The Known World of Silvertide
Ankala (ahn-KAH’-la), is a land of plenty and a land of learning. Officially known as the Regency of Ankala, she is a country that reaps the bounty of very fertile lands and a political system that emphasizes education and freedom of thought. Located on the western border of the Known World, she is bordered to the south by Courtalton, the east by Stormhaven, and to the northeast by Carinnia Vols. With almost 550,000 residents and a territory of 22,500 square miles, it is one of the three largest nations in the Known World. Though the lands draw travelers from all over Silvertide, most citizens are comfortable tending their flocks and fields, or engaging in debate on any one of hundreds of hot-button topics.
Regus Agaeros is Ankala’s capital city, and the common currency is the Ankalan Florin. She enjoys four seasons – with the summers being very warm and humid, and the winters bitterly cold.
Ankalans are a people of average height and build, with dark hair and almond eyes, and there is little to distinguish the Settlers from the natives found in the area as they have totally blended biologically and culturally. The native language, Ankalan is soft and pleasant to the ear, and some say that an Ankalan can curse a man to a thousand deaths and the listener will thank them for the kind words of praise. The people are hardworking, and hold to a peculiar tenet: “Do no thing unless you intend to do it well“, and this ideal is evident in their goods, services, and military. Workers and soldiers from Ankala are easily recognizable by their work ethic and refusal to abandon rituals and methods for performing their art, whether it is setting up a workstation or armor and warm-up routines for soldiers.
The dominant religion is the Talon mythos, with much attention given to Irol as the Harvest Mother and Talon as the Educator. Religion plays an important part of daily life in Ankala, with many prayers recited daily as part of normal activity. A woman may beseech the gods for future riches as she washes clothes, while a soldier may mindlessly recite prayers under his breath without thought as he attends to his kit at the end of a hard day of training.
Ankala is a republic of city-states with only four classes: Slaves, Non-Citizens, Citizens, and the Rulers, and it is relatively easy to move between the classes. There is a Regent that holds the position for life, but is merely a placeholder for the rightful King, who is said to be Talon (the primary deity), himself. Even without a stereotypical monarchy, there are still several orders of Knighthood that exist. The Regency has banned Principalities from forming militias, but there are governmentally organized fighting troops that are used on all fronts and as traveling security on the roads of the Regency.
Knowledge and wisdom are held sacred in Ankala, with Clerics (of any faith) and arcane casters holding special honor and position (Clerics above arcanists), though similar respect may be paid to any depending upon their perceived wisdom and experience. Wizards and bards are held in particularly high esteem.
Those not in political offices are quick to defend their lands in the military, and any may rise to significant rank. When war looms, young men and women gather in the town squares to receive training with weapons as needed. With a mandated service of two years for all able-bodied adults, a Prefect can raise a modest army overnight, much to the surprise and detriment of possible invaders. Politically, Ankala is at peace with nearly all nations of the Known World, with the only military strife coming from the giants and dark races from the west and a state of perpetual hostility from Courtalton, their southern neighbor.
ANKALA AT A GLANCE
Data based on the most recent census ordered by the Regent, four years ago.
Area: 22,500 square miles
Sovereign: Regent Klovis Altimder – known as “Lord Creampuff” by his detractors.
Capital: Regus Agaeros (King’s Holy Mountain).
Major Cities: Regus Agaeros, Leona, Epidna, Napola, Lakon, and Placada,
Highest Point: “Mount” Gaizinkala in the Anulo Hills (NE Ankala), elevation 800 feet.
