Heroes of the New Day
Somewhat centrally located on the main continent of Grandia, Ionia is physically bisected into East & West by the Ponderous Mountains. In the southern part of that mountain chain is the capital city of Alexandria, named for the deceased cleric of Erathis, Alexia Do’Arten, who (along with her allies in the Wheels of Progress) saved Ionia from the grip of an ancient red dragon more than 60 years ago.
Eastern Ionia is heavily forested, with some forests (like the Yew Woods near Altair) containing portals to the Feywild, where an Eladrin community of some sort resides. Western Ionia is bordered on the west by the Nentir Vale, and is mostly rocky/hilly terrain with many mines and quarries. Both sides of the nation have sufficiently large rivers for trade, owing to the many streams coming out of the Ponderous Mountains in the north/central part of the nation.
See the page on Ionia’s Golden Age for general laws & policies.
Cities & Towns of Note
Alexandria… central, capital city of Ionia
Altair… eastern, main town for the first several adventures
Free Minecraft… western, “independent” town of dragonborn, goliath, half-orc, & human miners free of Dwarven Unions
Illika… central, large suburb of Alexandria
Ironhammer… western, smiths & smelters, mostly dwarves
Long-View… western, high-elevation town of elves who support dwarves
Oakenfold… eastern, famous logging town known for incredible musical instruments
Stoneforge… western, large town of masons
Straightarrow… eastern, forested elf/half-elf town known to produce bows of excellent quality
Feywild… a sub-world linked to parts of eastern Ionia
National Holidays & Sacred Cows
The head church in Ionia is currently that of Erathis, but as a function of promoting Her will (that if civilization), policies are in place to allow for all faiths to flourish in the nation, and there’s even an election process to allow a new church to take the lead, as well as a council of ministers who take part in the government (see The Golden Age for details on elections, governing bodies, etc).
The biggest national holiday is Liberation Day. This annual holiday, which happens in early spring, celebrates the day that the paladin Titus Imperius plunged his sword through the head of the red dragon Infyrana, saving the nation from her tyrannical rule. There are often plays and puppet shows (including large chinese-like dragon puppets) recreating the great battle. Bards sing various renditions of the battle, and respect is also given to the many who died during the Dragon Mountain years.
There is also a national holiday, recognized in late autumn, called Remembrance Day, when all within the nation are instructed to take the day off and connect with family and friends. This day recognizes the loss of the Great Ionian Army, and is a somber occasion. Sort of the polar opposite of Liberation Day, Remembrance Day is more of a time to think on what has been lost, and what has been learned, and what can be done to keep from forgetting.
Many local areas have smaller holidays, and racial holidays are also common. There are also a few national competitions which aren’t really holidays per se, but are still widely observed. For example, there is a Brewmaster’s competition every few years in Alexandria, where brewers from across the nation compete for the greatest brew, which becomes the official drink of Ionia for until the next competition. There’s also an Olympic-like athletic competition that takes place every 4 years, wherein representatives of different districts and towns compete for various medals. And the Alexandrian Wyvern Jousting Tournament is a huge deal, at least in the central district.
As far as things “you just don’t do” in Ionia, you’ll probably get beaten up if you speak ill of the Wheels of Progress, who are pretty much the national heroes. It’s also likely that any group of dwarves will treat you poorly if you speak ill of the old King Ironhammer.
The kingdom of Ionia formed sometime during the latter years of the Empire of Nerath (around 550 AC). The natural physical divide also represented a racial and philosophical divide in the nation. In the more hilly, rocky west folks tended to be more industrialist in heart and hard-working/earthen by race (dwarves, goliaths, shardminds, dragonborn, half-orcs). In the heavily-forested east there tended to gather folks of a more magical mindset, and races more closely identified with fey/natural realities (elves, eladrin, halflings, gnomes, half-elves, wilden, satyrs, pixies). Humans, as they often do, were found all over, though their individual ideologies often matched their place on the East/West spectrum.
