Mer was an old campaign setting I used for a while. It was one of my first attempts at building a cohesive campaign setting compared to small scale adventures.
The World is known as Mer. It is one giant continent, with a few outlying smaller islands. The south is a damp swampland, and the north is a searing desert. Morden’s stronghold was in the south. His prison is under the remains of his main castle inside his old dungeon.
This is a Greco-Roman styled nation with a powerful navy, that worships The Archons: angelic light beings that hate darkness and undead. It has lots of sun priests and paladins, and was pretty politically weak in Mer until the menace of Lich King Morden’s undead legions made their holy crusaders really useful. Established a town in the way of advancing skeletal legions as their protectorate, and succeeded in holding them off. The townsfolk were pretty happy about this, and the forces of Arcopolis decided they were going to hold onto the territory they had taken.
This region is ruled by a combination of democracy and theology. The highest ranking priests run for office, and are elected by citizens. Tokens are given out when taxes are collected and in order to vote, you deposit your token into the appropriate box. Your token is always dated and has your name and an official signature. The elected priests serve lifetime terms. If you save your votes over multiple years, you may end up with multiple votes. Over time votes have become a form of currency.
Situated on the largest outlying continent and surrounding islands. They also have a large swath of territory on the mainland as well that they conquered during the final war and have been protecting.
Nice because: The Archons teach that kindness and charity are noble virtues. Protecting the innocent is good.
Jerks because: The Archons also teach that those “tainted by darkness” don’t deserve mercy. Even benign ghosts or necromancers (and perhaps those suspected of sympathizing) get killed on sight if practical. Institutionalized slavery, most crimes punished with “Community Service” until a fine is paid off through work.
An Arcosian trial usually consists of the judge, the defendant and the accuser. No lawyers are allowed, but if the crime is against the state an accuser will be appointed. The assumption is that the defendant is guilty until they can prove they are not. The punishment for minor crimes, theft, assault, trespassing and the like, is usually between 1 and 5 years of community service. For more major ones it can be anywhere from 5 years to a lifetime or even death. The community service is served for the victim of the crime, and if they want they can sell your services to someone else. The state usually buys anyone offered and conscripts them into the military. Necromancy is a particularly big crime. Summoning or raising the undead is punishable by death, and in serious cases does not need a trial (If a high ranking official deems it proper, they can kill at the sight of the crime). For other necromantic spells, it is typically a year of service for each level of the spell. Minimum of 1.
Since votes are a physical thing that is given out, one can literally buy votes from people. The typical exchange rate is 1 vote to 100 gold, and the votes occasionally carry their weight outside of Arcosian lands. Whoever possesses the vote is allowed to cast it, and many families keep theirs under close guard. They also keep them as a sort of lifesavings and will skip out on an election if times are hard.
This flag is almost always hand painted onto green cloth.
A nation formed around the worship of the World Serpent. It sees serpentine creatures as spiritually superior, but there are lots of humans as part of the religion too. The religion teaches that the soul of the world is a giant serpent, and people who worship it become one with it when they die. Reincarnation is a big part of it, and they believe you return more and more snake like. This was one of the religions that was heavily oppressed by Morden, and many of Sethis’ founders were refugees from the south. Racially, this region is mostly yuan-ti, medusa, and a few dragons in addition to the human majority. Alchemy here is pretty sophisticated. Most of the populace is heavily into tattooing, piercing, and other bodily modifications, to look more like snakes (scale patterns on necks and wrists, lip rings that look like fangs when their mouth is closed, etc.) Their society is highly mobile, contrasting starkly with their huge stone fortresses built for their leaders. They tend to live in their caravans as they travel from one fortress to the next doing their business.
Nice because: Given the eclectic mix of serpentine races present, they are very egalitarian and accepting. If you’re a fellow worshiper, it doesn’t matter if you’re a human, a Mind Flayer, or anything in between.
Jerks because: Practice the sacrifice of sentient creatures at religious ceremonies. Not big on other religions, and actually have different, more severe laws for practitioners of other or no religions. (Typically they ask you to quote some scripture. Followers can do it easy, others take a DC 15 know religion check).
Many minor flags and totems exist for the various tribes.
This is a loose confederation of the various peoples that live in the great swamps and marshes of southern Mer. This region is mostly populated by Kuo-toa and Lizardfolk. Priests of Dagon and cultists of ancient and/or alien powers abound. Can’t project force very well, and one of the few nations that didn’t contribute significantly to the defeat of Morden as they were effectively conquered immediately. They hold resentment towards others for letting it happen, and others hold it saying they fell a little too easily.
