The Tarot Game: House Info, Runic Kingdom
The Runic KingdomLocation:
East - across the channel from the Arcane Empire.Geography:
The topography of the Runic Kingdom ranges from wetlands and rolling meadows to woodlands and craggy peaks. A large mountain range runs the length of the kingdom just east of its centre. A number of streams run down from these mountains and feed into the various river systems. These systems eventually flow out into oceans that surround the kingdom.
The western lowlands are home to the farming clans. There are a few larger towns in the region where produce and livestock can be sold/traded, and items less commonly available to the area can be bartered for. These settlements are also the locations of the regional ‘Things’ (see: government.) Some families graze livestock into the lower mountains, though the mountains are generally the domain of hunters and miners. There are a number of clans scattered throughout the range. Here, valleys are often the sites of larger settlements - again, these facilitate trade and provide a common place for the people of nearby clans to meet. You’ll also find a number of craftsmen in such villages. The capital of the Runic Kingdom - Bygomanidalr - is located in one of the deepest valleys, surrounding a great lake. A castle was first built on Lake Mani for one of the High Chieftains, and slowly but surely a city expanded out amongst the surrounding hills, forming the nation’s capital. Lake Mani has a rather central location within the kingdom.
The eastern part of the continent is less populated than the west - the land is not as low and is generally more densely wooded. These factors don’t stop a number of clans from occupying areas to the east though. Again, you see mining, hunting and small amount of farming down the mountains. Timber generally isn’t in short supply on either side of the range - but some finer woods and wood crafted items do come out of the east.
Water is very important to the Runic Kingdom - they rely on it heavily for trade, fishing and exploring, and it is fair to say that they have a good deal of it. Streams, rivers, lakes.. not to mention the ocean. Coastal villages are in no short supply in the Runic Kingdom. Again, there are less in the east, as the terrain is rougher - the seas too. There are a smattering of port and fishing villages though. There are major ports located quite centrally on both the south and north coasts. And, again, multiple to the west. Many of the coastal settlements to the west were decimated during the recent war though, as were a number of villages on the trade routes inland.People:
87% Native, 5% Empire, 8% Other.
Despite its involvement in seafaring and international trade, the Runic Kingdom has a relatively low rate of immigration. This is likely due to the clan lifestyle adopted by most members of the kingdom. It is not easy to get into, given that clans are usually made up of families of related individuals. Still, persons with no relation to the leader of a clan may be accepted into it, and in the larger cities, clan lifestyle is often confined to those with higher social standing (e.g. - the warrior clans).
The percentage of individuals of the Arcane Kingdoms residing in the Runic Kingdom has decreased in response the recent war. The climate has not been particularly welcoming since the hostilities - a fact that is unlikely to change in the near future. Despite this, a number of citizens have chosen to remain. In contrast, the percentage of individuals from distant lands dwelling in the Runic Kingdom has increased slightly since the war. There are opportunities to be found in those towns that were wracked by fighting in the war, and the Runic Kingdom is happy to accept any willing to aid in the rebuilding process.Culture:
Traditional Runic society is based on a clan system in which there are multiple levels of organisation. The most basic unit is the clan - a group of individuals of common descent united under one member (usually a patriarch) who acts as its chief. Generally members of the same clan live and work in the same area. The chief of a clan does not own the territory occupied by its members - that belongs to the individuals. It is not uncommon, therefore, for multiple clans to occupy land within the same region. Indeed, all of the clans present in defined area are required to meet a number of times a year to discuss various regional issues - representing the next tier of government. The final tier is national - where nominated members from each of the regions meet with the chieftains of the warrior clans and the High Chieftain (king) to deliberate over issues of national importance.
Marriage is common within clans. Though individuals not related to a clan may be accepted into it - usually via marriage. (Women usually become members of their husband’s clan if they are not already.) Ultimately, the decision to accept a person into the clan falls to its chief though. Arranged marriages are relatively common, and while less common, polygamy is also an acceptable practice in the Runic Kingdom. Divorce is allowed, though if both individuals are not in agreement, the person wanting the divorce must show grounds (e.g. domestic violence, being forced to move, etc.) Children are often expected to follow in their parents footsteps - especially in the more rural communities where the clan is the community and everybody works together to keep the unit functioning. Family is very important to the runic people.
While the culture of the Runic Kingdom is largely male-centric, women are still respected. A strong woman makes a strong man, as they say. The domain of the woman is the home, but her role is not viewed as being servant-like. It is more a complement to the man’s role. While the woman keeps everything running in the home, the man works to supply the family and maintain their honour within the community. In the event of a man’s death, his wife can take over any number of his roles - she is seen as second in command and very capable. Still, there are a number of jobs that are viewed as ‘women’s’ jobs, presumably having less respect than ‘men’s’ jobs. Priestesses and healers are the main jobs women have outside of the home, though this may be starting to change - with women recently being allowed to join the ranks of the military as fighters if they show aptitude. One of the more curious roles a woman can take is that of a Volva though. These are women blessed with magic by the Gods. They usually do not marry - taking themselves out of the traditional ‘family’ role and travelling the kingdom to offer their services. They are gifted with divination and manipulative magics. Volva are both respected and feared, and they often find themselves in the employ of individuals in high places. Of the volva, only a few are considered prophets - having the ability to see the future in dreams, rather than simply divining it through tools. Prophets are seen as being more reliable, though obviously they are at the mercy of what they see - their visions cannot be forced.
There tends to be a breakdown of the traditional runic lifestyle in the big cities. This is largely due to the fluid nature of the larger settlements. Things are developing and changing all the time - with different cultures and individuals always passing through. Still, the clan structure tends to hold on in the upper classes, and it is these groups that are represented nationally. The interests of the lower classes in cities like these often go unrecognised - meaning that the old ways are always being reinforced, even when things may be changing below.
