Barony of Gaal
The Barony of Gaal lies about 40 miles south of Palischuck and 10 miles south-east of Talagbar in the Galena mountains in the east of Vaasa. The local lords don’t permit vilagers to travel much, and the barony is politically and financially isolated from the surrounding independent cities and states. Outsiders are not welcome in the barony, and travellers are usually “persuaded” to travel around the Barrony by the militia who patroll the borders.
The Barony of Gaal covers an area of 2000 square miles. Of this, 6% (120 sq. miles) is arable land, and 94% (1880 sq.miles) is wilderness.
Towns and villages
The Barony of Gaal has 4 active castles and 3 ruined. Of these, 4 castles and 1 ruined are in civilized lands, and the 2 remaining ruined are in the wilderness.
The chief export of the barony is bloodstones. By the decree of baron Lukström Gaal, all precious metals and gems mined in the area belong to the nobility. The baron and the seven lords each own several mines, and they have grown rich as a result.
The local populace mostly make a living from hunting, trapping, producing furs and cutting gems. There is a small fishing industry based around Lake Smirhalt. The lake is frozen over for more that six months of the year, and a large portion of the yearly catch is either smoked or salted and dried for the winter.
During the brief summer, a few local traders take their wares to Bloodstone pass once a month. These trade caravans are accompanied by the local militia, and traders require a Writ of passage to join the trade caravans.
The Galena Mountains are inhospitable at the best of times. High peaks, deep gorges and tumultuous rivers dominate landscape. Only a small portion of the land is fit for agriculture, requiring most of the barony’s grain to be imported from the south. The centre of the barony is dominated by Lake Smirhalt, which is the origin of the river Fjedeshaven. The river runs west and eventually terminates in one of the numerous icy swamps of the central Vaasa flatland.
There are seven settlements of note in the barony. The largest is the Talheim, a town with a population of about 3000 permanent residents. Talheim and three of the other villages lie on the shores of Lake Smirhalt. The remaining three vilagaes lie nearby, nestled in between the icy spires of the Galena mountains.
There are only three easily accesable routes into and out of the barony. One leads north to Palischuck, one to the north-west to Talagbar, and one south to Bloodstone Pass. Each of these roads have a permanently staffed garrison at the border. Several smaller routes exist, but they are too small and treacherous for wagons to travel on. The smaller routes have militia blockhouses near the borders, but these are only manned during the summer months. Rumours exist about hidden smuggler routes through the mountains, but anyone foolish enough to travel by these would have to contend with a multitude of fiercesome mountain monsters. The militia patrol parts of the wilderness from time to time as well, so access to the barony is very well controlled.
The half-dragon lords expect strict adherence to their laws, and enforce these rigorously. In spite of this, few denizens of the barony could honestly call themselves law abiding citizens. Most nefareous activities are kept well hidden from the militia, and laws are very rarely broken in plain sight.
The lords despise half horcs, half elves and any other bastardised races. This has led to most of the humans in the barrony to have racist tendencies themselves. The few half orcs and elves in the barrony are usually slaves, beggars or outcasts, and are generally ill treated by the lords, militia and other inhabitants.
The Barony of Gaal has a total population of 12 thousand people. The largest town Talheim, has a population of 3200 people, the second largest, Gunthar, 1600. Roughly two thirds of the population live inside the towns and larger villages, whereas the rest live in small farmsteads and hamlets in the mountains. Few people are brave or stupid enough to live by themselves in the wilderness. Baron Gaal keeps employs a full time militia of about 2000 men, who protect the barony from outsiders, and police the local populace. As much as the militia tends to abuse its powers and interfere in peoples lives, the people choose to stay in areas where the militia can offer protection against the beasts and monsters of the Galena Mountains.