Population: 8,000,000 (Aadipurans 60%, halflings 19%, Gensche 11%, other 10%)
Major Industries: Agriculture, fishing, river transportation and trade
Aadipura is the oldest of Stha Lui’s newcomer kingdoms. Founded in the year 13 AT, Aadipura once encompassed much of present-day Genzland and the Home Territory. Negotiations and small-scale battles following the arrival of the halflings in 60 AT and the Gensche in 81 AT saw the reduction of Aadipura’s coastal possessions. However, with the violence of the Torrent, the challenges of sea travel, the difficulties of establishing new homes and the ongoing threat of violence from the landborn, none of the newcomer groups were able to mobilize truly powerful armies for this sort of war. Thus, the Aadipurans soon relinquished their northern possessions and concentrated on consolidating their control of the River and the Dekhi Canal.
Aadipura’s power flows from the River and its control of the intersection between the River and the Canal. The kingdom’s territory hugs the banks of the river and stretches inland to the edges of the Forest Hills. The terrain is largely flat and grassy, with patches of swamp and the occasional hill or bluff close to the River. The Aadipurans maintain their control by force of arms and economic power rather than formidable natural defenses.
The majority of Aadipura’s population is engaged in agriculture. Most farmers focus on wet rice cultivation. The Aadipurans channel water from the River, the Canal and rainwater collection tanks into large irrigation projects to feed wet rice and other water-intensive cultivation. Other staple crops include potatoes, onions and other tubers. A significant portion of the population is also engaged in river and ocean fishing operations, using traditional Aadipuran fishing techniques and boat technology.
In many ways, the need to construct and maintain irrigation systems governs much of Aadipura’s agricultural life. Near the River and the Canal, the Aadipurans have constructed elaborate series of permanent and semi-permanent open canals to bring water from the river to outlying fields and control flooding. Farther away, many Aadipuran farming communities have sprung up round abandoned Shokhanid qanats; extensive structures that bring water through miles of underground channels and deep wells. Some of these qanats reach even beyond Aadipura into the Hinterlands, where they are the foundation of some of the most prosperous Hinterlands farms.
While most Aadipurans are engaged in food production, transit trade and transportation on the River and the Dekhi Canal are the lifeblood of the Aadipuran economy and affect all other aspects of economic life in Aadipura. Aadipura’s location and their well-honed riverboat techniques have allowed them to dominate river transportation between the Hinterlands and the coastal areas around Home and Śetaig. Aadipurans operate most of Stha Lui’s transportation companies and the government extracts significant tax income from transit trade. Their caravanserais dot the banks of the River and the Canal and are often the safest and most comfortable place to lodge outside of the major cities.
Government and Politics
The government of Aadipura is based in the city of Dekhi. Located at the intersection of the River and the Dekhi Canal, Dekhi is a major trading hub. Its status as the seat of the Aadipuran government ensures that the rulers can wrap their hands around the pulse of Stha Lui’s commerce.
Aadipura is nominally ruled by a hereditary monarch; a member of the Janatha family and a descendant of the leader who guided the first Aadipurans to Stha Lui during the Torrent. However, the location of actual political power shifts frequently depending on the strength of an individual monarch. Most often, despite commanding significant popular legitimacy, the Aadipuran king is simply a figurehead manipulated by a small group of powerful merchants and businessmen working together to shift government policy in their favor.
In addition to the city of Dekhi, Aadipuran power is centered on the River. Even outside of the reach of the Aadipuran king’s control, Aadipuran merchant and transport organizations hold sway up and down the River and narrow strips of land along its banks, reaching from the western shore to deep in the Hinterlands. Because of the close ties between the Aadipuran king and the merchant organizations, this means that Aadipuran laws and customs (or at least some portions of them), can be found all along the River’s banks.
The current king, Ram Janatha III, is well-intentioned but weak. He attempted to institute reforms and limit the power of the merchants early in his reign but has since come increasingly under their sway.
Dekhi: Among the great cities of Stha Lui, Dekhi is second only to Home in size, population, and complexity. Sitting astride the River and the Dekhi Canal, the city is a major center for trade between the western coastal cities, the Hinterlands and the eastern mountains. Merchants based in Dekhi ply the River and the Canal for miles in both directions. Their outposts and caravanserai’s are often the only connection between small Hinterlands settlements and the larger world.
Dekhi is crowded, dusty and overwhelmingly brown. The crush of its enormous population means that the streets are always thronged and a cloud of dust hangs low over its rooftops, stirred up by the tramping feet of men and animals. The city’s buildings are built predominantly of mud brick and adobe, with as little wood used as possible. Most buildings are only two stories tall, though every few blocks a wood-framed three- or four-story building (most often prosperous inns) will rise above the others.