The various tribes send representatives to an annual council to speak as one for the group. This council sets policy for dealing with non-member nations and settles tribal disputes. Problems are solved in a “Defense of Honor” the outcome of which does not declare someone guilty or innocent. A defense of honor requires a champion for the accused and accuser who then fight to the death. The winner then makes a demand of the loser which must be fulfilled unless the council deems it impossible. That rarely happens. When it does, completing an impossible task is a sign of great honor and respect.
The swamps of Southern Mer.
Nice because: Religiously and politically open. Relatively lax laws.
Jerks because: Little protection or organized rule. Don’t wander too far from the bigger cities.
The monarchy that originally held sway over all of northern Mer. Rather upset that they have lost so much ground to other powers (mainly Arcopolis), but still influential and hold some of the most fertile lands. Use magically aided farm tools to harvest much of the world’s crops, mostly in the form of insentient automations and bound elementals. Their country is home to the world’s foremost wizard college. The royal family has a seat on the board at the college, and at least one royal is always a high ranking wizard.
The Wizard College
Is ruled by a council of 5 powerful wizards, who govern all arcane learning in the world and you can go here for any subject. Below them are various lesser mages who hold classes and teach students. Current heads are Abjuration, Conjurer, Diviner, Enchantment, Transmutation specialists. To gain a seat, you must win a “Wizards Duel” run by the current heads.
In a wizards duel, both sides are given 2 days to prepare. They enter an agreed upon area with nothing but spellbooks, and are subjected to 3 Greater dispel magic spells by one of the other current heads to ensure no buffing before the contest. Each wizard then has a small 5ft chalk square drawn about him, which he cannot leave, and the duel begins. The first wizard to die, or concede defeat is the loser. Dueling is done to gain a seat on the board, or as a method to resolve any disputes between wizards, and often can have less severe rules attached. As agreed upon by the wizards involved. Refusing a duel is an admission of guilt, and the same as losing.
Center of the world. This is where the majority of the best farmland is.
Nice because: Don’t care about religion. Rulers are generally solid people out to do right. There is lots of available magic.
Jerks because: There are no religious rights or exceptions. High taxes and authoritative, no chance at a citizens say in anything.
Generally not actually a flag but painted on things. A black pick with a white circle behind it, over top a red background.
During the final war, most of the Dwarven territory was lost. Most of their original lands were near mountains with the cities inside them. Their lands were captured, because the Dwarves simply collapsed the entrances to their tunnels leaving the surface to those who want it. The dwarves keep the exact extent of their underground realm a secret, but it is assumed to cover the majority of Mer. Anyone planning to dig deeper than 100ft would do well to check and make sure they are not entering another country.
In addition to Dwarves, their empire is home to all manner of sentient underground dwelling folk. This includes the relatively common Gnomes, and slightly less common Drow. The Drow are simply elves whose ancestors chose to move underground after the burning of the world tree and have adapted.
As a part of their tunneling operations, the dwarves have developed a variety of steam powered golems and tools. They are known to be expert craftsman, regardless of the field.
The Dwarven empire is ruled by an elected democracy. Each city elects one representative to attend a congress, where they all vote on every issue. They vote on every issue, and often times it can take some time before all representatives can be contacted, gathered, and a decision can be made.
Non-Dwarves are allowed to live in these cities and are 100% equal in all dealings, with the exception that they do not get a say in government.
At present, they occupy the uppermost layers of the subterranean world known as the underdark laying out a massive maze of tunnels, mines, and interconnected cities.
Nice Because: Will generally hear anything out. Trusting and Honest. Anyone can speak before the council and bring a case.
Jerks Because: they have a strict adherence to the rules, and respect for tradition for its own sake. Not particularly fond of the upside world who they hold directly responsible for the third rise of Morden.
The Nation of Zaratan was least at risk by the various conquests of Morden. Their entire nation rests upon the back of a colossal magical turtle, and realistically, they could simply swim away if needed. The people of Zaratan use boats in order to fish, but also work hard to cultivate the kelp forests which both they and the beast eat. They descend in specially crafted diving suits to fend off aquatic threats, and reseed the soil. The island is governed by the beast’s keeper, who makes all decisions based on what he believes to be the best interest of the beast. The original keeper founded the nation as a getaway resort, and his descendants still rule it much the same way. It has a fairly lax atmosphere, but his word is law.
On the back of a floating sea turtle typically off the western shore.
Nice Because: Relatively laid back about most things aside from the turtle. It was founded as a getaway resort location.
Jerks Because: Super environmentally friendly. Most punishment is banishment. No trial, and not really formal laws.