Urnst, County of
Proper Name: County of Urnst
Ruler: Her Noble Brilliancy, the Countess Belissica of Urnst (CG female human Wiz14)
Government: Feudal monarchy owing fealty to the Duchy of Urnst, though internal affairs are conducted independently; hereditary rulership out of a very broad noble (not royal) family (House Gellor) with strong adventuring and military service
Capital: Radigast City
Major Towns: Brotton (pop. 29,000), Caporna (5,900), Didieln (pop. 3,300), High Mardreth (pop. 6,400), Jedbridge (pop. 7,100), Radigast City (pop. 44,800), Stone Battle (pop. 2,900), Trigol (pop. 9,600)
Provinces: Six archbaronies, nine lord baronies, and eleven field baronies (lord mayors and mayors included, as they hold baronial positions) Resources: Foodstuffs, cloth, gold
Coinage: [Modified Nyrond] sterling (pp), noble (gp), bright (ep), castle (sp), common (cp)
Population: 682,200—Human 79% (SOr), Halfling 9% (lightfoot), Elf 5%, Dwarf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages: Common, Halfling, Rhopan, Elven
Alignments: LG, NG*, N
Religions: Heironeous, St. Cuthbert, Pelor, Phyton, Lydia, Oeridian agricultural gods, Xerbo, Zilchus, halfling pantheon, Norebo, Pholtus, Boccob
Allies: Duchy of Urnst, Greyhawk, Nyrond, Flinty Hills, Furyondy, Tenh (exiled noble family and refugees)
Enemies: Iuz (particularly Bandit Kingdoms realm), Bone March, the Pale (distrusted)
Overview: The County of Urnst has held its current borders for centuries. Nestled along the pleasant coast of the Lake of Unknown Depths, much of the nation’s economy comes from mercantile pursuits. Urnst’s eastern border, along the Stone Road and Franz River, was once heavily garrisoned against threat of invasion from Nyrond. Now, old keeps and castles are used once again, this time to keep track of the swarms of refugees seeking better life in the west.
The great plains of Urnst account for its staggering production of foodstuffs in every part of the nation. Though small forests and woodlands dot the plains, Urnst is not known for its wilderness. The influx of refugees has ensured that free farmsteads and even brand-new lordships can be found almost anywhere. The great towns and villages of the County of Urnst are connected by a brilliantly designed and well-cared-for series of roads, fashioned in the (some say magical) style of the old Great Kingdom. Indeed, much of the great architecture and infrastructure of Urnst can be traced to the Aerdy occupation, a fact that does not go unappreciated despite the distrust most Urnstmen feel toward nations to the east.
Urnst maintains a small but efficient squadron of warships on the Nyr Dyv, stationed in the largely military town of High Mardreth. A standing army of some three thousand horse and footmen stock key garrisons along the northern border and throughout the nation. Noble levies can raise ten times that number in a week or two.
History: Originally part of the much-larger seminal Urnst nation, the County of Urnst was established as a distinct protectorate nation by Overking Jirenen of Aerdy in 189 CY. Owning by far the most fertile land of any nation bordering the Nyr Dyv, Urnst stood as the breadbasket of the region for many years, supplying wheat as far afield as Calbut, in the duchy of Tenh.
When Nyrond broke from the Great Kingdom, it entered a period of expansionism, swiftly capturing the County of Urnst in a brief and surprising series of charges toward the capital. Most Urnstmen bitterly resented the occupation years, during which their own aristocracy (largely Suel, with strong ties to that of the duchy) was integrated with arrogant nobility from Nyrond. This resentment rarely erupted into physical conflict, however; the people of Urnst enjoyed a much better fate than the Pale under similar circumstances.
A half-century after the Great Council of Rel Mord, the County of Urnst became a palatine state under the protection of the richer and more powerful Duchy of Urnst, a political situation that continues to this day.
If the County of Urnst is subservient to its southern cousin, it certainly doesn’t act like it. The ruling house of Urnst, the Gellors, has long displayed a well-deserved reputation of determined individualism. The current countess, Belissica, enjoys a popularity unparalleled among most Flanaess rulers. A consummate politician and diplomat, she enjoys warm relations with the people of the duchy and even has the respect of the Rhennee and certain supposedly pro-Iuz Bandit Kings.
For a time, just prior to the Greyhawk Wars, it seemed that the two Urnst nations might combine to form a single nation, not unlike that which existed in centuries past. Nobles from Port Toli to Marner speculated upon a marriage between the countess and Jolen Lorinar (NG male human Ftr8), Duke Karll’s eldest son. In preparation of the event, the courts of Urnst grew ever closer, sharing key advisers and functionaries. The union, however, never occurred. How the young southern lord possibly could have rebuffed the ravishing and even-tempered countess is a subject of much speculation. Unmarried, Belissica ages gracefully, keeping about her a number of romantic consorts (many of whom are well-placed in the courts of neighboring lands), never staying with a single partner for more than a handful of months.
Urnst saw little fighting during the Greyhawk Wars, though refugees from all corners of the central Flanaess crowded the streets of Radigast City and the cities nearest the Nyrond border. Though these folk came bearing tales of horrible suffering and unparalleled fear, the countess soon noted that many of them also came with full purses and a lifetime of accumulated wealth hastily stuffed into pockets and chests. Thanks to a number of new taxes suggested by Urnst’s canny Minister of Finance, Eckhard, much of that wealth now lines the government’s coffers, making Urnst one of the few countries to leave the war years far, far better off than it arrived.
Urnst has used its wealth and increased prestige to greatly aid Nyrond, both by bankrolling the struggling nation and by providing soldiers for the Almorian Campaign. The scars of the Nyrondal Occupation seem finally to have healed. From the point of view of the countess’s court, having one of the most powerful nations on the continent owing you several hundred favors does much to erase old wounds.
Belissica knows, however, that little is gained from helping Ehyeh III, the struggling duke of Tenh, who rules his refugee people from his exile in Radigast City. The countess attends his requests for personal meetings and funds his court (if modestly). Occasionally, she even offers the fallen duke some of her troops, if a given military action seems well thought out and offers little risk to her soldiers. She knows that embroiling herself in a struggle between the Tenha, Iuz, the Fists, and the holy armies of the Pale can do Urnst no good. Belissica is noble and righteous; she is also wise. The key to retaking Tenh does not lie in Radigast.
Conflicts and Intrigues: A rare wood-rot infestation plagues the shipyards at Bampton. The mad old lord of Brotton refuses to pay taxes to the countess and speaks openly of revolt. High Mardreth was lately attacked by ships thought to be from Prince Zeech of Redhand. Bound by treaties with Zeech’s allies, Belissica cannot strike back without endangering important secret alliances north of the Artonsamay