|Population||8,000,000 (35% Human, 12% Dwarf, 12% Elf, 12% Halfling, 12% Half-elf, 10% Abilen, 7% other)|
|Exports||Books, manufactured goods, technological advancements, agricultural goods|
|Languages||Common and elven|
Founded 1333 BG, the city of Symeira was the first of many human city-states to take up residence in the many pockets of untouched land in Corrindale. Founded by Symnus Oltar, who claimed to have had visions sent to him by a god, he learned that the wu-kan of Corrindale deemed land not shadowed by trees to be beyond their kingdom - and so, he founded a city, named after himself, and began the making of an empire. Symnus wielded the staff of king in one hand and the rod of religious leader in the other - a system that was doomed to failure.
A mere hundred years after its founding, Symeira underwent dire religious turmoil when the king at the time, Yrrean Oltar, explicitly contradicted the words of his father, demanding his edicts become holy writ. This prompted a period of upheaval, which threatened to cast the city into ruin. However, four noble warriors stood up, and piece by piece, mended the many woes that had arisen in the city, and confronted Yrrean Oltar for his hubris in his home.
Oltar, mad with power at this time, thought himself a god amongst men, and assailed against the warriors, throwing divine power as readily as he used his sword. Of the four warriors, three were wounded - one in the eye, one in the hand, and one in the thigh. The fourth, while his allies were wounded, struck down Oltar from behind, slaying him with a single blow.
The men emerged from the palace, with Oltar's two sons in tow, decreeing an end to the days of the God King; rather, there was to be a separate church and a separate state. Yrrean's eldest son was to be the vessel of God, his youngest the hand of the Nation. Thus was the Great Church of Erhmyn founded in the First Age, and the first Archprelate, Oltar Inius, was nominated.
These men then dedicated themself to the work of the city, expanding its borders, righting what wrongs had been performed by the mad king, and eventually, were honoured by knighthoods from the state, and positions of authority in the church - they were made the heads of the Three Orders of Knights.
Pandus, the warrior whose eye was stolen, became the head of the Pandions - the arm of justice in the Symeiran domain. Pandus claimed that his one eye had to work harder, making it stronger than two. The Pandions now operate in union with the Watch of the cities, operating oftimes as judge, jury, and executioner.
Lethen, the warrior whose leg was injured was made the head of the Lethenites, an order whose concern was defense and protection. The Lethenites to this day are proud siegeholders, strategists, and defensive geniuses.
Cyric, the wild man whose hand was lost to the dark king, became the head of the Cyrinists, and bathed his sorrows in wine nightly. Despite being crippled, he would fight without flagging or failure until the day he died, and the Cyrinists proudly bear his own reckless standard to this day.
Government And Politics
Symeira is a strongly political nation, with the church and state circling each other in a dance for power. In the recent years, the church's political power has waned, thanks to the creation of Olifar, the Holy City. This has drawn much of the intra-church politics away from the center of state (as it was intended to do).
Symeira is an ostensibly constitutional monarchy government with an individual ruler - a king or queen. The King has supreme executive authority, but can be vetoed by a ruling Council of nine individuals. The governmental system of Symeira is an intricate thing that ostensibly claims to be deomcratic - after all, everyone has the vote. However, certain topics (property, financial law) have different kinds of votes, and some people's votes have more weight than others. Given the weight the votes owned by the nine councilmembers have, it would take a genuinely unanimous vote from the entire rest of the population to countermand them - so the council can carry on activity without frequently calling for referendum.
The church operates somewhat similarly, excepting only members of the church hierarchy get votes at all, and the weight of votes is more balanced. The Archprelate's vote, for example, is only worth five times as much as the lowliest priest of the church.
Unlike many other societies, the power groups within Symeira seem to be generally operating in the best interests of the nation itself; no major power group seems to be acting out of self-interest, and the somewhat liberal edge to things in Symeira makes political discourse generally quite civilised. Being seen as impolite, rude, or foolish in public debate results in one's cause being regarded as such, and therefore, civil discourse is as valuable as fine reasoning.
