The Grand Republic of Ascalan

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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 4:26 pm   Subject: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

The Grand Republic of Ascalan


Name: The Grand Republic of Ascalan
Demonym: Ascalene
Race: Human
Religion: Devotional Cult to Kanin, Ragnis, and Cazyk
Magic: Paths of Enchantment and Gold
Ruler: Grand Prince Ariseth aq Alicant
Government: Merchant Republic
Polity: Centralised Monarchy
Capital: Ascalan, the Golden City
Currency: Oramon
Language: Lingua


Description:

The citizens of Ascalan, and the peoples under its dominion, have no real defining characteristics, other than the fact that they are human. Many trace their origins to the ancient human civilisations of the past, to which they now no longer belong, their ancestors having sought to build new lives after leaving their nations for all manner of reasons, from famine, war, and disease, to a simple desire for adventure or wealth. These original motives, however, have vanished alongside the old cultural divides; though racially diverse, the citizens of the Republic, and those under its dominion, have become largely culturally homogenous, seeking wealth and fame, hoping to claim some of the glory and grandeur of the Golden City for themselves. Citizens themselves are therefore proud individuals, often arrogant in their intense belief that their city is the greatest that ever was, is, and will be.

It is a relatively small proportion of the population of the Ascalene domain that comprises its citizenry, however; the majority of dominions ruled over by the Golden Court are either colonies, conquests, or were added to the domain by considerable diplomatic pressure. The subjects of these dominions have no love for the Golden City or its citizens who largely exploit them; they share neither in pride for its accomplishments nor in its wealth, and many a seditious uprising has been crushed by the long arm of the Arsenale over the years.


City and Government:

The city of Ascalan proper is governed as a republic; those who meet the highly restrictive citizenship requirements, which only recognise individuals as citizens if they are born in the city of Ascalan, and at least one of their parents are Ascalene citizens, or if both of their parents are Ascalene citizens, and they are born within the dominions of Ascalan. Every ten years, a Grand Prince or Princess is elected to govern all affairs external to the running of the Golden City itself, including all colonial and subsidiary domains as well as all foreign interactions, both military and diplomatic. The Prince or Princess has the authority to appoint any number of individuals to discretionary posts in order to assist him or her in those duties, but typically preserves the existing professional bureaucracy across the Republic’s domain, unless it is in dire straits.

The Golden City itself is governed directly by assemblies of citizens, which occur regularly, at least once each month, to determine those issues facing the republic that need to be addressed, from legal concerns to infrastructural projects, as well as the established duties of each citizen to serve the needs of the Republic should it call upon them. The chief institutions of the state are generally seen as the Golden Court, the Arsenale, governed by the First and Second Lords of the Arsenale, the Lyceum, presided over by the High Magus and First of the Adept, and the Argentarium, overseen by the Master of the Mint and the Lord of the Treasury, each of which perform crucial functions that define the day-to-day operations of the Republic.

The Golden Court is seat of the Grand Prince or Princess, and the location from which they carry out their duties alongside those whom they have appointed to assist them, as well as host foreign dignitaries. It is located at the opposite end of the city from the Golden Harbour, but is connected to it by the Path of Glory, a wide marble boulevard flanked on either side by the statues of the founding figures of the Republic as well as many of the great heroes of the city’s past. At the midway point between the harbour and the Court sits the Fountain of Stars, a black pool of water dotted with silver and adorned with the hammer and crown of stars that are the city’s emblem; it is from this fountain that the roads leading into the various districts of the city diverge. The Open Chambers of the Court, which lie at its entrance, are the focus for all professional duties of the bureaucrats serving under the Republic’s ruler, from legal procedures to domestic policy.

At the other end of the Path of Glory, across the harbour front in a direct line from the spires of the Golden Court stands the great Arsenale, both a fortress guarding the entrance to the harbour and the seat of the military leadership of the city. It is here that those who seek to devote themselves wholly to their city, rather than to any of the great companies, in the military domain attain officership among the ranks of the Ascalene military, hoping to make their name by whatever means the Arsenale leadership and Grand Prince see fit. The banner of Ascalan proudly sports a star and hammer; if the Golden Court is the star in that partnership, then the Arsenale is the hammer.

