Andaras and the World of Sidri

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History

The history of Sidri is, at least as far as Andaras is concerned, the history of Andaras. While this is hardly accurate, or fair, Andaras is currently one of the planets major powers, and it is what everyone is likely to have been exposed to. Hence…

Long centuries ago, the peoples of Dorasin lived as primitive, warring tribes. They farmed and they fished the seas. They raided each other, and traded with the islands nearby – and then the Verathi came.

In great ships they came, first to raid – and then to conquer. They built impregnable fortresses, abused and enslaved the people, and none could stand before them. For a generation and more they spread across the land, until King Andarun rose up to oppose them. First with a small force of loyal men, then rallying the defeated tribes to his cause, Andarun drove the Verathi back to Athas, unifying the country under his rule as he went. King Andarun received his deathwound at Loshkean, when he fought the high lord of the Verathi – and slew him. With the death of their leader, the Verathi (not knowing that Andarun was dying as well) fled. Andarun gave his enchanted sword to his oldest son, Prince Harnwel, and commissioned him to take the battle to the foe. He did so.

King Harnwel drove the remnants of the Verathi from his shores, fortified against their return, and governed the land wisely and well. However his brother, Prince Jural, was not content with his place in the court. He schemed, successfully, to get Harnwel to launch a premature attack on Athas, entangling Harnwel, and his men, in a hopeless campaign. Left to govern Dorasin for his King, and the King’s young son, Jural poisoned the child and seized the throne, sending his own forces to crush Harnwel’s army against the Verathi. Harnwel, warned by his fathers ghost, evaded the trap and returned to overthrow Jural’s corrupt reign. Resolving not to make the same error a second time, Harnwel sent the next attack under the command of his younger brother, Prince Lars, and remained to rule at home.

Unwilling to see his younger son perish in hopeless battle, the spirit of King Andarun intervened, leading his son to an astounding victory. While it took many, many, years to pacify Athas and the Verathi, there was never any doubt as to the outcome. Prince Lars united his newly-conquered realm with his brothers, and finally inherited the crowns of both lands. (Harnwel sired no more children, thanks to Jural’s dying blood curse).

Under the descendants of Andarun, Andaras gradually civilized the minor islands of the Solantic arc – save for Sicar, which remained independent. Eventually, the great King Haden II readied his army for the conquest, and celebrated his victory by instituting the Charter, permitting the nobles and citizens of Andaras greater say in their governance, now that the last of the “nearby” threats had been dealt with.

Over the next four centuries, Andaras gradually built a trading empire, establishing colonies, and governance, on many primitive islands elsewhere in the world. While still expanding, the empire has run into at least two other “major” cultures – the isolationist Naraki Islands and the bellicose Yagura. While there are skirmishes on a few islands, there are no major wars.

Historical Commentary

The Verathi: Despite the legends, the Verathi were little more then another barbarian tribe. They simply had access to more metal then was available on Dorasin at the time, allowing them to forge better weapons and build better ships. The “mighty fortresses” were only motte-and-bailey “castles”, possibly treated with elivar sap to help prevent fires. Arguably, they were better carpenters then the people they came to conquer.

King Andarun: While there is some evidence for the existence of a skilled warleader at the time, it seems likely that diplomacy played a larger role. His wife’s name would seem to indicate Verathi ancestry – and a few rebellious Verathi nobles would provide a rebel leader with a secure base and badly needed support. Despite the considerable body of legend about him, it seems rather unlikely that any individual warrior, however powerful he was, could establish an entirely new social system.

Andarun’s Sons: Stripped of the melodrama and the legendary portents, this seems to be nothing more then a fairly standard squabble over succession. What there is in the way of material from Athas supports the idea that Andarun’s youngest son married a major noblewoman of Athas first, and then got support from his brother in first resisting attempts to overthrow “the outlander”, and then in conquering the rest of the country, becoming his brothers chief vassal in the process. All of this depends on the historical existence of King Andarun, and should be taken with a grain of salt. This may well be an account of the doings of generations of war leaders rather then of the doings of a single family. There is a bit of evidence for the existence of one “Jamall”, a minor early ruler, notable for instituting some needed reforms, but nothing to justify the evil reputation of “Jural” if there is any identity between the two.

The “conquest” of Sicar was more of an amalgamation then a conquest. By that time the nobles lineages were so intertwined that the only real barriers to unifying the countries was political; the nobles of Sicar had a much larger say in their government then the nobles of Andaras. This was eventually solved when the nobles of Andaras managed to extract a charter or “constitution” from Haden II in exchange for their support in attacking Sicar – which promptly forestalled the attack thru “signing onto” said charter – giving it far more force then Haden had anticipated. Many scholars suspect that the Sicarese planned the whole episode in advance.

