main settlement of the Sept and the seat of his Grace, Duke Aurumn. (Population: 6,450)
The official name of this town is Aurumntilde, but no one calls it that. It has been known as Junction for centuries. The walled town sits at the confluence of the Wend and the Rill rivers where they meet and combine before flowing into the Channel and emptying into the great River Rin. This area contains rich farmland, but the area was originally settled because of significant river-borne deposits of gold found in the Rill, washed down from the Knolls. The town is also the ducal seat of the Sept and his Grace, the 8th Duke Aurumn, The Duke, Barinch the Bold, resides in a large castle keep perched on a rocky prominence at the point where the rivers join. He was instrumental in protecting the region from the Infernal Invasion of the Dwindling and is widely respected throughout the Basin Kingdoms.
The town proper is considered free territory and is run by a chartered council dominated by the competing forces of the merchant’s and craftsman’s guilds. For such a small town it is surprisingly cosmopolitan and has access to material goods and services of a town twice its size, more akin to a small city. This is due to the fact that it is the political hub of the region as well as the commercial center, because of the relative material wealth of the region, and because of the proximity to the Rin and its large volume of traffic and trade.
Biford: The governing center for the Grange and the seat of his Lordship, Margrave of Argentas. (Population: 1,800)
The second largest settlement of the Sept, this town is built on two islands in the midst of the River Wend. The main island is home to a significant trading town and the largest farm and produce market in the region. The smaller island, located downstream, is known as the Breakstone. The fortress there completely covers the rock upon which it is perched. It is perhaps the most formidable fortress in the Sept and is home to the 14th Margrave Argentas, Collinweld, who is also a Knight Commander in the Loffwatch and a hero of the Infernal Incursion twenty years earlier.
The town has a charter, though its commercial activity is limited and it is politically dominated by the guilds of Junction. The town derives its name from the two main fords that cross the Wend, one on each side of the island. The river is almost two hundred feet on each side at this point in the river, but the water is only about two feet deep at each ford and relatively gentle, making a bridge unnecessary.
Bridgeton: Two conjoined settlements and the seat of her Ladyship, Countess Hydragyr. (Population: 1750. Cowton’s population: 950; Shepiston’s population: 800)
The two large villages of Cowton and Shepiston, located on either side of the Wend, together form the town of Bridegeton. In another feat of unimaginative naming, the town does have a central bridge across the Wend. It is actually a fortified bridge with a small gatehouse at each end and central keep at the center of the bridge. This keep is the home of her Ladyship, the 11th Countess Hydragyr, Marlion “the Maid,” an old woman who is still quite shrewd and one of the most significant practitioners of magic in the Sept.
The two towns are named for their respective products. Shepiston, on the east side of the Wend is home to a substantial cloth fair in the spring. Cowton is the center for much of the cattle trading that takes place west of the Wend and is home to a substantial stockyard that is renowned for the fine marbled beef of the short-horned cows that thrive in this region.
Delve: A mining and crafting center, the dwarven enclave is ruled by his lordship the Earl Ferroum. (Population: 1900; Inner Delve’s population: 1,150; Outer Delve’s population: 750)
The center of dwarven culture in the region and a hub for mining and metal crafts, Delve is a wealthy settlement. There are actually two parts to the town. Outer Delve is built along the docks that abut the Rill River, which is really only feasibly navigable by small craft this far upstream. Inner Delve is carved inside the rocky prominence known as The Knoll. This underground domain is the seat of the 6th Earl Ferroum, Galwin “Shorthammer,” who is, as his epithet implies, short even for a dwarf. He is also a renowned smith and the Chieftain of the Iron Hill Clan of dwarves that inhabit this region. He is technically sovereign in Delve and in the Knolls, but owes fealty to the Duke of the Sept for his possessions in the Wooly Hills.
The many mines in this area make the town a hub for assaying and transportation of ore, which is mostly sent down the Gravel Path to the causeway and then loaded onto barges at Junction for shipment to the Rin. A fair amount of finished metal goods are also produced in the forges of Delve and the relatively high quality of gems (mostly rubies and diamonds) found in the eastern portion of the Knolls, adds to the reputation of the jewelers of Delve. However, the most famous trade goods of the town are the fine pattern-welded blades forged by the dwarven smiths. In times past even deposits of mithril and adamantium were found in the deep mines and skills for working these metals are said to still be practiced by the clan lord and a few master smiths.
Marshtown: The Sept’s port on the Rin and the seat of his lordship the Baron of Plum. (Population: 2,550)
The administrative center for both the Orchard and the Duck Marsh regions, this town is also the main port of the Sept on the River Rin, the massive miles-wide river that is the backbone of the Basin Kingdoms. The second largest settlement in the Sept, it is almost entirely devoted to transportation to and from the river and is made up predominantly of large warehouses and docks. At the entrance to the Channel, the frequently dredged path that the Rill Wend (the combined name of the two rivers) takes to the Rin, a large fortress of stout timber defends the harbor. This is the home of the 2nd Baron Plum, Roald “The Rotund,” a savvy businessman and son of the enterprising merchant who purchased the title when it became vacant upon the death of the previous baronial family in the Dwindling.
Though somewhere between a large town and a small city, it is very cosmopolitan and can become, in effect, a substantial metropolis when one of the large Rin Cities — the floating collections of ships and barges that sail back and forth on the great waterway — comes into port. Every few years, when Fleet Arcis or Fleet Praxis comes to town, the population of the entire Sept essentially grows by half for the week or two that the fleet stays.