Heraldry: On a field parchment per pale proper: an azure roundel with, saltire, a longsword proper and plow proper. (crossed sword and plow on a circle of blue, upon a divided field of parchment (a book)
Founder: Master Timon d’Ankal
National Motto: “Do, and do well,” and, “Never be the weak link of the chain.”
h3. Pre-Founding Period
Prior to the Founding, the indigenous people called this region “Kernikoa”, and it was a thriving series of towns and hamlets of humans that worshipped an unknown deity of knowledge. We know little about these ancient natives outside of their desire for a passive lifestyle, as repeated incursions of the Dark Races had nearly wiped them out. Stories were told of the Kernikoans founding their cities on the sites of ancient ruined cities that had emerged from the Long Cold Sleep (the Age of Ice), and two locations survive with nearly intact ruins, with the western location (Atenkala) explored less than the other (Arafyonkala) due to the proximity of settlements of orcs and ogres.
h3. Founding Period
When Master Timon d’Ankal took his group of Settlers to the west, they found numerous small, ragged bands of exhausted refugees living a nomadic existence of squalor, on the verge of eradication. Through the machinations of Master d’Ankal and the brawn of the new arrivals, they were able to carve out a small settlement on the banks of the southeastern Claw, and thus was Ankala born.
With the fertile grasslands in the region, crops yielded a bountiful harvest and the population grew rapidly within their defensive perimeter created by the Claws. As the newcomers found more small bands of barely surviving natives, the refugees enthusiastically relocated for safety. The leadership of Master Timon led the newly named Ankalans to seek education and knowledge as before, but tempered with the pragmatism of a strong defense to keep the Dark Races at bay. Creating settlements and large farmsteads between the finger-lakes of the Demon’s Claws, they were able to form defensive walls and outposts that kept their cities and crops safe. Ankala’s name is derived from the founder of this nation, Master Timon d’Ankal, Ankalia directly translates from the region’s native tongue as, “West” or “Westerly”. Master d’Ankal thought it apropos and adopted the name for their new settlement.
h3. The Period of the Regency
After establishment of the fledgling nation and the Dark Races learned the painful lesson that the humans were no longer easy pickings, the Ankalan people began looking inward. Dissatisfied with a traditional monarchy, they placed their trust in the gods of the region. They established a Regency to hold the throne for the ultimate ruler – a great King that embodied the search for knowledge and the ability to overpower his enemies – the High-god, Talon, himself. For almost two millennia, the throne has been empty; with a line of Regents doing their best to ensure the nation was keeping the edicts of their chosen benefactor.
In the years since the Founding, the Ankalans built many new cities along the shores of the Demon’s Claws, even reaching the far western shores of the West Claws. Of all the cities in the Known Lands, Ankalan cities show a sense of order and planning not seen in the Known World, with indoor plumbing in most buildings, paved streets, and interlocking walls that are all wisely constructed before the first citizens ever move into the area. At this time, there are two locations under construction to the west of the Claws.
Ankala surrounds a series of finger-lakes known collectively as the “Demon’s Claws,” that empty into the Porali Talus (River of Talon or Talon’s River). Fed by underground glacial runoff speeding down from the north, the Claws remain frigidly cold (34° F) year-round.
The Republic covers approximately 22,500 square miles of area, and all of the water in the nation is fresh. The majority of Ankala is less than 200’ above sea level, with the entirety below 800’ in elevation. The highest point is Mont Gaza to the northeast of Ankalia, where the ruins known as Gaizinkala are located.
The soil within five miles of the Demon’s Claws and Porali Talus is exceedingly rich, black, and fertile, with the rest of the land area covered with fertile (if untapped) grassland. There is a large river in the northwest that flows to the south from Sandgem along the western edge of the Salt and Pepper Mountains that dumps into a great sinkhole known as the Demon’s Maw. The noise of this huge “drain” is audible for miles and the roar is deafening up close.
Ankala has a temperate, semi-continental climate, with cold and dry winters, and hot and humid summers, with precipitation falling at an even rate throughout the year. There are four pronounced seasons of near equal length. Winters average approximately 40° F, with winds generally out of the west or northwest. The cold months see very light snows that rarely stick for more than a day or two, bright sunshine and short days. “Severe” cold can see temperatures in the teens and signal winds shifting from the west to the northwest (coming down the western side of the Salt and Pepper Mountains from the glaciers in the north. Summers are warm to hot, (average temperatures of 75-95°) with very high humidity away from the lakes, with sunny and cool evenings and nights. Summertime winds are primarily from the southeast. Spring and autumn are mild.
