A look at the various countries and stateless nationalities of the Aporuean continent.
Keep in mind that these are all human-dominated countries and states. While the beastpeople can be numerous and common in many countries, they are always minorities and very few of them tend to have state-building ambitions (and even if they had, both the Bigfolk and Smallfolk humans would no doubt prefer to prevent and mitigate such efforts as much as possible). Thus, these are all effectivelly human-founded and human-led nation states or civic states.
All countries on this list are sorted alphabetically.
Work in progress.
Other name: The Old Empire
Full name: Unknown to modern historians. Both the expressions “Archontia” and “The Old Empire” are colloquialisms adopted much later by post-imperial Aporueans. They are not official names.
Type: Territorial state, empire. Probably had multiple forms of governance during its long history. Went defunct about two or two and a half millenia ago.
Demonym: A popular (but among scientists somewhat controversial) term for its peoples is “Precursors”.
Description: The Old Empire was an ancient, long-lived and in many ways advanced realm. At the height of its power, during its glory days, it had stretched throughout nearly all of southern Aporue (including modern day Montoverde, Sillamia and parts of Trinitia), and much of the temperate central latitudes of Aporue (as far north and east as Karantia, parts of Lokytia and even the Aethelian Isles). Its influence was felt even in the remote north and remote west of the continent, such was its power and (depending on who you ask) infamy. Knowledge on the history, culture and nature of everyday life in the now long-lost empire remains somewhat muddled in the present, with lots of proven facts and surviving authentic records being counterbalanced with all kinds of legends, inaccurate hearsay or wild speculation. Attempts at fairer and more professional research and assessments of the empire are still only a very recent thing, and have actually been instrumental in advancing burgeoning new sciences, such as archaeology, linguistics, but also geology and many others. One of the empire's other popular folk names - Archontia - comes from the frequently repeated legend that one of the most interesting and succesful eras of the realm was when it was ruled not by emperors, but by a council of Elders, a.k.a. Archonts. The new and more comprehensive research into Archontia, in tandem with folk wisdom based on recollections of adventurers who had explored ruins and tombs of the Old Empire, had already shed some more light into the disputed nature of the empire's inhabitants. Even long after the empire's collapse and dissolution, it was a well-known fact that Precursors were a civilisation that adored dabbling in the magical arts, just as much as they tinkered with concepts of practical but inventive new technology. To the surprise of many contemporary Aporueans, though, it seems that the current emergence of new technologies and fields of science had something of a loose antecedent in the times of the Precursors. While it was in many ways different in its conception, there are many parallels. And so, though there is no confirmation about Precursors mastering things like flight, there is mounting evidence that Precursors built what might have been steam engines and advanced clockwork automation, in addition to practicing highly advanced alchemy and elemental magic. Some self-procclaimed researchers and scholars of Archontia have already made claims about the correlation between the presence of Old Empire ruins and occurences of bizarre supernatural threats and dangerous technology of unknown purposes. According to these experts/“experts”, the very existence of various monsters and unnatural-seeming creatures in Aporue can be chalked up to the Precursors decadently engaging in dark magical and technological arts during the height of their civilisation. Some of the originators of these claims go even further, and proclaim that the hypothesis can eventually prove that the beastpeoples are just descendants of humans cursed into animalistic forms by unscrupulous Precursor experiments. As expected, the beastpeoples of Aporue - particularly their naturalists - consider this speculation a serious affront to their dignity and identity and treat such ideas as quackery fueled by wishful thinking and blind trust in the veracity of the legends.
Real world frame of reference: Several empires of OTL Antiquity, in particular Hellenistic Greece, Ptolemaic Egypt, much of the history of the Roman Empire, but also bits and pieces of Phoenician history, ancient Persian history and even the Kingdom of Armenia. There are even some elements reminescent of the OTL megalithic cultures of Malta, France and Britain, from late prehistory. All of this is further added to with the presence of near-mundane use of practical magic skills and magical experimenting in The Old Empire. In a bigger twist, there are the aforementioned multiple in-universe hints that the Precursors of Archontia were a technologically surprisingly advanced civilisation, and even had their own industrial revolution millennia before the current one (even if their particular technological and early industrial developments often went into different directions than the modern Aporuean industrial revolution). The scholars who propose that not only monsters and undead, but also the beastpeoples might be the result of former Archontian experimenting, are often treated in this world like Erich von Däniken and other sensationalist “ancient astronaut” theoreticists are treated in our world. In a more disturbing turn, these theories have led to the recent emergence of some radical political movements who call for the marginalisation of beastpeoples, as they “now have proof that they are just mutated humans or humans in beastly disguise”. This doesn't thrill advocates of equality between the various different species of Aporue.
Full name: Kingdom of Ďamara
Type: Territorial state. A monarchy of the estates.
Demonym: Ďamaran, Ďamar
Real world frame of reference: Medieval to 18th century Kingdom of Hungary.
City NPCs of Ďamaran origins: TBA
Full name: Republic of the Dumnonic Isles and Aethelia
Type: Territorial state. A constitutional, parliamentary republic.
