The Free Cities of Gladshelm
Two hundred years ago the river valleys of the Free Cities was the mighty kingdom of Astrogar. The kingdom itself was destroyed after dozens of years of civil war when it was discovered that the king had been under the influence of a dark wizard for years and the kingdom itself may have been controlled by dark wizards for generations.
The result was dozens of small city states that could not trust one another and frequently battled for land, water, food and gold. No city state had the strength or the will to conquer the others and so the Free Cities were forever a land of war.
To the north lies the lands of the Vorgar, a kingdom of fierce barbarians who war with themselves and occasionally sweep south during harsh winters looking for food and plunder. They fear magic above all else and the powerful Archmagi of Daggermark is the only thing that truly keeps the Vorgar at bay.
To the west lies the Carthian Empire. Once a quiet and prosperous kingdom that was aligned with the elves of the Summer Wood, Carthia is now a mighty empire driven by dark priests and a terrifying God-King. Spies from Carthia cross the border frequently and raids into the Free Cities are common. It is only a matter of time before the Carthian Legions cross into the Free Cities and begin their conquest. Carthia is one of the few threats that can bring all of the Kings of the Free Cities together to fight a common foe.
Many Carthian people, both rich and poor, have fled to the Free Cities to escape the persecution of the God-King.
To the east lies Gael, a Kingdom of renown for its mounted knights and deep sense of honor. Gael has threatening kingdoms to the south and further east. Magic is frowned upon in Gael and in some places outlawed, yet magical defenses are necessary if Gael is to survive. Many outcast Gael wizards flee to the free cities where their services are still sometimes employed by their former countrymen to defend their homeland.
To the south lies the Oroth Plains where the horse lords and the wolf riders battle for dominance over the vast herds of Turok that roam across hundreds of miles of grass land. An ancient empire once dominated Oroth but it has long since vanished and vast ancient ruins still dot the landscape near dried up river and long forgotten roads.
There are over a dozen free cities. Each is ruled by its own King or Queen. The largest is Daggermark which was the largest city to survive the civil war of Astrogar and is the nominal leader of the Free Cities whenever they can agree to come together to deal with a common cause. Other cities include Dekuur, Gralton, Lambreth, Mivon, Tymon.