The River Kingdoms of northeastern Avistan have long been a haven for inland pirates, anarchists, exiles, and anyone who cannot seem to make it in more civilized nations. The Kingdoms are by no means a unified nation, but rather a constantly shifting group of city-states and fiefdoms, each at war with the others both to gain more power and to prevent their own demise.
The River Kingdoms are located in the marshy lowlands of the Sellen River basin, where its three branches combine in their journey south to the Inner Sea. The region borders on Numeria and Brevoy in the north, Galt and Kyonin to the south, and Razmiran and Ustalav to the west. There are few roads throughout the land, and the branching web of the Sellen and its tributaries provide the primary means of transportation through and within the region. Spread throughout the land are city-states and fortresses of various sizes and populations, some of which seem to appear overnight, and many that are wiped off the map just as quickly in the constant feuding between settlements.
There is no central government in the River Kingdoms, save a loose affiliation of city-states called the Outlaw Council which meets annually in Daggermark. The amount of different kingdoms that form this council is in constant flux as kingdom are often destroyed, conquered or new kingdoms formed. Beyond the council, each city is ruled by its own smaller council or despot, and the warfare between the nations makes the Outlaw Council often little more than a technicality. Civil war is another common threat to stable government, with assassination and betrayal a simple fact of life in these tumultuous kingdoms. The most vicious of these civil wars occur when powerful lords who have been paid vast sums to act as mercenaries in distant wars return to find their kingdom taken from them. The only thing that can ever unite the various River Kingdoms is a serious threat from their neighboring nations, even then every single lord vies to be in charge of whatever ramshackle army is assembled to thwart the outsiders. The organization of these rare conglomerate armies are almost as chaotic as the kingdoms themselves with each petty lord trying to out do his rival with feats of battlefield heroism. Outside of the realm of politics and war, the River Kingdoms are also bound together by the River Freedoms, six tenets they universally hold as close to laws as one will find in the lawless land.
Throughout the River Kingdoms, the people live by certain decrees that define them as people of the River Kingdoms. So much so, that many of these “freedoms” are laws in some of the kingdoms of the country. The “freedoms” are listed below:
- Say What you Will, I Live Free
- Oathbreakers Die
- Walk Any Road, Float Any River
- Courts Are for Kings
- Slavery Is an Abomination
- You Have What You Hold
The nature of the River Kingdoms cynical inhabitants means that they are often ill disposed towards religion. Those who are prone to worship normally embrace the chaotic nature of the River Kingdoms worshipping deities of thievery, war, and freedom. The churches of Cayden Cailean, Desna, Calistria and Gorum are popular throughout the River Kingdoms, as well as the god of murder, thievery and secrets Norgorber. Additionally, cults of two gods forbidden throughout Avistan and Garund have found the region to be a haven for their beliefs, the River Kingdoms remain one of the few places in the world where people can openly worship Hanspur and Gyronna. In addition to these two unpopular deities the River Kingdoms seem to attract strange cults in the same way they attract strange people and as such a huge amount of small religions ranging from unorthodox to down right bizarre make their home in the River Kingdoms.