Bandit Kingdoms

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Bandit Kingdoms
Shield-bandit kingdoms.png
Founded early TA
Size Minor Kingdom
Fealty Independent
Ruler Bandit Lord Jacob Thornbaugh
Hex 6615

The Bandit Kingdoms refers to a collection of petty holdings which were founded in the early Third Age. The primary targets for the bandits, at that time, were trade caravans traveling the Lesser Farthing Road between the human settlements on the coast of the Western Reaches and the Durinshold dwarves of the Shadowyarn Mountains. Until the establishment of the Baronies of the Middle Reaches in 621 TA, the area was primarily wilderness.

As the Middle Reaches Baronies were established, towns, castles and farms became new targets for the bandits. At that time, the Bandit Kingdoms stretched from the Whispering Hills in the west to the Shadowyarn Mountains in the east in an area that ran some 300 miles south from the Middle Reaches Baronies. Each holding was ruled by a robber chieftain claiming a title through military might rather than heredity. The territorial boundaries were subject to rapid change due to sudden warfare and shifting alliances between the bandit lords.

The establishment of the Barony of Walworth in 648 TA provided a minor disruption to the activities of the bandit lords. With Walworth's fall in 653 TA, the Crown established the Shield Lands, a military district run by the Order of Crusaders. Advancing from the north and west, the knights of the Shield Lands pushed the bandits southeast against the Shadowyarn Mountains. By 660 TA, the bandit threat to commerce along the Lesser Farthing Road was eliminated.

In 840 TA, the Bandit Kingdoms united under a single ruler, Jacob Thornbaugh the Younger, a charismatic young man and son of a powerful bandit lord. Jacob established the present-day capital at Dullstrand. The Bandit Kingdoms now run south from Dullstrand along the Shadowyarn Mountains to the Sands of Time, some 300 miles to the south.

While Jacob, now an old man, still rules, pressure from the dwarven construction of Bishopshill Tower and Desertgate Tower, the establishment of the gnome town of Betwixt, and continued pressure from the Shield Lands to the west and the Barony of Tenbury to the south has significantly curtailed bandit activity.

Nearby Areas of Interest


Bishopshill is a butte several hundred feet in height. It rises from the plains in dramatic fashion, creating a defensible location with 360 degree views of the surrounding area. The area around Bishopshill is good grassland, although too rocky for large-scale farming or agriculture. The land is mostly used for grazing cattle.

To the east lie the wild and dark woods of the Dullstrand with the Shadowyarn Mountains peaking through the canopy of trees. To the south, the forest gives way to the Direhaunt Swamp, a morass formed by the streams that run out of the mountains. To the north and west lie the plains of the middle Reaches. To the southwest, some sixty miles distant, are the ruins of Walworth Castle, haunted and forlorn. To the north lies the recently-built Bishopshill Tower, a dwarven defensive tower built in 901 TA by King U-Gene. The tower effectively stopped all bandit activity along the Lesser Farthing Road.

The butte, called the Knoll, has been shaped by human habitation over the Ages. Most notably the town of Bishopshill is built atop the hexagonal butte in an area approximately 16 acres in size. Bishopshill is a town of five hundred inhabitants. The town of Bishopshill is entirely contained on the butte. Encircling the edge of the town, a stone palisade has been constructed - not for defense against knights, as it would be impossible for an army to scale the sides of the butte. Rather, the palisade provides an easy way to move troops and large wooden catapults along its walls. The catapults can be quickly positioned to repel foes coming from any direction.

At the center of the town, another natural shaft of hexagonal stone extends forty feet in height. Eighty feet in diameter, the ruins of a small stone chapel has stood balanced on this feature, called the Spire, since the Second Age.

The base of butte is very rough land, filled with scree, rubble and trash thrown down from the town above. Access to the town is via a large wooden elevated platform that is built on the southwest side of the Knoll. It can carry a large wagon and is raised and lowered by a team of horses that pull large ropes through a network of pulleys. In time of war, the platform is locked in place at the top of the butte.

A dwarven cave called the Grotto, has been carved into the base of the butte. A large iron portcullis allows for the Grotto to be secured when necessary. This cave is used to secure cattle and provisions for emergency use, and a well provides water when the tanks in the city run dry. A single set of spiral stairs have been carved, at great expense, between the Grotto below and the town above.