Most of the country is composed of fertile lowland plains and low, rolling hills. A typical Ankalan landscape is a mosaic of small copses of trees surrounded by vast fields of grassland. Through the arable land are birch groves and wooded clusters that afford a habitat for numerous plants and animals. Active farming only accounts for some 20% of available land, so there are still thousands of square miles that are unsettled. An interesting point is that plants producing roots or tubers (potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.) are nearly unknown, because bulbous roots spontaneously rot. Conjecture has it that this is somehow due to the eel migrations.
The Demon’s Claws abound in a breed of eels that have specialized fore-fins that form rudimentary “legs”, allowing them to leave the water during the autumn just prior to the onset of winter in a mass exodus creating great fields of slimy, stinky, dead and dying eels as they flop farther and farther from the water’s edge. This mass die-off provides excellent fertilizer for the land within five to ten miles of the shoreline, and eliminates older, weaker, and excess male eels from the breeding population. Huge flights of migratory waterfowl take advantage of this exodus, as do land-based predators, building up much-needed body fat before the winter.
The eels “swarm” creatures in the Claws in apparent feeding frenzies, but there are no known incidents where the eels have actually bitten anyone.
Common wildlife in Ankala include the ibis, bison, several species of deer, wild boar, lynx, bear (black), fox, and a few wolves. Migratory bird varieties are countless, but with the extremely steep shores of the water-bodies in the region, wading birds are very rare. Likewise, semi-aquatic creatures (duck, beaver, and otter) are also rare – with some believing it is because of constantly swarming eels. Rarer are grizzly bear or even cave bear, winter wolfs or other an occasional roper coming from the forests of the west. Great sturgeon and salmon are common at great depths in the lakes and rivers of the region, with sturgeon of some 15 or more feet long and salmon nearing six feet in length.
For humanoids, other than humans and the occasional dwarf, the more common interlopers include goblins and orcs, with occasional forays of giant-kin (usually ogres, hill giants, and frost giants). Elves are quite rare, and the Halflings that live in the area tend to keep to themselves. The Regent dispatched a delegation to Maker in Carinnia Vols (Furnace Forge) to see if he will send a warforged representative to their nation, but there has been no answer thus far.
The government of Ankala is a socialist theocratic hegemony, with nearly all involved in the government being clerics. Mayors, known as “Honoros,” administer the cities with a “Pilseta” (Parliament/Council) of three to five representatives to ensure the Honoros do not abuse their power. There are additional functional administrative positions (City militia captain, tax collectors, etc.), but these are chosen and placed into their positions by the Honorii.
Each Prefecture is ruled by a triumvirate administration called the Agira (plural: Agiro) that are chosen by republican election by all clerics in the prefecture for 10-year terms (3.3 years apart so there is a sense of movement or progress). As a counter to abuses by the Agira, there is also a Pilseta (parliament) of four representatives per city that serve five-year terms, and a triumvirate of Saeia (pronounced, “SAY-uh”, translates as: “Justice”) that travel through the Prefecture to hear criminal and civil cases, and to adjudicate any possible challenges to Prefectural edicts. There is a 60 seat national Pilseta that is elected by the Prefectural Agira that meets in Regus Agaeros (King’s Holy Mountain), with each Prefecture having four Representatives selected for six-year terms. The Pilseta serves as a counterpoint to the Regent, who serves for life. There is also a Saeima, or executive court branch that ensures neither the Regent nor Pilseta exceed the bounds of their powers. The sitting members of the Saeima select replacements to their court, and serve 20-year terms.
