The south-eastern nation, home to the serpent-kin.

  • Land Area: ~ 13,800 sq mi (similar to Montenegro)
  • Population: ~160k
  • Terrain: Jungle valley. Large lake (2400 sq mi) in the southern district
  • Demographic breakdown:
    • 44% human
    • 30% half-elf
    • 25% serpent-kin
    • 1% dwarves

Government

Hereditary, caste-based theocratic autarky with limited meritocratic advancement. Head of state is the Queen’s Fang (king-equivalent). Multiple layers of nobles that, in principle, report to him. They mostly act independently, though. Parallel set of bureaucrats who enforce obedience to caste and religious laws. Only country with standing army--the commoners are disallowed weapons beyond clubs.

Main castes:

  • Noble (Isal)--has multiple levels from courtesy titles up to district ruler. Nobles have rights of appeal and higher nobles have rights of justice. Priests are nobles of various ranks.
  • Tradesmen (Lai): have limited rights of appeal but pay taxes.
  • Commoners: pay dues/taxes in labor. Subject to impression for labor battalions and have very few rights of appeal.
  • Unclean (Ba): Minimal rights. Not slaves, but cannot rise in status and must maintain steady employment to live in cities. Only way to escape is to become a priest or a soldier, and those are rare.

Economy and Currency

The Stone Throne calls its currency "scales". Scales minted in the South are often suspect, especially the gold. Commoners are forbidden to possess coined gold or unset gems, although they can wear gold and begemmed jewelry. The economy is highly stratified, with people tied to their particular professions. There is wide income and wealth disparities between the classes--the Isal often are stupendously wealthy while the Ba are effectively paupers.   

Northern District

The newest district. Under military rule.

  • History: Sha’Slar was founded about 40 years ago as a forward outpost for expansion. The discovery of wild steelsilk in the area led to rapid expansion, under military control. Until the Liberation in 205 AC, it was under the command of Phraya Marshal Sal’zar. Since then it has been under the rule of Lai Chea General.
    The area has also provided an outlet for the oppressed masses, especially of Ba. It is the most lenient as to caste boundaries--success is what matters. The district is home to a majority of the Stone Throne military, including their primary training facilities. Much of the combat experience of the military comes in battling predatory beasts and savage halfling tribes in the surrounding jungles, as well as the remnants of the Twisted Lands. However, duty on the frontier itself for more than a single 6-month rotation is considered a punishment for those who can’t handle the more refined politics of the central and southern districts.
  • Religion: Extremely devout worshipers of the Queen Ascendant, especially among the military. Priests are very common (much more common than other nobles) and wield very strong influence among the common folk.
  • Demographics: More serpent-kin than other areas, but otherwise split. The majority of dwarves (who are rare) work for the military.
  • Climate: Dense jungle, dotted with lakes. Land slopes up to the south and east. Wilder parts of the jungle are dense with hazardous creatures, many of them magically altered (dating to the Fanged Kingdom’s experiments).
  • Economy: Agriculture, production of steelsilk. Forest products, leathers, and furs.
  • Government: Military rule. Each larger village is under the command of a Lai Lieutenant (honorary rank of Muen) or a Khun or Luang. Luang delegate day-to-day operations to a steward. Smaller villages choose a headsman to handle day-to-day affairs.
  • Architecture: Wood huts with thatched roofs for the common folk. Noble houses tend to be wood with fixed, hipped roofs (tile or slatted). Stone is rare except in fortifications. Houses tend to be heavier than in the more southern regions, with load-bearing walls. Those settlements on the shores of bodies of water tend to have most buildings on pylons or raised walkways due to frequent flooding.
  • Culture: Very religious. Less hierarchical than other regions, with more mixing of castes. Fewer sumptuary laws, especially in the villages. Relatively accepting of adventurers.
  • Traveler Housing: Designated inns and boarding houses. While not as strictly checked as in other regions, foreigners are strongly recommended to have their stamped housing pass with them at all times.
  • Diet
    • Wheat and rice, mostly flatbread
    • Game, chicken, insects. Use every part.
    • Greens
    • Tropical fruits
    • Wine/beer/(distilled liquor)
  • Taboos and superstitions
    • Snakes are holy. Killing a snake is a crime. Elaborate measures are taken to discourage snakes from living quarters.
    • Sneezes in quick succession are a sign that you’re being watched, possibly by devils.
    • Mismatched eyes are a sign of a blessing from the Queen, especially if one eye is silver.
  • Threats
    • Cannibal halflings in the jungles
    • Strange hybrid creatures, many of them snake-like or draconic
    • Ruins of the Fanged Kingdom (and earlier Eladrin ruins), filled with traps and treacherous machinery.

Sha’Slar

The capital of the Northern District. About 4.3k people.

