This expanded key accompanies the map posted earlier this week (reprinted here for your viewing pleasure).
The information presented below is current as of the end of SOULRAZOR (so, if you haven’t read that far, be warned that minor spoilers abound).
Southern Claw Cities
The Southern Claw Alliance is a confederacy of city-states populated by humans and their allies. The military leaders of the Southern Claw are dedicated to protecting Alliance citizens and battling the ever-hostile vampires of the Ebon Cities. There are over two dozen cities that count themselves a part of the Southern Claw Alliance (many of the smaller cities are not pictured on the map). Some of the more prominent include:
Ath: The most densely populated of the city-states, Ath is considered the hub of the Southern Claw due to its large population and its advanced medical and magical facilities. It is also the center of commerce for the human lands, as most mercantile operations trace their origins back to Ath.
Dusk: The most fortified Southern Claw city, Dusk is in many ways the frontline of the war, and it sees the heaviest level of direct assault from the Ebon Cities. Dusk is more of a fortress than a town, and it bears only a scant civilian population, who provide direct services and assistance to the soldiers.
Fane: A southern city-state taxed with arms and armament production. The leaders of Fane recently declared their independence from the Southern Claw, and intelligence indicates they have assembled a significant mercenary force to protect their territory.
Glaive: A ruthless city-state of thieves and mercenaries. Glaive is a major recruiting point for new Southern Claw soldiers, as well as good place to find mercenaries for special missions.
Kalakkaii: A large trade city bursting with criminal and black market activity. A bed of crime and illegal trade, Kalakkaii is reputed to be a haven for Ebon Cities spies.
Meldoar: A Gol-controlled city. Meldoar is a diseased place that also happens to house the largest stockpile of magical weaponry in the world. Very few humans reside in Meldoar, though the city-state is openly allied with the Southern Claw, and the Gol make their resources and knowledge freely available.
Rhaine: Once an independent and remote outpost city-state located north of the Bone March, Rhaine was sacked by Sorn raiders in AB 22 but has since been re-settled by the Southern Claw, who are currently reconstructing and repopulating the city.
Seraph: The capital of the Southern Claw. Seraph is a well-structured and protected city-state that houses the White Mother’s palace, The Scarab. Most of the magical artifacts and historical data retained by the Southern Claw is found in the fortified Daystone Vaults.
Thornn: The largest of the Southern Claw cities, Thornn is the central command center of the Southern Claw Armies. Up until recently, Thornn provided military assistance to other areas in need, but recently initiated hostile activity on the part of the nearby Bonespire has necessitated that Thornn hold its resources so as to better defend itself.
Vale: A quiet but well-protected Southern Claw city, Vale is something of a repository for books, old world technology, animal breeding farms and food production. It is heavily guarded, particularly in light of the recent rumors of Fane’s dissention.
The Ebon Cities are an enclave of well-organized vampire city-states. The vampires are intent on wiping out humankind and its allies, and thus stage a constant military campaign against the Southern Claw from these necropolis strongholds. There are an unknown number of city-states in the Ebon Cities, as well as countless fortified towers called Bonespires. (Those known to exist are depicted on the map). The major Ebon Cities include:
Ash: The capital of the Ebon Cities, Ash is a refined necropolis reserved for the vampire aristocracy. The noble houses of the Ebon Cities are all seated in Ash, and it is here that the so-called Council of Fangs convenes with the Ebon Cities leader, the Grim Father.
Dirge: A small city-state, formerly of the Southern Claw, that has effectively surrendered to the Ebon Cities in return for semi-independence. Dirge’s citizens live in constant fear of their vampire oppressors.
Krul: Once a prison city where captured humans were slowly tortured and turned or else forced to compete in vicious gladiator games, Krul was all but destroyed by the powerful shadow entity called The Sleeper. Rumor has it the vampires are rebuilding Krul.
Lorn: A human settlement formed early in the days After the Black, Lorn was quickly subjugated by the vampires of the Ebon Cities, who now hold complete control over a city-state filled with human captives. Lorn is controlled by the vampire Lady Riven.