Demonym: Dumnonian-Aethelian, Dumnaethelian, Dumnaetheler
Description: The Dumnonic Isles are a fairly large and varied archipelago close to the northeast shores of Aporue, separated from the main landmass by a fairly small channel. Since time immemorial, the isles have been “with Aporue but not of it”, as one patriotic Aethelian historian put it. The isles were once an overseas colony and then province of The Old Empire, influencing and partly assimilating the natives, known as Dumnonincs. In the centuries after the fall of the Precursors' empire, new peoples started migrating to the isles, further influencing their ethnic, cultural and linguistic make up and changing their nature forever. Chief among these were the ancient Aethelic tribes, ancestrally related to modern day Lokyts, Karantians and Hrímlanders. The Aethels (as they are known to this day) colonised large parts of some of the largest islands in the archipelago, and local conquered Dumnonics eventually assimilated into their nations. Smaller numbers of already established Hrímlanders, both human and wolverfolk, also settled down in parts of the isles, often close to the Aethels. Several kingdoms eventually sprung up and there were centuries of tension between the Aethelic/Hrímlandic-dominated lands, the Dumnonic-dominated lands and the lands controlled by a mix of these nationalities. Eventually, the local dynasties united these lands via many a royal marriage and trade agreement, until one day, the Kingdom of Dumnonia-Aethelia was born. Though two or three civil wars dented some of its stability, the kingdom survived firmly for several centuries, growing in prosperity and finding its footing in mining, ironworking and shipbuilding industries. Most importantly of all, the kingdom led to the gradual development of a pan-islands national identity, uniting the once bitterly opposed ethnic groups. But this was not to last… Two hundred years ago, a new dynasty rose to the throne and attempted to undermine the power held by the commoners and nobility in their (Hrímland-inspired) traditional parliament, in favour of more absolutist rule. Tensions sparked up again and proved fatal. A twenty year long series of civil wars brought much infighting to the islands, on a level not seen in centuries. In the end, the monarchy was toppled and defeated. A particular parliamentary faction of anti-monarchists under the leadership of Cadfael Owain, nicknamed Old Jernigan (i.e. “Old Iron-famous”), reunited the country. They set about implementing massive political reforms, including a switch to a fully republican model of government. Unfortunately, Owain and his faction grew too drunk with power and refused to dissolve the “emergency parliament” even after a fifteen year long “provisional period”. During the faction's reign, the country effectivelly became a semi-military dictatorship. On the 18th year of the “New Model State”, a public uprising known as “The Glorious Revolt” broke out, bringing down Owain and his supporters. What followed was the “Fulfillment of the Republic” era, which layed the foundations for the present day Dumnonia-Aethelia. Though not every development has gone perfectly in the last 160 or so years of the republic's existence, the country's story since then has been one of success. Nowadays, Dumnonia-Aethelia is considered the greatest and undisputed naval power in all of Aporue and their commercial shipping, mining, metallurgy, and fledgling railroads and aviation provide a welcomed economic backbone to that status.
Real world frame of reference: 18th-19th century Great Britain/UK, but with a lot of cultural and historical twists ! For one, the country and its people are much closer to Welsh, Cornish and Manx culture, rather than the usual mix of English, Scottish and Irish cultural trappings. Furthermore, the country experienced a period in its fairly recent history that was similar to the upheavals of OTL 17th century British history, including a brief era of the monarchy being deposed and replaced by an impromptu republic under an Oliver Cromwell analogue. However, just like there were no Norman invasions in this world, there was no Restoration era here either. The monarchy and Owain's dictatorship were replaced by an actual parliamentary republic, though one that still evokes OTL's Westminster system more than enough. Also, the Glorious Revolt had some parallels to the Thermidorian Reaction, of all things… While present Dumnonian-Aethelian fashions and customs might evoke our world's 18th and 19th century, there has been no equivalent of a Victorian period here, so even the fashion is more OTL late Georgian or Regency era in terms of tone. Aside from inspirations in OTL history, some of Aethelia's backstory and atmosphere is also inspired by the Unified Kingdom from Arcanum. Aethelians are Anglo-Saxon analogues, Dumnonians are effectivelly British Celts (including former Romano-British), the Hrímlanders are a much more peaceful stand-in for Viking invaders.
City NPCs of Dumnonian-Aethelian origins: Anrik Comwol
Full name: Union of Hesperan Republics
Type: Territorial state. A parliamentary federal republic.
Demonym: Hesperan, Hesprin, Hespren
Description: Some of the constituent (and varyingly autonomous) lands of the republic include Espada, Kotollia, Arriulon, Rehhia, Valarra, Pardinon, Aellegcia, Visihalonha and the Detelaric Isles. These lands are largely the same as the traditional lands and original territories from the era of the preceding monarchies.
