Thallos stands, a free land among kingdoms, and a prosperous port amongst squalor; It's Five Pillars of constitution held sacrosanct throughout countless generations, passed down with the same conviction and inspiration that the forefathers who lay the bricks of the magnificent Thallosian Congress, who drained the marshes where the grand metropolis would be later built, who cleared the proud forests to build the vast wharfs and dockyards where the wealth of entire nations flow. A shining beacon and barrier between The Sea of Blades and Conrett's Basin, Thallos stands as a leader of liberty and commerce; It's in the long and winding streets where men of all colours and creed could mix freely and live despite what conflagrations affected their homelands, constantly in view of the grand, resplendent flag that waves majestically in the wind, it's deep blue a vivid reminder of it's proud history and future on the waves.
However, not all is as it seems in this glorious city of free men. The hard cobble streets ridden by the trade barons are paved by a poor underclass, who in many cases are better off only in name than in practice. The clicking and chirping of many different tongues along any major street represents a major issue amongst the populace, where differences and past grievances between peoples have merely become exacerbated by proximity. Vorgorths at the throats of Scablanders, and Skyrians accosted by Lowlanders. At a distance is the Continuum, up until now almost a non-contender since the Secession wars but now increasingly hungry at the fantastic wealth presenting itself in Thallos. Merely a stonesthrow across Conrett's funnel, Achinead pressure is making itself felt in Thallos. More and more the Trade Barons operate with Achinead heads, using Achinead boats and Achinead crews. The supposedly famous solidarity and freedom of Thallos is becoming little more than a pipe dream. The Pillars of the constitution, often compared to the masts of a Galleon, are rocking wildly in the storms approaching. Hungry Achineads and restless Mordens, combined with Skyrian dreams of reconquest and the threat of all out war in the Scablands spreading to the Low Kingdoms are making Thallosian dreams of security and all the more uncertain; As saying goes, The Winds of Fortune blow unsteady, but the Tides of Change are constant.
You find yourself, like many other wayward adventurers and those seeking fortunes away from the war ravaged region and abject poverty, in Thallos, drawn by the allure of fame and fortune upon the high seas or in the vibrant marketplaces. However, the truth of the place becomes all too apparent. Rife with corruption and criminality, you hear about the opportunity to join a company trading with the far off colony of Brightland. The place has a reputation for danger, but also of fantastic wealth and vast tracks of unexplored land. The voyage to get there passes through the Sea of Blades, a treacherous stretch of water if there ever was one. Deciding that the risk was worth whatever alternative remained staying in Thallos, you head to one of the numerous dockside taverns.
By the time you negotiate the infuriatingly complex alleyways of Old Thallos, night has descended, and a relentless gale has opened up. The building sits squat, with plain, whitewashed stone walls, with a moulding thatched roof seemingly dropped on top of it with no particular care and small, dusted windows whose dull amber glow reflects vividly on the polished wet cobbles and ripples of the water gushing down the gutter into the bay. Faint music can be heard through the roughened and notched wooden door over the sound of waves lapping against the mossy rocks of the wharf, and the sounds of ships in dock. Upon closer inspection the door has a sign similar to the one that tempted you to the tavern at this godforsaken hour in the first place. It is slick with rain and some of the ink has already started running down with the excess water. However, the message remains the same, and you enter the pub.
The region is certainly an interesting one, in terms of people and cultures. With a rich and deep history, this is a land where all but grievances of the past are forgotten and lessons are never learned. Until the Achineads arrived on the scene, the land was set to repeat yet another bloody phase of the regions cycles. Only the overwhelming threat of Achinead intervention has prevented an all out bloodbath. Still, tensions for the most part remain high as neighbour prepares to fight neighbour.
Technology for the most part is stuck in the mid to late Renaissance, with most technologies being developed in the North and slowly percolating down through the various states and duchies of the Low Kingdoms. A typical guardsman would carry a crossbow, with a broadsword or cutlass as a primary weapon, however any melee weapon is a common sight among travelers and folk alike, spears, cudgels and daggers all being extremely commonplace. However, some backwards areas such as tropical Maarlen or icelocked Morden have barely advanced from flint throwing spears and a Morden or Maarlen merchant or traveler would almost certainly have access to ranged weapons beyond crude hunting bows or flint throwing spears.
Armour is also limited to thick leather cuirasses at best for guards of more affluent nobles and caravans, and woolen garments and gloves more most everything else. Helmets are seen as important measures of station and pride, with guards recieving little more than kettle helms and nobles using anything up to full plate regalia and helmet.