The central city is surrounded by a large wall and laid out in an orderly grid, with a few large open crossroads and squares (called “bazaars”) serving as nodes of commerce and places of meeting. In general, the city’s commerce is arranged along different streets, with stores selling similar merchandise all on the same few blocks. The only exceptions to this rule are the markets selling food, which are scattered about the city as the demands of population dictate. The city is modeled after the ideal Aadipuran cities that supposedly existed before the Torrent.
Outside the wall, the city is far more haphazard, as slums and lower class neighborhoods have sprung up almost spontaneously. Here the streets are narrow and curving and none of the buildings are more than two stories tall. The only exception is the temple district. Here numerous temples to the various Aadipuran gods still flourish on the northern bank of the holy River.
Farther still from the central city are the mansions of Dekhi’s truly wealthy residents. These huge homes line the River and are walled off from the world around. Every day, private river barges take their owners into the city where they engage in commerce of all sorts.
Population: 400,000 (halflings 80%, Shokhanid 6%, elves 4%, deep dwarves 2%, other 8%)
Major Industries: Hunting and gathering, subsistence dry-land agriculture, salt, glass
The Fádech Desert is a forbidding place, tucked deep into the rain shadow of the Mountains. Dry, dusty and windy, its dunes and salt flats can support few life forms. Only the specially adapted or extremely hardy survive. The region is sparsely-populated, but semi-nomadic groups of halflings and other races manage to eke out a harsh existence in the desert, living in seasonal cliff dwellings and camps on the outskirts of the ergs and flats.
Mortals settled in the Fádech Desert fairly recently. Most of the settlers were halflings whose nomadic lifestyle lent itself to the needs of desert survival. Of those halflings and others who settled in the Fádech Desert, most were descended from pre-Torrent desert-dwelling groups and migrated to the Fádech Desert in search of a familiar homeland.
Their populations were (and remain) small, as the Torrent and subsequent ocean wanderings took their toll on populations unfamiliar with the ways of ships and sails. Exhausted and desperate, they landed on Stha Lui near Śetaig and began the long overland trek through the Hinterlands (then still populated with pockets of hostile Shokhanids) into the desert. They arrived and established their small tribal communities, with only those groups on the fringes of the desert maintaining close contact with the outside world.
The Fádech Desert is too remote and hostile to support economic activity beyond subsistence. Most denizens of the desert, however, prefer this sort of lifestyle and see little reason to involve themselves in the broader economic life of Stha Lui. The Fádech halflings and the few groups of non-halflings who make the desert their home practice small-scale dry-land agriculture using wind traps, water storage tanks and limited irrigation. They also engage in significant animal husbandry, especially in the dry grasslands that surround the desert. Desert dwellers raise everything from goats and horses to lizards and other large desert reptiles; anything that could provide meat or milk or leather.
Those few Fádech communities that engage in trade focus mostly on desert products. They trade salt, leather, glass and semi-precious stones to Aadipuran merchants in exchange for foodstuffs, wood, ores and other products unavailable in the desert. Fádech communities are known for producing some of the finest glassware on Stha Lui.
Government and Politics
The Fádech Desert is far from a united polity. Almost all of the region’s denizens live in semi-nomadic tribal groups ranging between 500 and 5000 individuals. Some of these tribes are organized into broader tribal confederacies but most are not. Almost all of them maintain several seasonal “villages” in cliffs and other sheltered areas, moving between them throughout the year.
The tribes of the Fádech Desert live by a complicated code of honor the principal tenet of which deals with vengeance. If slighted, a tribe will go to great lengths to avenge itself upon its rival, usually in limited but bloody raids and assassinations. Tradition dictates what sort of revenge is appropriate and when the increasingly-violent cycle of retribution should stop, but most tribes are involved in at least one or two blood feuds at any given time. That travel is so difficult, the region is so remote and cliff villages are so hard to find and attack ensures that this revenge violence remains limited in scale. It is, however, a part of life in the Fádech Desert.
Many of the halfling-majority tribes gather once every couple years in a large fair and meeting. This gathering, which takes place where the River skirts the Fádech Desert and begins to head west toward the ocean, is a precious opportunity for the desert tribes to relax, celebrate, mingle and trade. All vendettas and conflicts are put aside for this brief time. Certain hierarchies and power dynamics assert themselves, but the tribes are, by-and-large, quite egalitarian.