The Regent at this time is Klovis Altimder, a High Priest of Irol, and known as “Lord Creampuff” by his detractors, who mock his large size and insatiable love of sweets. He has a reputation as a very even-handed ruler, and the populous greatly respects him.
Each Prefecture has separate councils and administrations, and each city and village therein have smaller version of the administration staff. The Prefect deals with conflicts between cities, while the Regent adjudicates conflicts between Prefectures.
Three-foot tall obelisks spaced every 100 yards clearly mark the borders between Prefectures, with easily visible 100’ tall obelisks on the shoreline of each river or lake.
Ankala has good relations with her neighbors, with the sole exception of Courtalton, which has poor relations with all nations. She has established diplomatic relations with all nations in the Known World with sporadic invitations and banishments from Courtalton, and all nations save Courtalton have embassies in Ankala.
Ankala’s foreign policy priorities include promotion of learning and education of all citizens in all lands, and the promotion of the arts. Within the past decade, there has been much debate regarding Courtalton, and possible military intervention to assist the citizenry and to forestall any further attacks.
There is a small standing national army, with each Prefecture maintaining their own Praefa Guarda, or National Guard. Although she is a peaceful land, her military is strong, with highly trained soldiers learning first-hand the trials of war in the western Prefecture defense against the Dark Races, and the annual supplementary mobilization to the defense of Laupennin Perak have served to much acclaim.
Ankala has universal compulsory military service for all citizens of two years, and those that wish to continue may do so at significantly higher salaries. After the two-year term, all males who leave the service (and any females that wish to do so) must then serve two weeks per year in their local Praefa Guarda until age 60.
The economy of Ankala is vibrant and growing at an enormous rate. The abundant food supply and ability to export many items has brought foreign wealth into the country in a steady stream. Although the silver standard remains, with gold used for large marketing deals, there is still a thriving barter-system in place, with installment or service exchanges used for very expensive items.
h3. Maritime Industry
Although there is a thriving commercial fishing program in place, Ankala has been very slow to enter the maritime trades, relying on land-based caravans or foreign shipping to haul nearly all imports and exports.
The road system in Ankala is well developed and well maintained, with only Courteltanian roads being of higher quality. The Highway of the Ancients is a definite boon in the area, allowing over-water travel for its entire length. At this time, improvements are underway on the road system with the laying of new secondary roadways where only overland trails now exist. In addition, they are making consideration for the construction of permanent roads to Stormhaven and Carinnia Vols to the east and northeast, respectively.
Travel is free to any and all that wish to enter or depart – with the only stipulation being that for extended journeys, all emigrants, immigrants, and all seeking to visit (merchants) are logged for tracking purposes. Most roadways are free to use, with a few localities charging nominal tolls, and the Highway of the Ancients having a toll system in place for any who wish to enter a Prefecture having to pay a one silver florin toll per heartbeat or 50-weight of livestock (50-lbs) (whichever is less), or 20% of the value of commodities.
h3. Natural Resources
Known for being the home of some of the most productive amber mines in the Known World, there is some interest growing for “fishing” for amber deposits that are found in the depths of the largest river in the region, the Poralli Talus. Net fishermen have snagged amber stones from the bottom of the frigid, fast-flowing river that have topped 150 pounds!
The eels are an extremely valuable commodity: in addition to the annual “migration” that helps fertilize the land adjacent the Claws, the Ankalans have harvested them for centuries. In addition to the direct dietary support, their “migrations” lure birds and other small predators in that are hunted and provide additional food varieties.
The rich soils are perfect for growing grains of all sorts, and the wheat and similar grains provide an overabundance that is traded with all of Ankala’s neighbors.
h3. Science and Technology
The Regency Office for Research is responsible for establishing curricula for the several colleges in Ankala, as well as for the primary schools and military. So much surplus food exists, that fewer and fewer people are farming. The standard weekly due is under one day per adult (the lowest in the Known World!). This has allowed the arts and sciences to thrive. Because of this, Ankala may well overtake Thalaria as the intellectual capital of the area within the next decade.
