Gateway To The Southern Sea
Oksa is a large island that lies at the northern tip of the Necklace of Plenty archipeligo, and effectively controls passage from the Sea of Deep Wisdom out into the wider world. Roughly 400 miles across at its widest point, it has a mountainous interior surrounded by fertile plains. The coast is mostly rocky, with steep cliffs on the eastern and western shores. Three major rivers run through Oksa - the Linell, the Byrsa and the Rauma.
The people of Oksa are of nekuuese descent and are, for the most part, farmers and fishermen. Currently Oksa is divided into five nations - Linlin, Pelagia, Poeni, Nasholim and Uuksam, although throughout Oksan history the names, numbers and borders of the Oksan nations have changed as they have fought amongst themselves, at war or through political maneuvering
Oksan culture is close to mainstream Imperial culture, having long been vassals of the Empire of Splendour. They have many achievements of their own, including kunubara dance-poetry. Oksan cuisine favours fragrant spices, tomatoes, couscous and fruit. Clothing is not as many-layered as Imperial clothing, and tends towards robes with straight lines for both men and women. Golden jewelry is favoured by both sexes, especially worn around the neck. There are a few subtle differences between Oksan society and mainstream Imperial culture. For example, the Oksans typically practice mixed bathing at their bath-houses, giving them a reputation for licentiousness amongst Imperials. They also practice a variant form of law, with a Magister Judiciary appointed to as a defence council for the accused.
Turuk and the Rebel Aqueduct
The Empire has had a long and turbulent history with Oksa, originally settling it over one thousand years ago. It came to assist in a civil war between two of the Oksan kingdoms, and stayed ever since, first as a "peace-keeping" force, then more openly as conquerers. Assimilation was largely peaceful, with occasional uprisings from Oksan nationalists. As the Empire began to crumble, these troubles flared up more and more, and as the Anhoin River States began to secede, the Empire sent one General Vandrupanash to hold on to Oksa (with its valuable command of shipping to the Southern Seas). Due to his particularly harsh treatment of rebels, rebel sympathisers, and anyone else who disagreed with him, General Vandrupanash became known as Bloody Vandru on Oksa, particularly in the kingdom of Linlin where he had his power base.
The various kingdoms of Oksa have a fractious nature, and Vandru was seen by the others as largely a Linlinese problem. Only later, as he expanded his sphere of influence, did they see a threat to their own nations. It was the young Merchants League who stepped in to help. In an move famed for its audaciousness, they undertook the construction of an entire purpose-built city upriver on the Linelle, using Imperial military contracts to cover their movements. Over the course of just one year, the city of Turuk was built in the guarded highlands of Oksa, and the engineers raised the riverbed for a mile along the Linelle, eventually creating a sixty foot artifical waterfall, a bar to any river-bound assault.
The next step was to populate the city. The Imperial garrison didn't notice the few craftsmen who left the city of Port Linlin to begin with, nor did they mind the steady stream of refugees the trickled into Uuksam. However, the Merchant Clans organised the mass movement of the entire population, or at least, those willing to go which turned out to be a sizeable majority. The Night of Flame was what happened once Bloody Vandru discovered what was happening. The careful escape became a desperate flight for the last few stragglers, and a vengeful Vandru put the city of Port Linlin to the fire. Even today, the charred remains of Port Linlin have never been re-settled. Pursuit into the interior came to the mighty walls of Turuk, and Vandru's forces were thwarted. Shortly thereafter it was deemed to costly to attempt an assault on the city, and Oksa was abandoned by the Empire.
Oksa is nominally ruled by the Council of Kings, comprised of the five rulers of the five nations who meet in the city of Turuk. Turuk, although within the borders of Linlin, is considered neutral territory and is the de facto administrative capital of Oksa. Each nation rules an enclave of Turuk and contributes jointly to its overall upkeep.
The Council is not a source of harmony, however. There is a long history of shifting borders and alliances between the Oksan kingdoms that predates Imperial rule, and these are all resurfacing. Poeni and Nasholim are disputing mining rights in the mountains, and Poeni resents having to pay taxes to Pelagia to transport its ore by sea. Uuksam is seen as a threat by the other nations due the unusual nature of its government (see below).