One exception is a lack of gunpowder, ships lack cannons and men lack firearms. Large siege weapons are limited to ballistas, which are alarmingly accurate, even in naval conflict. The disparity in attacking and defensive weapons however is one reason for the relative lack of any signifigant losses of territory between major factions and the status quo has prevailed despite the regions bloodiest battles being faught in the last twenty years. The last major change happened when the Achinead Empire had come with numbers hitherto unseen and armies organised with methods unknown. They brought with them new technologies and ways of thinking that radically shook up the way kingdoms acted and faught. It is said there has been more progress in the last ten years, than the last hundred before them.
Let me just say now, that despite exotic weapons coming from Vorgoth and The Continuum there are no weapons that we could consider ''Far Eastern'' (read, no goddamn Katanas or Samurai Swords) Perhaps a Scimitar, but these would be extremely rare and most likely a collector's item or a nobleman's prize.
Industrially, most economies are still run on artisans and agrarian produce. And many still run on barter economies.
Linguistically, there are no major languages except perhaps in Skyre, Achinead or Thallos. Languages are very much regional affairs, with the Lower Kingdoms possessing a dialect for almost every single fiefdom. There are no signifigant changes between dialects bordering each other geographically, and they remain more or less compatible with each other for about a 50 to 100 miles, after which another translator is needed to translate for the third man so he can talk to the first. It is said that a Lower Kingdom once sent an expedition to retrieve pelts of the highest quality in the icelocked forests of Northern Morden as a prize for a marriage gift to a Skyrian prince. By the time they got there, the entourage of translators numbered well into their dozens and a broken telephone effect meant that no proper understanding could be reached by those in charge of the expedition and the locals they needed to communicate with. With several dozen extra mouths to feed, provisions were stretched so short that the expedition had to be called off, resulting in a less than adequate dowry to the Skyrians. This apparent insult flared up tensions and almost resulted in all out war, until the Achineads arrived. A common language however is Thallosian, as it is the trade language of the region, and no serious trader can ever hope to do business without it.
Brief Country Summary;
Thallosians: The traditional inhabitants of the State and it's surrounding domain. The men are similar to the Lower Kingdom, except for some notable exceptions. Thallosians are usually shorter than the other men of the Region, and more tanned and olive skinned. Thallosian districts are run by ''Admirals'' that are voted by a majority of merchants in the area; the average man has very little sway on how his district is run, except if he can worry the merchant into attempting to protect his businesses by embargoing of his store. Admirals represent their merchant's interests in the Thallosian Congress, meeting weekly to discuss events and pass addendums to the laws of Thallos. There is no figurehead, but the guard service is legally obliged to intervene in the Congress if the Admirals choose not to play by the rules. Due to the very nature of such a political position, greased palms are the only way to survive as a man in the position of admiralty. He is free to govern his district how he sees fit, and so merchants that support him can expect favours, while inversely merchants who didn't support him can expect minor tarifs or inconveniences passed on them. As a result, Thallosians are ultimately disenfranchised from the dream of freedom and prosperity and with the whole political system, most are poor, who work in shops or in the dockyards and live in filthy conditions in tiny settlements next to the dock or shop at where they work. All Thallosians are familliar with water and can swim confidently from an early age. Their drive and ambition plus their ability to thrive in maritime conditions has led to most ships in the docks crewed by them. And most Captains of the ship companies being Thallosian themselves.
Skyrians: Tall, darker skinned men with dark hair populate most of Skyre. Some controversial biologists suggest thet Skyrians are somehow related with the Maarlen who share some similar characteristics. These theories have, of course been scathingly criticized and their authors discredited by many of the more conservative natural philosophers and gentry. Surely such a race of intelligent, civilized and prestigious people could not be somehow related to those savages who inhabit those steamy, tropical islands? Skyrians are stereotyped by their arrogance and ignorance towards most others. Their aloofness and contempt for their neighbours could be explained by their mountainous topography, isolated by much of the outside world by a ring of mountains that surround their nation, they live confined to themselves where they hear and care little for the world outside, save for colonial ventures or incidents that might affect their trade. The average Skyrian is poor, living in almost serfdom to a noble who is assigned what little fertile farmland can be found in river valleys. A ring of fortresses in the only mountain passes guard the nation well, and their small but proffesional army is at the forefront of military technology. Their nation is lead loosely by a monarchy, who does little but act as a figurehead and divide land between the squabbling Noble houses.
