Dark Days in Sion
Commonwealth of Athenea
|Commonwealth of Athenea|
Size: Approx 15,000 square miles
Allegiance: Independent Sovereign
Government: Parliament ruled by a Prime Magistrate
Power Center Alignment: LN
Technology Base: Crusades
Population: (Mixed) Approx 300,000; 20 persons per square mile;
Population Demographics: 30% Urban Dwellers, 55% Rural Dwellers, 15% Abroad
Racial Demographics: 75% Humans, 20% Demihumans, 5% Humanoids
Class Demographics: 20% Military, 5% Clergy, 5% Upper Class, 20% Middle Class, 50% Lower Class, 0% Slaves
Law Rank: 6
Transitions: 1500+ Years of Order
Legal Code: Old legal code
Law Enforcement: Moderately Strong
Corruption: One-third of officials corrupt
Social Standing: Always Matters
|Sites and Landmarks|
|SeaWind Mountains||SeaHorn Mountains||River of Thorns|
|Kingdom of Kumbi||Kingdom of Sesea||Colony of Gallicus||Dread Marches|
Athenea is a large commonwealth claiming a sizable chunk of Mgorongoro as its territory. It is divided into several states each ruled by a Magistrate from an aristocratic family. It is a militant feudal society ruled by a Prime Magistrate.
Most of the land is owned by Archons, an elite group of soldiers, trained from childhood to serve thirty years in the army. When they retire, they are granted a parcel of land called a fief, with authority over serfs that dwell there. Archons are tasked to keep and train a garrison of soldiers and lead them into battle if called upon.
Nearly sixteen hundred years old, the Commonwealth of Athenea was originally founded by Parcean immigrants. It has now grown larger then Parcea itself, by waging wars against the native Mgorongorons. However, the Thorn River in the east has long been a border not so easily pushed back, for what lies beyond it are the Dread Marches. Home to a huge number of dangerous Gnolls.
It is tradition in this kingdom for the affix ‘helm’ be used exclusively by aristocratic families in their surname. So for example, there are Blackhelms, Redhelms, Whitehelms, etc. Membership in the aristocracy requires legitimate bloodlines somewhere in their family tree.
Quality of life here is good for the the aristocracy and the Archons but not so great for commoners and serfs who lack representation among the aristocrats. Their well being largely depends on the largess of the archons who own the land, or appeals to the Church of Wruen who make the laws. However such appeals are rarely ever without cost.
Some say Athenea’s expansion has reached a plateau, and is not likely to grow any larger without reform. The aristocracy has become increasingly disconnected and disinterested in the plight of their leasers, especially those on the outlying areas.
In this commonwealth, the aristocracy are masters of every type of skilled profession, including and not limited too military service, arcane study, construction, trade, exploration and administration.
One check to the power of the aristocracy is the Church of Wruen, the blind god of justice. Priests of Wruen serve as judges and lawmakers. They occupy fortified courthouses and maintain their own militant force of clerics and paladins. They say all in Athenea are beholden to the law, and not even the Prime Magistrate can overturn a judgement from the church, but the truth of these claims is far from certain. Some believe Wruen is a false god with a corrupt following. However, since judges are also responsible for land rights and tax collection, those in power have a lot to lose speaking out against them.
Other religions are largely tolerated in the Commonwealth, so long as they do not praise evil humanoids, infringe on the laws or interfere with the authority of the Church of Wruen. Speaking against the Church of Wruen or acting against its edicts, regardless of creed, is an easy way to end up in a dungeon or otherwise harshly punished.
Beneath the prime magistrate are top officials in his court, such as the Master Marshal in charge of internal security, the Master Archon General in charge of his armies, and the Master Engineer in charge of building and road construction..
The Church of Wruen plays a key roll in tax collection and legal arbitration headed by the Spiritual Master.
|Orders and Establishments|
Before the Legion, Athenea’s dungeons became dangerously crowded leading to an uprising and a revolt. The Master Marshal created the Legion as a way of putting condemned men to better use guarding the borders.
Joining the legion is the only way criminals can avoid severe punishment from banditry, thuggery or murder. Legionnaires are branded on their cheek marking them for life.