Lodge: The forestry center for the Sept, and residence of her Ladyship the Baroness of Cupric. (Population: 850)
A small settlement enclosed by a palisade, this was – as the name suggests – once a glorified hunting lodge for the dukes of the Sept. Two centuries ago it was deeded to an Elven clan who helped defend the Sept against a vast incursion of goblinoids from the eastern woods led by the dragon Greenshade. The elven clan was devastated in the conflict and even now has relatively few members, though a significant number of half elves contribute to the population both here and throughout the region. The leader of the elves and the 4th Baroness Cupric is her Ladyship Althea, a relatively young elf who took over leadership from her mother, who was killed in the Infernal Invasion.
Most of the inhabitants for Lodge work in the forest industries or serve in (or in support of) the Yewsmiths who patrol both the Huntwood and the Bridgewood, and to a lesser extent the Rising Wood. Significant but sustainable logging is a staple of the community and an ingenious sluice runs adjacent to the Wash, which feeds thence to Marshtown to supply the demands of the river traffic.
Ferryport: This small town is the seat of the Baronet Foalage and gateway to the downriver territories. (Population: 950)
Ferryport, the only significant holding by House Tynha in the Sept, is mostly notable as a gateway to the regions of the Basin Kingdoms downriver. Its head, the Baronet Yergan Foalage, is a vassal of the Margrave of Biford. (Note on names: Foalage is the name of the baronetcy, but the holder’s actual surname is Tynha.) Ferryport lies upon the Green Water, a large river almost a quarter mile across that once was (despite its size) bridged at this point along the Causeway by beams from the massive Pillar Tree. The bridge was destroyed in the Infernal Incursion of the Dwindling. Giant stone piers that once held the bridge can still be seen in the river, but there has been no talk of rebuilding it.
Across the river lies the town of Broken Bridge, which is in the domain of the Dukes of Sauer. Frequent ferries still ply the route past the massive piers despite banditry from the lizardmen of the Sauermarsh.
The Outlands: These are the regions farther afield from Junction, but still nominally under its central authority.
The Pinnacle: A huge mountain dominates this region and its craggy foothills are difficult to traverse. One large canyon valley is sometimes used for high pasturage.
The Knolls: This region of low limestone hills turns to significant granite hills in the north. The region is littered with caves carved into the mineral-rich rock. A significant culture with claims to this region, the Ferroum clan of dwarves, has a settlement at Delve renowned for its metal work. The clan’s presence here, however, predates the creation of the Sept and extends beyond the Delve. The Earl Ferroum, not the Duke, is technically sovereign in the Knolls. He is only beholden to the Duke of the Sept for his holdings in the Wooly Hills. Nonetheless, the relationship between the Dwarves of Delve and the Sept have grown so close that few remember this technicality, and being a regular member of the Duke’s council is also beneficial for the dwarves as almost all of their trade is funneled through the Sept.
The Rising Wood: These forested hills turn from deciduous to evergreen as they move north. There are many small lakes and streams in the region and there are a few small settlements of gnomes.
The Bridge Wood: More wild and forbidding than the forests to the west, the Bridgewood is still regularly patrolled and even logged near the Causeway. Farther in from the patrolled road, the dense forest provides a home for some large carnivores, bandits, and even monsters.
The Eddy: This wide pool in the massive Rin River has a slow clockwise circular current and is filled with an abundance of aquatic life. The fishing here is spectacular and a substantial amount of flotsam and jetsam is caught in the pool. Near the center of the pool this congeals into a vast mat of detritus that forms a small floating island.
Duck Marsh: Filled with waterfowl of every kind, this shallow marsh is also an excellent source of reeds and fish. The northern portion of the Rill Wend is kept regularly dredged and is known as the Channel. A small island in the west of the marsh is farmed by a community of halflings.
The Black Mire: This foul swamp is filled with quicksand pools and rotting vegetation. It reeks of decay and swamp gas. Patches of swamp Cyprus trees are about the only resource exploited in the region, but the many dangerous creatures of the mire make it hazardous to harvest them.
Foal Fields: These lush green grass fields and their soil seem particularly hospitable to horses, and the horses bred here have few parallels. Other animals are grazed here as well and some farms and even small villages exist near the Causeway, but the preoccupation of the region is with raising and trading horses. Of particular note are the Roan Destiers, Cream Palfreys and Black Rounceys. All of these are “hot-blooded” breeds of exceptional quality and stamina.
The Herd Lands: Along the Green Water the grasses become taller and a bit drier. The area is not really suitable for pasturage and is a bit arid for farming without irrigation, but the area is home to large herds of grazing animals such as Bison and Aurochs. Large predatory animals follow the herds as do tribal groups of nomadic humans and even a few humanoids.
The Scrub: West of the Grange and the Pasture, just past a range of low hills, the terrain grows notably drier, becoming ever more arid as one moves north and west. This region is filled with sparse but tough vegetation and broken terrain. It is home to many outlaws and even to some tribal clans who make their home in this inhospitable region. Smaller herds of hearty grazing animals forage in the region and are preyed upon by the bandits and by several dangerous predators, most notably the infamous Scrub Drakes.
The Dunes: The Scrub eventually gives way to a true desert region to the north west. The farther one ventures in the less vegetation and life will be found. Eventually the ground becomes barren and sandy and gives way to massive dunes of sand that slowly shift in the ceaseless wind that blow across the region from the Badlands.
The Badlands: The eastern portion of this region is dominated by the Dry Mesa, a high, flat plateau that, despite its name, has several natural springs that make the area habitable. It is sparsely settled by small tribal clans that pay only nominal lip service to the Sept. To the West the geography becomes freakish and twisted. Huge boulders perch improbably upon spindles of stone and strange stone arches dot the land. The terrain is a maze of twisted slot canyons and broken ground. It is inhabited by a few desperate bands of outlaws and humanoids.†