Over the centuries, scientific strides in the field of agriculture have introduced crop rotation and active fertilization of farmland to produce higher yields. The main problem facing the Ankalans is their stubborn refusal to react quickly to change. They are so steeped in their own traditions that they are loathe to institute changes in anything – from agriculture to magic to military maneuvers and equipment. They even make their music and art in the same manner as it was millennia ago.
Taxes in the region have significant impact on both import and travelers. Upon arrival in the country, there is a 20% value tax of all salable goods (merchant goods), coin, bullion, gems, and raw materials. The sale of any goods of ANY sort costs another 20% of the sale price. Exclusions are in place for “personal use” items, but Ankala imposes taxes on multiples of items (two swords, etc.). The only exclusions are for “sets” of items, like a quiver of arrows, or a pair of matching blades (worn as a set). The rule is – “If it’s in packs, prepare for a tax.” Export of items by merchant caravan, vessel or carried, costs another 20% of the value of the item. Failure to pay taxes on an item results in the forfeiture of that item or refusal to allow that person to depart the country.
h3. Land and Land Ownership
The Church of Talon owns all land in Ankala – and companies may purchase leases as needed, or the Church may award leases to businesses, groups, or individuals for exemplary service or heroism on the battlefield.
With the complete mixing of the Settlers with the local Survivors (as they were known), there are no arbitrary separations between the population, and Ankala is known for being multiethnic for many centuries. Emigration is beginning to have an impact as small ethnocentric communities are sprouting up in some locations. To date, the government is slow to respond to this because the idea is so foreign to their mindset.
There is a small community of about 30 Elves in the town of Rivon, Regina Fontina. There is a small, transient population (less than 20) of Dwarves that have called Agaeros home for several centuries. Regina Antillas has three small communities of Halflings in Isparta, Afyon and well to the northeast of Isparta near the ruins of Gaizinkala. Western areas occasionally get half-orcs that result from the rape of women during raids and battles, and immediate death awaits those born with orcish features.
One point of interest is the fact that there is institutionalized indentured servitude. Not considered as citizens, they cannot vote or hold office – but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them. Lifetime servitude is illegal, with the longest term being 20 years. A person may become a slave through debt, as a prisoner of war, or even by voluntary contract (like a bankruptcy filing). Standard terms are for two, five, seven, or twelve years. Many young apprentices learn their trades by entering into a five-year term as an indentured servant. All servants earn a nominal wage, paid upon completion of their term (about half of the suggested wages in the books).
The native language is Ankalan, and many also know the related tongue of Courtenalis Orensis to the south. Nearly all know Common, and most know at least one other language, ranging from Carinnian and Courtalese as the most common, to Havish (Stormhaven) or Barronaeic, down to Paludan, Elven, or Dwarven at the rarer end. Those from the Western towns are known to speak Giantish (giant common), and Black Speech (orc/goblinoid common).
The overwhelming majority of residents in Ankala follow Talon and the Talonian mythos, with less than 1% of the population worshiping other deities. All believe in the legend of the formation of The Demon Claws. Most will offer prayer to any of the Talonian deities depending upon the circumstances.
The legend of The Claws came with the Survivors. According to the ancient stories, when the World was new, a great demon began scheming on how it could wrest control out of the hands of Talon and become a god in its own right. After millennia of shadow wars, Talon was able to face down the demon and what the Survivors call the “God Wars” began. Many features of this World were altered in the course of these battles – mountains flattened and raised, great volcanoes exploding into the skies, even seas forming and draining. During the final, climactic battle, Talon knew he could not defeat this unnamed demon, so he decided that he would imprison it for all time.
