To the north of Thessaly and the west of Thrace lies the small kingdom of Macedon. Situated on the alluvial plain of the rivers Haliacmon and Axius, Macedon has access to that rarest of Greek commodities - a large amount of flat fertile land. Macedon power is built on its ability to grow crops and to farm cattle.
Greeks in the North
Macedon is Greek in culture and worship, having been founded by exiles from the Peloponnese five hundred years ago. It is ruled by a powerful royal family and has seen none of the social changes that have developed in the poleis of their southern cousins. Access to the palace and court government is restricted to those of royal or noble bloodlines. Far from Athens in many ways, the southern Greeks consider the Macedonians to be backward and uncouth, a view not helped by the thick Macedon accent.
City and Rulers
The capital city, Pella, is on the southern edge of the alluvial plain. The city is new, built just fifty years ago. Before then the capital was the coastal town of Aegae where the exiles first landed. The town proved too vulnerable to attack from the sea so the more defensible Pella was built.
The current ruler is King Amyntas III. After his father ended a brief period of Persian rule, Amyntas has worked to expanded and improve his kingdom. He has expanded its lands far into the mountains that surrounded Macedon’s plains through careful marriage alliances with the local tribes. An expansionist king, he uses diplomacy and war in equal measure. The Athenian colony of Methone is feeling the pressure of his ambition though it has not yet submitted to his rule.
Amyntas’ wealth comes from an alliance with the Chalkidian League led by Olynthus which allows the use of their ports to export timber. However, rumours abound that once the Macedonians control the deep harbour at Methone they will seek to end the alliance by force. Macedon emissaries are common sights in the courts of the powerful southern poleis as they seek allies to make this plan possible.
This eponymous city is named after its founder Olynthus, son of Herakles. The city is in the far north-east of Greece and its territory borders Macedon. It originally occupied the southern of two large hills that dominate the local landscape. Over the last fifty years many people from other towns and cities have been persuaded to move to Olynthus. The newcomers built a new city on the northern hill, making Olynthus a city of two halves. The older parts on the southern hill contain the civic areas such as the agora while the northern hill is residential including the richest villas in the region. Perched on high hills and protected by walls, the polis is easy to defend.
A growing population has been turned into power. The city is the leader of the Chalkidian League, a group of thirty cities in the surrounding region that have allied themselves against outside interference. What few people know is that the migration that Olynthus enjoys began at the behest of the Macedonian king Perdiccas II. He arranged it as part of his plotting against Athens, aiming to create a powerful city for him to control and prevent the poleis of the east coast from unifying. This backfired as the power of the enlarged city grew rapidly and he was never able to dominate it.
The kingdoms of Dacia and Thrace are to the north of Greece. Both countries are mountainous and densely forested, crossed by rivers running through fertile plains to the sea. The people are tribal but dwell in large fortified cities. Fighting between tribes is common and they are willing to attack Greek colonies on the Black Sea or raid into Greece itself.
Several Greek colonies exist in Dacia and Thrace, blurring the border between Greece and its neighbours. Dacians and Thracians emulate Greek culture and styles and relations are peaceful but traditionalists resent the incursions by Greek colonists. Persia has colonial interests along the Black Sea coast of Thrace and these are equally disliked thanks to Persian King Darius' failed attempt to invade Thrace.
The biggest change in Dacia in recent decades is the Gaulish migration. The Gauls are a less civilised people driven here by pressure from Rome and are now attempting to settle the western region of Dacia.
Dacians may be under pressure from foreign incursions, but they are a potent force. They prefer to fight in ambushes and skirmishes and will always try to avoid a decisive battle. They rely on their fortified cities as a base whilst striking fast against an invading army until it falls apart from attrition. Anyone who fights in Dacia should beware the falx, their favoured weapon. It is a forward-curving scythe blade on a pole, the length of which varies if it is held in one or two hands. Its sharp edge and substantial weight make it capable of severing an arm or leg in a single stroke.
The native religion revolves around Zalmoxis, who was once a man but Dacians now call their god. No individual champions have been seen but every Dacian or Thracian warrior fights in his name. Dacians believe in immortality and treat death as a journey to Zalmoxis' country. Greek religion is spreading into the south of the two countries with the cults of Zeus and Ares gaining converts. A few temples exist but converts are attacked by adherents of Zalmoxis. The Gauls have also brought their druids with them who have been teaching the locals about their gods. There are converts but the civilised Dacians and Thracians are appalled by the Gauls' use of human sacrifice.