Since its inception, the Legion has earned a reputation for cunning and brutality in battle. A fitting assessment for a unit made up of murderers, thugs and bandits lacking in chivalry and military training.
- Conspiracy Against the Commonwealth
Execution or Life in prison
Execution or Lifelong Service in the Legion
Imprisonment for 90 Days, Restitution to the victim
- Affront or Insult to a High Official, Judge or Magistrate
Imprisonment for 30 Days, 1,500 GP Fine, + 1 dozen Lashes
- Affront or Insult to an Aristocrat or Official
Imprisonment for 30 Days, 500 GP Fine, + Nine Lashes
- Affront or Insult to an Archon
Forfeit Life in a duel with the Archon
- Affront or Insult to a Lesser Official or Priest
1 Week in Jail, + Five Lashes
- Arson or Major Theft
Imprisonment for 30 Days, 1,500 GP Fine, + Five Lashes
- Banditry or Thuggery 3rd Offense
Imprisonment for 1 Year, 5,000 GP Fine, + Twenty Lashes, + Loss of a Hand or Lifelong Service in the Legion
- Banditry or Thuggery 2nd Offense
Imprisonment for 60 Days, 1,000 GP Fine, + Ten Lashes, + Loss of a finger or Lifelong Service in the Legion
- Banditry or Thuggery 1st Offense
Imprisonment for 30 Days, 500 GP Fine, + Five Lashes, + Loss of a finger or Lifelong Service in the Legion
- Assault or Theft
Two Weeks in Jail, 300 GP Fine, + Four Lashes
- Trespassing or Vandalism
1 Week in Jail, 150 GP Fine, + Four Lashes
- Affront, Insult, or Drunken Disorderliness before the Law
1 Day in Jail, 25 GP Fine, + Four Lashes
|Customs, Kinship, and Marriage|
Celebrations & Holidays
- Day for the fallen: August 29th
This is the date Anastus Madigore died attempting to conquer the Dread Marches.
- Commonwealth Day: September 14th
The founding date for the Commonwealth of Athenea.
- Karnaváli: Carnival Season
Atheneas’ carnival season, known as “Karnaváli”, is a period of masquerading, eating, drinking and dancing. Traditionally, it begins two weeks before April’s full moon. It is a time for celebration and feasting where the smell of grilled meat fills the air. Family and friends gather in taverns or homes to eat large quantities of charred meat to celebrate the birthing-season of all the livestock. The last Sunday of the Carnival period is a celebration of cheese products known as Cheesefare Sunday or “Tyrofagos.” Weather permitting, people enjoy the outdoors, organizing picnics while children fly kites. On this day a host of delicacies are eaten including Lagana (a special unleavened bread), Taramasalata (a fish roe spread), Gigantes Plaki (oven-baked broad beans), seafood salads and shellfish as well as a special semolina pudding known as Halvas are just some of them.
- Crownhelm: The Grand Carnival
The capital city of Crownhelm has the grandest carnival in the land which begins on the last day of March with an announcement by the town crier, and reaches its peak in the last weekend of carnival. Crownhelms carnival features a variety of events: balls, parades, street theatre, and much more. The carnival reaches its apogee on the last weekend with a huge walking parade (participants take to the streets holding torches), while the phantasmagorical floral, artistic, and satirical floats parade on Sunday. The Carnival “King and Queen” are carried along in all their splendor. Visitors flock to Crownhelm by the thousands, participating spontaneously to the events taking place everywhere in the city -homes, bars, streets – turning the whole city into a gigantic party.
- Greathelm: The Old Carnival
The city of Greathelm hosts the oldest carnival in Atheanea that incorporates many traditional Parcean elements, as well as those of the local Mgorongorons. The highlight is the parade on Saturday. Troupes go singing and dancing through the neighborhoods of the picturesque Old Town and merge in an all-night music fair in the main square. Cheesefare Sunday leads to the custom of a witch-burning atop of a pile of brushwood, perhaps the oldest and last example of this tradition in the land.
