Continental Excursions; Kleine Provinzen

Seemingly the least capable place in the world for self-defense and avoiding being conquered the confederation of small states known collectively as Kleine Provinzen sits along the coast of the great Sea of the North. The population consists of a mix of gnomes, halflings, and humans with a smattering of elves that have been drawn to the smell of good cheese and tulips. Outsiders tend to look down on the folk of Kleine Provinzen but to underestimate them is a grave mistake. What they lack in military might they more than compensate for in magical skill and cleverness. If the Kleine Provinzen can’t field an army to oppose a foe then you best believe they have another scheme to lure their enemies into a trap that will pay off handsomely. Their primary enemy has always been the fallen knights of Lotharingia, but they have had to deal with a number of intruders over the centuries.

Bizarrely enough Kleine Provinzen has enjoyed a better than normal relationship with the barbaric seafaring northern chieftains. The biggest city in Kleine Provinzen, Bargoens, has a reputation for being staunchly defended and it is far enough away from the border with Lotharingia to have never endured more than a brief siege. The humans that govern Bargoens keep the full defensive capabilities of their city secret to a degree that boggles the imagination. Oftentimes it will seem as though even they aren’t sure what all they might be capable of. Bargoens is a busy port, even more than the thriving city of Trésor in neighboring Ange Déchu. Having developed their naval power from the humble origins of fishing fleets Kleine Provinzen now boasts one of the most powerful navies on the continent. This frustrates attempts to subdue or conquer them because the people of Kleine Provinzen have been known to simply get on their ships and sail away rather than stay put and be dominated like any good decent folk.

Although there are a number of impressive cities and towns scattered about Kleine Provinzen the real power of the place lies in its agriculture. Kleine Provinzen produces more food than anywhere else on the continent. In fact they provide more food than the rest of the Wenigzustand combined. More than one invasion plot by Lotharingia has been foiled by the realization that if they carry it out the Kleine Provinzen will simply shut off potential food exports to the fallen knights. While there might not be large amounts of what could be considered “traditional wealth” in Kleine Provinzen they were graced to have the best soil and the finest farmers.

A uniquely gnomish place in many respects there is no better example of their tinkering and inventiveness than in the reclaiming of coastal areas into productive farmland. Through the use of windmills to keep unwanted water pumped into raised canals there are significant areas of Kleine Provinzen that actually sit below sea level. Dams and earthen dikes help to maintain these new areas and keep them safe from being flooded. Even the humans in Kleine Provinzen have to marvel at the ingenuity of the gnomes in making this possible.

Kleine Provinzen has no permanent central authority. The twelve provinces that make up this country take turns being in charge for a two-year period and then the mantle is passed to the next in order. Halflings and gnomes and humans (oh my) thus share power in a way that is unique in the Wenigzustand. There is virtually no semblance of feudal life anywhere here as the people are free to come and go as they please, own their own property, and form their own volunteer militias. While the governors in each of the provinces are called “lords” they rarely act like it. Some inherit their titles, others are chosen by their subjects to serve, and still others are elected by popular vote. The only thing they have in common is that they have almost nothing in common.