The Rhammi Continued: World Building
Having given it some thought, let’s continue with world-building the Rhammi, only this time we’ll focus on putting them into a quasi-normal world. As before, we’ll roughly keep this in a half-way sane world. No, it really makes no sense to use the Rhammi as the base centerpoint of the world here, but since we’ve established them, it’s more convenient.
The Great Vale of Pyremmia
To the northwest of the Rhamm lies the edge of the plateau, but small parties can get up or down it with a little patience. This allows the Rhammi to control access to the the scrublands below. Anyone trying to climb up would have a hard time doing so without the favor of the clanholds along the rim. As a consequence, the tribes near to the base of the plateau are very friendly, and actively encourage raiders to come – not for battle, but because the raiders usually sell the heavier loot before returning home.
The peoples farther out aren’t defenseless, of course, but it’s difficult to completely avoid the Rhammi horseman from stealing away a few cattle or horses here and there, with the occaisional larger attack to plunder liquor, silver, and women. The particular people in question are the tribes of the Pyremmia. Although Pyremmia is vast, the tribes lack any kind of unity and feud bitterly.
Pyremmian traditionalists fight stripped to the waist, or occaisionally entirely naked, although their frequent use of psychedelic drugs may be partially responsible. Young men often try to show their courage by fighting without shields, although older and experienced warriors prefer strong armor to insane battle-fury.
Pyremmians certainly do raid others, but in the last century have been pushed back severely. Several centuries ago, they burst out of their original homeland and conquered most of their current territory, subjugating the existing peoples. But as they civilized, they also lost their ferocity. The wealth of their new posessions meant they had something to protect. This in turn attracted the attention of the Rhammi, as well as Vaskyndr raiders even farther west.
Ten Thousand Golden Isles
Said Vaskynder occupy the coastal penninsualas and the northern islands of The Ten Thousand. They are perhaps the finest armorers on the continent, crafting typically strong but surprisingly lightweight armors using cunning arrays of mesh, plate, leather, and scale as needed. This is rather important, as proper armor allows them a considerable advantage when raiding the Pyremmians or the Sarom to the south. The Vaskynder have many gods of battle and take great pride in pleasing them with bloody victories.
Hard living, many battles, and a cold climate mean the Vaskynder consider “natural” deaths rather unpleasant and undesirable. Hence after a certain age, Vaskynder men often actively seek out risky battle and glorious death. Even the occaisional warmatron seeks it. Despite a certain level of fatalism, the Vaskynder have a tendency towards optimism and a reputation for having an infectious sense of humor.
The Sarom, to the south, couldn’t be more different. A dusky-hued people with a history of great literature and theater, they prefer the defensive and have a strong, united Imperial State. Masters of fortification and organization, everyone able to carry arms has a place in the militia, from the lowest slave-born child to the Emperor himself. This level of readiness is necessary because the Sarom often face pirates frm the south and Vaskynder from the north, and both are brave and effective fighters.
Saromland is entirely an island nation save a few colonies, and its warm, shallow waters provides tremendous amounts of fish and other seafoods, feeding a growing and wealthy population. The Sarom further divide their people into many classes and grades of citizen, each with specific duties and priveleges. The Imperial System purports to cover the proper rules for everyone in the world (shockingly, people outside the Empire ignore it), including precise instructions for honoring the gods and ancestors. Other rules prescribe all social interactions between classes, as well as rules for trade, warfare, and even food. In order to ensure that everyone knows these rules, literacy is required for virtually everyone except the lowliest slaves. Any significant local laws will be clearly posted in relevant areas.
Micarie the Divided
Turning east along Bellun Sea, Green Sea, and Brackish Sea and almost directly south of the Rhammi, we arrive at the land of Micarie. MIcaries boasts thick and mature forests and the bounty it brings, along with rich soils for farming. Two peoples divide the land – the tribes and cityfolk. Though divided by language, clothing, art, and religion, each needs what the other possesses. Further, tribe and city-states compete against their own, leading to complex chains of alliances. As groups grow more and more intertwined, they are also intermarrying and long-standing blood ties, giving rise to even more complex relationships.
Micarie is a land on the cusp of change and revolution. Many of the cities were formed by colonists from the eastern lands, but that era is fading. The old lands have their hands full, while the city-states are looking to the west for their future. The tribes, meanwhile, know they can’t stand up to other lands without adapting. They have ancient and very large towns themselves, but little technological expertise. They need learning, firearms, and steel and know it. Some tribes, however, still retain the oldest traditions as many of their kin did before the Pyremmians conquered much of their people.
