Today’s post is about a setting, though one that is not the norm for Mind Weave Settings. Ipiera is odd in a couple ways, though both can be summarized by saying it is a “low fantasy” setting.
First, Ipiera has no fantastical races, no magical monsters, and no demons. It is entirely populated by humans (and undead if a human necromancer is about). This means that there is no objectively evil, dehumanized foe the players can slaughter without remorse. All opposition will be either from forces of nature, or from other humans, many reasonable and willing to negotiate. This is not a setting for the average party.
Second, Ipiera is still in a primitive state of magical discovery. Some aspects of the magic system are limited. For example, advanced arcs and radii cannot be generally learned (depending on the timeline, certain people might have particular expertise in a given arc through personal research) and no components can be gained as free. Other highly magical abilities are disallowed, such as Illusory Casting and Sensory Extension. This gives the magic of the setting an especially raw and elemental feel, emphasizing the grittiness of the setting.
Another interesting difference in Ipiera is that the four deities worshipped across the continent are not worshiped as individuals, but rather as part of a unified theology, or pantheon. Different regions of the continent worship the four differently and there are a number of religions with conflicting views about the qualities, motives, and powers of the gods.
We will discuss religion in Ipiera in more depth in a later post, however, today I will limit myself to a discussion of the six primary nations:
The Northern nation, Ellada is rocky, hilly, and coastal, resembling in many ways the Baltics on Earth, though not as temperate. It is beautiful country, but is not conducive to roads. The large cities are highly isolated by the ranges of hills and the many inlets and rivers. The tendency is for city states to be self sufficient for the most part due to difficulty of travel. Common people are rarely able to travel and live for generations in the same area.
Ellada is ruled by a feudal king in Aquipolis who retains his power through his massive, generations-old fleet. The rulers of the city states swear fealty to him, offering taxes and military aide in exchange for the protection of his fleet against pirates and other nations. These rulers are given by the king control of the area surrounding their city state and they rule it generally as mini-monarchs, taxing heavily to pay for their own pleasures as well as for the taxes to the king.
Most Elladic commoners are serfs, tied to the land and absolutely in service to the owner of that land. Most of the merchants and other professions are filled at the landowner’s command or in his employ. Foreign merchants, if they can get approval from local rulers, fair very well in Elladic trade, being more free to move and set their prices than the Elladic merchants.
Local rulers will often seek to improve their house guards and servants by recruiting promising individuals from among the serfs, even sending some to attend the Lorem School of Excellence in order to learn combat, magic, accounting, and architecture, among other things. In this way, extraordinary youths can hope to improve their station.
At least in the coastal regions of Ellada, fishery is the major source of sustenance and most serfs on the coast work in fishing boats. Further inland the population is far more sparse, in part due to the difficulty of growing crops in the rocky terrain. Crop production is limited primarily to beans, potatoes, and grains, though grapes and sugar beets are fairly common as a luxury food, especially in the flatlands. Sheep herding is also fairly common in the hills and produces both mutton for the wealthy and wool for cloth production.
In the inland hills, Ellada is fairly mineral rich and also has high quality clay pits, which account for most of the wealth. Serfs often work in mines or creating pottery. This pottery finds its way into much of the continent for its sturdiness and utility. Clay is also used for bricks and serf hovels are made primarily from clay and adobe. Stone quarries often supply the building materials for the wealthy homes and castles.
Ellada has a strong maritime tradition. Children of influential nobles who do not stand to inherit are often enlisted in the King’s Navy, aspiring to captain ships. Others will join in the maritime tradition, but often with little more hope than to be a first mate or midshipman. Wealthy nobles will try to improve their son’s chances by sending them to the Lorem School.
While feudal nobles sometimes have ships of their own, most do not. The primary military might they can offer the King is their house guard, or Huskarls. These are made up primarily of members of lesser families or serfs who have been well trained and equipped, their leaders often having learned combat and leadership at the Lorem School. To a lesser degree, the Huskarls will also include mages trained at the Lorem School or by graduates of the school.