Population: 6,000,000 (Gensche 72%, Aadipurans 16%, sea dwarves 6%, elves 2%, other 4%)
Government: Confederacy of mostly-feudal monarchic city-states
Major Industries: Logging and wood products, ship-building, mining and metalworking
The vast forests of Genzland are a coveted resource. They are controlled by the Gensche, a group of humans who began arriving in 81 AT. They landed at what would become Genzbald and quickly encountered Aadipurans, entering into a prolonged low-intensity war over the forested lands, with small groups of combatants moving stealthily through the trees and carrying out surprise attacks. After some years, the Aadipurans began to withdraw, realizing that the Gensche were resolute enough to continue the war almost indefinitely. With the Treaty of Home in 90AT, the boundaries between Aadipura and Genzland were codified and the two polities began to develop economic instead of military relations.
Genzland is a hilly, rocky territory. The western two-thirds are covered in dense forests of evergreen, oak and ash. The eastern portion is rockier still, boasting some of the highest peaks of the Forest Hills and an abundance of mineral wealth.
The Gensche economy is dominated by logging and timber industries. Genzland supplies most of the timber used in newcomer territories. Gensche control the most successful shipyards, provide wood for building and furniture construction, and craft most of the wooden items used in Stha Lui.
The Forest Hills also bring significant mineral wealth to Genzland. The Gensche are expert miners and blacksmiths and extract significant quantities of iron and other metals from the eastern areas of their control.
Government and Politics
The Gensche live in small city-states tucked into the woods and hills. Mostly-independent, these city-states coexist with each other in complicated patterns of alliances and patronage, all subordinate to the king in Genzbald.
Given the importance of logging to the Gensche economy, forces involved in this trade are also very powerful. The major timber merchants have substantial influence over the rulers of the Gensche city-states. Additionally, the monarchy maintains close ties to Gensche druidic organizations responsible for preventing over-zealous harvesting of timber. The Gensche know that theirs is a finite resource and are keen to preserve it for future generations. With a few exceptions, the rulers of city-states do not allow indiscriminate logging and require substantial investment in planting new trees and maintaining the health of the forests. Death is often the punishment for violating these laws.
Population: 1,000,000 (Aadipurans 30%, Gensche 25%, halflings 35%, elves 10%)
Major Industries: Agriculture, animal husbandry
The Hinterlands, the vast grassland separating the Mountains from the coastal plains, is far from a unified political unit. Even the fractious systems of governance in Tanu ya Nzadi and the Fádech Desert seem organized and strong compared to the patchwork of landholdings that make up the Hinterlands. It is said that anyone can be a king here, at least until another comes to replace him.
It was in the Hinterlands that the last battles between landborn and newcomers took place. Desperate for more agricultural land to feed their growing populations, the rulers of Aadipura, Genzland, and Śetaig formed a loose coalition known as the First Alliance. They marched west from Dekhi in 172 AT, following the River through the seas of grass that make of the Hinterlands. Their forces clashed with landborn armies composed mostly Shokhanid troops and small contingents of deep dwarves in a number of pitched battles. The landborn, many having already begun the slow process of retreating back to the Mountains, were overwhelmed by the combined power of the newcomers and driven from the Hinterlands.
Restless newcomers rushed into the Hinterlands to take over the landborn holdings, establishing farms and ranches and reveling in the vast tracts of land. Over the years, as more and more people purchased or claimed land in the Hinterlands, it became difficult to find a tract that was not already occupied. Within 50 years of the landborn’s retreat, the Hinterlands were completely divided into a patchwork of individually-owned regions, each waiting eagerly for some disaster to befall its neighbors.
The Hinterlands are the breadbasket of Stha Lui. They supply the vast majority of all foodstuffs consumed by the more populous cities of the coast. Hinterlands farmers grow almost every temperate crop imaginable, using magic as much as possible to improve their yields but still inevitably falling short of the demands of cities like Home and Dekhi. Hinterlands ranchers raise cattle, swine, fowl and a bewildering variety of other livestock. Most of these products are delivered to numerous small river ports and boated down the River and Canal by Aadipuran merchants. Some farmers choose instead to send their produce with halfling caravans instead, which cart the goods to Śetaig for sale.
Government and Politics
The Hinterlands are sparsely-populated but completely settled. There are very few towns or cities; most of the population lives in concentrated plantation communities (many of them mostly underground) so that as much land as possible may be devoted to farming. Often, Aadipuran and halfling caravanserais provide the only accommodations travelers may see for weeks. Consequently, government is irrelevant and far-away in most parts of the Hinterlands, though landowners often do some policing and enforce their own laws on their lands. Little regulation exists, however, to govern relations between landowners.
