Curse of the Neverborn's Blood
Estado de Almarrón
- Capital – Ciudad Tejillas (population 4,200).
- Ruler – Barón Maximiliano de almarrón y Escudor.
- Population – Primarily Humans, with a few scatterings of Demi-Humans.
- Typical NPC – Average Citizen just wanting to get on; Swashbuckler or Local Hero; Merchant.
Almarrón’s character is a mystery to many people of the Savage Coast, even its own inhabitants. The state has gone through many ideological upheavals and has recently decided to try a new direction. First organized in 936, it was ruled for decades by a noble family, who led it through many struggles with other nations. Radical changes in sentiment and philosophy led to a democracy for a time, but corruption destroyed that experiment. From the chaos, a dictator rose to power. Recently, the dictator was overthrown, and a member of the nobility was installed as the nation’s leader. The current baron wants to lead his state toward learning and enlightenment. Since Almarrón has gone through so many changes, outsiders do not know what to expect in policy or in reaction to outside events. The inhabitants (and even the ruler) are sometimes confused themselves.
Almarrón has always been reclusive; this inward focus has not changed with its new leader; this is the reason for the general lack of knowledge about the state. Like many Guardianos, Almarróñans have the reputation of hot-blooded Swashbucklers. Traders have noticed the new government is encouraging quality crafts in order to increase the nation’s output of fine marketable goods. With no other confirmable information, everyone is waiting to see what happens.
Much of Almarrón’s territory is rocky, inhospitable hill country, but a large, fertile plain occupies the heart of the nation, supporting a majority of the population. Forested slopes and cliffs guard Almarrón’s shores.
Almarrón, like so many other baronies, has had a bloody history. Organized from the confused southern portions of Sotto when that barony fell to Gargoña in 936, Almarrón faced difficulties from the very beginning; its people were disorganized and its nobles inexperienced. To help consolidate his new nation, the first baron of Almarrón unified his people in a crusade against the southern holdings of Nueva Esperanza, conquering that area in 939. The singularity of purpose forged in this conquest helped hold the state together for almost four decades.
About 15 years before the founding of Almarrón, a small barony called Escudor broke away from Sotto; when Almarrón emerged from the division of Sotto, Escudor was its neighbour. Unfortunately, Escudor’s existence cut off Almarrón’s access to the best route inland, and Almarrón blocked Escudor’s route to the sea. Many disagreements simmered between the two states, finally boiling over into war in 977.
Almarrón defeated Escudor. Inspired by its victory, Almarrón immediately turned north to initiate hostilities with Gargoña and Rivera. Here it was not so fortunate, or perhaps it was simply better matched. The two states merged to resist Almarrón’s aggression. On top of this, while war progressed in the north, the people of Nueva Esperanza began an internal war for independence. Led by their General Cimmaron, the people of Nueva Esperanza won their fight for freedom in 980.
The long years of tension and culminating defeats so disgusted the general populace that the people of Almarrón rose up and overthrew the baron. They embarked on a democracy, using old Traladaran writings as a basis for their government. Almarróñans maintained this experiment for almost 15 years, but revolutionary fervor had slain or exiled the most experienced leaders (the nobility). The people elected to office fell prey to indecision, endless argument, and greed.
In 994, poverty and hot tempers threatened to destroy Almarrón from within. Don Esteban, the mayor of Ciudad Tejillas, intervened. Using the city’s garrison, the mayor ousted rival factions, installed himself as dictator, and named himself “El Salvador” (the Saviour). His self-proclaimed title was technically true because he did save Almarrón from complete collapse. However, he then initiated policies that made him very unpopular.
First, he seized what he perceived to be the nation’s most important asset: the silver mines in Sierra del Plata, mines that supplied silver for coinage to many other nations. Don Esteban also established taxes on the state’s other exports, including coffee and tobacco. Much of this wealth went directly to his own coffers rather than into a national treasury.
The people of Almarrón resented the usurper and his odious tyranny. The poorest peasants ran from the dictator’s tax collectors and Torreóner mercenaries. Many bands of insurgents were formed, some dreaming of restoring the old democracy, others loyal to the old baron’s still-living son, Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor.
In 1008, after 12 years under the dictator, rebel forces were able to take advantage of general unrest and defeat Don Esteban’s troops. The dictator was removed from power, and Barón Maximiliano was established as the leader of Almarrón. Don Esteban still lives. He still tries to sway people by claiming to be a commoner who kept the state out of the hands of the nobility. However, Maximiliano is a just ruler, and the people are ready to give the nobility another chance.
Almarrón is a nation of humans though a few families of demi-humans are scattered across the state. The people of Almarrón are tired of war and poverty. Many remember the nation’s old democracy as a time of trouble; these would rather avoid politics and allow their noble baron to lead.