In addition to the formidable Huskarls, it is well understood that the nobles will force their serfs into militia service to form up the bulk of an army in the case of all out war. These serfs are untrained and would take heavy casualties against a professional force.
Despite disparity in quality of living, most all citizens (serfs and nobles) take great pride in their country and even more so in their city state. The nobility is aloof, and make an effort to seem careless, even in their disagreements with each other. This passive-aggressive response to conflict is even more ingrained among the serfs who, although downtrodden and beaten, harbor great ill will toward their oppressors.
Praetum is the inland nation of the continent, though they have managed to take a number of coastlines. Despite being a higher altitude than Ellada, apart from the mountain lands Praetum is very flat. Her rivers are mostly shallow and passable. It also has a number of large cities and an extensive highway network. The nation is highly united, having been formed in the Lorem Revolution. They are the eldest coherent nation on the continent itself, its formation being the catalyst that drove Ellada and Suthland to unite before the quickly conquering nation of free people. They were also the power inspiring an alliance of nations when Lorem built the Lorem School of Excellence high in the mountains of Praetum.
Praetum is a Republic governed by trusted and qualified men from among the common people. Locally, town assemblies are elected in each town and city. These councils further chose representatives, usually from among themselves, to participate in regional congresses in the large city governing their area. These congresses then elect Senators from among their ranks to represent their region at the capitol in the Senate. The Senate chooses a handful of members to preside in the Ruling Council. The Ruling Council mediates in the Senate and also has certain executive powers for important tasks such as foreign relations and war.
Praetum is much more affluent than Ellada, Tharn, Gealdir, and to a lesser degree Suthland. Their technological capability is beyond that of the others and they are able to farm on a massive scale. High altitude and deciduous, Praetum is most suited to growing grains such as wheat, corn, barley, oats, quinoa, and potatoes. While other things such as squash, tomatoes, melons, and cabbage are gardened and sold, grains are the most widely produced.
Praetum also has a wealth of precious metals in its mountains which are beginning to be developed, contributing further to Praetum’s wealth. Praetum is successful enough in food production that its people are able to do skilled work on a great scale. One of Praetum’s main exports is its craftsmanship, exporting quality goods to the wealthy in Ellada and Suthland. Praetum is especially well known for its husbandry and its horses are highly sought after.
Finally, Praetum’s people have far more access to education than in other nations. The common people value education and nearly half are at least literate. Even those that are not are involved in the local political process. Praetum is also home to the only institute of higher education in Ipiera: The Lorem School of Excellence, where topics ranging from magic and mathematics, to rhetoric and ethics, to combat and strategy.
Praetum has a very proud cavalry tradition. The wealthy who can afford a mount and mounted equipment are very proud to train with cavalry units. They also have a highly educated class of generals who are capable commanders. Other educated citizens participate in the Praetum army as mages. For the most part, magic is not a large part of warfare in Ipiera. That said, Praetum has the largest body of military mages of any country.
Even those who are not wealth or highly educated are happy to serve in local militias and many youth seek enlistment in Praetum’s standing infantry when they are no longer needed at home.
Praetum has little sea power to speak of, using it primarily to defend its few coastal cities.
Praetum culture is focused on a fierce nationalism. They share fondly stories from the Lorem Revolution and statues of Lorem are quite common in large cities. He is depicted as a hero and a scholar. They love their freedoms and are passionate about defending themselves. They are also expansionist, seeking to take parts of Tharn on occasion, to civilize the barbarian tribes.
Factions in Praetum are not drawn by bloodlines or titles, but rather by wealth, education, and popularity. The best way for a person to gain power is to seek an education and use it to get elected to a local assembly. Lorem graduates, though fairly common, are highly likely to get onto most any Lorem assembly if they are trusted and liked at all.
Suthland is a swampy, humid, and temperate nation spread along the southern coast of the continent. Protected from Praetum invasion by vast swamps, Suthland had time to unite its local benevolent warlords and form a cohesive kingdom before the revolution and subsequent republic could get to them.