No man or woman can claim expertise in any field if they have not been educated at the Lyceum, which the proud people of Ascalan will happily describe as the greatest institution of learning since the burning of the Great Library of the Albed centuries before. Standing at the south end of the city, its ivory towers contain the knowledge and expertise of a whole people, as well as the reports of the militarists, explorers and traders from their travels across the known world. It serves not only as a preliminary training institution for civil servants, military officers, scholars, and many merchant princes, but also as a repository of the vast wealth of knowledge that has been accrued in the decades since the consolidation of the power of the Ascalene Republic into a single domain.

Opposite the Lyceum, in the north of city, and completing the four great institutions of the Ascalene state, towers the Argentarium, where all Oramon coins are minted. It is also the Argentarium that sets the standard for weights and measures across the Ascalene domains and seeks to control the volume of currency in circulation at any given time subject to the needs of the economy. The masters of the Argentarium claim to produce tender that is impossible to forge without access to the mint machines; an Oramon coin is circular with the city’s star symbol at its center; gold with a silver star to signify one hundred Oramon, silver with a gold star to signify fifty, bronze with an iron star to signify ten, iron with a bronze star for five, and copper with a tin star for a single Oramon. Each coin is individually stamped and registered, and the precise ratio of the two metals to in each one is a tightly controlled secret: only the master of the mint and their deputy know the exact proportions used. One hundred Oramon is set to be equivalent in value to gold equal to the weight of one Pentam of water, where a Pentam is one-thousandth the volume of the water in the Fountain of Stars when it is full, and could be used to purchase a small fishing boat in Ascalan.


Society:

Cities within the Ascalene domain are never silent; it is perhaps due to this, alongside the high level of exposure to musket fire young Ascalene citizens have through their military service, that many Ascalane are hard of hearing. From the great factories of Ascalan to the sprawling fisheries in Telanaar and the stench of dye-makers and leather tanners in Cartarus; from the breweries and distilleries of Selinus to the spinners and weavers of Estelin, and from the quarries and mines of Korussan to the logging camps surrounding Melsar, the peoples of the Ascalene Republic are serenaded by the sounds of their perennial industries, whether it be the sounds of the craftsmen’s tools ringing out in symphony during the day or the cries of the merchants on the waterfront. Visitors often comment on how difficult it is to get a decent nights’ sleep in any of these cities, for it is said that in Ascalan though no man works all day and all night, no day and night goes by without some man working. Indeed, the wealthy and mighty tend to take retreats to country estates or seaside villas if they have no business to attend to in any of the cities. For citizens and subjects alike, one’s trade is a key component in one’s identity, and professions are taken seriously, viewed both with pride and as a mark of respect; it is this culture, which originated in the Golden City, that enabled Ascalene citizens to come to dominate their weaker neighbours.

It is not uncommon to hear great merchant lords proudly proclaim that “if it cannot be bought in Ascalan, it does not exist.” The Ascalene consider themselves to be craftsmen without peer, no matter the material with which they are working, whether they are making complex practical machinery both large and small or producing ornate and intricate embroidery, whether they are building temporary structures or the grandiose marble edifices that dominate the seat of the Republic, and as such it is not uncommon to hear small explosions and loud clatter as innovators and experimenters seek to outperform their peers and gain the attention of the mighty great companies, and perhaps make their own fortune, unless they have the bad luck of not being citizens, that is.