Real world frame of reference: Early modern Spain, from a ca 16th century level up to the period of the Napoleonic wars. Like real world Spain, it is a very diverse country. In fact, it is more of a country of countries, similarly to real world Spain and other fictional Aporuean countries. Many of the major regions of Hespera have their own local ethnic and linguistic identities. Unlike Spain, though, the country had become a republic quite a while ago and is famous for its good relations with the Britain analogue. The analogues to Spanish historical lands and regions are, as follows: Espada = Granada (bit of a pun, espada being the Spanish word for “sword”), Kotollia = Castillia (a play on the Greek kotoikia, i.e. “fort”), Arriulon = Aragon (arriu means river in Occitan, and Aragon probably had its name based on a Spanish or Basque root meaning “water”), Rehhia = Basque country (an anagram of the Basque word herria, “land”, e.g. Euskal Herria), Valarra = Navarra (the original name comes partly from naba or nava, Basque and Spanish terms for valley; modern Spanish uses val as the usual term for valley), Pardinon = Leon (pardinus is the Lat. species name of the Iberian Lynx, hence a pun on “lion”), Aellegcia = Galicia (an anagram of its period Roman name, Gallaecia), Visihalonha = Catalonia (a kitbash of “Visigoths”, “Halans/Alans” and the Occitan suffix -onha - the first two reference the medieval theories on Catalonia being named after Goth and Alan tribes), Detelaric Isles = Balearic Islands (a pun - the original native and Roman word root supposedly nodded to the nakedness of the natives, while this name is from the Spanish de tela, “made of cloth”).
City NPCs of Hesperan origins: Loin Šeaieg
Full name: Ataman/Hetman Union of the Sich and Regiment Councils
Type: Territorial state. Roughly a noble's republic (though with some participation by the peasantry and other commoners).
Demonym: Hetmaner, Hetmanian, Atamanian
Description: Also called “The Atamanate”, this is a country of plucky frontiersmen with a peculiar political system that has somehow managed to eke out an existence caught between the Empire of Ursania and the Kingdom of Lengelia. Throughout its entire existence, it has somehow managed to eke out a place on Aporuean maps, despite many claiming that something like that would be borderline impossible. The reputation of Hetmanaters among many Lengelians and Ursans of note as “a bunch of self-appointed and combat-skilled hicks-warriors that hardly know anything about governance” didn't help matters. In the past, both Lengelia and Ursania had repeatedly tried their damndest to bring the Hetmanate under their influence, either diplomatically or by force of arms. But all of these had faltered.
Real world frame of reference: Think of these guys as, ironically enough, equal parts cossacks from the historical Hetmanate/Zaporizhian Host and Tatars from the Crimean Khanate. In terms of Aporue's ethnic and linguistic relations though, they are a lot more distinct from both Lengelians and Ursans, much moreso than OTL cossacks would be from Poles and Russians. Additionally, the Hetmanate's martial and civilian culture borrow something of a Wild West flavour from OTL, though with a distinctly East European makeover.
City NPCs of Hetmanate origins: Skakle Bakre
Full name: Commonwealth of Hrímland
Type: Territorial state. Self-described “commoner and landowner republic”.
Demonym: Hrímlandian, Eylendian, Snjófroner
Description: An island country in the far northeast of Aporue. Colloquially also known as “Eylenda” or “Snjófrón”.
Real world frame of reference: Think of pre-20th century Iceland and the Faroe Islands, with some of the more hinterland islands belonging to the country being reminescent of Jan Mayen, Svalbard and even bits of southern Greenland. The name of this fictional country literally means “Frostland” in Icelandic. Eylenda, Snjóland and Frón are all OTL alternate terms for Iceland, usually colloquial. The politics and society of this land are based on the idea of the OTL Icelandic Commonwealth remaining in place for centuries and eventually developing into a republic.
City NPCs of Hrímlandic origins: Tóla Titavháugsdautír
Full name: Kingdom of Karantia
Type: Territorial state. A constitutional monarchy.
Demonym: Karantian, Karanter
Description: While not too big in terms of size, Karantia is an old, revered and influential monarchy that shares cultural, ethnic and linguistic ancestry and ties with the neighbouring Lokytian realms. The country is very developed in certain regions, but most of the countryside and the boondocks are still very much firmly in the grip of a medieval or early modern age. The urban hubs of the kingdom have a reputation for being fairly cosmopolitan and being especially rich in the amount of scholarly and artistic personalities they attract, many of whom are hailed as pioneers in various fields of science and the arts. Together with Upper Lokytia, Karantia was one of the first countries in the planet's history to achieve powered flight, revolutionising far-distance travel. As the country is very mountainous, the discovery of flight led to the financing of aeronautic research taking precedence over investments into another then brand new technology - railways (with Lengelia and Ursania becoming the leaders in railway research instead). Where one would expect Karantia and its neighbours to have barely developed aeronautics and instead have railways be commonplace, a different picture opens up: The railway network is dense, growing and improving, but aeronav services have been well-established for just as long, and for a certain period, even dominated over the presence and effectiveness of domestic railways.
City NPCs of Karantian origins: Kratan
Full name: Unified Kingdom of Lengelia
Type: Territorial state. A constitutional monarchy combined with a noble's republic (arguably almost a crowned republic).