Strong trade ties exist between Micarie and the Rhammi, as it’s the easiest path into the Plateau. The tribes are distantly related to the Rhammi themselves, and the townspeople use these links to move a constant stream of caravans northwards.
The Sun Kingdom (Solar Empire)
Far to the south and well past the Brackish Sea lies the land of The Holy and Unending Empire of the Great River of the Ten Thousand Eternal Dawns and Dusks, or the Sun Kingdom for short. In terms of population, it’s the largest nation in the world. The geography is what makes the Sun Kingdom so unusual: the entire country revolves entirely about the Great River. The river’s annual cycle determines the harvest and the therefore the seasonal cycle of work, and hence the all the various Holy Days of the calender.
Further, the river itself is so rich and fertile that the entire country forms one unbroken urban zone. Past the fields on either side fo the river runs a narrow stretch of homes, shops, manufactories, warehouses and everything else needed. The continual nature of the city means that everything is either national or extremely local – there are few dialects and little variation in worship, style, or habits. Any ideas are rapidly carried and communicated throughout the land; any product can be transported to any point along the river.
Above it all rules the Sun Emperor, who rules through the numerous temples. Everything in the land revovles around temples, and all government business is conducted through them. Temples of Wealth collect taxes and make loans using the cash manufactured and officially approved of by the Temple of Money. The Temple of Arms provides armaments for the Temple of Soldiers, who are commanded from the Temple of War. The state even has Dark Temples, dedicated to ideas such as Anarchy and Insurrection. Of course no one would be foolish enough leave offerings there except for specific requried ceremonies, which is proof as far as the government is concerned that all its subjects are happy and loyal.
The lands away from the river rapidly turn to desolate, desertlike barrens, hence it becomes very difficult for the Sun Kingdom to expand. Although from time to time it’s mounted expeditions, and nominally collects tribute from beyond its borders, the military forces available are more numerous than skilled. This was not always so, and at one point the Sun Kingdom was a true empire with numerous dependencies. However, the rising of the Lords of Under-Mountain ended with the utter obliteration of the Sun Kingdom’s expeditionary force and wiped out the expertise of generations of soldiers.
The Lords of UnderMountain
Although the Solar Empire, now Sun Kingdom, once ruled the lands east of their river-valley with an iron grip, they eventually made the mistake of attempting to wipe out restless religious leaders and enforce Imperial dogma upon everyone. Instead of ofrcing complete loyalty, however, it sparked a vast uprising and bled the Imperial treasury white.
Despite this, the skill and numbers of the Sun Kingdom’s troops were able to partially pacify the region, forcing many leaders into hiding; the place they chose was Atrara, a mountain situated in a desert with only shallow hills and oases to keep it company. This ancient holy site for the region’s peoples formed the nucleus around which a revived rebellion emerged. The key difference was a strong religious core which united the disparate groups and prevented the Sun Kingdom from crushing them separately.
The result was that the Solar Empire lost its empire. It was powerful, but not able to sustain a military effort of controlling a region ten times the size of its homeland, and the strain of attempting to do led to collapse. In the wake of victory, the leaders of the rebellion went their own ways, united not under political control but through a fanatical faith.
These leaders, political as well as religious, continue to take pilgrimages to the sacred mountain in order to hear the whispers of the Hidden God, which claim inspired their journey to freedom and watches over them still. Although internal war is not unknown, they keep a wary eye on the possibility of outsider invasion, and can indeed unite when necessary.
Both the environment and cultures reflect immense diversity among this people. From the marsh-dwelling Natchzean fishermen to Vintpma farmers with flawlessly geometric fields to the Rapamahech-ch sponge-divers, the great land knows complex trade and social relationships. Even to catalogue its peoples could be the work of a lifetime, and only the Utter East lies beyond.
While the lords themselves number in the hundreds, the Seven Great Lords are the real powers of the land. When one dies, the others replace him in secret. Almost all Great Lords were lesser lords as well, but not always. The Great Lords also hold a cadre of devoted servants who carry messages to and from the sacred mountain, and examine the worth of supplicants and pilgrims.
Although he Lords of UnderMountain have brought relative peace and prosperity, a key to their power is the use of skilled smithcraft. The people of this land regard smithwork as a holy calling and view the working of earth and fire by human hands as a sacred rite, the secrets of crafting steel given to the people by the Great Lords.
The Battleground of Appenia
The rich penninsulas of Appenia (located east of Micarie and northwest of UnderMountain) are ancient centers of civilization with a rich and often bloody history. However, they are largely unified into Kingdom of Appenia and the coastal Medillean Republic. Given the Kingdom of Appenia’s war with the northern barbarian, an uneasy peace prevails between the two states.