In 875 AC, the Dwarven ruler of Ionia, King Bator Ironhammer, decreed that he would lead a massive army west, to the former lands of Nerath, to help wipe out the undead kindgom of Atramor which had risen up on the ruins of the toppled Nerathi empire. A band of adventurers called the Silver Company had already taken out the vampire king of Atramor, and smaller uprisings were happening all over the nation. King Ironhammer sought to wipe out the forces of the fleeing head necromancer of the nation, Ssaz Tam, before the lich could marshal forces to retake the nation. This was an effort that touched all of Ionia, requiring heavy taxes and long hours worked preparing implements and soldiers for war. Unfortunately, not all Ionians felt supportive of this initiative. Many in the east saw Ironhammer’s actions as rash, and many elvish oracles also saw an impending tragedy that would befall the nation while the army was gone. As a result, many from the east did not join the war effort.
While some easterners tried and failed to convince the King that the army was a bad idea, others were less diplomatic. A team of 5 easterners (an Eladrin, an Elf, 2 half-elves, and a gnome) attempted to sabotage the war machine production plants in western Ionia. They were caught, tried, and hanged, and forevermore the tale of the so-called “Necessary Evils” became a cautionary tale to those who would oppose the king, further dividing the nation along geographic and racial lines.
This “betrayal” on the part of many easterners fueled a great many existing racial unpleasantries, as I’m sure you’ve heard dwarves talk about the uselessness of elves before, or listened to elvish songs about the blind stubbornness of dwarves. Nevertheless, King Ironhammer lead a force of the willing (mostly westerners with the few easterners who would not abandon their king) off to the West, to the citadel of Dismalin, where Ssaz Tam’s forces were holed up. That was the Spring of 880 AC.
No one is exactly sure what happened after that point. What is known is that the citadel was toppled and Ssaz Tam’s forces disappeared. But so did all traces of the Ionian army and king. There were rumors of dark magics, pocket dimensions, murderous mists, and even divine intervention… but whatever happened, it meant that Ionia was missing its King, all of the able-bodied workers who had joined the war effort, and any sense of stability that they might have had. East and West rivalries became open hostility as some tried to claim rulership of the nation, while others demanded that everyone “have faith” and wait for the triumphant return of the king. The economy fell apart, having put so much into the war preparations and seeing no spoils of war coming back in return. And the fey of the east still predicted an even worse tragedy coming, so many retreated to the forests into portals to the Feywild in what was known as “The Withdrawal”, hoping that the powers of nature would protect them from what was to come, as oracles began to go mad as they mumbled words of “The Great World-Walker, the Bane of All Dimensions.”
That great impending tragedy was the arrival of a mountain overlooking the capital city (which was then called Dragonswake) in 885 AC. The mountain (called “Dragon Mountain”) was the dimension-hopping home of the ancient red wyrm Infyrana and her armies of kobold, dragonman, and other followers. They would materialize in a place, sap the area dry for a decade or so, then move on wreak havok in another place or world. Before they could completely destroy Ionia, though, the Wheels of Progress arrived to save the day. The tales of their battles inside Dragon Mountain are the stuff of songs and legends, and nationwide celebrations take place every year on Dragon Day, marking the anniversary of the day Titus Imperius climbed the back of the dragon as she flew skyward, plunging his sword into her skull and returning to earth as a savior of the land. Infyrana was defeated in 930 AC.
After that the Wheels of Progress, always eager to do the bidding of Erathis, set about taking Infyrana’s massive horde and using it to rebuild Ionia. They set up public libraries (& temples to Ioun), public schools, national dialogues, a democratic parliament, a system of roads and commerce, a national system of healing practitioners to treat the sick, and various economic policies that allowed both East and West Ionia to flourish.
Soon afterward, one of the Wheels, Jadzia Hammerfast, took many of the dwarves still hoping for the return of their old king off to the West, where they formed the dwarven city of Hammerfast in the Nentir Vale (formerly Atramor, formerly Nerath). There are still good trade relations between Hammerfast and Ionia. As part of the public education policy, children are required to spend a semester “abroad” in the opposite half of the nation, apprenticed to someone who will hopefully give a differing perspective than the one they’d learn growing up with racist grandparents. Many westerners opened up some of their factories to magical “improvements”, and many easterners allowed western efficiency experts to improve the speed with which they could produce their various fey wares.
The past 60 years have been known as the Golden Age for Ionia. While there is a military, they are almost all reservists, and they train by going to fight for other nations against threats that are far away (like the Orcish hordes that threaten the Alliance of Eastern Nations far off in the east). While King Imperius is quite old now, he is still easily the most respected man in the nation. The parliament handles most of the required governing work, with local governments doing a fair share of leading as well.