Within the city of Ascalan itself, citizens seek personal and family advancement often in one of these companies, or in the great institutions of the Republic; most are deeply ambitious and have few qualms about turning against their erstwhile friends and allies for personal gain. Friendship is rarely permanent in the Golden City, for opportunities for wealth and glory are outnumbered by their potential takers, and as such only the very strongest of relationships are able to survive the temptation of power. There exists a sharp divide between the citizens of the Republic itself and those living in the surrounding dominions, the latter of whom tend to be much poorer and are not able to compete for power and prestige within the walls of the great city. Life in such cities is simpler, with less intrigue, but many of those living under Ascalan’s dominion resent their often explicit exploitation, yet are unable to challenge the might of the Golden Court. In comparison to the grandeur of Fountain of Stars, the dominions have no comparable landmarks or monuments, and though do engage in more localised trade, usually in raw materials that are harvested from their resource-rich surroundings, and cannot be said to be deprived. Ascalan’s dominions reflect what one might expect to be an average city, and some are near places of exceptional natural beauty. Despite their advantages, however, their societies remain defined by the high games played in the shadows and in the open in a city renowned for its splendour that many of its subjects have never seen and never will. This relationship of domination, though not frequently characterised by horrific injustices, is enforced in a number of ways, usually by denying non-citizens the same rights as citizens, including the right to vote, the right to bear arms, and the right to work in the great state institutions or study at the Lyceum. This ensures that the citizens of the dominions are not sufficiently versed in statecraft of all forms, or military theory, to be able to survive as independent entities without the “protection” of the Arsenale.

Dominating Ascalene society, both in the golden city and across its dominions are the three formidable Great Companies, each with their own cultures and traditions, vying for control over the city and its dominions as well as trading opportunities abroad, though they are not averse to cooperating when their interests align. The oldest of these, the Court of Stars, is more ancient even than the Golden Court and the institutions aligned with it; indeed, the city’s symbol is taken from its own. Its current Chancellor, Saida Elversath, sometimes known as the “Queen of Stars” both for her reputation as a formidable diplomat and businesswoman as well her composed, charismatic elegance, has continued the Court’s tradition as being the most open of the three companies, often seeking to come to trading arrangements across the world, seeking profitable opportunities wherever they might arise. The Court of Stars is the grandest and most prestigious of the companies, and follows in the Ascalene Kaninite tradition more than any of the others. The Court itself overlooks and surrounds the Fountain of Stars, running its global operations from the very centre of Ascalan itself.

The youngest of the three great companies is also the most inwardly focused. Currently led by the celebrated enchanter and inventor Grand Artificier Dantelar Aethor, called “Spellweaver” for his impressive command of mana and creative genius, the Arcaneum is a hotbed of disciples of Ragnis. Less inclined to trade abroad and more insistent on controlling the production of the many wonders of craftsmanship for which Ascalan is known, under its current leadership the Arcaneum has cooperated heavily with the Arsenale to produce mechanical wonders as well having an increased focus on manipulating mana to create magnificent works of inventive genius. Alongside these more grandiose projects, the Arcaneum has an impressive command of the more routine Ascalene crafts, from carpentry and smithing to stonework and glassmaking. It is likely that most of the Ascalene goods that can be found in markets across Zanzibar have at some point had Arcaneum involvement in their production.
Perhaps the least prestigious of the great companies, though intentionally so, is the Society of the Blue Parlour, led by the elusive Grand Magistrix Fatima aq Editroph, called “Night Mistress” for her iron grip over all of Ascalan’s less savoury practices, following in the teachings of Cazyk. Though some at the Court of Stars consider the Society to be a glorified criminal syndicate, it is no mere group of upstart street gangsters. The Grand Magistrix appears to have become ever more ambitious in her old age, and though the Society would not dare openly defy the Grand Prince within Ascalan, it has no qualms flexing its muscles in the dominions and beyond, smuggling contraband goods and establishing itself in the more lawless communities in Zanzibar, occasionally engaging in piracy and is rumoured to be involved in the slave trade outside Ascalene dominions, where the practice is illegal, and the ban heavily enforced. Despite these less than benign methods, the Grand Prince occasionally finds himself grateful for the Society’s expertise in such areas should his fabled diplomatic skill fail to produce its desired effect, or find itself inapplicable to the given situation.


Magic:

Ascalene arrogance is just as intolerant of falling behind in the magical domain as it would be in any other. The scholars of the Grand Republic, educated at the Lyceum, typically find employment either at the Arcaneum or at the Arsenale, though some do work directly for the Golden Court, as these institutions best suit their expertise in both the paths of Gold and Enchantment. Magic plays very little religious role in Ascalene society, unlike many other nations in the history of Zanzibar, and is chiefly viewed as a tool in the service of the practical, if ambitious, military aspirations of the Republic’s leadership.