The reputation of Bishopshill in the Reaches is one of a decrepit den of sin and thieves, barely held together by lawless brigands. The town is a rallying point for disaffected humans, as its remote location and rugged character has enabled the inhabitants to remain free of the rule of the Crown. Raids into the Guildford are common as are reprisals from the Shield Lands.

The town is very compact with almost all buildings being two stories in height and sharing walls with their neighbors. The ground floors tend to be shops, stalls, workshops and the like with residences above them. Every roof is fitted with a rain barrel as carrying water up to the top of the butte is a miserable task. Many roofs also have a small garden planted for use by the household. Efficient use of space includes a number small fruit trees which provide the town with delicious apples, peaches, and cherries - some of which is made into spirits, but much of the fruit provides a variety to the staple diet of beef and dairy. Because of the hardness of the caprock, there are no cellars or basements in Bishopshill. The town is known for high winds and frequent lightning strikes which often hit the Spire during storms.

Bishopshill was the site of the infamous The Bishop's Night in 652 TA, a battle which repelled the Baron of Walworth's army and precipitated the rapid decline of the barony.


The town of Dullstrand, commonly held to be the capital of the Bandit Kingdoms, proclaims neutrality in these matters. But the town and surrounding areas give haven to freebooters, and its forges make weapons and armor which are not seen by the king or his men-at-arms.

Direhaunt Swamp

This land is sunken in the center and cliffed along both sides. This cupping causes water to form into standing pools and sluggish streams and flowages. The resulting morass of water and vegetation is known as the Direhaunt Swamp. The movement of water in the Direhaunt Swamp indicates that it gradually drains northwards, but there is no known river rising from the end, so it is thought that there are underground channels through which the waters run.

Certain desperate outlaws from the Bandit Kingdoms dwell with the Direhaunt Swamp. Ferocious predators and loathsome monsters likewise consider this their domain. The folk dwelling in the hills to either side keep constant watch to assure that the denizens of the Direhaunt Swamp do not roam beyond its edges. There are many tales and legends concerning this area, but the most likely is that of the lost burial place of a lich who once ruled the morass.

Gold Hills

The rocky hills which run south of Mt. Todd on the southwestern tip of the Shadowyarn Mountains are known as the Gold Hills. The northern verges of the hills are relatively safe, and these are claimed by the Bandit Kingdoms. The central and southern portions are very arid, and the hills are so rough and precipitous as to preclude mounted movement and make even foot-based military forays difficult. No operations have proven successful in clearing these tall heights. Occasional adventurers will return with tales of having prospected within these hills, stories of encounters with monsters, and the like, but most cannot be believed. There are certainly riches within the Gold Hills. It is known that the Bandit Lord has several productive mines in the area.

Mount Todd

Located at the southern end of the Shadowyarn Mountains, this volcanic peak was known in the First and Second Ages of Man as Mount Thunder, presumably because of its frequent eruptions and tremors. In 666 of the Second Age, Benedict Demonbinder was accidently killed by Todd Treelover, a druid, while adventuring against demons under the mountain. Shortly thereafter, popular legends began, and the mountain became known by its current moniker.

In September and October 828 TA, a party consisting of Sir Zachary, Hylax the Barker, U-Gene the Dwarf, Zephaniah the Good, Falstaff, Sirfexx Ivancevio, and Blackfoot undertook a mission from King Gregory to recover the Staff of Justice from Benedict's grave under Mount Todd. The journey was successful with the Staff of Justice regained, the Giant Raver Worldsplitter defeated, and the demons of the covenant bound by Hylax the Barker. With the exception of Foultooth, the Giant Raver of the Thirteenth Covenant, the Binding ended the Demon Wars of 821-828 TA.


In the lands of the southern Shadowyarn Mountains, amidst the rough and broken ground and jutting crags of the badlands there, a deep canyon of tremendous extent is found. This strange rift in the floor of the earth is over forty miles in length and five miles wide near the bandit town of Riftcrag. Tales tell that this rift is more than a mile deep and pocked with caves and caverns. Much of its length has been cleared of monsters, although they still issue forth from the tunnels from time to time. The bandits use both humans and monsters to hold the place, and rich loot is taken here from raids throughout the area. The floor of the rift at its western end is shunned, due to the particularly fierce monsters dwelling there. Attempts to clear this area have ended in disaster. Southeast of the Riftcanyon is the volcanic cone of haunted Mt. Todd, avoided by both knights and bandits.