Brotherhood of Steel
The Brotherhood were originally a secretive, quiet order of somewhat deranged technologists whose primary area of interest was Frostforge. However, in recent years, they have come out as one of the major power players in the politics of the region.
Primarily an organisation dedicated to the promotion and wide use of technological enhancements over magical devices, the Brotherhood's current leader is Tinctus Scalebane (LE Male Kobold Artificer 9). Tinctus has been trying to promote Frostforge as an independent state, casting off the shackles of the Church of Erhymn.
The Cyrinist order of knights is the order whose training is dedicated to the breaking of sieges and destruction of enemy property. They are chaotic and prone to guerilla tactics, and this shows in their lifestyles. Frequently carousing from night to night, the Cyrinists travel around the city and earning their keep primarily in times of war. Cyrinists tend to live towards the lower bracket of middle class, as they don't get paid as regularly, and are typically not as good at budgeting.
The current Leader of the Cyrnists Sir Tychichus Frostbeard (CG Shield Dwarf Rogue 3/Ranger 3/Fighter 2) has actually more misdemeanours on his record than any other Cyrinist, and has in fact spent enough overnight time in the Pandion's holding cells to qualify for almost two full years of jail time. That said, he's also canny as far as politics go, and when the time came to choose the Princess' Knight Protector deliberately weighted his bid down, to encourage Rescent to similarly bid low. This left the way clear for Paulos' vote to go through and has put, in Tychicus' mind, the best person for the job in the position of Knight Protector.
The most religious of the three orders, the Lethenites are most concerned with the internal defense of the citizens and cities of Symeira, and the protection of the people's rights. This often puts them at odds with the Pandions, which contributes to the mentality of Pandions as gruff and uncooperative. The Lethenites do not mean to cast their allies in a poor light, and it's a known fact that most of the Lethenites, despite their work roles, are good friends with members of the Pandion order - though generally, those they don't have to interact with in work parameters.
The Lethenite order typically believes in an enlightened theocracy - that Erhymn shows his actions through men, and that the state is guided by his hand. For this reason, it's common to have clerics amongst their number, and this has helped the Lethenite order sustain themself in long sieges. Being able to create food and water through faith alone can extend many a siege beyond the patience of any potential assailants.
The Lethenite's current leader is Sir Paulos Reedward (NG Human Cleric 3/Fighter 4), who inherited his knightly position but only in the past twelve years had opted to take up his position as a knight and leader of the Lethenites. Paulos believes in expanding the orders with modern, non-inherited knights, and for this reason, sponsors the training of commoners, and finding niche areas to fit those with particular talents.
Paulos won the right from the king to raise the Princess in a three-way bid between the three orders. To this end, he assigned a Lethenite knight to her as Knight Protector, and has attempted to ensure the Princess will be raised with a mind for rule that her father lacks.
The Pandions share a twofold role in the cities of Symeira. Simultaneously a group of church warriors who complete missions of importance to the church, the Pandions are also intimately interwoven in their role assisting the City Watch. Watchmen travel in pairs - one Knight, one Commoner. This partnership was primarily one of facilitation until recently, when the most recent head of the Pandion Order was nominated and elected - simultaneous to his nomination and promotion to position of Captain of the Guard.
Sir Leslie Rescent (LG Male Human Adherent 4/Rogue 4) is the current head of the watch, and his primary concern is the welfare of the common men and women in the city, followed by the welfare of the men and women under his command. Pandions are amongst the best-trained warriors in the cities, and typically own to some of the best-kept equipment as well.
The Pandion house's primary concern is hindering other powermongering groups. The current manner in which the city operates may be slow, but it's better than most of the alternatives being proposed. Rescent is consistently doing whatever he can to keep the city operating as it is, and inconveniencing as few people as possible.
Realistically, the Royal House in Symeira is something of a joke. The king, Titan Magnus II (LN Human Male Aristocrat 3/Fighter 3) is a debauched drunkard, who has only the most fleeting of relevance to the operation of the kingdom. Instead, much of the power in the Royal House is directed towards keeping the King busy and rearing the current Princess. In case the Princess is unable to rule, that position will fall to the next in line to the throne - the King's sister, Teillanna Oltar (LE Human Female Rogue 5).
