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The Most Serene and Beneficent Republic of Orothos

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 8 months ago

 

Continent: Ilaros

Region: The Esuin Sea

Government Type: Parliamentary Electoral Republic

Ruling Bodies: The Tetrarchs, The Serene Council, the Parliament

Current Leaders:

Tetrarch Basailen Nyokene (LE male Human Expert 8)

Tetrarch Asannari Legdos (LN male Gnome Erudite 6)

Tetrarch Sejanna Noi (TN female Elf Bard 5)

Tetrarch Oparklon Ilos (LN male gnome Expert 3/Illusionist 5)

Economic Type: Capitalism

Colonial Type: Thalassocracy

Currency: Notes of Credit, Alchemical Coins

Population: about 15,800,000

Species Demographics: 30% Human 30% Gnome, 20% Dromite, 10% Elf, 10% Other (negoi, spellweaver, bhuka, goblin, hobgoblin, genie, rillmani and others)

Capitol: Trokoilon (population: 845,200)

Largest City: Theneka (population 1,804,030)

Religion: Varied

Symbols: A golden beetle on filigreed red background, A salamander surrounded by flames, A Phoenix, A Heron, A stylized sailing vessel, A sextant

Major Languages: Lókoiros (Offical), Shelna (Semi-Official), Jaurlolai, Negweta

Nominal Alignment: LN with LE leanings

 


 

 

The current republic is the most recent in a long litany of states that have held power in the northern and western Esuin sea. Three true republics, one crowned republic and numerous Autocracies, interspersed with periods of civil war, anarchy, foreign domination by the Ejantuli, and general chaos and unrule, all laid claim to the region. For all this turmoil, the culture and society of the western Esuin sea have remained remarkably stable and able to both incorporate foreign peoples and influences while keeping the core of the culture vibrant and enduring. The current republic was established some 600 years ago when the last Doge of the False Republic was deposed in a swift and nearly bloodless coup.

 

A nation of merchants, traders, politicians, sailors, alchemists, scholars, and philosophers the Republic is one of the most cultured and affluent nations of Ilaros, and its ships and merchants can be found in many ports the world over. Having long ago cornered the market on optical instruments (telescopes, lenses, spectacles, and so forth) and glassware, it is the selling of these goods, along with the profitable alchemical goods market that has kept their economy robust for many years.

 

The Republic is a maritime power dependant upon the sea both for its subsistence and its economy. Ships, boats, and other watercraft are ubiquitous and most of the great cities of the nation are designed with this in mind. Canals take the place of the larger roads with goods and people being moved about by boat and barge. Where other nations make use of animal-drawn carts and carriages, the Republic uses boats. The wealthy travel in great luxury in boats specially designed for the purpose, the middle classes make use of water-taxis and the poor use the ferries and other bulk transports. So pervasive is the use of canal travel that a massive network of canals and locks links the cities and towns of the republic together.

 

If trading and economic pursuits are the backbone of the economy, then deception, plots, and secrets are the backbone of Republic politics. Secret councils meet to discuss the future of the nation, factions and political parties scheme against each other, and obfuscation and misdirection are ever present. Poisonings, especially the long drawn out kind, are a common tactic to neutralize rivals, whether by preventing them from making decisions or rendering them dead.

 

The Political Structure of the Republic

 

Parliament

 

The Republic is an expressly non-democratic, parliamentary, pentecameral, nation with a limited franchise, both direct and indirect elections, and a labyrinthine system of oversight and separation of powers. The government is headed by a body of four parliamentary councilors known as the Tetrarchy who act essentially as a ‘four headed prime minister’.

 

The Tetrarchs are appointed by Parliament (specifically the Chamber of Tribunes) for seven year terms. All four tetrarchs are considered to be the heads of government and exercise quasi-executive power. Additionally, the internal deliberations of the tetrarchy are secret and if records of them exist they are very carefully hidden. The Tetrarchs wield considerable power, being able to dissolve parliament and call for new elections as well as enjoying all the standard privileges of heads of government. Strictly speaking, the tetrarchs are not the heads of state. That title belongs generally to Parliament as a whole and especially to the Chamber of Tribunes.

