The East Riding
A thief’s paradise and an honest person’s nightmare. The East Riding is almost a microcosm of the general state of the once proud Kingdom of Reinhart. As criminal families bicker and squabble for influence over towns, areas and even specific buildings, the once glorious legacy of the region continues to gather dust and be forgotten.Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World. The East Riding is one of the few areas of the Mountain Principalities that has truly descended into anarchy, having lost its noble house to civil war, it is now claimed and run by a patchwork of criminal factions, each one vying for supremacy over the other, whilst trying to claw in as much profit and prestige for themselves as they can.
The East Riding was once governed, as all of the other areas of the Kingdom of Reinhart, by a member of the Peerage appointed by the monarchs of Reinhart to oversee and administer the area on their behalf. However, with the dissolution of the Kingdom into the Mountain Principalities, the East Riding was particularly badly hit as the Earl had passed away just two weeks before the last monarch, Wulf XIII, who due to his own illness which would eventually prove fatal, was not able to confirm which of the Earl’s twin sons would take the title in their father’s place. So in 398S.E., as the other areas of the Mountain Principalities began to war and jostle with one another in their attempt to gain the throne of Reinhart, the East Riding descended into a bitter civil war as the two, Sieghard and Ingmar brothers fought for the supremacy over the region. After 10 years of ferocious fighting, neither of the brothers had been able to come out on top, and in the year 409S.E., both of them passed away within days of each other, Ingmar dying from wounds sustained in a skirmish, and Sieghard being killed by his own men, who were tired of the endless bloodshed and poor compensation they received for it. Since the death of Sieghard and Ingmar, the Earl’s seat has remained vacant, with no one daring to, or having the strength of will to attempt to claim it form themselves. Instead, the East Riding is an anarchic state, that no longer has any state-wide institutions or offices, with the power vacuum having been filled by the emergence of powerful criminal families, who claim rule and ownership over chunks of land, and are constantly engaged in a turf war with their rivals for supremacy. In the East Riding’s towns especially a political map would show a chaotic mess of different areas, some not much larger than a few houses grouped together that are claimed by different criminal houses, though the countryside does tend to be claimed in larger blocks, with whole villages being controlled by one faction or another. For the people of the East Riding, life under the criminal factions is little different than under the rule of the Earls, especially for those that do not want to get involved with the politicking of the Kleptocracy.
The majority of the East Riding’s land is only really suitable for pastoral agriculture, mostly of sheep and goats that are herded for their meat, milk and wool, though any exports of these materials that are made will generally only go to the East Riding’s close political neighbours, rather than being transported far over land or sea to foreign markets. Most of the arable farmland in the area rarely produces enough of a surplus to warrant the farmers attempting to sell produce to people in other nations, and are consequently only worked for domestic consumption. The main asset of the East Riding is its coastline. Even though the large, ominous looking cliffs look fairly useless in terms of their exploitation, the fact that the water level of the Estrill Ocean is so high along the coast, and the seabed so deep, means that the areas where the cliffs naturally dip down to the water level make excellent ports. All of the East Riding’s major towns are located in these natural harbours along the coastline, which gives them access to trade from across Turoza. However, it is not just the good ports that attract trade into the East Riding, but it is the criminal factions that run it. As there is no central government, there are officially no import or export takes into the East Riding, and the criminal factions, eager to encourage the movement of goods into the area, charge a fraction of what a merchant would be charged in the ports of one of the established nations of Turoza, or even one of the other nations in the Mountain Principalities. Many merchants (though it tends to be the more unscrupulous ones), therefore ship their goods to the East Riding, where they either sell them straight for a profit, or contract one of the criminal factions to smuggle their goods into countries further down the line. The East Riding’s position, right in the middle of the north-south land and sea routes on the eastern coast of the Felsspitze Mountains lends further appeal for the merchants to consort with the criminal families of the East Riding. The criminal factions of the East Riding, also run a lucrative trade of anonymising the destination, or origin of goods, which proves popular with merchants who do not wish to be seen to be dealing in certain parts of Turoza, and further afield. Due to the East Riding’s geographical location, a large bulk of this activity revolves around the anonymising of goods moving to and from Korinthos, a nation which none of the other major players in Turoza, have officially recognised, and which none of the major nations, other than the Emirate of Taqwal, are happy to be seen trading directly with. Nevertheless, there are risks involved. Merchants discovered using the ports of the East Riding to smuggle goods into other nations to avoid paying taxes are highly likely to be blacklisted from conducting any business there in the future, and the unregulated waters around the East Riding make them an ideal breeding ground for piracy, and even attracts ships of the infamous Red Hawk Corsairs to hunt in its waters. Finally, the intrinsically criminal nature of the East Riding’s ‘political’ system means that it always attracts interest from those wishing to engage in, and spend money on illegal activities. There is an open trade in slaves in the area, that even draws the big players in the slaving industry such as the Kin of Sabratha to sell in a market outside of the Underdark that is easier for some many to access. In addition, there are always people drawn to the East Riding looking for hired killers to operate all across Turoza, a service that the criminal factions are more than happy to provide, for a fee of course.