While there many regional differences exist, most Appenians live in large towns. Cramped and twisting streets are the norm, with special quarters set aside for different industries or guilds. The latter have a special social status, and in Appenian tradition do not always make sense or stay consistent from region to region. In the city of Drocran, for instance, the barrel-makers’ guild also handle shoeing horses, making crates, and basket-weaving. On the other hand, Chanu permits anyone to make any item used by horsemen, including shoes and tack or even cavarly sabers.
In time of war, guilds and other social organizations even provide much of the basic militia needed, although such troops are rarely skilled. The blade to the guilds’ shield are the nobility, who train extensively with the elite implements of war such as the sword, the horse, and siege weapons and engineering.
The invaders are the Mrittani, dangerous invaders trying to claim the bounty of Appenia for themselves. Over the last generation, they have assaulted the Kingdom a dozen times in varying raids and invasions. Although ferocious, their greatest weapon is a form of bloody sacrifice. They know exceedingly well how to terrorize and subdue civilians, and armies that face them quickly learn to fear. The Mrittani learn from a young age to fight in the dark, and often pick off sentries or kill enemies in their sleep. The Mrittani further sacrifice captured soldiers in a variety of horrible ways to earn the favor of their bloodier gods.
This creates a further religious conflict, as the businesslike Appenian religion has a much more convenional outlook. Temples are major sources of business and have their own legal and social priveleges, but otherwise don’t influence politics per se – but many nobles are also priests of the more prestigious gods.
Ethnically, the Mrittani alsio contrast with the Appenians. The latter are predominently olive-skinned, stocky and dark-haired, while the Mrittani are pale and slender. The Mrittani further make themselves distinct by filing their teeth and using dyes to draw intricate patterns on their skin, a practice the Appenians view as revolting.
Micarie was settled by men from the northern reaches of Appenia in more peaceful days gone by, but those culture have been largely assimilated by the Kingdom. New refugees still leave across Weaker Ocean, but it’s a perilous journey. One can also reach Micarie by skirting the land along the edges of the Bellinte Sea, but that risks pirate attacks.
Terror of the MetaVoice
If one were to venture to the far north of Appenia, and well northeast of the Rhammi), you might just be able to catch a glimpse of a vast fortress composed entirely of metal. If one were to explore cautiously into the wastelands beyond, one might discover four more titanic pillars along the barren taigalands. But tread lightly and swiftly, for these are the lands of the MetaVoice.
The Five Holy Temples of the MetaVoice are vast holds with thousands upon thousands of inhabitants each, all organized into unchangeable castes from birth. Bound by fanatical purpose and continuous devotions to their gods, the pale Followers of the MetaVoice offer up gruesome prizes to their gods. Each of the Five Temples houses one of the Holy Ones, the gods of the MetaVoice, and the Followers hand over blood sacrifices of captives or traitors (preferably alive, or at least fresh) into the central furnaces. The MetaVoice, according to the Followers, in turn provide all that they need: endless warmth in a frigid environment and the energy needed to forge weapons and armor.
The Followers need those implements as they ruthlessly wage war on all they can reach. More than simple raiders or even conquerers, they aim to dominate all the neighboring peoples for the sake of blood and prestige. Their usual tactic is to send a small group of perhaps a mere hundred warriors against any number of foes – but the Followers choose the largest and strongest from a young age and train them relentlessly. In battle they bear extremely hjeavy armor of the finest steel and painted with geometric phrases glorifying their gods, as well as small cannon, firearms, spears, and swords. If this band dies in battle, even the most fearsome and courageous foes inevitably note two things. First, the Followers died without reatreating and may have killed themselves out of spite, mocking their enemies all the while, and second, that the Followers killed many times their own numbers before dying. The prospect of facing more Followers afterwards is not a pleasant one. And the Followers are happy to obliterate anyone who does not surrender, or preferentially destroy their leadership and force the survivors to heel.
The End – For Now
You may have noticed that all the above have at least some connection to real-world groups, although very stretched and often based in extremely early history. Two things stood out when I was designing it, however. First, I wanted to describe reasonable ethnic groups and population dispersal. Hence most of the peoples listed have neighbors with some similarities, but some even in the past (often implied) which split them away for some reason. Some things are just for fun – other aspects are there to frighten.
But more importantly, I wanted to have room for myth and differentiation. It’s all generic quasi-European cities with no culture and no internal identity or conflict. This is ideally a world people can stretch their legs in – and there’s enough blank edges on the map that you can easily add things to your convenience.
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