 

Parliament itself is divided into five separate chambers each with specific powers, obligations and duties. The five chambers are as follows:

 

The Serene Council: The Serene Council acts as the highest chamber of the parliament, forming the cabinet, shadow cabinet, and various heads of government departments. Members of this council are appointed by the Tetrarchs in direct consultation with the Tribunes and indirect input from the other houses of parliament. The council remains intact as long as the government of the Tetrarchs remains in power. Should there be a vote of no confidence against the Tetrarchs, the Council is dissolved until the appointment of a new tetrarchy when a new government forms. Like the tetrarchs, the council is a secretive body with closed deliberations and virturally free from the direct oversight of the other chambers of parliament.

 

The Chamber of Tribunes: The Tribunes are appointed for fixed terms of seven years by the Broad Parliament. They act as an oversight body for the three lower parliaments, as well as appointing the Tetrarchs. All laws are reviewed by the Tribunes before being sent to the Serene council and the Tetrarchs, but the Tribunes can only block a law from moving up through the parliament by issuing an injunction which requires a 60% vote of compliance upon the part of the Tribunes.

 

The Chamber of Grievances: Grievances is one of the three directly elected parliaments of the Republic and is tasked with hearing direct petitions from the people, and ensuring that laws are in accordance with the concepts of equity. Essentially, Grievances deals with the application and spirit of laws.

 

The Chamber of Voices: The Chamber of Voices is a directly elected parliament which reviews the technical matters concerning legislation. They raise objections solely on the letter of the law and work in tandem with Grievances to make sure that laws are both legally sound and equitable.

 

The Broad Parliament: The Broad Parliament (usually just the Broad) is a general purpose Parliament. Its members are directly elected every three years by national election.

 

In general elections, such as those for the Broad Parliament, the eligible pool of voters is limited to those who have attained a specified level of education and can pass a competency examination which primarily deals with the workings of the government. Elections are held both regularly, as is the case with term limits for Members of Parliament, and when the government calls for new elections, as occurs when a chamber is dissolved for some reason.

 

The Courts

 

The Republic possesses an equally complex judicial system with many courts, all of whom have specific duties. Courts are divided between courts of law and courts of equity and cases are commonly tried before both. There are also several Archonal courts, made up of legal scholars whose purpose it is to investigate and oversee both the legal and political systems of the Republic. Archons, as these magistrates are called, are charged with the task of “perpetual investigation”; they act on the assumption that the government is, at all times, doing something illegal, unethical, and generally distasteful.

 

Notions of egalitarianism, democracy and the like are considered to be naïve, ill-advised, and generally in danger of leading to mob rule. The Republic expressly attempts to avoid allowing the masses to dictate policy and considers its anti-democratic stances to be in the interests both of political sense and the greater good.

 

The Greater Good, and Ethics in the Republic

 

By and large, the people of the republic, and certainly those in power, tend to favor a form of Utilitarian ethics. Actions should ideally maximize some privileged idea (be it happiness, pleasure, knowledge or something else) and simultaneously minimize any undue negative effects. The greater good is considered to be inherently more important and more valuable than any personal good. There is a certain detached, calculating coolness to ethical considerations, and this is seen as only right and proper.

 

The idea that people possess natural rights does not exist as such in the political and ethical philosophy of the Republic. Rights, such as they do exist, are understood to be culturally constructed through the dialectic between the demands and desires of the people and the realities of maintaining order.

 

Peoples of the Republic

 

The population of the republic is neither uniform nor does it break down along lines of species, ethnicity, or religion in quite the same way as in other countries. The cultural-linguistic group that represents the majority population is composed primarily of two different species, the human and gnomish populations (Esh and Nyezza respectivly), as well as a mix of other species that have fully acculturated. Essentially, this group is a meta-ethnic group united by common cultural and historic ties that are every bit as binding as those of common genetic descent. This group has dominated the political and cultural life of the republic and it’s antecessor states quite consistently for centuries; their language, cuisine, mode of dress, social mores, philosophical and religion customs, and general worldview are effectively synonymous with the Republic.