Andaras Society

Andaras is quasivictorian at best, and has a few spots that are downright medieval. For example, the legal system (like almost everything else) is very heavily influenced by social rank. Penalties are minor for aristocrats, light for the gentry and the wealthy, ordinary for the middle class, and severe for the poor (the vast majority). It isn’t uncommon for lower-class ten-year-olds to hang for stealing food. There are no “controlled substances”, mostly because only the upper class can afford them. Weapons laws are rather vague. Generally, the richer you are, the more you can expect to get away with. A pistol or two for self-defense is almost expected among the upper class. Among the lower class, even a knife is grounds for grave suspicion. A few weapons (garrottes and such) are considered evidence of guilt in themselves. Aristocrats may carry swords if they wish, but few do so. A characters social class also determines how much his or her word is “worth” in court. Any aristocrat can pretty much condemn a street urchin simply by making a complaint.

Physical Description

Sidri has a rotation period of 21.87 hours, a year of 423.32 (of it’s) days, and a radius of 5318 miles. Heavy metals are somewhat scarce on Sidri and the nickel-iron core is relatively small, resulting in a surface gravity of only 1.06 gravities, a reduced gravitational gradient – and it’s consequence, a thicker atmosphere. Sea-level pressure is about 17.7 pounds per square inch – but the air has a lesser absolute oxygen content. Tectonic activity is limited by the smaller core and lower level of heat-supplying radioactive materials, hence land masses are smaller, scarcer, and usually center on areas where what few mountains there are break the waters surface.

Seas cover about 90% of the surface, the humidity is high – and the climate is consequently cloudy and rainy. All these factors combine to generate exceptionally potent storms. Hurricane-class weather is relatively common. Despite a somewhat bluer sun, the clouds and the thicker atmosphere combine to both make sunburn scarce, and to limit photosynthesis – slightly reducing crop yields and the potential atmospheric oxygen content. On the other hand, deserts are nonexistent and the ocean moderates the climate – extending Sidri’s temperate zones nearly to the poles. Overall, the climate is warm and humid.

Much of Sidri still remains relatively unexplored, due to distance, the shortage of the metal needed to build modern ships, and the tremendous storms. There are no known “continents”, although there are some very large islands and broad stretches of shallow seas. The people of Sidri eat a lot of fish. Overall, the biosphere is superficially ordinary – however there are traces of a secondary biochemical system in scattered enclaves, as well as the usual “supernatural” flora and fauna found on every world with reasonable magical impedance levels. Such things are, however, very scarce.

Astronomical Data : Sidri is fourth among the eight known planets that orbit it’s G6 yellow sun. While the primary has a red dwarf companion, that sun is far too distant to have much effect on Sidri’s system. The red companion may have planets of it’s own, but this is as yet unknown. Sidri has one major moon (Khavron) and one smaller one (Tarote’). A nearby asteroid belt leads to relatively frequent meteorite impacts and the capture of moonlets. Meteorites are actually a significant source of accessible iron. Sidri has a meager “starscape”, as it is currently located well above the galactic plane. This supplies a marvelous view of the “local” galactic spiral, but results in few stellar neighbors. Current calendars are badly in need of major reform, resulting as they do from attempts to combine roughly three week and five week lunar cycles with holy days derived from a solar tradition.

Technology

Overall, Sidri’s technology is just a bit behind current earth technology, although the lack of sufficient metals limits it’s distribution and use. High technology is limited to the social elite – while the “masses” are normally restricted to quasi-Victorian technology levels. Aviation and space research are both considerably behind earth-level, thanks to the weather and to Sidri’s higher orbital (and escape) velocities. Basic preventive medicine is available to everyone, as epidemics are certainly undesirable, but major medical attention is typically reserved for the rich. The poor must simply hope that they don’t get sick or that they can find a physician who’s doing charity work. Trains are the prevalent means of transportation. Automobiles are limited to the middle class and up, while trucks are limited to valuable or perishable cargos. If any form of atomic weaponry has been developed it’s still being kept a secret. The fact that uranium is extremely rare on Sidri may be responsible for this aberration. There are a few bright spots. Drugs, medicines, and immunizing techniques are remarkably well developed, fusion power is approaching practicality – and research into genetics and superconductivity is doing very well. As might be expected, Sidri is well ahead of earth in ceramics and cellulose-based plastics and materials.