Talon opened a great canyon in the Bosom of the Mother Earth that was deeper than a man can imagine, and he laid his trap. Feigning injury and possible defeat, the demon rose up to deliver the death blow, and it was then that Talon acted. He quickly rose, grasped the demon, and with all of his godly might, threw it into the chasm as he closed the rift with his mind. The demon was nearly able to free itself, its claws dug deep into the ground on each side of the canyon. Talon repeatedly stomped on the demon’s face, driving it deeper into the Mother’s Bosom, the demon’s claws ripping through the very rock of her flesh, creating the water-filled gouges known as “The Claws”. With one last, mighty stomp, the demon lost its grip and was cast down, with Mother Earth closing above it. Since that day, the “Demon’s Claws” have been a lasting reminder of this great battle. The demon’s frigid breath chills the icy water, and runs down to the scar from the visual evidence of the battle to the canyon that closed above the demon’s head, and thence to the sea.
With schooling mandated for all children between the ages of five and twelve, the literacy rate for the citizenry nears 95%. Conducted from September to March each year (with breaks for harvest and planting seasons), this Primary School sets the stage for all citizens. The Philosophic College of Agaeros is the oldest and largest institute of higher learning in the nation, with nearly 1200 students. All Prefectures have smaller colleges, with student populations ranging from fewer than 50 to several hundred
The general population is the healthiest in the Known World, due primarily to the abundance of food in the region. Disease is rare, and with the high number of clerics in the region, injuries are rarely fatal.
Traditional Ankalan folklore, especially the dances that accompany folk songs, date back to the Survivors, who passed their native culture to the Settlers. There is no correlation between social standing and worth in society, and race has no bearing in cultural worth. Favorite pastimes include public baths and feasting. Street entertainers are common.
Physical sports are not as popular in Ankala as in other nations. For an evening’s entertainment, many will attend concerts, enjoy outdoor meals while listening to wandering minstrels, or attend a public oratories, debates, or plays.
Laws are simple, and punishments tend toward recompense rather than permanent penalty (amputations, tattoos/scars, or death). Fines can be very high, and terms as an indentured servant are very common – and it is common to see the convicted person sentenced to serve his victims.
h3. Death and Funerary Rites
Burial for Ankalans is a simple matter. After a memorial service, they submerge the deceased into the depths of the icy waters of the Claws (with the aid of heavy stones). Other than fine clothing, nothing accompanies the body, so wealth and treasure remains with the next of kin. The assembled mourners all wade into the water up to their ankles as the priests offer final prayers – and then they remain until the cold forces them again to shore. In most cases, the family hosts a light meal, but there are no great feasts. Death is a sober and somber affair, and there are no great wailing masses or other emotional outbursts.
h3. Marriage and Family
The Ankalan family is based on a patrilineal model, with males in charge, and the first-born male child inheriting whatever property previously owned by the father (remember, land is all owned by the Church). Marriages are nearly all arranged early in life for the bride and groom, but they are given many opportunities to interact while growing up, so most of these arranged marriages are quite consensual. The family of the groom pays a bride price to compensate the bride’s family for her “loss”. This bride price can be as little as a few herd animals for lower-class citizens to businesses, great herds of beasts, or even including thousands of florins.
Family life is close, with both parents sharing the rearing of children. Upon the age of majority – usually around twelve years of age – the male children begin training in their eventual professions, with the first-born usually groomed to take over the father’s business, and they ship any subsequent sons to the military, the clergy, or nearly any traveling occupation (merchants, caravan guards, road construction, etc.). This usually means that the young lad enters a five or seven year indentured servitude contract.
For most young women, marriage is in the cards, but for those anxious for wedding bells, they also have the option to enter an apprenticeship program, the military, the clergy, or other occupations as they wish.