Population: 5,000,000 (Aadipurans 30%, Gensche 20%, halflings 20%, elves 10%, sea dwarves 7%, vanar 4%, Shokhanid 6%, deep dwarves 3%)
Government: quasi-elected oligarchy
Major Industries: scrounging and ocean-going trade
The city of Home, including the surrounding Home Territory, is the largest and most densely-populated urban area in Stha Lui. It is a racial, ethnic and linguistic melting-pot where elves, halflings, dwarves and humans of all types live next to each other. Life in the Home Territory is not always peaceful or prosperous and is characterized by noise, filth, congestion and chaos.
Before the Torrent, the city that would become Home was already a thriving center of trade; connecting the miners and masons of the Mountains, the pastoralists and herdsmen of the semi-nomadic people in what would become the Hinterlands, and the craftsmen and agriculturalists of the flatlands to the west. Commerce flowed down the River and across the plains to Home.
When the first Aadipurans came to Stha Lui in 13 AT, they landed nearby and settled in and among the buildings left behind by Shokhanids retreating from the flood. The fort and covered bazaar south of the River, the Shahrid-e Mir farther inland, and other Shokhanid landmarks became the centers of sprawling communities of Aadipurans who built homes, businesses, and temples of their own. Home’s sheltered harbor and easy access to the River made it an ideal place to establish a city. It grew quickly and has remained the single most politically-important city in Stha Lui.
With the waning of Aadipuran power and the arrival of the Gensche and the halflings, Home began to become the melting-pot it is today. The influx of people from different groups led to conflict, especially as the struggle over Genzland between the Aadipurans and the newly-arrived Gensche waxed. With the Aadipuran withdrawal and the spread of halfling and Gensche influence, it became clear that a formal delineation of territories was necessary. Representatives from the three main groups met in Home in 90 AT and signed the Treaty of Home. The treaty codified the boundaries of Aadipura, Genzland, and Śetaig and established the Home Territory as a self-governing city-state independent of any specific racial, ethnic or linguistic bloc.
All of the races of Stha Lui recognize that an independent Home Territory is in their interests. They fear the oppression or massacre of their brethren living in Home should an opposing group come to power. There is an unspoken and unwritten agreement that no outside faction will interfere with the politics of the Home Territory.
The Home Territory is almost entirely urban. The city takes up a significant portion of the Territory and the surrounding slums and squatter communities spread for miles in every direction. Thus, there is little if any space for agriculture, mining or other traditional economic enterprise to flourish.
In the absence of these modes of production, Home’s economy is driven almost entirely by trade. It is the one city in Stha Lui where absolutely anything is available for sale or barter. It is the world’s largest hub of ocean-going commerce, a major center for caravan and peddling trade, the ultimate destination of most of Stha Lui’s river trade and the single largest scrounger port. Every resident of the Home Territory derives his income in some way from trade whether through direct involvement or in a support role as an inn employee, money-lender, or simple dock worker.
Government and Politics
Home is governed by a council of powerful merchants and other prominent residents. This council is divided along ethnic and racial lines and councilors are ostensibly elected by their racial or ethnic constituents. Occasionally, this is actually the case. More frequently however, bribery, corruption, and vote bank politics bring members of the same families and organizations to power again and again. Nepotism, cronyism, and intimidation abound in council politics.
The decisions of the council are only occasionally relevant to the day-to-day politics of life in Home. The councilors know better than to upset the business and trade interests that truly run the city. Most people are only peripherally aware of the council. Local political bosses, businessmen, and criminal leaders are the more real political figures for most residents of Home.
Home’s incredibly diverse population works to discourage outright racial or ethnic violence but it does happen on a fairly regular basis. The population has tended to settle in fairly homogeneous enclaves within the city where racial or ethnic gangs are common. However, the violence is usually low-intensity and related to criminal activity rather than simple communal sentiment. Nevertheless, there are areas of the city where the wise Aadipuran never walks alone or the prudent elf simply avoids.
Population: 3,000,000 (deep dwarves 80%, Shokhanid 20%)
Government: Monarchy/benevolent military dictatorship
Major Industries: mining and metalworking, go-stone industries
The Mountains tower above the plains of Stha Lui, rising to incredible heights and fencing the plateau from the ocean around it. North of the River, the Mountains jut up from the flatlands in a near-vertical massif of rock with only a few gorges and high passes interrupting the cliff face. Farther south, the rise is more gradual. A range of tall foothills leads to a high plateau, fenced on the far side by truly towering peaks. The Mountains are cold, windy and forbidding, at least on the surface.