The people of Suthland are a very happy people. Their monarch does not interfere overly much in their lives and they love him from what they have seen of him in parades and celebrations. There is general support for the royal family that has ruled since unification and the people have often shown opposition to others who would try to take the throne.
Nobility in Suthland is a loose class determined primarily by wealth, and–through inheritance–bloodlines. Any family that is able to throw parties at their estate or pay for expensive sports enjoyed by the royal family can make itself a part of the aristocracy. While titles and lands derivative of the original allied warlords still exist and are passed through families or awarded by the king, these titles grant primarily administrative power and only the king has a standing army. Another mark of nobility is to be knighted by the king. A King’s Knight is provided with a mount and equipment, has a place at court events in the King’s City, and swears to be at the King’s service in the event of war.
Commoners in Suthland are nearly as free as those in Praetum and can travel at will, choosing their own profession. Though not denied the right to hold land legally, the bureaucratic process to have land holdings recognized by the King is prohibitive to all but the most wealthy. Commoners generally ply their trade on rented or leased lands. Commoners who provide extraordinary service are sometimes knighted by the King.
Suthland is very bountiful in food wealth, if not much else. With a long coastline of near tropical waters, Suthland exports a lot of fish to Southern Praetum. Their diet, however, is not as fish rich as that of coastal Ellada. Rather, their diet is heavily supplemented by foodstuffs grown in the rich, damp soil of the swampy plains. Orchards are quite common, growing all variety of citrus, apples, pears, figs, nuts and peaches, among others. Tobacco and cotton are also grown regularly and exported to Praetum and to lesser extent Ellada. Grape vineyards and spice gardens abound, feeding a proud tradition of winemaking among older aristocratic families. Rice is the staple grain of the country, though other grains are grown. Most many crop can grow in Suthland and they grow to meet the demands of their people and other nations.
Suthland is also the most dairy rich of the nations, having significant dairy farms run by members of the aristocracy. These aristocrats take pride in their cheeses, playfully competing with and complementing their winemaking neighbours. Cattle are also used for meat along with pigs and chickens.
The aristocracy and the king’s knights form a well supplied and highly skilled mounted infantry. Given the wealth of the nation, this body of aristocratic light infantry is the largest body of highly skilled and well equipped fighters on the continent. They often also have training in the Lorem School. The nation also trains its citizenry to form a large and willing infantry militia.
Their fleet is fairly large, quite capable of keeping raiders and pirates at bay.
The people of Suthland are humble and happy. They are surrounded by other nations and are eager to accept foreign influence and culture. The people are generally peace loving and credit the ancestors of the current royal family with uniting their peoples in order to avoid the violence of invasion.
The large, volcanic archipelago off the coast of Suthland is windswept, rocky, and harsh. Colonized by religious emigrants from among the Tharn barbarian tribes, Gealdir is nearly as primitive as Tharn itself. The islands are hardly under threat of invasion due to their harshness.
The highest governing body in Gealdir is the Council of Patriarchs, formed by the presiding male member of each of the “Old Families.” These patriarchs meet regularly on Midge Island as a symbolic center. They also meet in times of emergency.
On the individual islands, the Old Families rule large swaths of land from their household castles. While the Old Families rule, non-family are taken in and valued. They live nearly as well as the members of the Old Families.
Part of a throwback to their migration from Thran, Gealdir has some of the finest ship builders in Ipiera. Though their war fleet is small, they sometimes sell their ships to other nations. Their fishing in the waters surrounding their islands provides the majority of sustenance in Gealdir, though they rarely export fish.
Along with ships, Gealdir exports Sulfer and Salt, but they are certainly among the poorer nations, rivaled only by Tharn.
The people of Gealdir brought with them from Tharn a warrior tradition. Every able bodied man of Gealdir is trained for battle and gain experience through raids on the coasts of unnamed nations to the South, Sinim, Tharn, and occasionally Suthland. Promising members of the Old Families are also often sent to train at the Lorem School of excellence, returning to lead and teach combat and tactics to their people.