 

In addition to this meta-ethnic nationality of the Orothoi, there are numerous other cultural, ethnic, and similar groups living within the republic. Some of these are quite prominent (such as the semi-autonomous dromite hives) while others, like the Heragas are marginalized in some fashion or another.

 

The Dromites

 

The eusocial dromites have lived in the lands of the republic sense before the arrival of either gnomes or humans and are a common sight almost anywhere in the Esuin sea region and beyond. Despite their numbers, and the antiquity of their claim upon the land, they have always expressed only a passing interest in the governance of the region. Again and again the Republic has offered them a place within the Parliament, but the dromite sovereigns have never really chosen to take the seats that they know are open to them. Dromites enjoy all of the protections and privileges of any resident of the Republic, and there is no active segregation concerning them, however their biology along with their profoundly different psychology has led them to live in self-imposed isolation.

 

Within the major cities there is almost always a “dromite ghetto” a “hive district” or, more colorfully, a “spit and resin town” where most of the dromites live, ply their trades, and govern their own affairs. The Republic, seeing the difficulty of incorporating the dromites into the mainline of the government has agreed to allow the dromites a considerable degree of autonomy, provided that they maintain proper decorum and order. This arrangement has served both parties tolerably well, and neither see any real reason to alter it.

 

Dromites in the republic tend to gravitate to a comparatively small number of professions. Most are moderately skilled laborers, working both within the hive districts and on projects throughout the nation. Because of their prominence in the architecture and building industries, republican buildings often possess a rather more “organic” and rounded design than might otherwise be the case. Round corridors, domes, curving rib arches, and gentle curves are common features of dromite architecture that have become part of the general aesthetic of the whole country. Glasswork too has long been an industry where the dromites have dominated, for they are fascinated by optics and have spent many decades perfecting the art of glassblowing, glazing, and lens grinding.

In the field of agriculture, the dromites have also been influential for they were among the first people to domesticate the resin beetles, aphalox (an aphid-like creature which is raised for its sweet, bluish honeydew), and many species of tuber. Although the dromite diet is, of necessesity, quite distinct from the non-dromite population (as dromites are strict herbivores with the ability to directly digest cellulose), many of the roots, fruits, shoots, and other plants and fungi that make up the dromite diet have become commonplace ingredients in Republic cooking. Perhaps the best example of the widespread adoption of an originally dromite food by the general population is phelo, a drink fermented from the honeydew of the aphalox. This sweet-sour drink is highly intoxicating (having about 25 percent alcohol), a pale milky blue in color, and is universally consumed to the point that it has become one of the “national drinks” of the Republic.

 

 

Elves (Jaur and Nravo)

 

The elven population of the Republic dates back to the Ejantuli occupation of the region beginning in 242 PR. The initial elven population was entirely Jauric in origin and brought the Jauric languages, religions, and cultural practices to the Esuin sea. When the empire withdrew from the Esuin some hundred years later, not all the Jaur left along with it. Many stayed and adapted to the prevailing cultures of the region. Caste, the all important social system of the Jaur, was somewhat reduced in importance becoming a predominantly cultural rather than political and legal concept. Over the centuries, the Jaur have adapted rather extensively to the Republic, they vote in elections, hold office, and engage in all manner of business and economic activity.

 

In contrast to the Jaur and their general assimilation into the society of the Republic, are the Nravo elves who maintain their culture, autonomy, and national identity. The Nravo have, for most of the last two millennia, been under the dominion of the Jauric peoples which has led to considerable animosity between to the two groups. During the last trade war (1596-1614 CR) the Vodnan independence movement (Vodna being a Nravo nation) drew much if it’s financial support form the Republic and this led to a large influx of Vodnans into the Republic to act as go-betweens. Most of the Nravo elves, even now, are involved in shipping although a sizable portion of them have turned to one of the banking houses for employ.

 

The Nravo community in the Republic is a tight-knit one and prone to insularity. They often gather in the same neighborhoods and settlements where they maintain their own language and customs. This has led to some problems when Nravo are involved in criminal activities for they are highly protective of their own.