The vast majority of the population of the Mountains lives underground, in the cavern cities of the deep dwarves. For thousands of years, deep dwarves have carved their dwellings from the stone and worked mines deep under the earth. Today, with the arrival of the newcomers and accompanying hostilities, the dwarven cities are nothing short of nearly-impregnable mountain fastnesses where the deep dwarves and their Shokhanid allies live in safety or build up their strength to advance against the newcomers.
Once, the deep dwarves dominated much of Stha Lui. Their cities could be found in coastal cliffs and the Forest Hills. Dwarven communities hugged the steeper banks of the River, living off the trade that passed down its length. They developed close cultural and economic ties with the Shokhanids. Both societies flourished.
While their lands were not inundated by the Torrent, the deep dwarves’ lives were irreversibly changed by the flood. The arrival of the newcomers drove the deep dwarves and their Shokhanid allies into the Mountains and instigated a simmering resentment that remains to this day.
The deep dwarves are peerless miners, inventors, and craftsmen. Their society survives on the abundant mineral resources of their mountain homes and the high quality of their craftsmanship. Even the newcomers, for whom dwarf-made items are rare and politically-sensitive, value their high-quality craftsmanship and will go to great lengths to acquire dwarven items.
In addition to mining and metalworking, the deep dwarves are at the forefront of go-stone technology. Deep dwarven smiths invented many of the pioneering go-stone devices (especially those not related to ocean travel) and were the first to use go-stone to enhance weapons and armor. They employ go-stone heavily in their military forces. Even among the newcomers, many of the best go-stone technicians are deep dwarven quislings.
While their mountain cities are ideal for the acquisition of mineral wealth, they cannot produce large quantities of food, though they do cultivate mushrooms and other fungi and cave plants. The deep dwarves rely heavily on their relationship with the Shokhanids for food, trading their manufactured goods and raw minerals for grain, fruit, and meat.
Government and Politics
The deep dwarves are governed by a king who also serves as the head of their military. The king is selected by the highest-ranking military officers. The throne is quasi-hereditary in the sense that, given the deep dwarves strong sense of tradition, members of the same family are almost always elected king. They have a tradition of competence and benevolence among their ruling groups, so choosing a member of the “royal family” is usually a good decision.
Population: 750,000 (sea dwarves 80%, halflings 10%, Aadipurans 8%, deep dwarves 2%)
Government: Ruling council of powerful fleet commanders and traders
Major Industries: scrounging and ocean-going trade, fishing and whaling, naval mercenaries, go-stone industries
Languages: Sea Dwarven
The sea dwarves arrived in Stha Lui in 37 AT and quickly established port settlements on what they called the Qileka Islands. They took this name from the distant archipelago from whence they came. Due to their unparalleled maritime skills, a greater percentage of the sea dwarven population survived than any other group.
At first, the sea dwarves were content with their island homes. Soon, however, they began to be involved in Stha Lui’s complex geopolitics and desired a mainland home of their own. With a less isolated base, the sea dwarves would be well positioned to parlay their naval and maritime prowess into prosperity.
The deep dwarves’ weakness at sea was becoming increasingly apparent. Their first few vessels floundered and sank. Subsequent attempts were more successful but were easily outmaneuvered and defeated by superior newcomer ships. The sea dwarves, on the other hand, were skilled sailors and boat-builders but lacked the land and resources to take advantage of these traits. Desiring to secure an alliance, the deep dwarves allowed the sea dwarves to settle on the southern marches of the Mountains.
The sea dwarves were anxious not to close any doors or overlook any opportunities and jumped at the chance to move onto the mainland. However, they refused to formally ally with the deep dwarves. Determined to remain neutral in broader conflict, the sea dwarves were able to maintain their status as middlemen and merchants extraordinaire, selling goods and providing transportation to all parties.
Qileka’s geography facilitates this neutrality. Remote and rocky, the islands seem thrust out of the ocean in shear, violent cliffs. Even their mainland holdings are rougher and rockier than most coastlines. Only truly excellent sailors and navigators can make their way into the sea dwarves’ home ports.
While other races ply the seas, the sea dwarves are unmatched in their maritime skill. They are also scrupulous about maintaining their neutrality in Stha Lui’s geopolitical conflicts. As such, they are well positioned to profit by trading or selling their services to all sides. Most sea dwarves are involved in maritime trades in one way or another; whether as marines, fishermen, whalers, deckhands, or merchants. Sea dwarves are also well-represented among the scrounger ranks; often sailing farther and for longer periods than others dare. Finally, they were the first group to discover and harness the power of go-stone and pioneered its use in ocean-going vessels. Many sea dwarves still make a living developing and servicing go-stone machinery.