Rath: The seat of power of the Grim Father, Rath is the most densely populated vampire city-state known to exist. Its bladed walls and ring of Bonespire towers has made gleaming any further knowledge of the fortified necropolis all but impossible.
Sethia: A haven of crime, poverty, and a large undead black market. This is the slums of the Ebon Cities, where many lesser and mindless undead are deposited until some use is found for them. Some Southern Claw spies have managed to infiltrate Sethia’s small human population.
Skane: The Ebon Cities most fearsome military presence, Skane is essentially a fortress the size of an entire city. Most weaponry is produced in this fearsome fortress city, controlled by the dreaded vampire general Draz Ghulan.
Tanith: A monastery city controlled by an ancient and noble house, Tanith is where vampires of the Ebon Cities are trained in the arts of magic and war. Most of the Ebon Cities research into replicating human magic originates here, though actual testing is most often carried out in Skane.
There are settlements that bear no affiliation with either the Southern Claw or the Ebon Cities. These include:
Black Scar: A dreaded prison complex run by the enigmatic mercenaries known as The Revengers. Black Scar was formerly called Meledrakkar, the subterranean city-state of the dark race of giants called the Cruj before they inadvertently vanished from the world in AB 15.
Blacksand: A criminal port city controlled by the crime cartel known as The Shard. Blacksand is a chaotic mess of a place, a lawless and dangerous haven of black-market activity, and the central hub for most of the smuggling that takes place in the southern part of the continent.
Dagger: A city of combat, Dagger is populated almost exclusively by mercenaries, sellswords, gladiators and pirates, and most of the city’s trade is generated by warrior’s academies, pit-fighting, and weaponsmiths. The city is controlled by the vile criminal order called the Crimson Triangle.
Goth: Goth, per its namesake, is a dark and dreary place with massive walls and a large non-human population. Goth specializes in shipbuilding, and the merchants of the forlorn and somber city sells sea vessels to the Southern Claw.
Hope: A city of religion. Priests of Hope worship the One Goddess, a deity they claim is the being that the White Mother is merely an avatar of. The White Council of the Southern Claw has declared Hope a city of heretics, but no action has been taken against the city, since it more or less keeps to itself.
Koth: A renegade necropolis populated by vampire defectors, lich, zombies, and other undead unaccepted by the Ebon Cities. A Grand Vizier rules Koth in the wake of the Old One’s destruction in AB 22. Koth normally stays out of the ongoing war, but rumors hold that the Vizier is currently amassing an army in some far removed and secret location.
Sulaj: A city populated entirely by the mysterious and silent Lith. Sulaj is a beautiful place of sand and iron, fortified and well defended against outsiders. The oracles of Sulaj are said to stand motionless for days amongst the Towers of Glass, which grant them visions of the future.
Night: A dark and noisy port city on the Ebonsand Coat, Night is a fairly lawless but surprisingly non-violent way station for various maritime traders and nomads. The city bears a strong foreign presence, especially sea pirates from the distant islands of Nezek’duul.
The World After the Black is the site of many ruined settlements. These were either city-states destroyed early in the war or, in most cases, the remnants of foreign cultures, derelict ruins from other worlds transported when The Black reconstructed Earth’s reality.
Karamanaganjii: Little is known of the forebears of Karamanganjii, an ancient and abandoned city whose buildings are all made of supernaturally hardened ice. The Battle of Karamanganjii took place here, a significant engagement that destroyed a good portion of the city.
The Palace of Razors: A frightening, ruined structure at the edge of the world, the bladed Palace of Razors is said to have once been the seat of a deranged mage. Rumors hold that the apocalypse cult called The Black Circle makes use of the Palace as a meeting place.
Shadowmere: Once a bastion of the Ebon Cities, Shadowmere is now a haunted ruin overrun with lost spirits. The remnants of vampire siege machines still litter the beach and the battlement.
Shul Ganneth: A shattered Malojian temple, Shul Ganneth is a twisted place of shadows and derelict black magic. Oddly, the Maloj are not believed to have ever actually existed on the World After The Black, yet this and other remnants of their dark society remain.