 

Minority Populations

 

By and large, the Republic is a tolerant society and beings considered strange or even hostile in other parts of the world openly walk the streets. One should not be surprised to see a pair of neogi discussing the spice trade with a gnome or to see a robed and hooded spellweaver silently going about its’ enigmatic business. Outsiders too can be found in the cities of the Republic, but they are mostly an insular lot and rarely seen. The major exception to this are the Mercane who seem right at home amongst the merchants and financiers.

 

Climate and Geography

 

The Republic has a cool temperate maritime climate with a relatively narrow temperature range and a high level of precipitation. Rarely does the temperature rise above 80°F (26.667°C) or below 28°F (-2.22°C) although the mountainous regions do tend to be colder. Rainfall occurs year round although it is heaviest in the later summer and early fall during the monsoon. The monsoons are caused by the cooling of oceanic winds as they rise up the Anthele mountains.

 

Much of the land was sculpted by a combination of earthquakes, general erosion, and glaciation. The many deep valleys, fjords, and islands are all indicative of the geologic past of the region. Very little land can be considered ‘flat’ in the Republic and this has precipited the need for near-universal terrace farming.

 

Cuisine

 

The cuisine of the Republic is diverse. It relies both on local ingredients and imported items (especially spices and the like). Seafood features prominently in the cooking, especially arthropods, mollusks, hagfish, lampreys, and salmon. The staple grains and starches are wheat, millet, potatoes, and corn. The latter grain is largely imported and is either red or blue corn ground into a course meal. Root vegetables, fern fronds, garlic (both shoots and bulbs) onions, leeks, and a whole host of bitter leafy vegetables are also commonly used. Fruits such as squash, tomatoes, eggplant, cherries, berries, and plums make many appearances in republic cuisine, often used in a manner analogous to vegetables.

 

Wines made from non-grape fruits are commonly drunk as is phelo (referenced with the dromites) and several kinds of ale. The attitude of the republic towards the consumption of alcohol is rather open. Wines, ales, and phelo are consumed on a daily basis by much of the population and this is considered perfectly normal. By contrast, the idea of drunkenness as a social release is not well tolerated.

 

Some example Republic foods

 

  • A soup with hagfish, clams, fern fiddleheads, green onions; seasoned with garlic, red pepper, and fish sauce
  • Red corn polenta with buffalo-milk cheese and thickly sliced sautéed mushrooms
  • Chicken roasted in a clay pot with a rice, herb, nut and fruit stuffing.
  • Sautéed garlic scapes (stems) with cumin, red pepper, and mushrooms
  • Sautéed seaweed with various spices
  • Buffalo-milk cheeses of numerous kinds
  • Potato dumplings (very much like gnocchi) in a mushroom crème sauce
  • Salmon with fennel, dill, garlic, and lemon roasted in a clay pot
  • A stew of buffalo meat, tomatoes, red wine, ornon (a spicy-sweet sauce made from garlic, legumes, and spices) and root vegetables.
  • Braised capybara in a sauce of dried fruit, wine, tomatoes and spices
  • Grilled trout with anchovy herb butter
  • Steamed deep-sea isopod with spicy fish sauce
  • Noodles made from root-starch with aged vinegar and pickled fish
  • Snails cooked with wine and red pepper
  • Fish, shrimp, or fowel finely minced, seasoned with garlic, corriander and green onions, steamed, and served in a spicy sauce or soup
  • Steamed clams in saffron broth with seaweed
  • Sourdough wheat bread
  • Lamprey stew
  • Eggplant cooked with herbs in a spicy sauce of tomatoes and juniper berries
  • Grilled quail with a fruit-honey sauce

 

Tea

 

Among the Orothoi, tea is the preferd social beverage and it would be a poor town indeed that did not boast at least one tea house. In popularity it surpassess both coffee and alchohalic beverages by a substantial margin and foreigners are often surprised to learn that a more usual public house can be difficult to find.  The tea is traditionally served loose and in small, mushroom shaped ceramic cups or in covered bowls and a ceramic or iron pot of hot water is provided.  There are thousands of teas available in the Republic ranging from simple black, green, and white teas to elaborately flavored and presented teas that unfurl as they steep.

 

The tea itself is largly grown in the northern Ilaroi colonies and in the countries of the former nation of Cantabrig as it is too cold and damp to grow tea in the Republic itself. The tea trade has been at the center of several conflicts, including the the fourth and the fifth Trade Wars and continues to be a major factor in Orothoi colonization efforts.