Demonym: Lengelian, Lengel
Description: The Lengelians are ethnically and linguistically related to the Ursans much in the same way that Karantians and Lokytians are interrelated with each other. Present day Lengelia is also very similar to Ursania in its basic political setup, for the most part. This is where all other similarities end though, and where you realise how different Lengelia and Ursania can be in their details. And it's no surprise, as the two polities have been rivals for many centuries, sometimes even openly hostile to each other in their mutual competitivness. The Lengelian ruler, the King of All Lengels, is nowadays even more of a figurehead than the Ursan emperor, though he still wields considerable power in certain areas. The real movers and shakers now are the empowered noble classes of the kingdom. They and their extended bureaucracy preside not only over military and representative affairs, but run much of the day-to-day economic, judicial and social matters of the state. The elites form the parliament, the Zebranie, and along with the executive, lead the kingdom in a surprisingly republican and stable, if non-democratic and rather chaotic way. A dynastic and later political union Segalimia was attempted several centuries ago, and lasted for a while, but it had not been an overly succesful experiment. Despite its shortcomings, the Kingdom of Lengelia is steeped in a great (some would say obsessive) reverence towards its rather glorious past, and the patriotic rhetoric and worldview espoused by many of its citizens will remind you of that near-constantly. The traditional image of a Lengelian nobleman or noblewoman - “clad in exquisite armour, mounted atop a swift and spry steed, wielding elegant weaponry as befits a god of war made flesh…” - is slowly waning, but firmly inhabits the romantic imagination of an average Aporuean, particularly the readers of epic poems or historical and adventure novels. After all, many such works were penned by the kingdom's citizens themselves. Like many nations, Lengelians have had a long and proud artistic and scientific tradition, and could give Ursania, Karantia or Lokytia a run for their money in the number of bright minds that had been born in their lands. Aside from the laudatory daydreaming odes directed towards the slowly passing era of Lengelian chivalry, a common stereotype about the country is that it's people are hyper-literate, hyper-educated and extremely inquisitive about scholarly pursuits and the latest research and inventions. Historically, the main rivals of Lengelians have been neighbouring Lokytians and Ursans. Nowadays, tension with the eastern neighbours has decreased a lot (especially due to common scientific and economic interests and past grudges losing relevance). This has shifted the Lengelian focus on careful suspicion firmly towards the Ursan side. Nevertheless, for all their deep-seated rivalry, the two countries get along rather amicably. A much smaller rivalry of Lengelia and its neighbour that many forget about is that with the Hetmanate. It is a much openly friendlier rivalry when compared with the Ursan one, even though the kingdom and the hetmanate had fought a few bitter territorial wars a few centuries ago (the Hetmanate insists to this day that they just fought to preserve their independence and avoid being gobbled up by an overly eagerly courting Lengelia). The beastpeople of Lengelia include particularly many members of the hedgefolk and martenfolk, who mostly get on well with local humans, but otrins are often viewed with a degree of prejudice, due to the infamous piratical history of many Lengelian ottermen.
Real world frame of reference: Poland, of course. Particularly late medieval and early modern Poland, with a rather weak central ruler and the nobles carrying much of the actual political power and political squabbles among themselves and with foreign countries. However, in a subversion, there was never anything like a truly succesful and long-lived “Lengelian-Segalimian Commonwealth” in this world. Lengelian nobility has also been surprisingly egalitarian “since time immemorial”, making female knights and high-ranking politically active noblewomen a common sight, instead of the more patriarchal sarmatism of the OTL PLC. That said, the broad similarities to bits and pieces of PLC history are still rather uncanny. There are also elements of 18th, 19th and 20th century Poland in there too, what with some of the “Napoleonic puppet Poland” elements, the prominence of famous romantically-inclined writers and poets, and the equal notoriety of brilliant Lengelian men and women of science.
City NPC of Lengelian origins: TBA.
Full name: Duchy of Lesana
Type: Territorial state. A constitutional monarchy.
Demonym: Lesanian, Lesanan
Real world frame of reference: Primarily pre-20th century Slovakia, Transcarpathian Ukraine and Slovenia/Carniola.
City NPCs of Lesanan origins: TBA
Full name: TBA.
Type: Territorial states and very rarely city states, various types of regimes (usually constitutional or absolutist monarchies, with some small republics and special status territories in a few locations).
Demonym: Lokytian, Lokytic, Lokyt
Description: Long a place of inner political struggle and failed attempts at unification, the Lokytian realms remain divided to this very day. But they have always been tied together by a shared language (though with many dialects and accent variations), shared cultural aspects, shared economic ties, shared bloodlines of their nobles and monarchs, and often even shared political interests - over here, alliances form, thrive and fall apart in a matter of decades. Nowadays, the ancient Lokytian region has been firmly growing apart into two dominant groupings, each distinguished as a power bloc with a somewhat different ideology and approach, though ultimately not so really different from its silent rival. The names of these power blocs - Upper and Lower Lokytia - might be misleading to a person who doesn't share the domestic understanding of traditional Lokytian geography. As the Lokytian coastline is to the north and the uplands and mountains keep rising as one goes south, Upper Lokytia is actually located in the south, while Lower Lokytia is the one closer to the coast, located in the north. Geographic and climatic differences have left a mark on Lokytian historical, cultural and economic customs, with the south seen as a birthplace of great scientists and thinkers*, but more laid back and traditionalist, in contrast to the north, with its more collective approach to research and development, more lively (some would say rabid) fixation on trade and earning money, as well as a “what's modern and progressive is good” attitude. Like Karantia, the specific regions of the two Lokytias can vary wildly in development - from industrially booming metropolises to almost fairytalish villages and towns where time seems to have stopped centuries ago. The Lokytian realms are simply one of the many places where chain mail and declining knighthood currently coexist with primitive ironclads and frantically-drilled musketmen.
