The Heiladanites of Araya are a group I've always found interesting, yet were positioned out of the way of the central conflict (between Rinland and Cordrair). As a group, they are known as the Heildan Freeholders, or the 70 States. The name 70 States isn't accurate. Their are only 68 remaining states. Originally their were 70, but the missing two states were both absorbed into existing states after marriages. Still, the name 70 States is what the nation is commonly known by.
Each state is owned by a noble. Each noble runs the state as he or she sees fit. Laws are often different from one nation to the next, but most uphold certain core tenants. The Freeholders despise slavery. Every man works his own land, but pays tribute to his noble. Freedom to pass between states is assured. Trade between states remain open. Despite all this, some states adhere to these tenants to certain degrees. Trade is required to remain open, but taxes can be applied. Often times merchants plan different routes around certain states depending on the cargo they carry. Magic is also an issue in many states, though the majority do not care. Some states have restrictions, and a few outright ban it on pain of death. Religion is controlled in some areas, open in other areas, and unknown in others. While some lands are free with their distribution of land to commoners, other states control much of the land after commoners gave over their rights long ago for other benefits.
There are 3 general types of states. The Inner States, the Coastal States, and the Outer States. The Inner States are the smallest of the states, but usually the most wealthy. They surround the inner sea. This provides them with safe harbors, each trading, as well as access to the outer seas. The Inner States are by and far the wealthiest in terms of trade and political power. The Coastal States are generally slightly larger than the Inner States and rest along the shores to the oceans. They aren't directly linked to the inner sea, and for that, they don't have as easy access to the Inner States, but still do fairly well with access to foreign goods from across the oceans. The Coastal States are wealthy, do well in trade, but because of the supposed influence of foreign powers, do not do well politically. They make up for this with lots of information that they use to obtain what they need. Finally, the Outer States are those states that don't have any ports along the sea or ocean. They are often the border states. They have the largest armies and generally also are the largest nations in terms of size. They aren't as wealthy as the other nations, but are politically strong because of their military might.
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