The Jeweled Throne
An alphabetical listing of places within our campaign.
Ilmiora is a pleasant land of forest and farmland. It is divided into a number of large city states, chief of which are Bakshaan, Ilmar, Kaarlak by the Weeping Waste, and Rignariom. Each city state is ruled by a Duke and a Council of Advisors. There is no overall king or ruler. The cities are bound together by pacts of friendship and trade. Their citizens are mostly of the same physical type, and they speak the language common to the countries of Tarkesh, Dharijor, Shazzar, Jharkor, Vilmir, Agrimiliar, Filkhar, Pikarayd, Pan Tang, and the Isle of Purple Towns. Because it is spoken in so many different lands it is known as the Common Tongue.
Religion is not a blood matter in Ilmiora. People generally worship as they please, although nominally the country has declared for Law. Temples of Chaos are not allowed, but Chaotic priests and agents wander freely.
Ilmiora is a large enough land that there are vast portions of wilderness in it. Ancient ruins from the early days of the Dharzi and the Bright Empire are sometimes found in the wilderness areas. There is also the free city of Tanelorn which lies just beyond Ilmiora’s border in the Sighing Desert.
Melnibone consists of four islands, with the main island being much larger than the other three. It has one chief city, Imrryr, which is located on the coast near the center of the main island. Melnibone is located in tropical waters and the shallow seas around it teem with life, from the smallest plankton up to sea dragons. Because there are quite a few sea dragons in this part of the world, the sea has come to be known as the Dragon Sea.
A peculiarity about Melnibone is that it has only one good harbor, Imrryr. The rest of the island is surrounded by a ring of coral reefs. Small boats and empty or lightly-laden flat-bottomed barges pass across them easy enough, but the merchant ships and warships of the Young Kingdoms would rip their bottoms out by trying to land anywhere except Imrryr.
Imrryr, called the Dreaming City for the last several hundred years, is the capital and chief residence of the Melniboneans. It is a city of places, domes, and towers. The architecture is often bizarre and always beautiful. An area behind the harbor fortifications has been set aside for the use of Young Kingdoms’ merchants, and they are not allowed to leave that area without a pass signed by one of the lords of the city. The harbor itself is extensively fortified, with high walls and towers containing catapults and everything necessary to withstand a siege. The harbor is further guarded by being behind a maze of treacherous cliffy passages, partly natural, but mostly raised from the ocean bed by the sorcery of the early Melnibonean emperors. Only one passage will lead a ship from the outer ocean to the harbor safely. Merchant ships arriving at Imrryr take on a pilot and small crew of Melniboneans, and all non-Melniboneans are blindfolded. This, more than anything else, protected the remnant of Melnibone from total destruction during the last four centuries.
True Melniboneans consider themselves part of a nobility outranking any other in their world. During the centuries of inbreeding on their small island in the center of the world, every family established some sort of kin relationship with the ruling line. Titles, however, are reserved for the emperor and his immediate family. Old ranks such as duke, baron, etc., are no longer meaningful among Melniboneans. Outsiders, however, should call them lord or lady, in recognition of their being Melnibonean.
With a citizenry consisting entirely of nobles, no work could be done. The menial work of Melnibonean civilization is performed by a hereditary class of slaves, many of whom are Melnibonean half-bloods. The best of these are allowed to serve in the military, but not to be Dragon Masters, and trade with foreign merchants. Such half-breeds are always sterile. No middle class is able to rise because of their existence. Farming, mining, textile work, and all the chores of maintaining a tower or palace are handled by the lesser, fully human, slaves.
The Melniboneans have an interesting method of controlling their slaves. While conceding them no rights whatsoever, they nevertheless maintain them in fabulous luxury. Nine-tenths of each tower or palace pertains to the slaves of the tower’s owner. For each Melnibonean living in the building there are five or ten slaves to do the work of the place. Slaves in Melnibone have higher standards of living than dukes and princes in other Young Kingdom lands.
If this isn’t enough to insure compliance, the Melniboneans also keep their slaves drugged with will-destroying narcotics. Addicted to such things as lotus wine or poppy dust, the slaves of Melnibone can find neither the leadership nor the energy to mount a rebellion.