Voth Ra’morg: Once a Southern Claw industrial plant, Voth Ra’morg was devastated and ultimately cleared out by a series of raids staged by hostile humanoids and wastelands raiders. Now the ruins stand abandoned and desolate, surrounded by a hostile wilderness populated with deadly creatures.
Blackmarsh: Blackmarsh is a fetid bog, a large expanse of swampy marshlands dotted with clusters of gangly trees. Blackmarsh was once a favorite staging ground for Ebon Cities strike teams, but even they have difficulty navigating its foul waters.
Bleeding Straits: A dangerously narrow channel that leads into the Ebonsand Sea far to the south, the Straits are supposedly controlled by a cadre of half-mad vampires who defected from the Ebon Cities.
Bloodnight River: A cold stretch of river linking Rimefang Loch to the Southern Claw city-states of Ath and Thornn.
The Bone Hills: A range of viciously barbed hills located between the Reach and Wolfland. The Razortooth are replete with outlaws and wild creatures that battle both for and against both sides in the ongoing war.
Bone March: The March is an inhospitable cold desert whose black soil is only occasionally dotted by stagnant pools of water, pale trees, and small clusters of dark rock. Mutated predators wander the blighted expanse of this grey wasteland.
Carrion Rift: An enormous canyon that stretches along the northern part of the known world, the Carrion Rift is the single largest physical evidence of the destruction wrought by The Black. Shadowy horrors reside deep in the Rift’s unknown depths, and little is known of what lies north of the massive scar in the land.
Ebonsand Sea: A dark sea far to the south, the Ebonsand’s shore is lined with ancient ruins, and its waters teem with dangerous predators and aquatic undead. While the Southern Claw essentially controls Rimefang Loch, the Ebon Cities bear the stronger presence in the Ebonsand.
The Grim Lands: A hostile, lifeless desert deep in Ebon Cities territory, the amply named Grim Lands are devoid of all but the most isolated and ruined structures. Undead regularly patrol the sandy wastes in search of occasional desert nomads and refugees.
Nightblood River: A fast-moving, ice-cold river that runs between Rimefang Loch and the Ebonsand Sea, connecting numerous Southern Claw city-states along the way.
The Plains of Frost: A slick, lifeless wasteland of unnatural cold sand and ice. The Plains of Frost are an arcane blight created by the experiments of the Ebon Cities in their endless drive to replicate human magic.
The Reach: A vast winter wasteland east of Thornn, the Reach bears numerous hostile creatures, the most noted of which are the Gorgoloth: ebon-skinned, white-maned savages who thrive on the destruction of other life forms. The shells of cities from before The Black litter the Reach like bones, and lost ghosts are said to haunt the winter wastes.
Rimefang Loch: A massive freshwater sea populated with strange aquatic humanoids, pirates and watery creatures, the Loch is in many ways the frontlines of the war, as Southern Claw and Ebon Cities forces clash in the center of the dire sea day and night. Little is known of the dozens of small islands that litter the Loch, as the constant fighting and presence of dangerous indigenous creatures like the Dracaj has made exploration all but impossible.
Scorpion Desert: A harsh desert far to the east, the Scorpion Desert is a largely uninhabited wasteland populated only by desert nomads, the distant and mysterious Lith, and dangerous and unnatural creatures born of sand and fire.
Skull Plains: A pale desert filled with broken stones and crooked canyons. The plains are heated by shallow reserves of magma that flow under the surface, rendering the plains unstable and dangerous to navigate.
Wolfland: A rugged cluster of hills and winter lowlands near the southeastern tip of the Bone Hills. Per its namesake, Woflland is densely populated by massive Bloodwolves, the favored mounts of the Ebon Cities cavalry. The vampires send teams to capture Bloodwolf pups and return them to the Ebon Cities.
Wormwood: The Wormwood is a large and blighted forest, a dead and corrupted place filled with necrotic soil saturated with foul magical energies. Black blood flows through the Wormwood like water, giving rise to mutated creatures who roam the forest. Ancient ruins of worlds merged to Earth during The Black stand buried within the folds of diseased trees.