Demography and Population
Wealth tends to flow much more freely around the East Riding than it would otherwise in a more standard political system. Even though most of the physical wealth, and land is controlled by relative handful of criminal factions and families, they are very generous in their rewarding of their followers, especially those that excel in the work that they carry out for them, so as to continuously buy the loyalty of their followers, and ensure that they don’t attempt to defect to a rival political faction. The freer movement of wealth is much more rapid in the major settlements of the East Riding, as opposed the more rural areas, where economic prospects for the agriculturally based peasantry are as limited as they always were. Nevertheless, communities or individuals can see change and riches fall into their laps overnight if they carry out some service that was deemed to be of significance to the faction that claims dominion over them. In terms of the population make-up of the East Riding, it is a truly mixed society. Members of all sapient species can be found there, many of them having moved to the area from all across Turoza, drawn by the promise of a life without rules or laws, or hoping to ply their skills or trades away from the prying eyes and meddling hands of governmental, scholarly or guild authorities.
The East Riding is a large swathe of land on the eastern coast of the area of the Felsspitze Mountains in northern Turoza. All of the nation’s land is caught between the mountains on the one hand and the Estrill Ocean on the other, with the coastline being made up of a dramatic line of tall cliffs that rise and fall as they curve towards the north. Where the cliffs dip down to roughly sea level, there are numerous good sites for the establishment of ports, as the water level remains very deep right up to these natural indents in the cliff face. In many areas, the cliff faces are pockmarked with cave systems, which like the burrow of a giant rodent, snake up to the surface, and give access to the land above. As for the nature of the East Riding’s land in general, it is mostly comprised of rolling hills that link up to and descend from the Felsspitze Mountains. Most of the land suitable for farming is confined to the east of the country, where the land levels out before it reaches the cliff line. There are few large areas of woodland in the East Riding, with most of the vegetation being comprised of scrubby brush and bushes.
The East Riding has no formal military, as there is no formal government. Instead, the criminal families that claim dominance over areas of the nation operate a protection racket style of system, where they use their agents, hit-men and thugs to protect their claim over an area of the East Riding, and by extension the people that live there, for a fee akin to a tax on the local residents. However, the people who live and work in these areas do not have a choice as to whether or not they wish to be protected under these systems. The criminal factions of the East Riding are going to claim areas of the country regardless of what the local residents think, and therefore have no qualms about pressurising the locals under their ‘care’ into paying for the services they claim to provide. Indeed, those who resist paying, or who try to avoid it all together will always be visited by their local faction’s thugs, who will physically persuade them to change their minds. Those who still resist are, at best, driven from the area, at worst are killed in cold blood. Although they claim to provide protection for the people of the East Riding, many of the factions do little to actually protect the people that pay them, and most people are fully aware that they have to be able to act in their own defence if necessary. However, some criminal factions do form pseudo militias that they use to actively protect the areas that they claim, and the people within them, though this is more common in the East Riding’s town’s where factional boundaries and borders need more rigorous defending.