KINGDOM OF ISTHIA
The city of Varena had, in the last centuries of the Empire, become an important administrative and mercantile center in the Inner Sea. Where Tharsis was old, sprawling, crowded and rife with bureaucracy, Varena was young, ordered, efficient and removed from the intrigue and corruption of the Imperial court. Duke Teodor, though related to the Emperor, held no ambitions for the Imperial throne. When the end came, the Duke was the most prepared and had already collected a core of veteran soldiers and trusted officials. As the capitol plunged into chaos, and the first ravening horde of barbarian mercenaries approached Varena, the Duke went to meet them and promptly hired them on the spot. He offered the mercenary leaders high positions in his army and gave them the city of Vistia, thus sparing the country much of the destruction suffered by the rest of the Empire ... At the Council of Tharsis in 1021, the Patriarch invested Teodor as King of the West, giving him Isthia and Eredor, while preserving Tharsis as a protected city under Patriarchal rule. Eredor soon sank into civil war and was lost. However, Isthia remained a stable kingdom with a solid economy and a strong military, bolstered by wealthy nobles, former Legionnares and mercenaries who now had a country to call there own. The Isthian kings still maintain there historic claim to Eredor, but have so far been unable to reconquer the country.
GOVERNMENT: Isthia's monarchy is strong, exercising complete control of the kingdom's internal and economic affairs, as well as the military. The nobles of the realm include three Dukes (equal in rank to those of Eredor) and several lesser Counts, all of which hold their titles at the King's pleasure. This is only technically true of the Duke of Aragond, who has ruled virtually independent of Royal authority since the title was granted.
Isthia has wholly abandoned the old Imperial military traditions, adopting the feudal model that has developed over the last 200 years. As in other feudal kingdoms, the nobles are responsible for maintaining forces that may be called upon by the King in time of war. However, there are strict limits on the size of these armies and the Royal Legion (in name only) is always larger. Serious land-based threats to the kingdom are few. There is still the occasional orc raid against the alpine town of Boria, but the creatures were nearly eradicated in Imperial times and their numbers in the Stormover Mountains have never recovered. At sea, Isthia's rivals are Genice, Eredor and Mycea - basically every Inner Sea power with a sizable navy. This includes the independent pirates who prey on Inner Sea shipping. In the past, Isthia has maintained agreements with Mycea to gain that kingdom's protection from piracy (against Aeonian pirates, ironically).
Isthia's long dispute with Eredor remains unsettled. The heirs of Teodor I have never given up their claim on the "western provinces," though they have been unable to enforce it. The last attempt, in 1155, was a disastrous defeat after the intervention of Anglamarian mercenaries who took control of the province of Aragond. Teodor III granted Sir Aedn of Anglamar the title of Duke, hoping to rule the territory through a weaker vassal, but Aragond has remained independent ever since. In the past, Varena has refused to recognize the monarchy of Eredor by even so much as an exchange of ambassadors.
Taxation is limited in Isthia, as in other feudal kingdoms. The inefficiency of the feudal system makes it impossible to raise the Tax Rate above High.
CHALLENGES: Aside from subduing Aragond and conquering Eredor to reestablish herself as the dominant power of the West, Isthia's challenges are apparently minor. With a burgeoning population, she needs to expand economically, requiring a large investment in sea power to protect shipping, secure her ports, and face down pirates and rival navies. The growing wealth and economic influence of the city-state of Genice may cut Isthia off from opportunities in the eastern Inner Sea. Carthenia's naval power is unequaled and any war that would involve Carthene on the opposing side could prove disastrous ... Above everything involving Isthia's foriegn affairs rises the kingdom's relationship with the independent Patriarchy ruling the old Imperial capitol, Tharsis. Whatever claims Isthia's King makes on territory must be supported by the Patriarchy, which was instrumental in creating the kingdom after the Empire's collapse.