Government and Politics
Qileka is remote and travel between the islands is difficult. Most sea dwarven settlements are largely self-governing. There is, however, a small council of prominent merchants and ship captains that provides limited governance for the entire region. The council is primarily concerned with protecting Qileka’s neutrality and promoting trade. It usually falls on local governors and powerful individuals to enforce laws and keep the peace, which they usually do quite well.
The Śathadva Islands
Population: 200,000 (Vanar 90%, Aadipurans 9%, other 1%)
Government: Monarchy with extremely limited power
Major Industries: None
For as long as anyone can remember, the Śathadva Islands (or the region that would become the Śathadva Islands) was the domain of the vanar, a semi-reclusive race of monkey-like humanoids who dwelt in the dense forests that blanketed the foothills of the mountains. Individually stronger and more powerful than any other sentient race, many people view the vanar as close to the gods and look to the Śathadva Islands for evidence of the deities’ return.
It is true, though not widely known, that vanar were originally servants of the gods sent into the material world on specific missions but unable, for some reason, to return to their homes. They maintained a somewhat closer relationship to the gods as a result of this semi-divine heritage, at least until the deities’ departure left the world bereft of divine leadership.
Still, the vanar were warned of the possibility of the Torrent before it began. Enough vanar heeded the warning that they were able to move much of their society to higher elevations before the rains came. Thus, the vanar survived the flood with traditional social and political structures more-or-less intact. They retain their tradition of isolationism, with the sole exception of the city of Eshwa Pura, which has a significant Aadipuran population and is an important last stop for scrounger crews heading west from Home, Śetaig, Bandar, and Aakhri.
The vanar have limited commercial relations with the rest of the world, relying almost entirely on their islands to produce food, tools, weapons and other vital commodities. They live in very small, self-contained communities populated by only a few families. Most vanar are hunter-gatherers, living off the bounty of their lush forest home.
The only commercial center is the city of Eshwa Pura, which exists as a tie between the reclusive vanar and the Aadipurans with whom they have the closest ties and whose culture they share to a large extent. The city was founded by Aadipurans to serve as a last port of call for scrounger teams heading west, around which its economy still rotates. Its full-time population is small compared to cities like Home and Dekhi but it enables scrounger teams to purchase vanar produce and restock their ships for long journeys into the unknown.
Government and Politics
The vanar live in very small, mostly self-governing and very isolated communities. The Śathadva Islands are ruled as a whole by a hereditary monarch but his power is extremely limited. Most vanar are simply too concerned with their own lives and the affairs of their villages to necessitate anything resembling a national government. It is only in times of war and crisis that the power of the king waxes and vanar society becomes more coherent.
This, however, is not true of Eshwa Pura, where the more concentrated population, the influx of outsiders and the rowdiness typical of scrounger crews necessitates more government regulation. Here the king is quite powerful and an elite guard of vanar soldiers ensures that things remain orderly and fairly safe.
Population: 7,000,000 (60% Halfling, 20% Aadipuran, 10% Gensche, 6% sea dwarves, 4% other)
Government: Representative council
Major Industries: Overland trade, go-stone industries, scrounging and ocean-going trade, animal husbandry
The flat, open country between the ocean and the semi-permanent city Targaidh is called Śetaig after it first city and principal port. Controlled by the halflings, Śetaig is one of the largest tracts of undivided land in Stha Lui. Its open grasslands are ideal for the nomadic, wandering lifestyle preferred by many halflings and for the animal husbandry that makes up a significant portion of Śetaig’s economy.
Śetaig was originally settled by Aadipurans in the first two decades following the Torrent. When the halflings began to arrive, they slowly pushed the Aadipurans back from the coast and, in 60 AT, founded the great port metropolis from which the region takes its name. The next thirty years saw intermittent fighting between the halflings and the Aadipurans vying for control of Śetaig’s plains.
In 90 AT, exhausted from their ongoing two-front war with the halflings and the Gensche, the Aadipurans sued for peace. The three groups signed the Treaty of Home and formally established the boundary between Śetaig and Aadipura, leading to a prolonged period of peace between the two groups.
While its two major cities have substantial permanent populations, just over half of Śetaig’s population lives permanently in transit in small bands consisting of a few families each. They crisscross the grasslands following their herds or trade routes and discovering new wonders each day.