For marriages that are not so happy, divorce is an option – but only for the man – forbidding divorces to wives unless the husband’s fate includes slavery in another land or being captured as a prisoner of war. Husbands can sue for divorce for infidelity, lack of affection, inability to govern the house, or a wide variety of other reasons. If a clerical court agrees, the bride price originally paid to the bride is forfeit, and if she is unable to pay, her family must refund the entire amount. If the courts deny the claim for divorce, they ask the wife if she wishes to remain. If she does, the matter is closed – but if she decides to sunder the binds of matrimony, the husband gets to keep the cash value of the bride price, and she gets ALL of the rest. This means that suing for divorce is rare.
Roleplaying an Ankalan
The rest of the Known World considers Ankalans as staunch traditionalists – all goods are produced in the same manner that they have always been produced, all music has the same basic sound, and even the warriors can be identified a mile away from their traditional manner in which they wield their weapons. This is not to say that these traditions are bad – they are merely ready means to identify Ankalans or their work. Known far and wide as skilled debaters, one can hear raucous arguments everywhere as you travel the cities. This has made some newcomers nervous when they encounter a merchant confronts them, screaming about the prices of coffee and waving his hands in their faces – and then welcomes them warmly to his shop. Once an Ankalan has begun a project, he will continue it through to the best of his ability until that project is completed. The idea of leaving spell research unfinished to go adventuring is anathema to an Ankalan.
The people of Ankala like to know the rules by which they will operate; everything from the details of an artistic work to the rules of combat. They simply want to know any artificial limitations, and will only argue these rules if there is question as to the quality of the finished work (i.e. giving one week to complete a portrait that should take two months).
Ankalans abhor unrepresentative rule – with despots and dictators (with some monarchs) topping their list. When in groups, they have no problem accepting the mantle of leadership or letting another accept that role, as long as there is dialogue both up and down the chain.
All characters from Ankala will be Lawful in attitude. A player that wishes to play a chaotic Ankalan finds that the exile is the only option for the character, and that they grew up elsewhere. This precludes them from any of the Ankalan traits as shown below.
Those that depart from their beloved Ankala truly do not leave her, their traits and idiosyncrasies remain for many years. All will strive to be the best at whatever chosen profession they claim, and although they may be involved in some amazing heroics, they will not needlessly throw their lives away over “honor.”
The rarest Ankalan adventurers are rogues, because of the deeply ingrained lawful nature of the nation. Perhaps it would be better to say there are few “thieves” – but scouts are relatively common. Next rare are bards, because of their nature to copy what has been done before, original works are extraordinarily difficult to conceive. Likewise, Warlocks and Sorcerers are rare because the internal conflicts that make most chaotic are in direct opposition to the Ankalan society.
Easily identified, Ankalans proudly display their style of dress, their foods, and the products that they make as a Hallmark of skillful tradition.
The classical style is the best term to identify Ankalan art – think Michelangelo and Rembrandt – clear, clean lines, and lifelike representations. Nearly all buildings have frescoes, tapestries, or drapes throughout the structures. All art with living (or imagined) creatures decorating them are as close as the medium allows to photography – their art is all about realism and the beauty of what is actually out there. Many works of art show scenes from historical figures; military commanders, great orators, etcetera.
Music is traditional and there is little experimentation, with remakes being “re-releases” of previously performed works. Performers tend to be technically VERY skilled, with little HEART involved – the idea of a standard blues performer (i.e. Muddy Waters) is foreign to Ankalan performers (think of techno music performed by a robot… and that same robot trying to perform a blues tune). Although Ankalan performers are too traditional in nature to imitate the style, spirited performances from foreign bards are welcome and enjoyed thoroughly by all. All local singing is operatic in nature.
Ankalans prefer neat and orderly construction – with function overriding comfort concerns. Frescoes adorn nearly all public buildings and statuary is on all streets and in every market. Tiled mosaics are beneath the feet of all who enter any building – even when covered with heavy rugs to protect against the cold, and pillars abound. To the casual gamer, this looks like Classical Greek or Roman style. While much of the stonework has come from pillaging the local ruins, newer buildings now use marble and stone from Carinnia Vols. Pillars are statements of wealth, so nearly all homes will have at least a pair of them at the entrance. When viewed by visitors, their homes elicit feelings of safety and security, of longevity and endurance, and of professionalism and pride in the work.