(* - yes, some of them were instrumental in the co-invention of the first practical aeronavs, together with their colleagues-engineers from Karantia)
Real world frame of reference: Think of Lokytia as the lands of “Germany proper”, and period-wise, as being somewhere between the early modern era (16th/17th century) Holy Roman Empire and the Confederation of the Rhine or German Confederation of the 19th century. Upper Lokytia is basically the southern and more traditionalist/Catholic Germany of our world, while Lower Lokytia is more open to massive reforms and development (both liberal and authoritarian) and has a bit of a Protestant-style or Hansa-style work ethic. Lower Lokytia also shares some elements with the real world's early modern Netherlands/Frisia/East Frisia and the Danish Empire at its height, as well as these same countries during the early 20th century.
City NPCs of Lokytian origins: Utahurki
Full name: Markanian Lands / Markanian Realms
Type: Territorial state.
Demonym: Markan, Markanan
Real world frame of reference: The Czech lands and their history. The name itself is a nod to: a.) The Germanic Marcomanni tribes that inhabited the area during Antiquity, prior to displacement by other ehtnicities, including Slavs. b.) The fact that eastern parts of the Czech lands, such as Moravia, were considered marks (border marches) of the Frankish and later Holy Roman Empire at various periods of the Middle Ages. In another nod to real world puns about Czechs-cheques-checks, some languages of Aporue have their own punny “Markan-marker-mark” jokes.
City NPCs of Markanan origins: Paidrkoa Baltābols (née Křilžic)
Other names: The City, Melza City, The Old Metropolis, The Heart of Aporue, The Dented Jewel, The Beauty on the Melza River, etc.
Full name: The Sovereign Barony and City State of Melza
Type: City state. A combination of a parliamentary monarchy and an oligarchic republic. (More here.)
Demonym: Melzan, “City Dweller”, “Cittan”
Description: The primary gameplay setting of the Thick as Thieves roleplay. Melza has been a settled location for a very, very long time. Described in feminine terms, “she” was apparently named by her first settlers after the eponymous major river that flows through the city and its surrounding territory (hence one of the city's more poetic nicknames). Though some artefacts and vague written records have survived from its earliest days, much of the city's ancient history remains shrouded in mystery. Naturally, over the many centuries, this has led to the creation of a rich local folkloric tradition, full of tales and legends about various eras of Melza's bygone past. Whatever the truth, historians, archaeologists and commoners alike agree that the city has some deep and manifold foundations, both literal and figurative, running innumerable generations back. Some say it might even be one of the oldest still standing cities in the entirety of Aporue. (There are certainly rumours that Melza's deepest foundations reach back all the way to the Archontia/Precursor era.) Daydreaming and flights of fancy aside, Melza is nowadays one of Aporue's largest and most populous cities (exceeding one million souls as of the latest census). It's a metropolis of many contrasts, of fancy high streets and lowbrow slums, of old towering architecture and modern transport and information networks, a city of many colourful individuals and groups, from nearly every imaginable species, nationality, religion, ideology and profession. Melza is a cosmopolitan place, even by the standards of other Aporuean city states, and yet has her own hard to describe quaint charm. Due to its status as one of the most impressive and influential cities of Aporue (and even the wider world), it's no surprise that the locals tend to commonly refer to their mostly-urban homeland simply as “The City”, “The Old Metropolis”, and by other similar genericisms. Melzans themselves (a.k.a. Cittans) are, like many of the Aporuean nations based around city states, something of an ethnic motley crew. “A fine blend”, as many of them cheekily say. “There is no such thing as a 'true, pure-blooded Melzan' - because a true Melzan is a happy-go-lucky mongrel by his very nature, one who does not fit in neatly into any expectations that people make of him based on experiences with neighbouring nations… And he or she is always proud to be such a mongrel !”, the locals often elaborate. Modern day Melza is certainly no sleepy showcase town. Trade and commerce, both legal and illegal, are the lifeblood of The City, and ample road, rail, river and air links make it a crucially important transport hub in this part of the continent. Add to that a vibrant social and cultural scene and the equally amusing and mystifying world of domestic Melzan politics, and you soon get an idea of why The City has plenty of quirks to explore. In addition, The Sovereign Barony and City State of Melza, as its full name stands, is one of the member states of the The Urban League.
Real world frame of reference: Melza is inspired by many European cities throughout history, but its cultural and architectural trappings are mostly central European and southeastern European in tone, with an alien, alternate world touch here and there…
City NPCs of Melzan origins: Obviously, most of the local NPCs you'll meet in The City during the roleplay.
Full name: Grand Duchy of Metsämaa
Type: Territorial state. Monarchy.