Some may find it surprising to see such a heavy use of magic among the denizens of the Ragnis-aligned Arcaneum, but it is the Grand Artificier’s position that these paths enhance and complement the primarily technological aspect of the Great Company’s work; through the Path of Gold, craftsmanship can be brought beyond the quality of which any other nation on Zanzibar is capable, and the workings of machinery can be better studied with the assistance of magic; through the Path of Enchantment these wonders of the subjugation of magic to the mundane can be made to persist. The direct applicability of these paths to the Arsenale’s activities is perhaps more obvious; not only does the Path of Enchantment help to protect the citizen soldiers fighting in the service of their Republic, it enables the greatest among the scholars of Ascalan to perform magical feats of the highest destructive order when the Grand Prince requires it of them, as well as protect the existing Ascalene domain. Expertise in the Path of Gold supports the work of the many scholars who serve as pilots for the various contraptions and vehicles the Arsenale purchases from the Arcaneum’s vast workshops.


Religion:

The cult of Kanin, Cazyk, and Ragnis has no cathedral, no temples, and no organised priesthood. Perhaps the closest thing to an order of clergy the cult has are the three great companies, each deferring primarily to one of the three deities, and embodying the beliefs and aims of each; on this interpretation, the religious duty of the Grand Prince or Princess is to work to unite these three strands and ensure that they operate in a manner complementary to one another for the good of the citizens of Ascalan. Success in any of the domains of each deity is seen as honouring them; and citizens and subject alike will pray not to venerate, but to ask for guidance in how to achieve a goal that would itself be an act of veneration. Individuals tend to have small personal shrines to the cult as a whole that they use for this purpose, but the Ascalene faith is primarily a religion of action rather than worship. For many visitors to the cities this comes across as areligious or even atheistic; a rejection of the pantheon. In Ascalan, it is seen with pride as an active rather than passive religion, one in which the aims of the gods are achieved in the action rather than the prayer of their devoted. In seeking to stay at the forefront of technological process, the Ascalene see themselves as honouring Ragnis, in trading near and far the wares they have produced, they venerate Kanin, and in operating behind the scenes to obtain that which they desire, it is Cazyk to whom they show their devotion.

That is not to say that there is no pomp and ceremony in the Grand Republic that honours the national cult; civil and military ceremonies and processions observe the important role the three deities as the city’s patrons, inspiring its people to becoming as close to living embodiments of any one of these gods as possible; no victory in any domain is proclaimed without some acknowledgement of the role of Kanin, Cazyk, or Ragnis in bringing it about. The mainstays of the Golden City are typically seen as the three Great Companies, and it is their union, and the corresponding union of the gods each aligns with most closely, by the Golden Court and its subservient institutions that serves as the foundation of pride in the city, and ambitions for its future.


Diplomacy:

If trade is to be profitable, then peace must prevail. This doctrine is central Ascalene foreign policy, and though Grand Prince Ariseth aq Alicant has been more willing to use military action as a tool of foreign policy in recent years, the central belief remains unchanged. The primary goal of the Golden Court’s diplomatic delegations across the world is to ensure that friendly relations with trading partners prevail, and that third party warfare does not dry up supply lines and trade routes, nor give rise to piracy.

The Golden Court often sends trade delegations to major port cities around the world in hopes of finding opportunities both for sale and purchase for resale, as well as investigating possible market opportunities in industrial acquisition; in order to make such operations feasible, the Grand Prince typically appoints trusted ambassadors to most nations around the world, if they are willing to accept them, such that there is always a direct liaison between major governments and the Golden Court, for this enables rapid reactions, whether diplomatic, economic or, more rarely, military, to any and all developing situations.
In recent years, a tradition of conference-holding has become the norm in Ascalene diplomacy. The Grand Prince will frequently invite major world leaders, whether political, religious, commercial, or military, for month-long retreats at the oceanside official country residence of the Grand Prince or Princess, seeking to foster cooperation and mutual recognition of certain norms in whichever domain the conference was convened around; these often involve lavish parties, especially since the beginning of Ariseth aq Alicant’s term, as well as formalised discussion forums and private negotiations. These are seen as opportunities not only for formal treaty-making and contract-signing, but also for the development of personal connections across the world. In a similar vein, diplomatic delegations seek to host such events on a smaller scale wherever they are stationed, to improve their understanding of the local situation as well as develop and foster personal relationships with important national figures so as to make the most of any trading opportunities that might arise.


