The Eighteen Blades of Vode Nulan
United Provinces of Darakeene
Population: 1,500,000 (76% Human, 12% Halfling, 6% Elf, 4% Half-orc, 2% Dwarf)
Government: Nine once-separate provinces have united under one king and have grown largely indistinct from one another; all now submit to the rule of a single emperor.
Ruler: His Most Regal Majesty, Emperor Klum the Impartial (human male)
Capital: Meliad (100,000)
Major Cities: Llangwyr (25,000), Cantontown (24,000), Ard Macha (22,OOO), Trum (18,000), Fernmag (16,000), Catleigh (16,OOO), Magh Trego (12,000), Weyside (6,000)
Languages: Darakeene, Ledean
Religion: None official, but all “officially respected.”
Currency: Gold stater (1 gp), gold half-stater (5 sp), silver argen (1 sp), bronze half-argen (5 cp), bronze verica (1 cp)
Resources: Grain, strong alcohol, sheep, cattle, wool, leather, ships, silver, bronze, copper, tin
Major Imports: Glass and glassware, textiles, fruit, wine, precious stones, gold, decorative woods
Places of Note:
Flora and Fauna
Darakeene fairly teems with wildlife. All manner of beasts walk this land – elk, bear, wolves, bullocks, rabbits, deer, and a hundred more. Unfortunately, Darakeene is also home to its fair share of titanspawn creatures. Foul goblins, orcs, ogres, and the like may be found virtually anywhere, and the eastern regions swarm with vangaurak from the Spires of Gaurak – just to name a few. Darakeene also has a substantial number of fairy folk and the fey races including brewer gnomes, nixies, pixies, dryads, and nymphs. Tribes of hill giants are known to plague the nation’s northern provinces.
Darakeene has all the normal plants and animals one would expect. Oak, maple, larch, yew, and chestnut trees grow in abundance along with a hundred more mundane varieties. A number of rare herbs and plants grow in Darakeene as well, which are of great use to spellcasters, herbalists, and healers.
Through many years of immigration, invasion, and intermarriage, the people of Darakeene are highly varied in appearance. They generally have pale skin, but eye and hair color varies widely. It is the current vogue among Darakeene men to wear their hair short and to keep short, well trimmed beards. Both men and women tend to wear a lot of jewelry and equally elaborate and decorated clothing.
A few isolated pockets of native Keltai “barbarians” have stuck to the old ways and live a life very like that of their ancestors. They are not throwbacks, nor are they ignorant of the modern world; they simply choose to live their traditional life on their own terms. The Keltai have either blonde or red hair exclusively, and Keltai men are always mustached but never bearded. Keltai men often decorate their bodies – faces included – with swirling blue tattoos of intricate and complex design.
Most Darakeene youth either work the same land as their parents or are apprenticed to a trade. Apprenticeship can occur as early as age seven, and any youth not bound to a master by age 14 never will be. The apprentice lives and works in the master’s home and shop in exchange for room and board and learning the trade. Those lucky enough to serve a generous master may even receive an allowance, though most are expected to make money buy selling their practice pieces. The life of an apprentice is a tough one, and the youth have little time for recreation, save for once a year at the harvest festival.
The harvest festival is held in late Madrer when the last harvest is brought in. While most Darakeene citizens celebrate the religious holidays of their respective gods, Harvest Day is the only holiday shared by all Darakeene. Traditionally, the apprentices use this day to blow off steam. They gather in two massive teams, often hundreds to a side, to enjoy the game colloquially known as “king’s head.” Two goals are set, normally a mile or more apart. Popular choices include city halls, temples, and city gates. The teams then jump into a massive scrum and begin fighting for a pig’s bladder filled with grain, the eponymous king’s head. It is not uncommon for the scrum to last all day and nary a goal scored, and great fun is had by all.
When not involved in a massive pileup in the town square, apprentices tend to enjoy what little time they can find to themselves when the work is done, appreciating a drink at the local public house and sharing a game of Buanbach or Fidchell – popular and ancient board games -with a few mates. Most inns, taverns, and public houses employ musicians and bards to provide entertainment in the evenings. The Darakeene prefer traditional music, though they seem equally happy with Gentraige – lively, boisterous, and happy tunes – or Goltraige – sad and lamenting tunes. The Darakeene see the harp as the queen of instruments, but other popular choices include flutes, whistles, drums, and the uniquely Darakeene bagpipe, an instrument that looks rather like a smartly dressed octopus and sounds rather like someone throttling a cat.
Darakeene cuisine has little diversity. Even the nobility prefer a traditional diet of ordinary and hearty food such a boiled potatoes, cabbage, beef, bread, and the like. The Darakeene produce a unique, fiery whiskey that is known throughout the continent. A relatively simple drink in theory, there are more than 200 unique blends and flavors from various regions and distillers.
The common folk find little need or time for learning their letters and so literacy is a privilege reserved for the wealthy and scholarly. Consequently, Darakeene employs a large number of criers and heralds to keep the populace abreast of important news and information.
Marriage in Darakeene is for life, though both men and women whose spouses die are permitted to remarry. The Darakeene have an odd tradition known as the Ban Urnadna, or “contract wife.” When a marriage has not produced children, the husband may hire a second wife for a period of a year and a day in hopes of siring a child. Any children born of the union are considered to be the married couple’s; the Ban Urnadna has no rights to the child. The custom has fallen greatly out of practice in the past centuries, though it is far from extinct.
Most Darakeene are buried after death. The wealthy are interred in stone vaults or catacombs, while the peasantry are consigned to simple graves. Those who die penniless are relegated to unmarked mass graves. Soldiers and others who died in military service to the nation are buried in proper, marked graves. Particularly notable leaders and heroes are buried in traditional mounds heaped with wealth and the weapons of their enemies. Darakeene is a land blessed in many ways – protected from the predations of both monsters and other nations by its geography. Possessed of a pleasant climate, its verdant lands produce an abundance of food, and it is welcoming to peoples from all races and nations. It is home to both the famed Ledean war colleges, which turn out the most skilled soldiers in all of Ghelspad; the renowned Phylacteric Vault, training ground for many of Ghelspad’s most skilled and powerful mages; as well as both of Ghelspad’s most preeminent mercenary groups, the Legion of Ash and the Crimson Legion. Darakeene is indeed a land unique and unsurpassed in all of Ghelspad.
Crime and punishment
Petty Theft (41 gp or under): 1 to 12 months in jail / 1 week service per gp value stolen
Grand Theft (42 gp or higher): 1 to 5 years in prison / 1 month service per gp value stolen
Arson: Imprisonment for 3 to 5 years / 1 month to 3 years’ service to the victim
Desecration of a Sacred Site: 1 to 3 years in prison / Death
Rape: 1 to 5 years in prison depending on the victim’s social station
Treason: Imprisonment (until pardoned by the emperor) or death