Demonym: Metsämaanian, Metsan, Mettie
Description: Northeast of Ursania, to the north of Segalimia, one of the most northernly settled territories of Aporue organised into a state, the Grand Duchy of Metsämaa has a very long history. However, it has long been seen as little more than a semi-civilised periphery of the continent: Always somewhat behind the rest, with most of the Aporuean refinement relegated to its southern and southeastern coastline, and the rest being little more than sparsely populated countryside and pristine wilderness. As stereotypes go, there is a grain of truth to each and every cliché, and Metsämaa is a good example of that. Yes, indeed, most of Metsämaa is still unaffected by the social, scientific and industrial revolutions of recent memory, and for the most part is still a reminder of more ancient times. Times when nature, not emerging and struggling sapients, truly ruled the continent. Heavily forested by a mix of seemingly endless decidous and coniferous trees, broken up by the occassional lake (of which there are thousands, left behind by glaciers), particularly central and northern Metsämaa have some of the most untouched and most unexplored bits of wilderness still left in Aporue. The ethnic situation of the Grand Duchy is somewhat complex and blurry, as the dominant human ethnicities are ancestrally and linguistically interlinked, but settled the land at different periods of its prehistory. The modern day southern peoples live in cities and towns that look straight out of Segalimia, Lengelia or Lower Lokytia, or in countryside towns, villages and granges, farming in an often decidedly Metsämaan style. The northerners are still mostly nomadic tribesmen - migrating and setting up camps and hamlets depending on the season, herding reindeer and other animals, hunting for meat and fur, foraging for herbs and berries, trading with the southerners… And in between, the people of the central regions show a mix of both sensibilities, with village and grange farmers, hunters, trappers, woodcutters and foresters being the occupations of choice (similar to the pioneers settling Ursania's westward-lying wilderness). Humans in general abound among all three socio-cultural groups of the land, but with a few exceptions, Rarachs and Permons are usually not seen much among the northern nomads and herders. Last but not least, Metsämaa is the homeland to beastfolk minorities of various sizes. Martenfolk and Otterfolk are plentiful in the more southern regions (some being native, but many of them are immigrant settlers) and they usually get along well with local humans. But the true native beastfolk group are the Wolverfolk (or “Gulomen”) from the northern central and northern regions of the Grand Duchy. They keep to themselves a lot more and their relations with humans and other beastfolk are more tenuous, but they often trade with them peacefully. The Metsämaan wilderness, with its prevailing forested lowlands and slight uplands, and a few occassional mountain ranges in the north, is a place that captures the imagination of many an Aporuean writer and traveller, and much has been written (often in a romanticised) about its history, legends and old mysteries.
Real world frame of reference: Think of pre-Russian-ruled Finland, particularly Finland during the times of The Cudgel War or Finland during The Age of Counts. The name of this fictional country literally means “Forestland” in Finnish.
City NPCs of Metsämaan origins: Jussi “Norir” Savru
Full name: Confederation of Montoverde
Type: Loose confederation of (mostly constitutional) monarchies and republics, both territorial and urban.
Demonym: Montoverdan, Montoverdian, Montovir
Real world frame of reference: Something of a peculiar cross between Italy and Portugal, within a timeframe stretching from the early modern period to the 19th century of both OTL countries.
City NPCs of Montoverdian origins: Papirat
Full name: Kingdom of Nobrana
Type: Territorial state. Absolutist monarchy transitioning to a constitutional monarchy.
Demonym: Nobren, Nobranan
Description: Along with the likes of Lokytia, Lengelia and Ursania, the Kingdom of Nobrana is one of the undisputed old powers of the Aporuean continent. Nobrana has a long, colourful and storied history. Its first major rise to prominence occured as far back as the era of The Old Empire, when it became one of its more northernly vassals, and later, provinces. After the fall of the Precursors, several smaller empires and monarchies vied for their place under the sun within the territory of modern day Nobrana. The Old Empire's former province became fractured for several centuries, carved up by these smaller nations of varying size and influence. However, a few hundred years ago, one of the local dynasties managed to gain enough footholds in the lands and family trees of their rivals to begin a process of unifying these lands. Eventually, Nobrana was born, largely within the same borders as she occupies to this day. This period saw the birth of the proverbial Nobranan patriotism. Indeed, the aspirations of Nobranan kings and subjects alike were high-minded and ambitious: No less than dreams about “restoring the splendour of The Old Empire, but in the apparel of The Old Kingdom - and The New Empire”. Not everyone was thrilled with that, including Nobrana's old rivals, the Lokytian and Dumnonian-Aethelian realms. Nevertheless, the Nobranan elites, emboldened by the rise of their great and united nation, approached their own plans and ambitions with great fervour and optimism. Sadly, it was not to last… The outbreaks of several major internal crises had in recent centuries affected the otherwise powerful and respected monarchy. And none of these was as great as the crisis that began just a few decades ago and threatened to tear the kingdom apart entirely.
Real world frame of reference: Elements of France and its geographic regions throughout history (especially from the Ancien Régime period), but the country also has a major Andorran and Monacan vibe to its cultural and political traditions. The dreams of restoring The Old Empire also draw comparisons to the Frankish Empire's efforts to recreate the Western Roman Empire (especially under the Carolignian dynasty), or similar efforts from France's Napoleonic period. In contrast to Dumnonia-Aethelia and in a reversal of UK and French history, Nobrana as an analogue of France is actually a struggling monarchy. It has not become a republic. Currently, it is in a state of transition from an absolutist to a constitutional model of governance.