Lighter skinned and possessing a fairer complexion than their Northern counterparts, the Low Kingdoms are numerous and comprise a healthy chunk of the region's population. They are made much weaker and divided by the dozens upon dozens of small states and hegemonies that control duchies as vassals and constantly vying with each other for more influence and control. The typical Lowlander grows up suspecting his neighbour, and not trusting many outside their own familiarity. The land is flat and fertile, and much of the country's workforce is made from subsistence farmers in their small holdings, with a feudal lord reporting to a King who controls various vassals and holdings to compete with the other Kings. Their large agricultural sector feeds most of the Region, and most staple crops traded in Thallos are produced there. However, every few decades the balance of power is wiped clean when Morden barbarians decide to invade en masse, emerging from the frigid Southern Wastes to rape and pillage the land. Only after the Barbarians nearly make it to the Skyrian border, do the kingdoms co-operate and unite their forces to drive them back. The United Lowland army make them a force to be reckoned with, and even Skyre watches with keen interest as they crush the barbarians. The Kingdoms are usually divided and weak, with petty squabbling crushing any real development occuring.
Maarlenese: As previously described, Maarlenese are tall and dark skinned, usually with longer hair than their Skyrian neighbours. The Maarlen Islands are scattered, with dozens of smaller Islands around the main two Islands that make up the base of power. The chiefdoms are numerous tribes kept in check by a main Chief, who stays in power by maneuvering around and gaining support of lesser chiefs through favour and bribery. The ruling chief sits upon a throne of ivory, as the dense tropical jungle islands is abundant with rare and precious materials such as gold and gemstones, and even ivory and pelts of wild animals. Despite the apparent weakness of this structure, of a weak decentralised government and backwards technology, any invasion attempt is defeated by the geography itself; The jungles and natives who have honed fighting in them to a fine art ultimately push any invader back to the sea, and the Chiefdoms remain wealthy from trade. Using purchased trading vessels from the Thallosians, many Thallosian Trade Barons now decorate their homes with Maarlenese Jewels and mount their walls with the pelts of legendary beasts. Maarlanese are renowned as defiant and proud people, having fended off many invaders and protecting their land. Although they see little of the wealth that their chiefs make by using their labour and work, many are motivated simply by doing what will make their tribe strong and prestigious. To many Maarlanese, pride is more important than wealth, but that doesn't stop many from attemtping to seek fame and fortune in Thallos.
Scablandian: Scablandians share traits from the Vorgoth, in that they are lean, pale faced men. The name derrides from the endless and intense fighting that has occured there; blood shed has dried in the relentless and scouring wind that leaves it's mark on everything there, leaving a scab on the whole of the nation, especially on it's border with Vorgothians where fighting has been the most brutal. The Scablands are hilly, and much of the fighting done has been done between forces on opposite sides of a valley, with the obvious and bloody consequences being seen daily. Armies here operate without compassion or remorse, to Scablandians, fighting and death have become an intrinsic aspect of life. They grow up distant, and cold from suffering that goes on around them, and as such have an excellent reputation as private guards and soldiers of fortune, as fighting a war whose cause is so far distant as to become fighting merely for the sake of it. Scablandians are typically tough, easy to anger and almost impossible to please. Their hostility has made them untrustworthy in the eyes of many others, but their impact on the shipping and guard services has been unquestionable. Many Scablandians occupy positions of master of arms in garrisons and of first mates on perilous naval routes. If a Scablandian and a Vorgothian were to ever meet, combat would almost certainly breat out there and then, and this kind of violence is rife in areas in Thallos where the two meet. Earning them endless disdain by other Thallosians and the reputation as thugs and bullies.
Vorgothian: Inhabiting the vast and empty steppes of Vorgoth and the harsh, arctic conditions of Outer Vorgoth and beyond, Vorgothians live a mostly nomadic life on horseback. To them, horses and warfare have been inescapably linked since the time of their ancestors and the Eternal War with the Scablands. No matter how bloody the war is for the Scablands, nomadic horsemen suffer even worse when fighting in narrow hill valleys against a foe who knows no fear or willingness to retreat. Much of their culture and way of life remains a mystery to outside observers as they are constantly on the move. All that is known is that an enigmatic Khan rules over these nomadic herds with brutal force, and it is said by some that he directly controls the supposedly random patterns of migration, right up to the Lowland kingdoms, and out far into ''The Vastness''; A term Vorgothians use to describe Outer Vorgoth and the expanse beyond. Previous attempts to crush their old enemy in the Scablands have proved frustratingly fruitless, however rumors circulate that the Khan is readying a force capable of destroying them once and for all. An army matching the Archineads in scale, and the Morden in swiftness and brutality. Such a prospect is a hard concept to swallow, so many dismiss it as merely a myth, but it is true that many less soldiers were being sent to the Scablands, and the frequency of nomads near the Lowlands confirm that it is not somehow a lack of population.