Military:

Military duty is a key part of an Ascalene citizen’s life; virtually all spend some time serving in either the navy or homeguard, and it is a requirement for those who wish to hold public office to have served to Republic’s needs in this manner. This policy has three important aims: first, to ensure that the Ascalene citizenry is far more skilled and better equipped than subjects in the dominions who might revolt, second, to foster devotion to the Republic, and finally to instil skills and discipline that might well be useful in bureaucratic service. It is rare to find an able-bodied citizen of Ascalan not serve under the Lord of the Arsenale, and many remain in the military as officers.

The Arsenale is under the direction of First Lord Rustam Vestivor, known as “Rustam the Red” for his often ruthless and methodical approach to battle. He is deputised by Second Lord Darthon Therim, known as “Blackwing,” for his innovations in the development of the Ascalene airforce which serves as a crucial support for its mainstays: the first and second fleets of the Republic. Given the island home of the Grand Republic, and the need to protect its vast network of trade routes, it will not come as a surprise to even the most amateur of military theorists that naval dominance is central to the Republic’s military doctrine.

The two fleets are of a very similar makeup; led by twin flagships, the Starhammer and the Golden Tide, they consist of large artillery ships manned by marines expert in their swordsmanship and disciplined in their musketry to support the work of the cannon batteries at closer ranges. Each fleet is also equipped with amphibious landing craft should the needs of a particular demand such an operation; what few secrets do leave the Arsenale, and what few survivors Lord Vestivor has left behind, have given rise to rumours of automatons and strangely altered monsters being central to Ascalene attack operations. Each fleet, moreover, is supported by air contingents, which, unlike the great flying ships of Eirnovar, Raeyu, and Albed armies of centuries past, is dominated by Whale Drakes and cabins attached to their bodies; these serve not just to scout ahead of the fleet but also as bombing vessels and landing platforms for smaller and faster craft. The Republic avoids land-based conflict where it can, in part because it has very few inland interests to defend, but does maintain a small ground force that can be rapidly deployed as and when necessary to respond to developing situations; speed is essential in Ascalene military doctrine, for a battle can be won before it starts by the side that is better positioned and better prepared.

Typically, one fleet will be kept to protect Ascalan and its dominions, undergoing maintenance simultaneously, whilst the other operates further afield, often protecting trade routes and merchant shipping and ensuring that the rights and duties contained within treaties are respected as wel as conducting any offensive action as may be pursued; these fleets will swap positions regularly unless necessity dictates otherwise. Furthermore, the Grand Prince is often not averse to temporarily leasing fleets or amphibious forces to further the interests of other nations, so long as a profitable agreement is reached.


Imperial ambitions?

Profitable trade and the accumulation of wealth are not, however, the only ambitions the Grand Prince and his fellow Republican leaders may have, however, even if the Court of Stars disapproves. Much like the great Ascalene heroes of old, the current leadership is utterly coldblooded in its desire for the Golden City to rise to pre-eminence in the global order, by any means necessary. One of the few views the citizens of Ascalan have in common, to generalise grossly, is that the interests of non-citizens are of no value whatsoever unless they themselves serve the interests of a citizen or the Republic as a whole. Just as the dominions immediately surrounding the Grand Republic’s magnificent capital were incorporated into the Ascalene domain in part against their will, so too will various other strategic cities should the city find itself in conflict with other nations on Zanzibar; this is, at the very least, the intention of both the Golden Court and Arsenale. Whether through diplomacy, through subterfuge, or through open warfare, where the Grand Prince believes the Republic’s interests can be served through annexation or the creation of subservient client states, then he intends to bring the full force of Ascalan’s not inconsiderable resources to bear against any enemy, actual, perceived, or potential; though alignment with the Golden City can be a source of great wealth, opposition to it can bring about a rain of fire and fury.