City NPCs of Nobranan origins: Disirea Langedor
Full name: Grand Banate of Rvača
Type: Territorial state. Monarchy, with some constitutional elements, but mostly traditional.
Demonym: Rvačan, Rvačen
Real world frame of reference: The history of Croatia up until the mid-1800s and the historical lands of Croatia: Slavonia, Croatia proper and Dalmatia.
City NPCs of Rvačan origins:
Full name: Merchant Republic of Segalimia
Type: Territorial state. A “republic of the estates”, mercantile republic.
Demonym: Segalimian, Seg
Description: A region with a unique history. One of the smaller historical and natural regions of the local landmass, it alternates between wind-swept coastal archipelagos and cold grassy beaches and gently elevating hills and uplands with meadows and thick forests in the interior. Sandwiched between Ursania, Lengelia and Metsämaa and the seas to the east, modern day Segalimia has always been a curious crossroad of several disparate ethnicities and language groups, not to mention political power plays of surrounding mightier nations. Though it had earned its independence in the preceding 250 years, it was formerly the playground of virtually all its neighbours, from courting by Metsämaan and Ursan nobility and traders, the efforts of Lokytian knightly orders to keep their local fiefdoms and footholds in the region on a tight leash, to avid “proclamations of cooperation and protection” by Lengelia.
Real world frame of reference: The Baltic states, East Prussia and all their historical antecedents from the Middle Ages to the present day. Ironically enough, Segalimia also has a bit of a “Republic of the United Netherlands from the 17th century” vibe to it, albeit with a Baltic/Ugrofinnic (and occassionally vaguely-Slavic) flavour. Oh, and yes, “Segalimia” is a play on OTL Semigallia.
City NPCs of Segalimian origins: Rumlaaž (engl. pron. Rumlaazh)
Full name: Sillaman Sevaranate, “The Sublime Sevaranate”
Type: Territorial state. Monarchy.
Demonym: Sillaman, Sillamian
Description: One of the key southern polities of present day Aporue, the Sillaman Sevaranate spans much of what were once the southwestern reaches of The Old Empire. Along with other powerful nations like Montoverde, it is often seen by both its own leadership and foreigners as something of a successor or inheritor of the Archontian legacy. The sevaranate began its life under the leadership of its first sevar (ruler), Sillam I., who led a campaign of conquest against one of the remnant self-governing provinces of Archontia, eventually remaking it into a new empire. The Sevaranate has remained just as multiethnic and a place of cultural crossroads as the Archontian provinces it inherited once were. Nevertheless, Sillam's folk, once only a semi-developed nationality of border-guarding mercenaries to Archontia, have risen in numbers, power, influence and particularly sophistication since the founding of their own empire. Sillamia was one of the Aporuean countries that had inherited a sizable amount of Archontia's old scientific, philosophical and technological knowledge - though this isn't saying much, as this knowledge was often inherited in a haphazard and often arbitrary way. Nevertheless, the Sevaranate's rising scholar classes put whatever they could salvage to good use, often even expanding upon this collected wisdom later on, with their own research and experimenting (well, whatever knowledge that wasn't deemed “immoral” and “unholy” by the royal court and religious figures). Aside from mathematics, geometry, astronomy, optics, practical alchemy, medicine and some other sciences, one of the most peculiar contributions of Sillamia to the sum of Aporuean science was the pioneering research into clockwork (and later clockwork-electro-mechanic) technology. Granted, much of this was based on developments already achieved or attempted by The Old Empire many centuries ago, just futher built upon by Sillamian (and eventually other Aporuean) scholars. Though functional robots offering effective practical uses for private owners or public institutions are still a rare sight even nowadays, it's not unfair to be thankful to Sillamians for (re)inventing the modern conception of the robotic servant or guard. Well, unless you're a Karantian or Montoverdian - most patriots in both of those nations insist on “having Sillamia beat by a number of years” or “coming up with robotic innovations the Sevaranate's scholars could hardly devise”. On the other hand, hardly any nation in Aporue would dispute that Sillamians are highly knowledgeable about the classic alchemic arts, including alchemic sign and spell casting. While alchemy is studied, practiced and researched on many places of the continent, Archontian-style alchemy still lives on best within the borders of the Sevaranate.
Real world frame of reference: Think of a cross between the 17th-19th century Ottoman Empire and pre-20th century Persia, with some cultural and martial elements of Bakumatsu era Japan and 18th/19th century Korea thrown in for good measure. The border guards of the pre-sevaranate days have as much in common with proto-Ottoman soldiers as they have with proto-samurai, while the jannissary equivalents of later centuries have Korean and Japanese sensibilities in some of their concepts (not visually, but in general spirit). Though Sillamians started as a society of farmers, warriors and nobles, they've become a deeply cultured, scholarly and cosmopolitan people since the founding of their sultanate-by-any-other-name. The mention of Sillamians being pioneers of primitive robotics and Karantians disputing this claim to fame is a nod to the OTL chess-playing automaton The Turk, which was created by an Austrian, but depicted an Ottoman mechanical man. The similar rivalry with Montoverde is over their shared Archontian past and over how their scholars applied it somewhat differently - but notably, the Montovirs had a Leonardo-type figure that did dabble in early robotics, much like our OTL polymath.
