|The River Kingdoms|
|Ruler||Various bandit kings and petty lords|
|Government||Multiple squabbling kingdoms|
|Religions||Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Gorum, Gyronna, Hanspur, Iomedae, Lamashtu, Norgorber|
Source: Guide to the River Kingdoms
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 prevent their own demise.
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 kingdoms 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 outdo 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.
During the Age of Legend, the land encompassing much of the River Kingdoms was a type of hunting reserve for the elves of Kyonin, known as Telvurin or the "Shifting Lands". For thousands of years following the elves' exit to Sovyrian just before Earthfall, humans moved in to explore, and often ran afoul of the indigenous lizardfolk, grippli, and fey.
The modern history of the River Kingdoms is almost impossible to keep track of; each year contains enough war, conquest, death, destruction, and betrayal to fill an entire book. With such events occurring so frequently, few bother trying to keep track of the comings and goings of the petty tyrants and their small kingdoms. The only events in the history of the River Kingdoms that have a noticeable effect on the outside world are when one of the kingdoms becomes big and stable enough to be considered a nation in its own right. This is quite a rare occurrence, as most kingdoms fall to infighting and treachery long before they become that powerful. The only two nations that have formed this way are Numeria, which was once considered just an other series of squabbling tribes, and Razmiran, which was conquered by the arcane might of the living God Razmir.
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.
Settlements, kingdoms, and other territories
The people that make up the River Kingdoms are a diverse lot; the only thing most seem to have in common is that they are not the sort of people any civilised people would want for neighbours. The River Kingdoms seem to attract a wide range of rogues and outcasts ranging from deposed princes to mad sorcerers to religious firebrands. Though the people who inhabit this land come from a huge range of backgrounds, they are all self-reliant and hardy; those who are not do not last long in the River Kingdoms.
The River Freedoms
While many outsiders think of the people of the River Kingdoms as dishonorable, backstabbing curs, they do have a moral code by which they live. This code, known as the River Freedoms, is a set of moral principles that most natives take very seriously. For instance, one of the codes is that oath breakers must die (usually in a very painful manner). As a result, most people would die before they break their word—and they are also very cautious about giving their word in the first place. The River Freedoms are highly respected throughout the various realms of the River Kingdoms, and breaking one is a serious offense, even for those who claim to only have misinterpreted one of them.
The River Freedoms are:
- 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
Due to the freedom-loving and cynical nature of most inhabitants of the River Kingdoms, religion is often given short shrift. Those who do practice a religion pray to deities of thievery, war, and freedom. The churches of Cayden Cailean, Desna, Calistria, and Gorum are the most common, although Norgorber, the god of murder, thievery, and secrets is also popular. Additionally, cults of two gods forbidden throughout Avistan and Garund have found the region to be a safe haven: those of Hanspur and Gyronna, and the River Kingdoms remain one of the few places in the world they can openly be worshiped. The region also attracts strange cults in the same way they attract strange people, and small religions ranging from the unorthodox to the downright bizarre make their home here.
Paizo published Guide to the River Kingdoms, a sourcebook on the River Kingdoms and its component nations. The Kingdoms also serve as the settings for the Kingmaker Adventure Path, Pathfinder Online, and the Pathfinder: Kingmaker computer RPG.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 126–129. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Elaine Cunningham, Steve Kenson, China Miéville, and Chris Pramas, et al. (2010). Guide to the River Kingdoms, p. 2–3. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-203-6
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 126–127. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 126. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. Poster Map. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Mark Moreland. (2017). Born of Battle. Fangs of War, p. 72. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-932-5
- Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 129. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
- Jeff Quick. (2010). The River Kingdoms. Guide to the River Kingdoms, p. 7–8. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-203-6
- James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 163. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2