FAMILY, JUSTICE and HONOUR are the fundamental virtues of the Runic Kingdom.Religion:
Most individuals in the Runic Kingdom worship the Gods of the Norse Pantheon. Worship is often a private thing, with individuals turning their attentions to particular Gods depending on their needs. Clans and families may make offerings to the Gods when certain events such as marriages or births are set to occur. There are a number of important dates throughout the year where the Gods are nationally recognised - the solstices, times of harvest, times of war. They are recognised by a sacrificial feast (a blot). Animals are sacrificed to the Gods, then cooked and eaten by the people. The best bits, of course, are left for the Gods. These feasts are held in specially prepared halls (called hofs). The hofs are the closest thing the Runic Kingdom has to temples. In addition to the hofs, more personal worship can occur at natural holy sites around the country or even in ones own home. Human sacrifices occur once every nine years during a special blot aimed at the veneration of all the Gods.
There are priests (gothi) and priestesses (gydja). It is usually only the men that officiate public ceremonies (such as the feasts) though. Gydja are generally more private in their Godly concerns, but they also work to maintain the hofs and consult the Gods, as do their male counterparts.
A number of other religions are present in the Runic Kingdom. They are permitted as long as no laws are broken in the following of them. Not surprisingly, these religions see most of their worship occurring in the major cities and port towns.Government:
The most basic level of government in the Runic Kingdom is the clan. Clans are ruled by a chief, who is typically an older male member of the clan to whom most members have some familial relation. The members of the clan meet as necessary for issues of importance to be discussed. These can range from births, deaths and marriages, to disputes between individuals, to trade and warfare. When the chief of a clan dies, a new chief is decided upon by its members.
The next level of government is regional. Where a number of clans occupy a given area, meetings must occur between them. These assemblies are referred to as Things and they convene every few months. The Thing is presided over by the chiefs of the clans, though every individual technically has a say in the matters that are discussed. Men usually represent their families at the Thing, but in the event of a man’s death, his wife may take his place. Issues relevant to the region are discussed and any disputes between clans are settled. Matters of justice are also dealt with at the Thing. Those involved present their cases to the assembly and their guilt is determined, along with their punishment. In most cases, individuals found guilty of a crime are fined at a level deemed appropriate for the crime. However, in extreme cases - such as murder - the individuals affected are allowed to exact revenge upon the perpetrator of the crime. Each year, an individual is chosen by the people to represent the interests of the area at the National Thing.
The National Thing is comprised of those members nominated at their Regional Things, along with the chieftains of the ancient Warrior Clans. It is presided over by the High Chieftain (i.e. - the king) and his advisors. Issues of political interest to the nation are discussed and voted upon by its members, and the representatives of the different regions may bring any of their various concerns to the table for discussion. While each member of the assembly has a vote, the High Chieftain usually finds himself backed by the leaders of the warrior clans - helping things fall in his favour. Most recently, the assembly met to discuss the rebuilding efforts following the war, as well as the impact of the war on international trade.Military:
The Runic Kingdom has a history steeped in bloodshed. Its earliest inhabitants were always feuding, and it wasn’t until people started appearing from outside the country that these clans banded together to defend what would become known as the Runic Kingdom. Descendants of these ancient clans exist today, often making up part of the aristocracy in the larger settlements, where their families likely originated. There have, of course, been splits over the years - and old wounds are often passed down from generation to generation so that disputes are rekindled. The descendants of these clans are usually respected, however, and most still have heavy involvement in the military.
Good fighters and tacticians are obviously not just confined to these clans - anyone can find a place in the military. In recent times - thanks to the Gods making the Tiwaz Rune some generations ago a woman - women have been allowed into the ranks as fighters. Though it is still a rare sight, and most women stick to the more traditional roles of healers and - in the case of volvas - advisors.
There is a strong sense of pride when it comes to battle - whether it be on the offensive or defensive. Many of the Gods delight in war - with their strength and spirit being emulated by the people. It is no surprise to find that the Runic Kingdom normally has quite a decent army. Numbers are bolstered during wartime with individuals seeking honour and excitement - you’ll find most men can handle a weapon. Presently numbers are down though. There were many losses during the recent hostilities, and currently military efforts are concentrated on rebuilding and protecting those places that were hit hardest.History:
As mentioned in the previous section, the Runic Kingdom had its beginnings with a number of warring clans. These obviously grew over time and splits occurred - with groups moving to settle new areas. Each of the clans had their own rules and regulations, but with their beliefs stemming from the same set of Gods, these often weren’t too far removed from one another. As the population of the country continued to grow and expand, threats from outside became apparent and the clans had to band together to protect their land and their way of life. With this newfound sense of unity, the people of the Runic Kingdom were able to peruse new opportunities. It was during this time that the Runic Kingdom really began to develop as a nation. A new tier of governance came into existence with the chiefs of the clans meeting to make the big decisions. Seafaring became incredibly important - with new opportunities arising for trade ..and war. The country experienced both immigration and emigration - and even with both - the population continued to rise steadily. The settlements of the old clans became towns and cities with a new life and purpose - forming the basis of the kingdom we see today.
In recent times, the Runic Kingdom has seen war with the Arcane. There’s always been tension between the neighbours. Both sides experienced heavy losses though - with towns inland, as well as those along the coast, seeing a lot of fighting and destruction. The Runic Kingdom managed to hold its ports, but no side really ‘won’ the war. There is a great deal of rebuilding to be done - not only of towns, but of lives. A lot of trade has been interrupted and the army needs to boost its ranks one more. The great nation has certainly been dealt a blow, but they hope to rebuild and be stronger than ever. Revenge is certainly in the sights for some.