The Church of Erhymn
The Church of Erhymn is posed on the brink of a political abyss. Recently, the Archprelate, Iclovus III (NG Human Male Cleric 11) collapsed during Council, and, despite magical healing, is still clearly on his last legs. Iclovus was a good man, but his position as political leader was attained in his youth - and his mind has since watered down.
The church has been in a state of political stasis for some years; without Iclovus making any clear, new directions, and merely seeing to the maintanence of calm times, the many politically-motivated prelates and priests saw to it that they were prepared when Iclovus was finally removed.
Symeira has a large number of secondary industries, manufacturing things imported from other nations and turning them into refined products. Vast amounts of iron are traded from the Tattered Ear, and turned into many different types of weapons within Symeiran provinces.
The many noble families that own land beyond the borders of the cities also tend towards agricultural pursuits; significantly, Symeiran beef is thought to be some of the best in the world - if the most expensive to purchase. The produce of these lands is then sold within the cities, and traded outwards to the Tattered Ear. Thanks to their location - being primarily cut off from other Bidestran nations except Corrindale - the Symeiran Cities are largely self-sufficient, and do most of their trading with the Tattered Ear and other travelling caravans.
The Symeiran cities and principalities each have their own strong identity which help to shape how life transpires for its citizens. However, there are some common themes amongst the cities; they are densely populated, and have large numbers of trained craftsmen
Very little in the way of monstrous incursions occur to the Symeiran states; the Knightly Orders and Church Soldiers take great pains to ensure that potential threats are eradicated at the source, venturing into Corrindale's woodlands to keep the cities safe.
Magic is widespread in its availability in Symeira, but not in its use. Arcane magic is relatively uncommon, while divine magic is extremely common, and used to help make day-to-day tasks easier. For example, the institution of indoor plumbing in Symeira was done primarily through the use of Clerical spells.
Symeira as a nation has a similar division to Kyngdom, if a somewhat flatter band of economy. The three distinct bands of economic class - Poor, Middle class, and Wealthy - are more evenly distributed, with the same bias towards middle class individuals. The Cities of Symeira are more sleighted towards the middle class; two in ten are poor, seven in ten are middle class, and one in ten is wealthy. Thanks to this burgeoning economy, many people are willing to take economical gambles in Symeira - even a small profit can justify the existence of the business venture.
The Poor of Symeira live mostly on the property of nobles, and are primarily farmers and unskilled labourers. Within the cities, they are usually involved in service industries and unskilled work. Those defined as poor have no more than 50 silver pieces as available money (not invested in property or work goods) at any given time, and usually have a lot less. Very few Poor within the city have any investments; those outside the city tend to have family properties, which are owned either by the lord of the area, or by the family itself.
The widespread middleclass of Symeira are those that exploited the strong economy of Symeira; individuals in government service, watchmen, tradesmen with enough capital to buy and sell on their own terms, and owners and managers of medium to large stores. Such individuals generally can afford as much as a hundred gold pieces in short order, and, if they are willing to mortgage their potential future, can muster up to a thousand gold pieces in as little as a week. Significantly, the vast majority of Church Knights fall in this area, being paid an adequate sum by the nation for the country's defense and smooth running. Only those Knights with inherited titles, weapons, and property ever break the Wealthy category, and some Knights are even qualified as Poor.
The wealthy of Symeira usually have access to a few thousand gold pieces in ready cash available at any given time. The top third of the nobility of Symeira are mainly Wealthy, and technically, the King (or Queen) and Prelate of the Church falls in this category; however, both these roles have their assets frozen upon attaining their position, and cannot access any large sums of personal wealth during their time in positions of such authority. This law was put in place by Pandus himself, and it has never been successfully overturned. When not operating within the Palace or the church, the Prelate and the King are best considered middle class citizens.
Symeiran cities lack for public education facilities; children typically learn trade, literacy, and other skills from their families. This has led to an unfortunate misunderstanding of conventional sciences even as it promotes a degree of common-sense style "hearth wisdom".