Major Characters in 347 A.F. (After Founding)


Grand Prince Ariseth aq Alicant, First Citizen of the Republic of Ascalan, called “Silvertongue”

Chosen of Kanin, Ragnis, and Cazyk

High Concept: Talented Diplomat and Bureaucrat
Position: Elected Grand Prince of the Republic of Ascalan
Residence: The Golden Court, Ascalan

Appearance: For a man in his early fifties, Ariseth is in remarkable physical shape, which he puts down to his rigorous exercise routine, appearing to more than compensate for his over-indulgent lifestyle. Though streaks of white now run through his black hair, he remains relatively easy on the eye, his face outlined by high cheekbones and a well-defined jaw. He is typically adorned with expensive silks and leathers, though wears no jewellery besides the woven gold circlet that is his mark of office.

Background: Ariseth was born to a moderately wealthy family in the city of Ascalan, and like most citizens with his upbringing studied at the Lyceum, where he became renowned as an expert legal mind, which later allowed him to dominate legal proceedings both in the Golden Court and across the Republic’s domain, though it is suspected that his vast network of paid informants may also have assisted in his rapid ascent. It was from this platform that he developed his credentials as a skilled mediator and diplomat, and became widely known as “Ariseth the Silver-tongued” when he was successfully elected to the prestigious role of High Marshal of the Harbour, and was charged with managing the logistics of all goods entering or leaving Ascalan, displaying his administrative as well as legalistic talent. His success in this role propelled him to the first four-way election for the Grand Princedom of the Republic; he is the first ever Ascalene to be elected who had not previously worked for one of the great companies, and commands great respect because of it.

Duties: The duties of the Grand Prince are chiefly concerned with the diplomatic and overseas interests of the Republic, whether they be focused on economic or security concerns. The majority of the bureaucracy remains in the control of domestic authorities, though Ariseth is charged with the appointment of governors and bureaucrats for the colonial territories. In addition, the Grand Prince maintains a vastly expanded extra-legal “shadow bureaucracy,” which he uses not only to keep tabs on the key players in the three great companies but also to advance Ascalene interests abroad.

Diplomacy: Ariseth is known in Ascalan as an accomplished diplomat, often travelling to foreign lands to promote trading relationships and ensure that Ascalene goods are able to reach their intended destinations without impediment. The Grand Prince has no overriding philosophy for achieving those aims; he is open to all methods and all approaches, from bribery and the threat of military action to charm and the performance of favours; all, for him, are mere tools, each with their appropriate situations to which they should be applied.

In war: The Grand Prince is never a military man; this is a precaution instilled in the founding documents of the Republic to prevent a fall into dictatorship. Nonetheless, it remains his duty to determine when and where the Republic shall go to war, and when and where it shall make peace. When it comes to the actual fighting of the war, however, Ariseth recognises his own inexperience, and typically delegates to the Lords of the Arsenale, though ensuring that all major decisions are approved by him before they are carried out. Ariseth prides himself on his greater ability to make peace than to make war; for it is the quality of the peace treaty that determines how worthwhile the war was.

Trouble: Ariseth is notorious across the Republic’s domains for his hedonism and over-indulgence. Outside his professional capacity, he likes to throw lavish parties, sparing no expense on the decadence of the fare provided, wining and dining his guests with delicacies from Ascalan and across the world; it is, for many, remarkable that he has never become addicted to any of the many substances he likes to consume after dinner- some point to the intervention of Kanin, Ragnis, and Cazyk, of whom he is Chosen. At such events he is often seen cavorting with the young women of the court in a manner many of the older families might consider indecent, in particular when it concerns their daughters. Ariseth doesn’t mind causing a scandal in the pursuit of indulgence; it is rumoured that some within the Republic see him as unfit for office, and seek his removal.


Saida Elversath, Chancellor of the Court of Stars, called “Queen of Stars”

Uniquely among the leaders of the Great Companies, the formidable Saida Elversath spent much of her career in the Golden Court, going so far as to achieve plenipotentiary rank in the diplomatic corps before turning her considerable skills to the development of business relationships across the world as a leading member of the Court of Stars, before ascending to the Chancellorship after her predecessor’s death in a sailing accident.

