Arden (ar-DIN) is the westernmost land of Embyr, surrounded by the Sea of Teeth to the north, the Sea of Storms to the west, and the Sea of Swords to the east. Although it is connected to the main continent of Aurodei by a finger of land, it is as isolated as any true island.

As a nation the Kingdoms of Arden are far too embroiled in their own internal conflicts to overly affect the lands around them, though every warrior and nobleman dreams of one day restoring the greatness of the Empire of Denimus. Trade with other lands is heavy, particularly for exotic goods such as spices and rarefied textiles.

There is a very high population of elves, dwarves and halflings in Arden. Waraloo in fact is the halfling homeland, ideally isolated by shoreline cliffs, deep forests and tall mountains.

Arden has a complex geology with a rich variety of scenery and impressive contrasts in topography. The highlands contain the principal mountain ranges which vary from 4,000 to 5,000 feet and occupy most of the north and east of the country. Lowland Arden, almost entirely composed of low, rolling hills and forested flatlands, lies to the southeast.

Prevailing southwesterly winds make Arden’s climate temperate and equable year round. Weather patterns frequently change, but few temperature extremes occur. Temperatures range from an average of 40 degrees in winter to about 60 degrees in the summer, though a low of 20 degrees sometimes occurs in the winter. The average annual rainfall is about 30 to 50 inches, usually distributed evenly throughout the year. Cloud cover is persistent, however, limiting sunshine to an average of about 6 to 7 hours a day in the summer and 1 to 2 hours a day in the winter.

Of all the races of men, the Ardesh are the most imperialistic, and would in fact try to overrun the world were it not for their own internal civil unrest.

Once, long ago, the lands of Arden were united under the great King Uriath during the Golden Age of Denimus. Over the next three hundred years the Ards spread westward and established colonies throughout Aurodei, Ersai, and even parts of Asham. After the death of Uriath VII in 426cr left the land without an heir, the great kingdom of Denimus fell into civil war as prominent lords and chieftains vied for control of the throne.

Today there are no fewer than five separate kingdoms in Arden as well as hoards of lordless clans scattered throughout the northern lands. The Ardesh colonies have long been forsaken by their patrons of old, having been cut off when the old kingdom collapsed under internal conflict. Some of these settlements have thrived independently and make up many of the Free Cities dotting the landscape of Aurodei. Others have maintained their allegiance to the lands of old and to this day swear loyalty to whatever king sits on the throne of Denimus.

Arden is predominantly feudalistic. The king of a respective kingdom is considered to be the ruler and owner of all the land, which is bestowed at his pleasure upon the barons he appoints under him.

Barons are granted land from the king in parcels known as manors. Portions of a manor are bestowed upon knights by a baron in return for military service when it is demanded of by the king. Knights are also charged to protect the baron and his manor from attack.

Knights may retain as much of the land bestowed upon them as they wish for their own personal use. The remaining portions of land are distributed to serfs who are expected to provide the knight with free labor, food and service whenever the knight demands. By and large serfs have no rights and are not allowed to leave the manor or marry without their lord’s permission.

The Arden are for the most part a fair skinned people with a very broad variety of hair color. The notable exception to this is found in the clans of the southern lands of Simti where the people are predominately dark in both hair and skin tone.

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Embyr: The Fifth Age polyroller