Vorgoth men are renowned for their secrecy, fierce loyalty and wanderlust. Many seek new lands to see and fortune to be won in far flung reaches of the world.
Achinead: Stocky men, with golden ginger hair, if one is around. Achineads present in the region nowadays are either remnants of the Skyrian colonies taken over when they invaded, or relatives from the early Achinead settlers who followed behind the army as they conquered the territory. The Western Lands, once called the Grandbrush by the Skyrians after the large dry bushes that appeared abundant in the arid region of dry grassland and semi desert. Most population centres appear near the coast or on the rivers leaving the interior of the Grandbrush almost devoid of settlement, much like the great and deadly Ryfin Expanse. As a result of the population living on the coast and relying so much on fishing and trade, the Southern Achineads are quickly gathering Naval expertise to match the Thallosians. Their naval technology was originally shallow galley craft to carry soldiers and settlers by the coast. Over time they copied the Thallosians and are now becoming more proficient at piloting deeper bottomed, sail powered ships. Achineads are treated with the utmost distrust in Thallos, as they are seen as directly threatening the Thallosian state itself, and for being aggressive expansionists. Achineads are themselves divided amongst Skyrian Achinead descendants, and Purebreed Achinead. The former have a reputation as hardworking if unambitious, whilst the latter are seen as something much more dangerous, scheming. Constantly eyeing up the region for easy pickings and where to make their next move. The Achinead Continuum's only military campaign was the region's greatest war, with previously dominant Skyrians brushed aside by the sheer weight of numbers and expertise the army employed. They are feared and hated in equal measure, although this doesn't usually faze the confident and ambitious Achineads.
Morden: Tall and snow white, the Morden are traditionally associated with the roaming tribes of barbarians that stalk the icebound Southern Forests for hides to trade and for meat to eat. They are extremely hostile to any and all outsiders and hardly any aspect of their lives or culture has changed since outside contact. Roaming in bands of around 30-80 individuals, they engage in constant territorial and hunting conflict with their neighbours, which only grows more brutal and desperate as the winter months advance and take their toll on the tribes there. It is estimated that around 10-15% of a band will die off during the winter, shedding older tribesmen unable to care for themselves and weaker children unable to survive the harsh conditions. Occasionally, when pickings become too scarce, or as a result of overhunting or a particularly bad winter, instead of dividing off and dying like many others would, the Morden do something extraordinary. Every year the Lowest of the Lower Kingdoms keep a look out for huge masses of organised Morden invasion hordes, that periodically overrun the Agrarian kingdoms of The Lowlands for food. The laughable, divided defences are overrun and the Morden take what they please from looted farmsteads. Unable to farm themselves however, they cannot stay in a location for long, and it is this that ultimately sends them back South. Waiting until their food runs short again. Mordens have the reputation as completely uncouth savages, more likely to stab a man than shake hands with him. This has not stopped a select few Morden take the herculean effort to accustom themselves with the North and trade or serce in Thallos. The hides from Morden are the most sought after in the whole region, with particularly rare cases fetching an entire boats worth of harvest of food from the Lowlands.
Name: Self Explanatory really.
Gender: Although males have a more dominant position, Thallos is seeing an increase in the number of ''Free Women'' who take up merchanting and adventuring
Nationality: Race, except the human kind.
Age: Again, not hard.
Description A physical description of your character, including any clothing and equipment that the character is carrying, within reason clearly. You are not a merchant and do not have to funds to match one.
Personality: I want to be able to understand your character and think as they think, see their logic patterns. Why they chose such a dangerous job. The descriptions of the different nationalities and their stereotypical personalities doesn't mean you have to be faithful to them. You could be a cowardly Scablander who fled to escape dying, Or a Vorgoth who hates horses, that was just included as some flavour to aid the process.
History: I'd like to see some proper development here. This is where you flesh out your character from a bunch of tropes into a living, breathing character who would play an interesting and important role in the story as opposed to simply tagging along for the ride. I'm going to allow you more liberty here with the locations, cultural values and whatnot as I really intended to see what you as the players come up with rather than me force it onto you.
Misc:If I can't see it in the personality, or it doesn't quite fit, put it here. Trivia about your character belongs here.
And that should be about it.
I haven't provided a perfect description here, so I encourage asking questions about the backstory, clarifications and
generally giving me verbal abuse at obvious spelling mistakes and the story itselfwhatnot. I enjoy seeing the character sheets produced.