Geography of Kulhn

Kulhn is located at the northeastern corner of the continent, bounded on the west by the Nahksaur mountains, on the north by the Bay of Storms, and on the east by the eastern ocean. The eastern foothills of the Nahksaur mountains gradually flatten into rolling hills, eventually becoming richly watered eastern plains. The plains continue until they reach the ocean coast, fading into an area of rocky swampland and estuary, almost completely flat and low enough to be almost covered during high tides. The water is too salty for fresh water fish, and too fresh for ocean fish. Reptiles, a few amphibians, and nesting birds are about the only animal life. Plant life is mainly tough grass and sturdy briars.

The southern edge of Kulhn, for a distance of two to three days travel, is covered by an ancient forest. South of the forest lies the kingdom of Tothran, at least officially. However, the king of Tothran does not have any men who are willing to patrol near the forest for any inducement. Therefore, the area of approximately a day's ride south of the woods is literally no man's land. At least for now.

Kulhn's southern woods, commonly referred to as the Cursed Forest by those who do not live there, extends from the lower slopes of the mountains to the west, all the way to the swamplands along the coastline. The legends concerning the evil magic dwelling in the depths of this forest have echoed all the way to Lertolia and beyond.

The woodsrunners who actually live in Kulhn's southern woods consider their home to unfairly maligned. They maintain that the forest is not cursed, it's merely having a run of bad luck. The woodsrunners do admit that there are a few vampires in the southern forest. And a smattering of werewolves roaming the area, also. But they are easy to handle if you take precautions and don't go out at night. Nobody really minds the wolves, bears, wild boars, etc.

True, there are also some rather unusual undead creatures that were raised by death magic a few centuries ago, which are still wandering about because nobody ever figured out how to put them down. And, of course, the fay have an annoying tendency to get underfoot. But the fay almost never actually kill anyone these days, since the truce was arranged. At least the daylight fay don't kill many people, and no sane person goes out at night anyway. The ghosts are easy enough to deal with, after all. The dwarves are no trouble, they are nice folks.

To the north, across the Bay of Storms, lies the island kingdom of Uleirand, a monarchy which is heavily influenced by theocratic manipulation from the four major temples. Fortunately for both the monarchy and people of Uleirand, the four temples spend so much time bickering among themselves that the throne can usually manage to get the kingdom's business done without crippling interference. Kulhn has historically enjoyed cordial relations with Uleirand as a trading partner. Whether that will continue, given the temples distaste for the proposed dynastic shift, remains to be seen.

Kulhn is bordered along its entire western edge by the Nahksaur mountains. This range extends across the full length of the country and north past the western end of the Bay of Storms. It defines the western edge of Kulhn in a south by southeastern direction until it enters the kingdom of Tothran.

The kingdom of Tothran is notably poor, being cursed with bad soil, an inhospitable coastline, and a remarkably corrupt ruling family. Hunger is a way of life for most people in Tothran, and famine is common in the northern parts of the kingdom during most years. The people of Tothran refrain from emigrating for three reasons. One, almost none of them can afford to buy passage to a better place. Two, the only direction that does not require money for ship's passage is north into Kulhn's southern forest. The common folk of Tothran regard the forest as being even more dangerous that it actually is, which is difficult to credit. And three, they don't want to starve to death along the way.

Northwest of Kulhn, situated in the mountains astride the pass of Kuriltan, the only usable pass connecting Kulhn and the Lertolian Empire, is the relatively tiny kingdom of Lokenberg. Kulhn and Lokenberg are currently at war over a treaty dispute regarding Kulhn's right to bring their trading caravans through Kuriltan Pass. Lokenberg wants higher tolls. Kulhn doesn't like the idea.

West of the Nahksaur mountains lies the Lertolian Empire. Ruled by the kingdom of Lertolia, near the western coast, the empire has expanded and consolidated its power over the course of a thousand years to become by far the richest and most powerful political entity in the hemisphere. Lertolians are a thoroughly pragmatic people. They maintain stability within the borders of their empire by avoiding dogmatic decrees as much as possible.

Basic rules of order in Lertolia are standard across the empire. Crimes like theft, murder, kidnapping, etc. are punished under a common system of laws and judges. Otherwise, any citizen of the empire is free to do as they please, with anyone they please, whenever, wherever, and however it pleases them. As long as they pay their taxes on time and in full, and as long as they don't do anything that could be construed as rebellion against imperial authority, the empire simply doesn't care.

Freedom of religion is absolute, to the hair pulling frustration of the four temples. A citizen is free to worship as they choose, or not worship at all. Witchcraft is legal in Lertolia, as long as the witch commits no crime. Even death magic is technically legal, though no one is stupid enough to admit practicing it openly.