Powers

While both magical and psychic powers work well on Sidri, both are limited by a shortage of power to work with, and by the consequent scarcity of training in the necessary skills. Magery was never a dominating force on Sidri, and – with the rise of technology and official disapproval – has retreated further; becoming something of a family affair passed down among the talented lineages, and usually quietly used to further their own ends. Thanks to a high difference in the aspect potentials which results in a shortage of magical energy, the usual “supernatural” flora and fauna are extremely scarce. With few nearby stars to generate gravitational stresses, powerflows are rare as well. Hence, outside those few talented families, magic has almost been forgotten. Psychic powers are popularly believed in – and are generally regarded with suspicion, frowned upon by the church, and regarded as unreliable. Thanks to the shortage of usable electromagnetic fields on or near Sidri, this is often all too true. Most publicly known psychics possess very little actual power. Rumors that more powerful psychics often “disappear” shortly after they reveal themselves get very little credit. Most or all of such powerful psychics seem to be frauds in any case. Invocation is extremely limited, partly due to a shortage of beings to invoke, and partially due to the fact that Sidri’s local natural laws make it difficult to transfer energy to and from astral space. Most of the “invocation” practiced is actually empyrean magic.

Social Classes

Slavery is legal in Andaras, although it is relatively rare – mostly because slaves have (at least in theory) some rights. Their masters are responsible for feeding them, providing basic medical care, and so on. All children are born free, and those born to slaves generally become wards of the church. Actually, slaves are more trouble then simply hiring some desperate man or woman to whom you’ll have no obligations except for their salary. Since this is cheap, slaves are usually only used for things which no free servant will put up with. Slaves are usually obtained by purchasing lower- class children, import, judicially, or by the purchase of condemned criminals.

Indentured Servants have to serve for anything from six months to twenty years, but have far more rights then slaves. Adults are usually indentured for debt, children as “apprentices”. Many lower-class children are “apprenticed” as servants, receiving room and board and eventually – a reference allowing them a chance to move up a bit… Such servants are utterly vulnerable, as their masters can easily have them hung – and no one is likely to protest or investigate if an “overenthusiastic” master beats them to death.

The Poor include the petty thieves/gallows-bait and the “working poor” – mostly day-laborers. While they are better-nourished then might be expected (thanks to public-health programs), the conditions of their lives are still appalling. The poor are generally terrified of being sent to the workhouse – or of being forced to sell some of their kids simply to keep the others from starving. There are lots of charities that assist the poor – but the upper classes sponsor them because it’s supposed to improve and uplift their souls – not because they feel any obligation to the poor… They wouldn’t want them to “get above themselves” now would they?

The Artisians are the skilled labourers, craftsmen, and better servants. Given long days of labor they can actually aspire to a fairly comfortable lifestyle, and a bit of schooling for their children.

The Middle Class is relatively small, but is likely to be the most familiar group among the classes. While a member of the middle class is likely to have several servants available (Nannies, part-time cleaning women, errand boys, and so on), otherwise their lives are quite a bit like those of the middle class today. This also includes the upper-class servants of the wealthy and the aristocracy. While the middle and lower classes have a voice in the government via the House Of Commons, this is more a theoretical then a practical thing. Most of them have their children privately tutored.

The Aristocracy, Wealthy, and the Gentry, are chiefly distinguished by whether their money is new or old and by how much of it they have… Most of them live in a vaguely “manorial’ style. The House Of Lords is one of the major powers in Andaras, with a power rivaling (or exceeding) the power of the reigning monarch.

The Haelin Church is the state religion of Andaras, and a major social and political factor, the Church is responsible for public education (Such as it is. It’s efforts are supported by several secular organizations who have an interest in seeing that the members of the lower class can at least read a bit) and for the moral guidance of the people. It’s a bit of a mystery cult, and has many levels of initiation – ranging from those open to lay members, up to secrets only the primate is permitted to know. Sadly, truly dedicated priests are rare… While theoretically dedicated to monotheistic worship of Amat, in practice most prayers are directed to his servants, the “Haelea”. The Haelin Church tends to support the status quo, has a quite severe attitude towards liars, oathbreakers, thieves, and others who act in violation of trust, rebel against, or betray, those set over them, but has little to say on the subject of sex or the various aristocratic vices. It regards both magic and psychic talents with considerable suspicion. Interestingly, the church supports women’s rights – not that they need much defending. Aristocratic women have always had considerable power and influence, while the lower classes have few rights, whether male or female.

Money: Andaras uses pounds, shillings, and pence. For practical purposes, a pound is about equal to 10$. A middle-class income runs around 2000 pounds a year.

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