  • Location: Two days due north of Asai’ka, on a rocky outcropping/hill in the middle of a large open area.
  • Defenses: Heavy military presence. 150 guards, backed up by arcanists and priests. Led by Lai Chea General, a protege of the Queen’s Fang.
  • Economics
    • Steelsilk is the major export--the weavers are located here.
    • Imports manufactured goods/metal
    • Lumber and wooden products go south.
    • Trade flows through Sha’Slar on its way north/south.
  • Leadership
    • Lai Chea General is in charge.
    • Each section of the city is under a Lai Marshal

Central District

The largest and most powerful district. Home of the holy city. Richest of the Districts and most populous.

  • History: Founded about 100 years ago as the survivors moved north from the shores of the lake. They moved in search of the lost Serpent Queen and her priests in the Holy City, and they found her (and them). Asai’ka was founded within a year as the secular capital to match the sacred precincts (that were too holy for commerce). Since then it has become the focal area for the kingdom known as the Stone Throne.
  • Religion: The common folk are fanatically devoted to the Queen Ascendant. Secondary devotion is paid to the Jeweled Lady and the Red Crown, especially by the nobles (although they certainly pay lip service to the Queen). Life in Asai’ka is more secular than in the rural areas or the North. Strangely, while the priest-bureaucrats of the Holy City nominally serve the Queen, they are the least devoted in actual faith.
  • Demographics: Dominated by humans and half-elves. Dwarves are not unknown--a pair of clans has a stronghold in the mountains to the south of the Holy City. Serpent-kin are less common (and less well-regarded) than in the North.
  • Climate: Hot and wet (although drier than the North). The land rises as it moves up the valley toward the lake. Much of the jungle around Asai’ka has been cleared for rice paddies and wheat fields.
  • Economy: Balanced. Most of the Stone Throne’s manufacturing happens here. Iron and gem mines on the border provide most of the metals used throughout the nation. Lumber and steelsilk (as well as regular silk) are imported from the North. Leather and fish-based fertilizer, as well as some more exotic mineral products, come from the South.
  • Government: Lord Ssa’ka has ruled continuously since the beginning (and was the ruler of the remnant to the south before that), his life extended by strange alchemies. Currently a widower, he is an unstable ruler, prone to violent flashes of temper and random beneficience. Much of the de facto power outside Asai’ka is held by his 6 Phra, each of whom manages a pie-slice of the district.
  • Architecture: Wood construction in the central Japanese style (sloped thatched or tile roofs, structural wooden beams, few load-bearing walls). Towns (except for the Holy City) are closely packed with winding streets and clearly-delineated caste districts. Fire is a constant danger.
  • Culture: Tightly regimented by caste. Each caste has a dress code; addressing a superior without permission outside of the normal order is taboo. Military squads police the streets, each led by a noble (courtesy or not) officer. People prefer to act in a cold, outwardly-rational manner, but plot vengeance even for petty offenses. Arms laws are in effect--commoners are restricted to daggers and clubs, lai can carry maces and scimitars, nobles can wield weapons as normal. Spells require clearance.
  • Traveler Housing: Designated inns. Visitors are required to wear a ribbon in plain view at all times; failure to do so is a serious crime. Adventurers should keep their filled-out passes on them at all times.
  • Diet
    • Wheat/rice, flatbread. Balanced.
    • Chicken/mutton/pork
    • Sweet foods, varied small dishes (japanese style)
    • Rice wine/spirits
  • Taboos and superstitions
    • Snakes are holy. Killing a snake is a crime. Elaborate measures are taken to discourage snakes from living quarters.
    • Bad luck can be canceled by drawing a small amount of blood from the left middle finger and waving it in an s-shape. Many make this warding gesture without the blood-letting habitually to ward off evil.
    • Mismatched eyes are a sign of a blessing from the Queen, especially if one eye is silver.
  • Threats
    • Criminal organizations in the cities
    • Demon cults: Barbed circle in the cities, red fang in the outskirts
    • Remnants of the Twisted Lands in the western regions
    • Ruins of the Fanged Kingdom in the wilds.

Asai’ka

The capital of the district. Cosmopolitan.About 14k people

  • Location: On the plains, about a day’s journey from the Holy City. Surrounded by cleared farmland.
  • Defenses: A stone wall. 150 “elite” troops backed by spellcasters. There are suspicions that they’re mostly parade-worthy, not combat capable.
  • Economics: Manufacturing. Heavy alchemical industry concentration.
  • Leadership: Lord Ssa’ka rules personally. Those that offend seriously against the many laws disappear. It’s believed that he has a group of monastery-trained secret police who carry out those disappearances.

Ar Salem Dolem

The Holy City, capital of the Stone Throne. About 3.2k people.

  • Location: In a small pocket valley in the northern edge of the Lunar Range.
  • Defenses: A pair of walls cover the only entrance; the mountain walls rise several thousand feet in sheer cliffs around the rest of the city.
  • Economics: Taxes. Bureaucracy. Magical research (especially priestly). Payments by pilgrims.
  • Leadership: Isal Sal’zar rules here as Queen’s Fang. Day to day operations are handled by the priestly bureaucrats. Nothing is done simply--there is a procedure (and paperwork, often voluminous) for everything.