The orphanages of Symeira, founded by followers of Uilian the Everflowing, educate the children in the wisdom of their god, which mostly ranges from some common-sense medical knowledge to elementary sex education (when the children are old enough). Middle-class and upper-class families often send their children to private education, or for those that can afford it, hire a tutor of some variety.
Illiteracy is a growing problem in Symeira; the distribution of poor education is becoming more common amongst the lower class families, who are also the families most likely to have large families. The clerics of Uilian are attempting to help quell the birth rate amongst the poor but are so far meeting with resistance - many regard the methods of the clergy to be unnatural, or at least ineffective.
Symeiran's primary language is Common, as is common of most Bidestran nations. However, due to the racial diversity of the Symeiran states, it's extremely uncommon to find an individual who can't at least speak different languages; significantly, Halfling, Giant and elven are common options in Symeira. In Frostforge, Draconic is almost the second language of choice amongst the majority of the population, and in Olifar and Delmara, most individuals speak a smattering of Celestial.
Religion is a major force in Symeira, with a significant portion of a conventionally agnostic population attending chapel services at least once a fortnight. Religious freedom is practiced in Symeira, and depending on one's location, may be diverse, or almost monotheistic. In Frostforge, the primary religious focus is the individual worship of Erhymn, with little attention paid to his saints (though a growing following has been forming after Atelier, the demigod of artistic creation); meanwhile, Delmara is a city founded based on thousands of different churches, and owns itself as a Symeiran state with almost no connection to the Symeiran church.
The primary manner in which most people worship in Symeira is to pay heed to a patron saint, performing some small rite or ritual that befits the saint's life and passing. Saints in the church of Erhymn are much more active and forthright about what they can and cannot do in the world, while Erhymn is unfortunately, somewhat distant.
The Church of Erhymn is an intricate, political affair, which commands its own armies of red-cloaked soldiers, known colloquially as Redbacks. It owns property in the name of the church, it maintains a city, and it also exerts political influence, outlawing some things that are seen to be unholy in their ranks. Significantly, psionics is deemed to be heresy, and the practicing thereof, punishable by death.
Symeira is a collection of city-states, and therefore, it's hard for any particular city in it to be anything but Major. For the purpose of brevity, the largest, most significant cities in the Symeiran domain are to be noted here. However, there are many other cities, some as far north as the Wastes and some as far south as Kyngdom's border, that claim fealty to the Church and State of Symeira.
Beyond these major settlements, however, there are a number of duchies and earldoms that Corrindale does not recognise as being part of Corrindale, and are also not independent - these states fall under the common law of the Symeiran state.
Most major settlements in Symeiran territories have either three separate Chapterhouses - one for each Knightly Order - or one, larger Chapterhouse designed for the city's needs. Typically, separate chapterhouses are the norm for larger areas, while smaller principalities most frequently can only afford to maintain a single Chapterhouse.
Delmara (Metropolis, 150,000)
Delmara is known as the City of Temples, and lies south-west of Frostforge. Its population - primarily human - represents almost every major religion and thousands of minor ones, in a gigantic, thriving metropolis of clerical magic.
Delmara has the standard three Chapterhouses, and its most significant presence is that of the Lethenites. The slightly clerical bent of the Lethenite order helps to temper the normally zealous Pandion lawkeepers. Also, the presence of the Church of the Lord, the Church of Palescai, and the many lawful clerics of St. Belenna (Patron Saint of Inquisition) has helped to keep Delmara relatively crime-free.
However, most of the city's original foundation is still based on diverse religious discourse. Public podiums and stadia are arrayed around the town, and individuals whose barroom arguments become too intense are asked to 'take it oustide' - to a forum where their debating skills can be graded by their peers.
Frostforge (Metropolis, 250,000)
Marking the northernmost point of the Symeiran nation, Frostforge was initially a dwarven stronghold put in place to defend the nations of the north from the potential incursions of the dragons that lived in Corrindale - and then, the wu-kan. On Godsday, the city was left completely deserted, every last individual within its walls vanishing, with doors and windows locked from the inside.
With a perfectly good city simply standing around, it was only a matter of time before human explorers uncovered it, and, in the tradition of such individuals, used the resources they found. Frostforge became a point of trade, and many dwarves even returned, trying to find some reason for their people's sudden, seemingly immaterial departure.