In addition to the human servants there are a fairly large number of supernatural servitors – bound demons and elementals. Many of the Melniboneans are sorcerers, and many of their ancestors were. Demon servants and objects are more common in Melnibone than in any other land in the Young Kingdoms, though the island of Pan Tang also has a great many of them.
Although their slaves manage to do some farming, much of what Melniboneans need to live has to be imported by sea from other lands. Melniboneans pay for food, weapons, and luxury artifacts of all sorts with their ancient store of silver coinage or with uncut jewels from their rich mines on the interior of the island.
Beyond the walls and towers of Imrryr, most of the island has reverted to nature. The landscape is dotted with abandoned villas, towers, and even small towns with three or four towers which haven’t been lived in for centuries. Such places tend to be avoided by modern Melniboneans for it is well-known that the sorcerers of olden days were greater and more powerful than those of the present, and that they probably left demon guardians to safeguard their property after death. Such places are exceedingly rich, and sometimes bold thieves from other nations come ashore in a small boat and seek to ransack one. Such thieves generally perish, and the Melniboneans never notice.
The people of Myrrhyn originally came from another plane of existence thousands of years before the rise of the Young Kingdoms. Being situated well-inland, they have little conflict with the sea-empire of Melnibone. When they came to this plane, the people of Myrrhyn brought a strange knowledge of other gods besides the Lords of Law and Chaos. The sorceries they practice are based upon the powers of their alien gods.
The homeland of Myrrhyn is nothing but high mountains and plateaus. Men tend to be hunters and warriors, practicing almost no agriculture other than simple gathering of fruits and berries in season. Women stay in their eyries and tend to hatchlings, who have a long and helpless childhood before their wings are fully feathered for flying. Surprisingly, the women are also the miners for the race, and every cave-eyrie has its own mining shafts descending from the rear levels. Copper, tin, silver, zinc, and especially iron are the products of the Myrrhyn mines, and while some smelting is done by winged smiths, most of the raw ore is shipped off to Thokora and Sequaloris in Jharkor in exchange for other goods.
The people of Myrrhyn are isolationistic and are slowly dying out, but a few of them have gone out in the outer world.
Nadsokor is a ruined city that was once a prosperous city in Vilmir. There is no trade, no religion, and no social code in Nadsokor. There is a King of the Beggars whose orders must be obeyed, but the King is little more than a puppet for the Lords of Chaos; when they have no interest in him, the King serves only his own greed.
Org is a very small forest country between Vilmir and Ilmiora. It consists entirely of the ancient mystic Forest of Troos, and its borders have been slowly shrinking for centuries. The inhabitants of Org are the devolved remnants of an earlier race – the Dharzi. Centuries ago, the Dharzi were a powerful race who worshipped the Beast Lords. They warred with the Dragon Masters of Melnibone who were aided by the Lords of Chaos, and the Dharzi lost.
Except for a very small class of nobles the men of Org have forgotten their ancient glory and are no more than uncouth dwarves scratching out a subsistence living beneath the shade of Troos. The few nobles maintain a court of sorts where an ancient earth magic and ancestor worship are still remembered.
Org’s chief importance is that Troos is a source for rare herbs and plants of all kinds. Daring merchants and masters of plantlore venture there to obtain mandrake roots, lotus flowers, and many other rare plants such as hellbane. The natives being hostile, these despoilers of the forest don’t always come back out alive.
The island of Pan Tang is a little enclave of Chaos upon the world. The inhabitants of Pan Tang call themselves the Mabden in their own tongue, and legend has it that they were brought to this land from another world by the Lords of Chaos themselves.
In all ways Pan Tang seems a sort of poor imitation of Melnibone. It is as if, being merely human, they can only see half of what the Melniboneans see, as if the Lords of Chaos show only their evil side to them.