 

Aesthetics

 

The Republic has what could be described as baroque tastes. Ornamentation and embellishment bordering on the decadent are commonplace. The clothing is ornate, the buildings sport finials, bas-reliefs, and elaborate windows, even the music is opulent. Beetles and other insects are often incorporated into republic designs, as are alchemical symbols, and the later often contain hidden meanings.

 

Architecture

 

Orothoi architecture tends to feature courtyards, covered walkways, and pitched overhanging roofs as well as large windows and domes. The high rainfall has led to the incorporation of elaborate gutter and drain systems, often with fancifully decorated downspouts. Tile and metal (especially copper) are used as roofing materials, and the greenish patina that copper acquires is considered particularly beautiful. Brick and stone are common building materials and most buildings in the cities are made from a combination of the two.

 

In places where canal travel is common buildings are often built up a level or two from the water to allow boats to tie up beneath to offload goods and people directly rather than having to cart them through the streets. This is especially common with shops and small-goods warehouses, larger warehouses tend to be partly flooded to allow the barges to directly offload goods. This practice has led to the creation of standard barge sizes so that they can fit in any given warehouse.

 

Smaller shops and residences that are built canalside might have an undercanal for loading and unloading, but most simply have steps leading down to the water and a mooring for small boats. The wealthier areas might have small covered moorings so that people getting on or off a boat can be protected from the weather. These covered moorings are often quite ornate and baroque in design with domes, finials, elegant lanterns, and lattice work.

 

Public buildings (such as the Parliament buildings in Trokoilon or the customs houses) tend to reflect the general baroque tastes of the Republic, and are often designed with domes, spires, long colonnades, and many enclosed courtyards. Despite the ornamentation, these public buildings are not ‘heavy’ or ‘oppressive’ which is due in large part to the numerous windows.

 

Clothing and other items of dress

 

Clothing is considered to be very important in the Republic for it is an outward sign of wealth. As a result, clothing can be rather ostentatious and even fanciful in the design. High collars are common with both women and men as are long overcoats with embroidered scrollwork on the cuffs, collar, and hem. Cravats (especially those made of silk) are popular and range from a simple black neck wrap to cravats which billow like the sails of some absurd ship. Large scarves are also commonly worn and are often worn wrapped about the head in an erratic turban that oft times drapes down over the shoulders.

 

Both men and women tend to wear pants (dresses are comparatively rare as an item of clothing) in a variety of styles ranging from straight and unadorned to elaborately flared and pleated. In all cases the pants fall at least to below the knee for it is considered unseemly and in very bad taste to show one’s bare knees in public. However, going barefoot in public is perfectly acceptable, especially for people who work in and around the water all day.

 

When shoes are worn they tend to be relatively low, longish and with pointed toes. Boots are only common among soldiers and those who work with metal or glass. Sandals are popular in the north west where it is somewhat warmer and dryer but are not common in the south where the rains can be quite relentless.

 

Hats seem to be a bit of an obsession among the Orothoi. Hats are universal and come in any number of styles, colors, and sizes. Wide brimmed hats are currently in vogue, often with tassels, bands of cloth, or other embellishments.

 

Jewelry is fairly universal with rings, earrings, and necklaces being the most popular.

 

Hair Styles

 

Hair styles vary widely across the nation. Some favor hair styles as baroque as their clothing, others prefer simple utilitarian styles. The more elaborate styles tend to feature fans of hair, odd twists, coils, or wing-like styling. Elaborate braiding is not common, partly because of a cultural bias against it (it is simply too much like Ejantuli hair styles).

 

Music

 

The music of the Republic relies heavily upon the use of stringed instruments, flutes, and other wood winds. Sympathetic strings and drones are common to their instruments which gives much of the music of the Republic a slightly introspective and pensive sound. More recent compositions feature what might be termed an ironic or sardonic tone.

 

There is a strong sense of regionalism in Republic music and if one is skilled in such matters it is possible to determine the origin of a piece of music by certain instrumentations, harmonic progressions, tonic features, and general structure.

 

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