- Highhelm: Carnival of Geros
In Highhelm the Carnival comes alive with the sounds of clanging goat bells. These are worn around the waists of men who take part in the carnival playing the role of Geros (patron god of animal husbandry), a figure with long wild hair dressed in goat skin. The men run through the streets individually or in groups, singing, dancing and making as much noise as possible. Locals traditionally toast, drink and dance with Geros to ensure the safety of their livestock.
Courtship & Marriage
After a certain age, courtship among the aristocracy of Athenea is a casual affair. Until then however, noble daughters aren’t usually free to choose whom they marry, unless their first husband or father dies; then their heart is free to choose for itself. Arranged marriages are the norm for young ladies, whose limited interactions with their spouse-to-be are strictly chaperoned by chaste priests. To the contrary, noble sons are free to court who they please. Eligible daughters of wealthy commoners, foreign leaders or sometimes even famed Archons are the usual matches. Dishonorable and disrespectful conduct by a young aristocratic suitor has caused many family feuds, even wars, in the long history of Athenea.
Marriage in Athenea is an honored and important past time. Men must prove themselves hardworking and dedicated, making regular visits to the church before a priest will bless the notion of marriage. Eligible ladies-in-waiting wear ribbons in their hair to attract suitors. Marriage is regarded as a sacred contract, not easily dissolved. Nor is a marriage ‘legal’ unless the ceremony is performed at a Church of Wruen under the auspice of an ordained priest. (Which requires a large donation).
Noble bastards born out of wedlock are sometimes adopted by the nobles family, but will always carry the middle name ‘Moro’ along with their surnames and family names. Unwanted bastards are usually adopted by the Orphanage of the Church of Wruen, otherwise known as the House of Wruen.
When Athenean couples get engaged, they typically exchange engagement rings in the presence of their family. A party follows! Each partner gets a plain gold band to wear on the left hand to signal the engagement. These are the same rings that the couple will wear as their wedding rings. The bands are blessed during the wedding ceremony, and then the couple switches them to the right hand.
In setting the date, there are traditional times of year when Athneans would never hold a wedding ceremony. The forbidden dates for weddings include the first two weeks of August and during Carnival. There are a few other holy days where weddings will also not be performed.
Before the wedding, friends and family will help the new couple prepare their new home. The bride and her attendants – all single women – will make up the marital bed. The groom must give it his official approval. Then money (for prosperity) and seeds (for putting down roots) are thrown on the bed. Lastly, a baby is rolled across the bed to guarantee fertility! Superstition says that whatever the sex of the baby is will be the sex of the couple’s first child. So if a boy is used, their first child will be a son.
On the day of the ceremony, the groom’s friends will gather to help him get ready. His best man – called the “koumbaro” – will shave the groom. This shows the trust between them. The koumbaro will also stand by the groom during the ceremony, and has other obligations like procuring the wedding crowns. All the other friends present help to dress the groom. One might button the shirt. Another might put the jacket on him. That way they all have a symbolic role in getting him ready.
The bride is similarly prepared by her koumbara – or maid of honor – and dressed by her friends. A number of bells are tied to the brides shoe with strips of ribbon. Each strip of ribbon bears a name of the brides maids. The ribbons that aren’t lost by the end of the night’s dancing are the names of the women who will be married soon themselves. The bride, once she is dressed, traditionally leaves with her father. She is told by her mother to look back at her parents’ house one last time to ensure that the children take after that side of the family.
Couples are required to meet with a priest at their local church of Wruen during their engagement to ensure they are ready for marriage and know what to expect. After their marriage the couple must meet with the priest again to legalize their new household.
Athenea is a large and topographically diverse land. Weather follows a typical Mediterranean climate pattern with hot, dry summers and mild rainy winters. The country receives a lot of sunshine, for which it is rightly famous, and prolonged stretches of rainy weather are uncommon. There are really only two seasons in Athenea: hot and dry between April and September; mild and wet from October to March.
There are, however, very varying weather patterns across the land dictated by the topography and distance from the coast. The high mountains, for example, have a very different climate to the islands; inland areas see more pronounced seasons than coastal areas. Tropical storms tend to batter the coastal states. Spring, Fall and Winter however are largely wet for the whole land, good for growing crops and grazing livestock. Temperatures never quite reach freezing here, allowing for late harvests and ample irrigation.