Halflings in large numbers are consumed by wanderlust and curiosity. With much of its population on the move and dependent on beasts of burdens, the halflings have become the dominant force in Stha Lui’s overland trade. Commerce and transportation have become the mainstays of Śetaig’s economy. Away from the River, the halflings are unchallenged in transit trade. Their routes are faster and better maintained, their pack animals and caravans are well-bred and reliable, and their vast network of caravanserais is often the only option for travelers moving through the Hinterlands. You can even find halfling caravanserais in Aadipura, Genzland, and on the fringes of the Fádech Desert.
Halflings of all stripes rely heavily on pack animals for transportation. Their horses, which they export in limited quantities for high prices, are some of the finest in Stha Lui. They especially thrive as beasts of burden rather than mounts. Almost all of the semi-nomadic halfling communities that crisscross Śetaig are involved in animal husbandry to some extent.
Finally, the more settled halfling city of Śetaig is a major center for scrounger crews. It is also one of the few newcomer towns where go-stone technology is readily available. Halfling smiths can usually be relied on to produce high-quality copies of established designs and halfling ingenuity has, in some circumstances, improved upon tested dwarven machines. Often, however, halfling tweaks are inconsequential at best and disastrous at worst.
Government and Politics
Śetaig is governed, not from its large port metropolis, but from a semi-permanent city known as Targaidh, located near Śetaig’s northernmost border. A small core of permanent structures remains at Targaidh while the rest of the city is composed of tents, huts and caravans brought by wandering halfling groups. The city’s permanent population is small compared to urban centers like Home but it swells into the millions at least once a year when all halflings who are able descend on Targaidh for a massive gathering, celebration and market.
Targaidh is home to Śetaig’s government; an elected council of representatives from major trading companies and large halfling family confederacies. The council’s direct control is limited to the immediate environs of the cities of Targaidh and Śetaig while their control over the less-populated lands is intentionally slight. In times of war or trouble, however, halflings swarm back to Targaidh to join together for mutual defense or assistance.
Consumed by trade and travel, halflings in general have good relations with other newcomers. Their networks are an important part of Stha Lui’s economic life. They maintain fairly close contact with their brethren in the Fádech Desert and with the sea dwarves. Their relationship with Aadipura is more strained as halflings and Aadipurans compete for dominance of some of the same trade routes.
Population: 8,500,000 (85% Shokhanids, 11% deep dwarves, 4% other)
Government: Nominal tribal monarchy, most often an effective theocracy
Major Industries: logging and wood products, agriculture
The lush, undulating homeland of the Shokhanids is isolated from the rest of Stha Lui by the towering peaks of the Mountains. Situated in the rolling hills that form the Mountains’ eastern flank, Shokhestan is inundated annually by mountain snowmelt and frequent rainfall as clouds are forced upward by the Mountains’ peaks and pour their moisture onto the eastern slopes. Shokhestan’s forests and terraces are verdant, beautiful, and productive.
Shokhestan’s population is concentrated in the steep foothills where the Shokhanids and the deep dwarves have constructed beautiful terraced cities that hug the slopes and look out over the green valleys. Fortresses and places of worship rise from the tops of even higher hills as row after row of houses balance perilously close to steep drops and fields of talus, supported by deep dwarven engineering and Shokhanid magic.
The area that is now Shokhestan was once controlled solely by the deep dwarves; a rural and bucolic backwater serving as their lowland breadbasket. With the arrival of the newcomers and the landborn’s eastward retreat, however, the deep dwarves pulled back into their mountain halls and encouraged their Shokhanid allies to settle in the terraced fields and temperate rainforests. The population of Shokhestan has increased drastically, fed by fertile soil, abundant moisture, and the application of Shokhanid magic to the practice of agriculture.
With everything west of the Mountains closed to them, the landborn rely almost solely on Shokhestan’s agricultural produce. They Shokhanids have adapted their traditional qanat-based irrigation systems to controlling and channeling mountain runoff into low-land fields. This allows them to largely prevent disastrous spring floods and ensure regular water supplies for lowland crops. The are especially adept at wet rice cultivation, using elegant walled terraces to maximize the available space and ensure abundant harvests. They have also developed a number of strains of tubers and vegetables that thrive in moist environments, growing rice and other vegetables in the same terraces to avoid resource depletion and add variety to their diets. In the coastal lowlands, the Shokhanids grow wheat and other grains alongside rice and harvest fish from the schools that live just off shore. At higher elevations, the Shokhanids engage in animal husbandry, rearing poultry, hardy mountain sheep, and goats to provide meat, milk, and eggs.
That land which is not devoted to agriculture remains a carefully-groomed temperate deciduous rainforest. Shokhestan is the only source of timber to which the landborn have regular access, making it a precious resource. While it employs fewer people than agriculture, logging and woodworking constitute a sizeable portion of the Shokhanid economy.