The Republic of Uuksam
The Oksan nation of Uuksam is as close to a representative democracy as can be found in the former Imperial sphere. It ended up so almost by accident, after a series of struggles for succession and Imperial invasion had left it bereft of a leader, any clear lines of succession and a distrust of autocratic government in general. The theories of an obscure political theorist, Gaatok of Rylim, suddenly gained support and respect, and thus the Republic of Uuksam was born.
Power resides in the body known as The Legislature, which is comprised of two houses. The upper house, the Magisters Supervisory, are elected for life by members of the lower house, the Legates. The role of the Magisters Supervisory is to see that the business of the Legislature is conducted according to procedure, and to produce the actual drafts of bills of state. They have the power to censure legates according to the laws governing Legislature procedure, but have no voting rights of their own. There are approximately one hundred or so Magisters Supervisory. The lower house, the legates, are a larger body and it is they who do the voting on matters of state. The lower house has between five to ten times the number of members of the upper house at any one time, depending on the matter being debated. Attendance in the lower house is open to all who meet the requirements (see sidebar), and who can make the journey to the Palace of the Legislature in the capital city of Malentor. Uuksam is represented on the Oksan Council of Kings by the Speaker, who is elected by majority vote from members of both houses.
Since the Legislature is based in Malentor, and a person must travel to Malentor to exercise his or her democratic rights, this tends to exclude those living in the more remote regions of Uuksam. To overcome this, several methods have arisen.
- Vote by proxy. A group of landowners can get together and decide to sign over their votes to one person, who travels to the capitol and votes on behalf of all of them. This can, sadly, lead to corruption, where the proxy decides not to vote the way they were asked to, or where someone claiming to be acting by proxy votes for multiple people, who may be out of the country or even dead.
- Political parties. People band together based on a common ideology, they raise money, and then offer to help those wealthy landowners (or impoverished veterans, or travelling merchants) get their votes counted using proxies, petitions, paying for somebody to watch the farm for a week, or whatever. Sometimes a party buys some wagons and rides through the smaller town, offering a ride to anyone with the vote if they'll only listen to some speeches and vote for their candidate. These parties tend to be temporary affairs based on one policy only (such as the infamous "Three Day Week" party). Once the matter has been addressed, the parties fall apart. So far, Uuksam has not seen anything like a bi-partisan system based upon conservatives vs. progressives.
Since wealth plays a part in one's eligibility to vote, that gives the perfect avenue for foreign powers to buy a candidates by stumping up the necessary funds (preferably through convoluted channels to disguise the fact). Furthermore, it can lead to "rotten boroughs" where a proxy acts as a lordling over his jurisdiction. Many proxies take the money and run, living the high life in Malentor whilst their supporters keep paying money in the hopes of getting results. It is a far from perfect system, and the self-regulation doesn't help, but for the most part it works.
Oksa can play host to lots of different types of adventure, depending on preference. The high mountains present an opportunity to seek wealth, whilst fending off rock-men, fellow prospectors and other mountain monsters. The ruins of Port Linlin are a place where the stench of burning still lingers, inhabited by monsters such as ghouls and hungry ghosts. During the evacuation, many valuables may have been left behind, not to mention rare artifacts that might be vital to the another quest of the player characters.
Political intrigue and spying is common in Turuk, with the different enclaves acting like Cold War Berlin. The Merchants League, the other Oksan nations and various criminal cartels would all like to control, or stop, the dragonsblood mines of Nasholim, with plenty of opportunity for player characters to act as saboteurs or protectors.
The silvery metal known as dragonsblood is liquid in its natural state and can be brought to a semi-solid form by careful crafting. It has the unique property of conducting magical energy, and is sometimes found as a component of wands, rods and staves. It can also be added to armour, weapons and other items to act as a protective "grounding" device against incoming spells. Any weapon, item or armour can be "laced" with dragonsblood with no change in weight, although the method is not suitable for casters that suffer an armour penalty as the magical-absorbing properties of dragonsblood can exacerbate this effect.
