By Arman Kassam
If you’re lucky enough to board a ship that can cross the great waters, the first piece of Stanfordia you’ll ever lay your eyes on is the coastline of Oval Bay. The bay is wrapped around by Lathrop Cape, a fair domain with intricate ruins from chiefdoms past (some say the ancestors of the denizens of Knight’s Isle had a foothold on the cape). To the south lays the jewel of the land — the Kingdom of Main Quad, the vastest empire in the realm with an extent as far south as the Memorial Mountains of Union Vale and as far north as the Serra Fields, as far east as the stronghold of Hoover and as far west as the sea hills of the Duchy of the Engineers. Pilgrims flock to the heart of the empire to bear witness to the splendor of the imperial court, to revel in the midst of the great god Lelandum.
The Duchy of Hoover is a keen ally of the empire, supplying and trading goods and ideas. The Duke of Hoover is an advocate for liberty and freedom. The tariffs remain low, and peasants are permitted to do as they wish, but truth be told, the aristocracy of the Duchy has laid claim to almost all of the land in the region. Poverty persists, and the riches of the realm remain in the regal courts.
To the western side of Main Quad Kingdom, a different force lurks in the forest. The Engineers, a class of druids who have mastered the mechanical arts, have tapped into the ancient energy of the great Mangrove and are now building a host unlike any other. Some say they are ten-thousand strong. Others say they have marshaled a force of over fifty thousand. Needless to say, the Duchy has cast a shadow over the whole of the empire and is slowly taking control of the imperial court. Perhaps the true hidden jewel of Main Quad Kingdom lays in the southeast: Greenmarch, home to the sylvan elves and a veritable domain of scholars.
Though the Kingdom of Main Quad and its protectorates control the vast heartland of Stanfordia, it has neighbors to the south that wield unimaginable power of their own. The Kingdom of Tresidder is divided into a handful of baronies and princedoms. The capital of the Bookstore Barony is a citadel of mages, all of which draw their arcane might from a mystical tree, colloquially known as the “Talon.” In the Union Vale to the west, travelers and adventurers come from far and wide to dive into the dwarven mines, seeking their fortunes. Beyond the vale, the roads are dangerous, filled with lurking goblins and creatures that will assail any unguarded party, so the local inn is a popular safe haven. The bar is busy, and the ale is flowing at the Battleaxe & Bush!
To find those aforementioned goblins and creatures, one needs to look no further than the Lawless Lowlands and the Realm of the Row. In the lowlands all chaos has broken loose, and despite all their attempts at justice, the Kingdom of Tresidder cannot seem to reestablish order. The Realm of the Row also holds a deviant bunch. The nocturnal orcs of that region shake the earth with their chanting and ranting, hooting and hollering. That is in contrast to the peaceful and labyrinthine Forests of Florence. Those woods house the isolated High Elves of the south, a nation that is rarely concerned with the happenings of the north.
Legends say the Isle of Roble was the first land to be settled by the seafaring ancestors of Main Quad Kingdom, and similar stories have been told for the Lagunita Dominion to the north. The halls of Lagunita are a sight to behold, though recent adventurers report that the land has suffered persistent dry seasons. Beyond the Mounts of West Campus is West Arrillaga — a loose confederation of swole warriors that focus not on the battles of mortal humans, but on the appearance of their physique.
The Isle of Adams is the westernmost province in the realm. Though inconspicuous in size and distant from the tides of titanic empires, the keepers of the isle are masters of the arcane arts and lead some of the most successful agrarian communities in all of Stanfordia. They never have poor harvests, and their distance from the rest of the world permits them a harmony that is uncommon in this current, troubled age.
To the north of the Serra Fields are the dreaded Sapplands, an unholy place full of bogs as far as the eye can see. Myths tell us that these Marshlands are haunted by the lost souls of novice alchemists that could not find their way to the much more pleasant Medshire. The shire is the ultimate destination for most lucky alchemists (with the exception of those who go into the lucrative potion-making business). You can find some of the finest clerics and healers in all of the land at Medshire. Across the sea and to the east is the Kingdom of Cantor, the homeland for the High Elves of the north. The Queen of the territory is said to be a lovely patron of the arts, yet news has come in that the island is infested by stone giants!
In the easternmost reaches of Stanfordia, the Knight’s Isle scintillates as the wealthiest province in all of the realm. The exclusive island is governed by an elite merchant-class that has developed an immense maritime trade network and is slowly asserting dominance over Coupa Cove, extracting the waters of its delectable resources.
And finally, our final island begins with the exquisite architecture of the Branner Highlanders, Casper Countrymen and Guardians of Toyon Keep. These refined folk make occasional pilgrimages to Main Quad Kingdom when they cannot use their temporal teleportation magic to listen to lectures. The inhabitants of Sternland and Wilburia dream of the day that they will gain entrance to the lands of their northern neighbors. The two parallel regions are characterized by their rugged and wooded terrain, high number of orcs and profusion of wayward humans, many of whom have just set foot in Stanfordia for the first time.
Stanfordia is unlike any other land that has ever existed, and yet, somehow, it appears familiar. If you, traveler, ever manage to sail on a boat sturdy enough to cross the great waters — if you ever find yourself nearing Oval Bay — go on an adventure or two. But beware; in the words of another adventurer, “It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
This article is the second in the Mapping Stanford series. Maps from the series can be found at cartacluster.wordpress.com.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.