Though they are skilled mariners and travel far to see battle in order to not anger their nearest neighbors, the Gealdir fighters are infantry first. They are not particularly fond of ship to ship engagements.
The people of Gealdir place great value on hard work, righteousness, and honesty. All of their communication is focused on being honest by never stating something you do not absolutely know to be true without stating how you come to believe it. Even if things are unlikely to have changed since their observation, they will often hedge that they cannot be sure, but explain how it was last they knew of it. Rumors can be easily traced to their origin as the speaker will always provide a source for their information.
Having left their native land in the name of their religion, Luxgerad, the Gealdir people are among the most religious of all the nations. They are staunchly dedicated to the noble ideals of their faith.
A land of mountains, hills, and rivers. The series of mountains and river valleys divides the peoples of Tharn into highly separated populations. The villages and towns are quaint and new. With so many hidden vales and slot canyons, Tharn is also home to more bandit groups than other nations.
Tharn is not a unified nation. Little has changed in Tharn since before the Lorem Revolution founded unified Praetum and forced other nations to solidify to oppose it. Tharn’s people are organized into isolated tribes that fight each other as often as they fight Praetum’s invasions. The most prominent tribes are the Tharns, Carns, Thrans, Scythians, Baeruds, and Horgis. There are many smaller tribes. These exist through alliance with the large tribes.
Each tribe is led by a tribal chief and a shaman-priestess. Though they are often married, they are not always. Each of these leaders have religious significance. The chief is associated with things future and advancement, the priestess is associated with the present and maintenance of life.
Tharn hunts, gathers, and farms enough to feed its people, but they have no trade to speak of with other nations, though there is a little between the tribes. They do sometimes hire out as mercenaries to other nations. Partly due to the long piece between the nations, Tharn is a very poor nation. Nonetheless, they eat well due to their hunting.
Tharn’s terrain is not suited to cavalry, which is in part why they can continue to resist Praetum without a unified front. The warrior tradition in Tharn is still stronger than that of Gealdir. Tharn barbarians are all large in stature and mightier than men of other nations. With basically every adult male being a proud warrior, Tharn has an amazing ability to field skilled armies when pushed to it.
The Tharnic tribals are warlike and passionate. They value their tribal independence highly and are more than willing to fight against any party that infringes on their territory. They are hard and gruff people and have no time for frivolity.
Sinim, separated from the continent of Ipiera by the Sinim Strait, is a land of mystery. Its terrain includes aspects similar to those of Praetum and Suthland, though still more tropical that Suthland.
As near as can be understood, Sinim is ruled by a combination Democracy/Meritocracy. Under this system, the citizens are permitted to vote only in topics where they have demonstrated aptitude. It is rumored that schools not unlike the Lorem School of Excellence exist in Sinim, though not open to those of other nations.
Sinim is in most ways isolationist. They have diplomats in Suthland and Praetum and some of their people pursue careers in other nations, but they do little trade. Sinim is self sufficient, apparently with their own mines and farms. In their tropical climate, they can grow a large variety of crops, but particularly rice and fruits.
Sinim has a powerful fleet of large ships that are beyond anything the continent itself has ever seen, though it does not often leave their coasts. Few of other nations, even sailors, have ever seen one of the massive Sinim junks.
Sinim is also well known for its mastery of the martial arts, primarily due to Sinim citizens teaching martial combat in the Lorem School of Excellence, most notable those who ascended to be heads of the Martial Combat department.
The Sinim culture is well known for its optimism. They are also known to value education more highly than any other nation. It’s people, those who go to the continent at least, are perceived as happy and content. They speak of the highly valued opportunity for advancement in their nation.
Did you enjoy a setting post? Would you be interested in a setting where diplomacy is often more valuable than combat? What kinds of campaigns would you play in this setting? Warfare? Thieves? Diplomats? Treasure Hunters? Let us know below.