Weapons and items can be laced with dragonsblood for an extra 1000 gp (100,000 yen) and provide a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws against spells, spell-like abilities and supernatural effects. This bonus is not, itself, magical in nature. A dragonsblood-laced item causes a +5% spell failure chance.
Armour can also be laced, but due to the patterns that can be formed, the effect is different. There are three levels of lacing; light, medium and heavy, and armour must be of at least the equivalent type to receive that level of lacing (e.g. medium armour can receive light or medium lacing, but not heavy). Armour lacing provides spell resistance. Light lacing gives SR 13 and costs an extra 4000 gp (400,000 yen), medium lacing gives SR 15 and costs an extra 9000 gp (900,000 yen) and heavy lacing provides SR 17 and costs 16000 gp (1,600,000 yen). None of these alternations change the weight of the armour, but they do increase the spell failure chance by +5 % (light lacing), +10% (medium lacing) and +15% (heavy lacing). Alternatively, armour may be treated with the resistance bonus effect as for weapons and items, but this cannot be combined with spell resistance lacing.
In its raw state, dragonsblood ore costs from 1-6000 gp (100-600 thousand yen) per ounce, and gives off a mild anti-magic field. Raw dragonsblood cannot be affected by magic in any way, but does not extend this property beyond itself.
(c) 2007 The Creative Conclave.
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Empire of Splendour
Necklace of Plenty
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Nations of Oksa
Linlin Capital: Turuk (formerly Port Linlin). Products: Agriculture, marble and spices.
Pelagia Capital: Tantura. Products: Wine and grains.
Poeni Capital: Agrigento. Products: Silver and iron.
Nasholim Capital: Ralatum. Products: Silver and dragonsblood.
Uuksam Capital: Malentor. Products: Tobacco, medicinal herbs and plants
Kunubara is an art form that originated in Oksa and was adopted by the Empire. It is a type of dance where each move represents a concept, thus allowing it to work on two levels. As well as the pure aesthetics of the movements, each dance can tell a story if the audience understands the vocabulary. The Empire took what was an informal style with many regional varients, and established the Imperial College of Kunubara. The "accepted" moves were then set down and the style became formalised.
The most famous performer of all was Shifra. As a writer-choreographer, he pushed the boundaries of the Imperial rules, creating many complex and unforgettable pieces based upon historical and mythological themes. There has been a trend recently in places like Llaza for an interpreter to sing or chant the story along with the dancers. This is considered an abased form by connoisseurs, but it has opened up kunubara (and especially the stories of Shifra) to the common folk.
Within the mountains at the heart of Oksa can be found strange creatures made from living rock, roughly humanoid in outline. The normal state of these beings seems to be one of instinct, but some have been known to show intelligence and the ability to learn languages. The "rockmen" seek out metals and gems to eat, and it is thought that they gain some of their abilities by doing so. There is generally little contact between humans and rockmen, save for the miners of Peoni and Nasholim who sometimes come into conflict over minerals.
Voting Laws of Uuksam
The rules governing who may act as a legate (thus speaking and voting on a topic) are based upon expertise. To vote on issue of trade, you have to earn a certain amount of money. To vote on issues of agriculture (like taxes on food or reactions to a blight) you have to own a certain amount of land. To vote on laws about laws, like jury requirements, you have to be well-educated. To vote on military matters, you need to have served in the army. This makes the system rather bulky, since the same issue must be agreed upon by multiple voters. It also allows a lot of people to vote multiple times, while others don't vote at all.
The requirements are all graded, categorized and generally manhandled to keep the number of voters manageable and ensure the people who do vote are informed. For example, in the case of a military vote the scaling would be:
Enlisted regulars: 1/4 of a vote
Sergeants and enlisted specialists (cavalry, archers): 1/3 of a vote
Specialists (engineers, magicians, medical): 1/2 vote
Low officers: 2/3 of a vote
High officers: full vote
Each of their votes on the subject would be collected separately, the sums reduced by the appropriate amount, and then tallied.