However, the older inhabitants have lived under several political systems, and in the democracy they were free; they have not forgotten that heady feeling. Under Don Esteban, they lost much of their freedom, and that chafed—to the point of revolution. Now, these older citizens have a strong desire to remain free. Having experienced the upheavals of the past, they know they can survive them if they must. Fortunately, the new baron respects their viewpoint.
As a result of its history, Almarrón has no true peasants and only one noble family. Most common people are merchants and farmers, with the baron encouraging the establishment of a “class” of craftspeople. Those interested in adventuring are mostly warriors—though rogues, wizards, and priests also take up the lifestyle.
As one might expect of a freedom-loving people, many Swashbucklers live among the Almarróñans. They also have a high number of Local Heroes, many of whom helped overthrow the dictator and have moved on to adventuring careers. Honorbound, Gauchos, and Scouts are encountered with some regularity in Almarrón as well.
The Red Curse
The worst effects of the Red Curse are not prevalent in Almarrón. One of the ways Don Maximiliano won support was by distributing Cinnabryl to the people. The baron has used the captured treasure hoard of Don Esteban to purchase this protective metal. Most people of Almarrón choose to not think about the Red Curse; they dismiss it as something that harms others. The few Afflicted who do live in Almarrón stay with their families and friends and are not judged harshly simply because of deformities.
Industry and Trade
Almarrón conducts most of its trade by land, and Gargoña is a favoured trading partner. Vilaverde’s merchant ships carry many goods from Almarrón. A small number of ships fly Almarróñan colours.
Almarrón’s main imports are food from Saragón and Cinnabryl from Vilaverde. The state’s primary exports are silver, tobacco, and coffee. Most of the nation’s coffee is exported to Hule and Yavdlom by Vilaverdan ships. Since the baron started encouraging crafts, Almarrón is beginning to export a few fine, finished goods such as furniture, clothing, and jewellery.
As is the case in most baronies, religion is not terribly important in Almarrón. The Ambassador is venerated by a majority of the citizens, but Milan and Valerias are also popular, especially among Swashbucklers and other adventurers. Veterans of the revolt that overthrew Don Esteban favour the General; the Judge receives attention from those whom Don Esteban’s rule oppressed.
Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor, a human Noble fighter, is an intelligent and a charismatic leader. The baron is not quite 30 years old, born just after his father was removed from power. His pride tempered by exile, the baron spent his early years in Saragón, returning to Almarrón a decade ago to lead freedom fighters against the dictator.
Don Maximiliano is best described as an enlightened despot, ruling with a firm hand, but so far avoiding the pitfall of over-taxation. He allows a fair amount of freedom and diversity among his people. Though Don Maximiliano hopes to capture Don Esteban and bring him to trial, most of his troops are tied up guarding urban areas, trails, the silver mines, and the Castle of Tordegena that wards the nation’s western border against Yazi gnoll raids. Fortunately, Don Esteban has been unsuccessful finding support for a counter-revolt — for now.
The baron is friends with Don Luis de Manzanas, an important noble and Inheritor in Saragón. This, and his familiarity with the state, has helped the baron establish good relations with Saragón. Don Maximiliano has also cultivated the friendship of Doña Esperanza, ruler of Gargoña, who regrets not having another daughter for the baron to marry. Don Maximiliano is looking for an intelligent and beautiful wife so he can leave strong, capable heirs to care for Almarrón after his death.
Ciudad Tejillas, a town of 4,200, is located at the mouth of the river that runs through northern Almarrón. The capital is a centre for commerce and has a fine fishing fleet. Don Maximiliano encourages regular celebrations commemorating important events, which raises morale in the city. Ciudad Tejillas is a lively place once more, filled with fine taverns and inns and even sporting a theatre and a museum. Though the people of the capital are hard workers, the boisterous enthusiasm of both local and visiting Swashbucklers makes for an exciting night-life. Still, the town is fairly safe; the adventurers who live in Ciudad Tejillas are protective of its people and its reputation.
Other Places of Interest
There are two large villages in Almarrón: Costella, a farming village that also engages in forestry and supports the silver mines in Sierra del Plata; and Paso Dorado, a trading, farming, and fishing center located upriver from Ciudad Tejillas.
Castillo de Tordegena, on Almarrón’s western border, was once a proud castle vital to Almarrón’s defense. Almost destroyed by Yazi gnolls during the recent wars, Tordegena has still not been restored for habitation. A small garrison camps nearby, occasionally picking through the ruins to roust whatever has taken up residence there. However, the baron would like to find an experienced group of dungeon explorers willing to enter the castle and its many underground levels to determine whether it is worth rebuilding and clear out whatever vermin have taken up residence in the last couple of years.