Government and Politics
Shokhestan is nominally ruled by a hereditary tribal monarch, the head of the most powerful of the tribes of the Shokhanids, known as the “Mirza-ye Qajan.” With so much of their attention focused on keeping the newcomers out or attempting to drive them back, the Shokhanids are relatively united. Overt threats to the power of a sitting Mirza are few.
However, while most Murzaat are relatively secure on their thrones, ascending to the position is often the culmination of a difficult and bloody succession struggle. This is particularly true when the previous Mirza left behind several sons. In these cases, the Shokhanids’ lack of clear succession laws proves to be a weakness, as rival sons often attempt to claim the throne through military confrontations or political intrigues that tear the Shokhanid polity, particularly its land-owning military elites, apart.
However, the Shokhanid religious establishment is extremely powerful and influential. Often, with the power of the Mirza overwhelmed by priestly power, the king is merely a figurehead, controlled almost completely by the clergy. The leader of Shokhestan’s priestly community is groomed for power and is often the actual ruler of Shokhestan.
The Shokhanids and the deep dwarves maintain a close alliance, aimed mostly at combating the newcomers. While their populations are inadequate to drive the newcomers from Stha Lui completely, both Shokhanids and deep dwarves are constantly seeking to return to the homes from which they were driven in the years following the Torrent.
Tanu ya Nzadi
Population: 400,000 (99% elves, 1% other)
Major Industries: Raiding, logging, subsistence agriculture
Long thought to be an impenetrable, uninhabitable swampland, Tanu ya Nzadi was the last-settled area of Stha Lui. The elves, arriving 20 years after all the other races and finding a continent full of established and partially-established kingdoms, settled in Tanu ya Nzadi and quickly adapted to the requirements for survival in the dense marshlands and river deltas.
The elves of Stha Lui are xenophobic and defensive by nature. Tanu ya Nzadi’s remote location and difficult terrain suited them. They used powerful magic to establish villages and towns and soon learned their way through the marshes. As they established themselves, they pushed out against the neighboring Shokhanid and Gensche polities, eventually taking control of territories to the east and west of their swampy home. These borders continue to shift as power ebbs and flows, the Shokhanids and Gensche continue to contest elven advances, and the elves raid and pillage across their borders.
The heart of Tanu ya Nzadi is a near-trackless swamp between northernmost peaks of the Mountains and the forests and hills of Genzland. The marshes are crossed frequently by small, swift-flowing rivers and dotted with lakes and ponds. The elves live in small villages reliant on boats, boardwalks, and plant life for stability. Their capital city, Mbazana, is a maze of boardwalks and houseboats stretching out onto the lake that marks the southeastern border of Tanu ya Nzadi.
Tanu ya Nzadi is a hostile environment. Most of the economic activity of the region is at the subsistence level, including agriculture, fishing, hunting, and gathering. Marsh crops like wild rice predominate and fishing and eel catching are common. Some elves also harvest and export limited quantities of wood, though the swamp trees are too small and seldom prevalent enough to make timber a major industry.
If anything, raiding can be said to be the main industry of Tanu ya Nzadi. The elves’ tribal social structures make for efficient and easily-formed raiding parties and their hardiness, martial skill, and proficiency with magic help them move quickly and strike hard. They supplement much of their income with plunder taken from raids in the Hinterland, Shokhestan, and Genzland. They even raid occasionally in the Fádech Desert, where halfling and elven tribal armies are fairly evenly matched.
Government and Politics
The elves of Tanu ya Nzadi maintain a tribal social and political structure; a holdover from their pre-Torrent society. Each elven village consists of several extended family groups which owe allegiance to a village leader; usually a senior member of the most prominent family. Villages in turn owe allegiance to a more powerful tribal chief who may have authority (to varying degrees, depending on the villages and leaders in question) over a number of nearby villages.
Finally, at least in theory, these tribal chieftains are loyal to the elven High Chief who “governs” Tanu ya Nzadi from Mbazana. In practice, however, the High Chief’s power and control is always dependent upon his personal charisma, his military skill and strength, and the political expediencies of the moment.
Just as raiding forms a major portion of the elven economy, it also plays a significant role in the governance of Tanu ya Nzadi. One of the principal methods the elven High Chiefs use to ensure the allegiance of their subordinates is through the distribution of plunder taken in raids. Distributing the plunder ensures, at least in theory, that local chieftains will look to the High Chief for wealth. It also ensures that local leaders continually compete against each other for power, favor, and patronage.