Like Melnibone, Pan Tang is a slave empire, but unlike Melnibone, the slaves are not treated well. With gods like Chardhros the Reaper at the heart of their religion, the warriors of Pan Tang tend to work their slaves to death. An extensive breeding program to raise more slaves is always in progress, while warships prowl the seas and coasts of foreign lands looking for those who could be carried off into slavery. In addition, Pan Tang merchants haunt the slave marts of other nations and buy what they can for Pan Tang.
All citizens of Pan Tang are either sorcerers or warriors; about 20% of them are also nobles. Pan Tang women are considered the property of their men and not citizens, though they are far above the slaves from other nations in social standing. All sorcerers are automatically members of the Church of Chaos, headed by the Theocrat.
The national character of the people of Pan Tang has been warped over hundreds of years until it is predominantly arrogant, sadistic, and mean. Causing pain is the highest pleasure. It could be argued that the citizens of Pan Tang are psychotically insane. Certainly, living in Hwamgaarl, the City of Screaming Statues, would be enough to drive one mad.
Demon objects and bound elementals are frequently encountered on Pan Tang. Such sorcerous aids often make the warriors of Pan Tang superior to fighters from other lands.
Pan Tang, with its incessant piracy, is something of a blight on the rest of the Young Kingdoms. If not for the power of its sorcerers and the steadfast alliance of Chaos-worshipping Dharijor, the kingdoms of Vilmir, Ilmiora, Shazaar, and Jharkor would have put an end to it long since.
There isn’t much trade in Pan Tang. Except for the merchants of Dharijor, none dare sail there for fear they will never get away. Thus, the people of Pan Tang must practice self-sufficiency. Half of the island consists of wild tiger-haunted forests, and the other half of slave-tended farms. There are also a number of isolated temples dedicated to the various gods of Chaos. Nonetheless, without the gold, goods, and manpower brought in as plunder from their neighbors, Pan Tang would be a very poor land indeed.
The people of Pikarayd are neurotic and xenophobic. Their culture is characterized by a hatred and fear of all strangers. For the non-citizen to venture into the country is like committing suicide. The men of Pikarayd are skilled with weapons, and they believe that some day there will be a great war between the forces of Chaos and the forces of Law. They train for that final battle to fight on the side of Chaos.
The priests of Chaos encourage and manipulate the national paranoia. Except for a trading enclave in Chalal, they allow no access to the country. Strangers are often sacrificed to the Lords of Chaos in out-of-the-way temples. The priests faithfully follow the orders of the Theocrat of Pan Tang, but since the Theocrat is quite distant, they also have their own supreme leader known as the Hierophant.
Pikarayd has a king and an established class of nobles, but these grandees tend to concentrate their attention on the army and their country estates, leaving most of teh affairs of government to the priestly advisers.
Much of Pikarayd is howling wilderness. Strange beasts and beings prowl the backlands, and the borders between the planes are very thin in this nation.
Only the octogonal coins of Chaos are legal tender in Pikarayd. Other currencies are either confiscated or exchanged by the priestly moneychangers in Chalal.
Pikarayd’s economy depends upon subsistence farming, some trapping of wild animals, and the export of mercenary troops to fight in other countries’ wars. The men of the city of Chalal are especially noted for their ferocity.
Where Jharkor is a land of many cities and some sophistication, Shazaar is a rustic nation with only one city worth mentioning. Aflitain, the capital, is on the coast north of the Serpent’s Teeth. It is a favorite jumping-off place for mariners from the western continent who want to sail to Melnibone or the southern continent.
The land is principally farming land. The land is rich and supports a goodly population, but on the edges of the nation to the south and west are bleak wastelands where monsters dwell.
The Lords of Law hold sway in Shazaar. Things are regulated by routine. The government is a traditional monarchy, with the crown passing to the oldest living child of the former monarch. Slavery is illegal in Shazaar; a slave may legally gain its freedom just by entering the country. This custom is not rigidly enforced. The chief privilege of the nobility is in their power to call upon the citizenry for up to one month of voluntary labor each year. The king may tap a citizen for as much as two months of labor. The employers are responsible for room, board, and tools in such cases, but the worker is unpaid. Generally, this privilege is only exercised for the creation of large public works such as a highway.