As the Second Age wound down, Frostforge officially declared itself part of the Symeiran state, and also erected the College of The Material, a university dedicated to the research of completely non-magical advancements, working with the elements found in what was left of the first occupants of Frostforge.
Olifar (Metropolis, 100,000)
The Great Holy City, Olifar was founded as a direct attempt by the Knightly Orders to ensure the separation of church and state. Too many prelates and priests were involving themself in state politics, and this prompted the Lethenites and Pandions to order up plans for the Holy City of Olifar.
Olifar's foundations were laid 400 BG, and its growth has been steady since then. Primarily a city of art and creation, it nonetheless has been designed to withstand many sieges. A week's travel west of Symeira itself, Olifar stands on a plateau in a valley, bordered on all sides by mountains.
Olifar is a city of temples, but, unlike Delmara, where this breeds diversity, Olifar is the home of the stately church of Erhymn; the city is rendered in shades of blue, grey, and steel, with arcing, mathematically perfect architecture. Occasionally, some structures allow for a momentary blaze of colour, in the form of a stained glass window, or a brilliant ornamental palisade carved of marble.
Olifar is divided into two basic sections; the outer city, which is primarily residential and industrial. Clerics need food just as readily as everyone else, and manufacturing and trade carries on just as readily as in Symeira itself. However, the Inner City - which is really one, enormous cathedral, - is almost entirely dedicated to the acts and works of the clergy.
Olifar has three Chapterhouses, and they rival the Motherhouses in Symeira for their size and the facilities they have available. Olifar was built by the knightly orders, and therefore, has a great amount of strategic superiority in its design - even the ornamental windows have arrow-slits beneath them.
Symeira (Metropolis, 1,500,000)
The oldest of the Symeiran domains, Symeira itself is a sprawling metropolis whose city walls have to be re-built every three years or so to accommodate yet more development. The largest city on all of Bidestra, Symeira stands as a monument of the work of the Bidestra people itself; while Savahlyne may rival it for size, Symeira has existed for far less time, and is growing at an every-increasing rate.
Symeira is home to the three Motherhouses of the knightly orders, and hosts its own impressive standing army, composed of the Church Soldiers and all three orders of Knights. For this reason, Symeira has never been successfully assaulted by an external army, and in recent years, few people have even tried.
Symeira's position and forward-thinking attitude has led to it being one of the more cosmopolitan cities for the study of magical and technological advancements. Indeed, some young mages, known in their own parlance as Technomancers, are being produced. Symeira's magical colleges are not particularly well-stocked compared to other nation's - but in Symeiran tradition, those that wish to achieve magical prowess typically study elsewhere, then return home to Symeira.
Symeira is also home of the Palace of the King. The current King, Titan Magnus, resides there and whiles his days away in acts of minor debauchery and drunkenness, while those informed individuals about the state of the kingdom hope and pray that his daughter will be somewhat more capable in her position as Queen, when her father finally expires from his own drunken revelry.
Symeira, as a nation united by church and ideals rather than by territory, is spread across an enormous spread of land, without much commonality between them. The majority of sites of concern occur within cities or principalities, or in nearby, bordering territory.
In the mountains north of Frostforge, where the frost giands and their treacherous ilk live, the immortal troll Dirgruth agonises. Dirgruth (NE War Troll Shadowdancer 4) is an individual who was cursed in times past to be forever unable to hold that which would make him happy. This enormous burden has been burning away at him for years. In vain, he has accrued countless riches, including the literally priceless Crucible of Worlds, only to have some crucial part of it taken from him.
This has led to something of a vicious cycle. Periodically, some part of Dirgruth's treasure goes missing, somehow, and he rampages on a blazing trail of destruction in an attempt to reclaim it. Dirgruth hasn't been seen in over fifty years, which is only serving to make the people of Frostforge uneasy.
The Gorkov-Castleton River
Kryphaneos' borders are usually very well defined; the mists that make the country famous don't boil over the borders, and that helps keep the nation marked.