City NPCs of Sillamian origins: Zunu Alkumak
Full name: Principality of Trinitia
Type: Territorial state. A confederation of constitutional monarchies.
Description: The country is effectively a confederation of three different principalities, as reflected in its name. Each of the three member states have their own separate economic and cultural traditions, but they share an ethnic, linguistic and religious background that helps tie their peoples together, under the idea of united nationhood. The three principalities are Șaptecastele (mountainous, forested and rich in minerals), Râustat (mostly flat, highly fertile lowland, with a rich system of rivers and the occassional low hills), and Luncățări (warm, fertile, with a steppe-like countryside and occassional low hills and small mountains). In addition to native Trinitians, the country has several sizable ethnic minorities, including Șaptecastele's “Thicket Lokytians”.
Real world frame of reference: This is basically a reflection on the history of Romania, including the United Principalities era and the early decades of the Kingdom of Romania, with the three Trinitian principalities being analogues of OTL Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia, in that order. (“Șaptecastele” is a literal rendering of the alternate term for Transylvania, “Sevencastles/Siebenburgen”, in modern Romanian. “Râustat” means “Riverstate” and “Luncățări” means “Meadowlands”.) “Thicket Lokytians” are essentially OTL's Transylvanian Saxons. Trinitians have some minor added parallels to Switzerland and Luxembourg as well - if both countries were given a Romanian makeover.
City NPCs of Trinitian origins: Dekseriux I. Klužič-Sibius (Dekseriu)
Full name: Empire of Ursania
Type: Territorial state. A federation of constitutional monarchies (and one or two mercantile republics or noble's republics).
Demonym: Ursan, Ursian, Urs
Description: Lying in the more westward portions of the Aporuean continent, the Ursans were once merely a collection of related, but disparate tribes and early makeshift polities. After a period of unification efforts from a few centuries ago, they had eventually banded into an unusual, but not that badly administered empire under a strong figurehead. As times passed, the empire's rather decentralised nature led to reforms that resulted in a kind of proto-federalism, as well as gradually transitioning from attempts at a despotic or absolutist monarchy into a monarchy more along parliamentary and constitutional lines. Present day Ursania could best be described as a large, federally organised empire. A “monarchy of monarchies”, with the Ursan Emperor being the head of all other Ursan houses. Each of these rule over their ancestral lands, formerly fully independent monarchies themselves, now closely tied by vassalage to the Emperor (or Empress). Some of the more famous constituent parts of the empire include certain principalities, such as the Principality of Chmudlovsk.
Real world frame of reference: Tsarist Russia, particularly 19th century Russia. But, as you can see from the description, there are a few interesting twists on the idea. The foremost one is that this is a constitutional monarchy in the vein of the UK, and that it is a federally constructed, bolted-together empire. Perhaps the best comparative example from our world would be Malaysia, or the United Arab Emirates (former Trucial States), and, curiously and non-monarchically enough, the United States of America. Yes, Ursania is effectively something like a mix of the Holy Roman Empire and the 19th century USA, and is a liberal constitutional monarchy that doesn't practice serfdom anymore, but it is culturally closely patterned on Russia and its varied peoples and environments.
City NPCs of Ursan origins: Kirill Alman
The Urban League (UL) - The League is an international organisation that focuses on bringing the city states of the Aporuean continent closer together in political and economic ties and cooperation. Most, but not all of the continent's city states have membership in the League. Melza is one of the founding members of the UL. Other current members include Kusdrova (south of Rvača, centered on coastal Kusdrovik), Genarla (northeastern coast of Montoverde), Agirdéle (southern coast of Nobrana), Schaafenstein (between Karantia and southern Lokytia) and several others.
International Measurements and Standards Compact (IMSC) - The Compact is one of the economic and scientific international institutions that have taken up roots in Aporue during recent history. As its name straightforwardly implies, it oversees the adherence to internationally agreed upon physical properties for traded goods, and the usage of certain standardised or newly adopted measurement units in the mundane economy.
Continental Trade Combine (CTC) - The Combine was originally formed by Montoverde, Nobrana, Karantia and Lokytia to help foster basic economic cooperation between some of the major Aporuean nations. Other states have been slow to join, but the organisation has gradually grown in size, competence and importance over the last century.
Aporuean Maritime Defence Alliance (AMDA) - A diplomatic and military treaty organisation of the coastal countries of Aporue. Essentially offers a mutual cooperation agreement for the naval forces of the member countries. Some major members include Aethelia-Dumnonia, Nobrana, Segalimia, Montoverde.
The International Blood Star (IBS) - Founded by Karantian of Nobranian origins, Denin Hurlant, after he witnessed the aftermath of a horrid battle. “The Blood Star” is a comprehensive medical aid organisation that aims to ease people' suffering in times of war as well as peace time. It has slowly grown into one of the more prominent and visible among newcomer international organisations. Taking its name after the Holy Star of the Faith of the Maker (also present in the coat of arms of Hurlant's hometown, in argent) and the colour of blood (as well as the colour of the field of the aforementioned coat of arms), the IBS now has branches in virtually every country on the continent.
(Last modified on September 28th, 2014, 04:49 PM.)