The so-called “Queen of Stars” is vastly influential in all matters of international trade, and is considered by some to wield more influence abroad than even the Grand Prince; it is no surprise, therefore, that she invariably accompanies Ariseth aq Alicant on his foreign tours, and is widely touted as his likely successor to the rulership of Ascalan. Her supporters claim that no one else in the world is so well-informed in matters of commerce, nor as well suited to opening new and profitable trading relationships.

For all her charisma and expertise, however, Elversath has ruffled her fair share of feathers on her route to the top of Ascalene society, and her aloof and often demeaning attitude towards those she sees as her inferiors has made it difficult for her to find new allies within the city.


Dantelar Aethor, Lord Artificier of the Arcaneum, called “Spellweaver”

To some, Aethor is no more than a slightly deranged intellectual; to others, he is Ragnis’s greatest gift to the world, embodying all the brilliance in craftsmanship of a dwarven master blacksmith and all the creative genius of a high elven arcanist. Whatever your opinion, the eccentric gray-haired Lord Artificier has overseen an unprecedented expansion in the Arcaneum’s activities; it now controls over half the factories in Ascalan, and has become the supplier of choice both for the Arsenale’s more conventional weaponry as well as its more devastating designs.

Hailing from the northern part of the Golden City, Aethor has studied both at the Lyceum and the Argentarium, and whilst he has developed an unparalleled knowledge of both arcane and material craftsmanship, he is not the most sociable of individuals. Whilst this has rather limited his company’s ability to expand beyond the borders of the Ascalene realm, it has had its advantages; Aethor is by far the least mistrusted of the leaders of the great companies, and there are very few who would publicly profess their desire to unseat the lovable scientist.


Fatima aq Editroph, Magistrix of the Society of the Blue Parlour, called “Night Mistress”

It is sometimes said in the colonies of Ascalan that if you cross the Court of Stars, you may lose your gold; if you cross the Arcaneum, you may lose your limbs, but if you a foolish enough to cross the Blue Parlour, you will lose your life. Though none would dare utter such words in Ascalan itself for fear of being heard, Fatima the Night Mistress most certainly has turned what was once a scorned and derided organisation into a criminal network to be feared. While even she would not dare take on the institutions of the Ascalene state, the diminutive, elderly Fatima has built a vast network of operatives that engage in less than savoury activities in pursuit of profit across the world.

Fatima is the only one of three company leaders to have truly risen from the bottom; some even speculate that she is not an Ascalene citizen; some others argue that this is speculation fuelled by Society operatives in order to enhance their leader’s mystique. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is clear that the Night Mistress is a woman to be feared and respected, for none know how extensive, nor how deadly, her reach.


Grand Admiral Rustam Vestivor, First Lord of the Arsenale, called “Rustam the Red”

While the Grand Admiral may like to imagine himself as a swashbuckling corsair king, with hat and fine garb to complete the image, his ascent to the highest echelons of the Arsenale’s ranks showcased far more discipline than that of your average pirate. The Red Admiral is a stern and unforgiving man, rewarding success and punishing failure in equal measure. He is more of a strategist than a tactician, and is a firm believer in ensuring that his ship’s captains are independently minded and able not only to execute complex tasks as instructed but also take the initiative when appropriate. Over the course of his tenure as First Lord, the Arsenale’s officer corps has become a highly professional order, replacing the amateurish, laid-back attitude of decades past; service as a senior officer is no longer seen as a necessary yet dull step to success in business, but as a vocation in itself.


