The Eighteen Blades of Vode Nulan
Name: Imperial Dunahnae, Eternal Bastion of His Lord Chardun
Population: 1,000,000 (Human 54%, Half-orc 26%, Dwarf 10%, Elf 5%, Other 5%)
Government: A feudal theocracy; the clergy owns all the land, which is overseen by hereditary lords.
Ruler: His Lord High Priest and First Minister of Chardun, Aarixthic (human male)
Capital: Dun (120,000)
Major Cities: Ertik (40,000), Kanandun
Currency: Gold crown (10 gp), silver scepter (5 sp), copper link (1 cp)
Resources: Slaves, oil, gold, iron
Dunahnaens are often considered bitter and fatalistic, the dreams and ambitions of youth being crushed out of them by their oppressive and rigid society. Free Dunahnaens tend to be well cultured and aristocratic. Dunahnaens see little reason not to dominate others, climbing over the broken bodies of friends and enemies alike to achieve their goals.
Dunahnaen men tend to be ruggedly handsome, although their faces are so often twisted in avarice that it is difficult to determine their true features.
Women tend to be darkly beautiful, if haughty. Their position in the society is much lower than that of men, however, and so they are rarely seen outside of their homes. Human slaves come from a variety of different racial stocks, taken as they are from the various lands of Ghelspad. Most indigenous slaves are olive-skinned and stocky. They are a grim, practical, and inarticulate people; most pessimistically realize that they will never escape slavery and restrain themselves accordingly.
Half-orcs of Dunahnae, like most of their race, are broad shouldered and stocky with greenish-gray skin and dark hair. Half-orcs possess a middling place in society. While some of them are counted among Dunahnae’s slaves, the majority of half-orcs possess
positions in the army, from lowly recruits to well respected scepterlords. It is rumored that particularly ambitious half-orcs can rise to great prominence in Chardun’s dark priesthood. Because of this, Dunahnae is seen by some as a haven for half-orcs, and many migrate here to achieve the respect that would be impossible elsewhere.
Dwarves in Dunahnae are mostly charduni, although there are a few communities of Scarn dwarves as well. Dwarves tend to be clannish and xenophobic, and this tendency is enhanced by the leaden atmosphere of suspicion in Dunahnae. Charduni are most often found in the army or priesthood of Chardun.
Most Scarn dwarves present in Dunahnae are slaves, descendents of slaves captured in and since the Divine War. These dwarves are abused, even by the standards of slaves. They occupy a position below even that of Dunahnae’s goblins.
The vast majority of goblins in Dunahnae are slaves, working in the treacherous gold and iron mines of the northern badlands. Goblins are seen as slightly above animals; they are feral creatures that actually benefit from enslavement.
They are often able to organize themselves into meaningful communities and establish a bearable existence even under the omnipresent eyes of their taskmasters.
Dunahnaen society is renowned for both its extreme rigidity and its indifference to social justice. The people are sharply divided into four hereditary castes: priesthood, charth, military, and slaves. Social mobility is quite common among the lower castes.
Chardun’s priesthood holds the dominant position in Dunahnaen society. The priesthood is largely hereditary, although extremely cunning, ambitious, and competent individuals of lower classes are able to become priests. Occasionally, even the rare slave can rise to prominence in this way. Because the church technically owns and distributes all wealth in
Dunahnae, high ranking priests lead very rich and privileged lifestyles. Lower priests, however, face a very spartan existence, and they are constantly reminded of the proverb, “Chardun rewards only those who prove themselves through trial and hardship.”
Life is therefore a constant struggle to attain power and prestige in order to wend one’s way into a position in which the priest can exert influence over others and thereby prove himself worthy to Chardun.
The hereditary nobles of Dunahnae are known as charths and charthesses. This caste is really just an elite and specialized subset of the military caste. Usually charths are loyal and competent soldiers chosen by the priesthood to serve as the rulers of districts. Once in place, the charth and his descendents hold the position through personal power, political wrangling, and the will of the priesthood. A charth must constantly engender loyalty among his soldiers and ensure his own loyalty to the correct factions currently in power in the bureaucracy. Clearly, this is a difficult task, and only those families that hold close to Chardun’s ideals can maintain the position for long.
Below the charths are the common soldiers of Dunahnae. They are organized into strictly regimented fighting forces, based on units of six. There are six solders in one link, six links in one length, six lengths in one chain, six chains in one shackle, six shackles in one domant, and six domants in one scepter. The leader of any section is referred to as the
unit he commands plus “lord,” from linklord to scepterlord. Soldiers can expect a harsh and dangerous life, but they are better off than slaves in that they may own some property, aspire to charthdom, and dominate slaves. When not directly involved in war, soldiers either direct and maintain slaves or serve the priesthood or charths directly.
Crime and Punishment
Laws are supposedly handed down by Chardun himself to the First Minister to enforce as he sees fit. Therefore, in addition to any crime’s normal penalty, the priesthood has the option of holding the citizen additionally guilty for heresy, for violating Chardun’s will. The Bureau of Enforcement uses deduction, magic, and entrapment to find and punish criminals, and as expected, its agents are very thorough.
Because crimes are often ill defined and arbitrarily enforced, it is more important to identify
typical punishments than specific crimes. Wealthy citizens are usually able to reduce the severity of all but the gravest crimes through bribery and extortion.
Fines: Minor crime, such as the death of another’s slave.
Enslavement: Loss of caste status and enslavement. Crimes such as theft, murder of a soldier, arson, heresy, and so forth.
Death: For major crimes against important people such as minor priests or charths. This is usually followed by being raised as a skeleton or zombie.
Eternal Enslavement: Death followed by being raised as a free-willed undead, only to be enslaved and forced to serve Chardun’s priesthood. This is reserved for only the worst crimes, such as the murder of a powerful priest, treason, high heresy, and so forth.