Southern District

The oldest district.

  • History: Here the survivors of the Cataclysm fled, hiding in the great valley of Lake Thom. Continuously inhabited since the middle of the 1st Interregnum, traces of the 2nd Age Eladrin Empire still can be found. Kel’al’ar is build on the site of older cities dating back millenia. In more recent times, after the center of the nation moved north to Asai’ka, the Southern District has fallen on hard times. The previous two rulers were insane--one a brutal tyrant and the other a soul-devouring sorceress bent on becoming a Demon Prince. The Dark Lady was thrust down by the actions of the Catalyst and an international strike-force, as well as the heroic sacrifice of her sister. Since then, the district has been wracked with internal strife among the family that claims leadership, although this mostly manifests among the commons as neglect.  
  • Religion: Of all the districts, this one has the least worship of the Queen. What veneration there is is mixed with ancestor veneration, devil bargains, and a general wariness on the topic. “Trust yourself, not the gods” goes the saying.
  • Demographics: Half-elves have a (slight) plurality here, with very few serpent-kin. Dwarves are uncommon, but not rare. The rest are humans. The humans and half-elves have more visible elven heritage than in most places. Tieflings are not unknown.
  • Climate: Drier than the northern districts, and cooler (due to elevation). Still warm and humid, although the winters are snowy, often in the extreme. The rice is grown in terraced fields, as the area is quite mountainous. The Lunar Range to the East rises 15,000 feet above the shores of Lake Thom, which dominates the valley. The Shieldwall Range to the west is shorter, topping out at about 10,000 feet, but still provides a good rain shadow. Time has only slightly dulled those peaks, thrown up with the descent of the Angry Moon at the close of the 2nd Age 10000 years ago.
    Lake Thom is a large, freshwater lake in the center of the valley. Deep and cold, it falls off quickly from the shores. During the stormy seasons the winds are especially treacherous. It is rumored that all sorts of sea monsters live in its depths, although so far they haven’t bothered the surface dwellers. Brimming with fish, it is the major source of food and employment for the commoners of the district.
  • Economy: Currently focused around fish and sheep. Self-sufficient in food production, the major exports are fish-based fertilizer for the fields of the Central District, sheepskin/wool, and a few specialty elements (mainly copper and tin, although silver is also produced here).
  • Government: Officially, the Phraya is Isal Sat'psa Balin, but he’s ancient, in poor health, and senile. His 18 children (by many concubines, wives, as well as some adopted on ties of blood oath) all are fighting in the shadows for the role of Heir. So far none have died, but the scene is highly confused. Poisonings, counter-poisonings, attempted assassinations, false-flag raids, the whole bit. While this is going on, the people mostly take care of themselves. Several towns are led by Huang, others by groups of Lai.
  • Architecture: Stone is much more frequently used here than in the other districts. Foundations are usually stone set in cement, with wood or stone walls on those. Still the sloped slate or tile roofs (thatch for the poorer peoples). Unlike the Center or North, most wealthier houses have stone fireplaces (instead of separate kitchen structures) due to the chill of the winter.
  • Culture: Suspicious and closed off, especially to strangers. With the last two rulers (and the current troubles), few willingly get involved in the affairs of others unprompted. Cynicism and bleak humor are omnipresent.
  • Traveler Housing: Only found in the larger towns and in Kel’al’ar, and there only at a few specific inns. Elsewhere, travelers aren’t welcome in town after dark unless they’re vouched for.
  • Diet
    • Rice
    • Fish, rarely chicken or pork
    • Sweet/spicy
    • Rice wine/spirits
  • Taboos and superstitions
    • Bad luck can be canceled by drawing a small amount of blood from the left middle finger and waving it in an s-shape. Many make this warding gesture without the blood-letting habitually to ward off evil
    • Do NOT discuss the Dark Lady. You will be shunned.
    • Breaking spider webs is bad luck--you’re disrupting the web of fate.
  • Threats
    • Assassins if you get involved in politics
    • Threats from the deep.
    • Ancient ruins, especially further into the mountains or underground. Many still with active enchantments and guardians
    • Beasts from the east (lycanthropes)
    • Devil contractors

Kel’al’ar

Capital of the South. Currently experiencing unrest due to uncertain succession. About 6.7k people.

  • Location: The center-east of the district, about half-way between the lakeshore and the mountains. Rolling hills.
  • Defenses: Minimal--there is a wall around the old section, but the city has spilled out long ago. House troops of Isal Balin patrol, but are highly corrupt.
  • Economics: Self-sufficient.
  • Leadership: None, really. Two of the Phraya-candidates (Isal Kala and Isal Ichiru) pay more attention to the city, but they’re at cross purposes most of the time.