The Canton, from the Gazetteer of the Speaking Lands

Just ignore those filed-off serial numbers, check out The Canton, home of the lovable halflings!  This rustic backwater, isolated from sweeping historical movements of the wider world, is certified 100% original and totally innovative worldbuilding.

More seriously, there’s a certain enjoyment in recreating a well-known trope within a larger context of other worldbuilding, and writing The Canton scratched exactly that itch.

Let me know how well I hit my mark!


This secluded community of halflings has historically been isolated from the rest of Ipeiros. The region is covered by forested hills tumbling down to the rocky coast of Mergather Gulf. Local villages are made up of rustic homes dug into the hillsides, surrounded by small fields tilled by ponies. For much of its history, the Canton featured little in the way of industry outside of handicrafts, brewing small ales, and curing tobacco. Recent developments have seen the rise of lumberyards and mills.

The region is notable for its muted sorcery. Twelve groves form a ring around the Canton; each is a convergence of ley lines, but none of those lines cross the area in between. While wizardries are not impossible within the Canton, they are more difficult to enact and quicker to fade.  Glamours dissipate, enchantments dissolve, and curses lapse.  Spystones do not operate at all within the Canton. Some scholars suspect that the sorcerous oddity is not natural, and speculate that the boundary groves are not mere landmarks to the effect but instead its cause. This otherwise ludicrous theory is bolstered by ancient stonework in most of the groves similar to that found on the Gracia Span.

The Canton was originally established by Lorathan elves in the northeastern extremity of their forests as a resettlement area for halflings. Records are ambiguous as to the purpose of the settlement: some imply that the community was never meant to be more than a temporary holding pen while others insist the Canton was an exciting experiment in sylvan stewardship. Whatever its original purpose, the Canton became a permanent protectorate, enjoying elven suzerainty and protection while operating a limited government of community judges to see after local concerns.

Only with the invasion of the Dread Tyrant was the Canton drawn into the affairs of the wider world. Under the direction of the Tyrant’s orkish overseers, the Canton’s forests were turned into lumberyards. The small seaside village of Puffpaddle was built up into an industrial port to export lumber, mostly to Xansillipse to build boats. With these trade links came the very mixed grab bag of exposure to the wider world, newfound prosperity, crushing production quotas, and pirates. With the fall of the Tyrant, the halflings expelled the orks but also refused the re-establishment of elven suzerainty. It turns out the halflings enjoyed the independence and commerce found under the Dread Tyrant.

Today the Canton is an often patchy juxtaposition of quiet, pastoral solace and cut-throat competition. Halfling families jockey for position in the lumber and shipping industries, the provenance of which is often muddy at best. Local judges struggle to clearly delineate who properly has the rights to which mills and which forests in an industry that was recently appropriated by ousted invaders. The families tout the stability and venerable traditions of their dynastic lines, often striving to publicly demonstrate that history by throwing parties and holding town fairs, while also pursuing innovations in lumbering, shipbuilidng, and the preparation of verdigris-infused tobacco.

The Canton’s elven neighbors, meanwhile, weigh the costs and benefits of forcing their way back into their position of stewards over the Canton. Surely the halflings are pursuing a course of action completely at odds with the principles of sylvan stewardship, but they have also grown both fiercely independent and distressingly well-equipped. The elves’ present stance seems to be waiting to see if the halflings settle into a stable government that can be reasoned with… or tear each other apart first.

I’ve picked out a varied grab-bag of entries for next week.  Which one(s) strike(s) your fancy?

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