However, twenty years after Godsday, the forest that kept the Symeiran Earldom of Castleton and the Kryphaneon province of Gorkov separated degenerated into murky swamp. A few short years later, and the land was solid territory, with a river flowing through it; by mutual consent, the river was chosen as a mark of the border of the two provinces.
Now, it seems that every year, the Gorkov-Castleton River's course changes. Shifting territory on a yearly basis is something that both sides have come to terms with - but of late, the shifts have been more and more in the favour of Gorkov's territory. Very slowly, Castleton's border is being eaten by the Gorkov province, and every morning, the mists roll a little bit further into Castleton proper…
The Roamstone Grove
Just outside of Delmara lies the original site of this particular curiosity. Built on an enormous foundation of the naturally-floating roamstone, the Roamstone Grove was founded by Meylar Bleakwinter and Cayden Willowby, the individuals responsible for, amongst other things, the purge of hell.
Defended by stout, goblin warriors and their awakened rabbit allies, the Roamstone Grove is a mobile place. Usually travelling from place to place, fairly randomly, the Grove never leaves the borders of Corrindale, nor does it ever cross a body of water, opting to move around them instead. For this reason, actually finding it can be tricky - but there is a wealth of magical lore there for those who wish to pursue it. Significantly, the Abilen item-crafter Celledyn Moon (NG Male Abilen Wizard 7/Loremaster 6) resides there, and with him, the many arcane devices he constructed with the assistance of his allies.
The Temple of Serenity
In Delmara, there's a particular temple that is set apart from the other temples in that it's marked for a concept, rather than a god. The Temple of Serenity is a church that believes in Peace as a value unto itself. What makes their church have some weight over other conceptualist faiths is that the Temple of Serenity has a stone, roughly a meter across, composed of serenity - the concept made matter.
Combat within the Temple is almost impossible - the overwhelming sense of peace the stone brings to the area requires everyone to make a Will saving throw (DC 30) in order to make any attack actions or cast any offensive spells. The overall effect is quite disconcerting to adventurers, and it has made the Temple, indirectly, a haven for criminals on the run from the law - who, after exposure to the stone, often turn to lives of peace and nonviolence.
Adventuring in Symeira
Travelling around within a Symeiran city is easy enough; they tend to be well-cobbled and well-maintained (and in the case of Olifar and Symeira, extremely well-patrolled). The Pandions in the major cities of Symeira are extremely judicious about criminal activity within their walls, and they have relaxed limitations on what they can and cannot do without legal discourse. For this reason, irritating a Pandion is a reckless endeavour at the best of times.
The criminal elements of Symeira exist - they just have to be sneakier than normal. Thieves guilds meet in shadowed halls or basements, rather than in airy, well-kept buildings that are adequately disguised as adventurer's halls. The rights of the individual aren't quite so solid as they are in other civilised nations, and the Cyrnists delight in demonstrating common sense defeating legal maneuvering.
Travelling between Symeiran cities is largely a matter of following highways until they reach the forestline - when the land becomes possessed by Corrindale, rather than the Symeiran state.
Adventurers of Symeira
Symeiran characters tend to be of a much broader spectrum of experience than other areas. Most Corrindale adventurers are wu-kan, and who may know a human or an elf or two, but a Symeiran human most likely knows a Halfling fishmonger, an Equitarn art curator, a Dwarven accountant and a Caliban stablehand. The large, sprawling urban environments that are the Symeiran cities give rise to a number of particular roles and classes.
Also, the people of Symeiran states - give or take some tendencies, such as Delmarans and Olifarans being more religious - tend towards a cosmopolitan mindset. Racial trends have a greater chance of being incorrect, and bigotry and racism don't last long in a city where you have to interact with these people on a daily basis.
Psionic characters in Symeira are usually ignorant of their abilities, or extremely secretive about them; no support structure exists for them, and little information is available to those that wish to improve their art.
Fighters and Adherents are far more common in Symeira than any other militant class. Given the low level of education for those of poor economic brackets, Barbarians are not uncommon, if different from the conventional image of a battle-worn berserker.
Wizards are common enough, though most do their magical training elsewhere. The most common spellcaster in Symeira is easily the Cleric.
Copyright: Original content in this article is copyright © Talen Lee 2006-2008. -