Rear Admiral Darthon Therim, Second Lord of the Arsenale, called “Blackwing”

Rear Admiral Therim is the perfect example of the Grand Admiral’s leadership doctrine. As a young soldier, he astounded the Ascalene officership at the Battle of Korussan, taking the helm of the great flagship Starhammer when his commanding officer fell to a rogue bullet and executing an inspired manoeuvre now called the “Dankelion turn,” named respectfully after the fallen Captain, putting down a pirate insurgency that had plagued the colonies for years. This pioneering spirit was a hallmark of Therim’s military doctrine, and has lately been embodied in his drive to expand the Republic’s airborne capabilities consistent with the aggressive tactical approach favoured by Ascalene commanders. Lord Therim is the youngest officer ever to achieve his rank, and he is unwavering both in his ambition and is experimentality. Whilst he is a favourite among the common people of the colonies, those in political office in the Republic proper rightly fear his popularity.
Last edited by Dracomace on Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 4:27 pm   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

Something I've been working on for a while- let me know if there's anything you think I ought to add
Do you know out of what the Empire arose? Out of dreams, song, fantasies and black-red-gold ribbons.
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The nation is tired of principles, discourse, and idealism. What it wants is power, power, power.
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Shadows of the Sun

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 12:38 am   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

I like the emphasis on naval warfare, it's uncommon but interesting to see in action. I especially like the thought of gold and enchantment magic, plus monsters, being applied to naval warfare.

One issue I have with semi-realistic cultures like this is the frequent lack of an explicit action hook. I might have missed it but I don't see a driving force here that would make Ascalan get out and do stuff, as opposed to simply building trade routes.

Does Ascalan not hunger for more dominions? It maintains two substantial fleets and a large citizen military, and has clearly conquered places in the past: why the apparent lack of imperial ambition?
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Illuminexi

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 7:25 am   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

Haha thanks- yeah ever since the enchantment rules were changed I've been thinking of fun inventions and designs that could be applied to a range of scenarios, and feel like this kind of culture suits the exploration of that.

Perhaps I do need to make things a little more explicit, but make no mistake, the people of Ascalan are ruthlessly ambitious and certainly seek to be the sole naval power, aiming for a global reach and total control over trading relationships and economic relations. That probably entails a good bit of harmless conquest to affirm those ambitions, but isn't really targeted at specific cultures or culture types and instead is highly situational, being applied where diplomatic and extrajudicial means aren't very fruitful. A close parallel might be how the East India Company functioned- conquering where it needed to conquer only.
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The Devotion of Mikadosh

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 9:17 am   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

I really like it, I think it's a culture with a lot of character and the sort of little details that I can see coming alive in game- lots of potential agents! Incidentally, though- are you sure about your master enchanter worshipping Ragnis?

That relates to another slight concern. The culture is very technology-focussed, whilst magic isn't really mentioned. Totally understand wanting to mess around with Enchantment (and with Gold, which is a lot of fun and would be a lot lot better combined with Enchantment!), and I can see the thematic link, but think it needs to be elaborated a bit more how this fits in with Ragnis- do they dabble in those Lores, or are they something else they excel at? Whilst I understand your worshippers having a practical attitude towards Ragnis and the other gods, I'd be interested in how the gods feel about being treated in that way :wink: And also, have you done the maths on being able to afford all this tech and magic?
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Illuminexi

PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2017 10:56 am   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

At the moment I'm thinking of having all the named characters in the culture as major agents- might add one each for the Lyceum and Argentarium- should really flesh things out. I don't know how feasible it would be to have the Great Companies act independently as well as cooperating with the government but that would be the idea.

I had a think about the whole Ragnis/magic thing and at the moment I'm interpreting the line "the manner of creation is irrelevant to me" in the god description as being somewhat compatible with a moderately heavy gold/enchantment investment (I have checked the overall magic/tech investment and it's doable with some negatives on the side), but I'll probably add a specific section on magic and flesh out religion a bit when I get the time.
Do you know out of what the Empire arose? Out of dreams, song, fantasies and black-red-gold ribbons.
-Herd

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Dracomace
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Illuminexi

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:11 pm   Subject: Re: The Grand Republic of Ascalan

Have fleshed out magic and religion a bit, as well as adding a short "imperial ambitions" section. Main bit of flavour added is in some character descriptions- dominions to come. Enjoy! :D
Do you know out of what the Empire arose? Out of dreams, song, fantasies and black-red-gold ribbons.
-Herd

The nation is tired of principles, discourse, and idealism. What it wants is power, power, power.
-Otto von Bismarck


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