Ankalan cuisine typically consists of a meat being featured, and either dumplings or a stew including wheat or corn. Roots and tubers (potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc.) are most rare, because bulbous rooted plants rot spontaneously when grown. Common ingredients include wheat, barley, cabbage, onion-grass, eggs and either eel or mutton. Ankalan food is generally quite fatty, though filling, and they use few spices, usually just a sprinkling of black pepper and salt.
Beef is relatively rare, with goat and mutton being the staple land-based source of meat, and pork is so rare as to be nonexistent. The staple food of Ankalans are grey peas and eel, as is a hearty, dark bread made from sorrel and rye, and this wonderful, aromatic bread is found on every table in the form of loafs and rolls.
Ankalan hair is invariably dark brown to black in color. Women wear theirs in loose curls, either pinned back to the sides or gathered in loose ponytails for daily wear, or swept up in elaborate buns held in place with silver or gold-wire nets for formal affairs. Men wear their hair short, in a “Caesar” cut. Facial hair is relatively rare, but when worn, it is a full beard – you never see lone mustaches, Van-Dyke style beards, or muttonchops.
The overwhelming majority of Ankalans wear tunics, togas, and robes, and outside of an occasional border, they are unadorned except for members of the Clergy (with holy symbols) or high-level governmental dignitaries. Coloring runs the entire spectrum, with no restrictions (i.e. purple for royalty, etcetera). Summertime has fabrics of light cotton, serge, and silks, while winter abounds with wools from sheep, goats, and bison. Necklines are V-shaped, and belts are usually the only way to detect the wealth of a citizen, with the poor usually make do with a length of rope or leather thong.
Outdoor footwear ranges from sandals to light boots – very utilitarian in nature, with very little thought given to fashion – while house-wear footwear are light sandals and slippers, which do tend to display the wealth of the wearer.
Considered gauche for general wear, gloves and mittens are only for warmth and work. No matter the conditions, during greetings or while debating, all involved remove their hand-wear as a gesture of respect. Historical accounts tell of instances of significant disrespect when high-ranking Ankalans have shaken hands with others whilst wearing gloves or gauntlets – with the offended party blissfully unaware (like seeing a politico make a promise with visible crossed fingers). Hoods are frequently sights; hats are quite rare unless used to keep warm, and they are usually tasseled skullcaps (watch caps).
Body art is rare, with earrings in women being common, but piercings on men being extraordinarily rare. Considered oddities to be viewed but not possess, tattoos are exceedingly rare.
Military fashion is very structured. The military wears light to medium armor, and mandates that all conform to strict standards of performance and appearance. Metallic armor has major unit crests badges affixed to them, while leather armor has the crests branded onto them. Helms for junior personnel have low metallic ridges, with dyed horsehair crests showing increased rank depending upon length. Individual units have specific colors used for identification, and are used in capes or cloth bands tied around the arms.
Five Things Every Ankalan Knows
- The names of all of their officials and those in governmental positions – as well as those seeking office, formerly held office, or are opposing the incumbents.
Something having to do with the military or militia – whether it is the use of arms or armor, or the use of siege weapons or even skills in the admin or logistics arenas.
The basics of the code of law in Ankala – as well as passing familiarity with codes from at least one other nation (used as counterpoint in debates!).
National history, as much as can be known prior to the federal records being inscribed.
Some form of artistic expression. All Ankalans use art to relax, whether painting, drawing, sculpting, song, or dance. It may not be masterwork quality skills, but the skill will, at least, be moderate (a musician could play several songs or join in on an impromptu jam session). All citizens know several classical dance forms (ballroom style)
Ankalan Views on the Known World
Rogero Andanio, a baker from Turgula, offers his opinions about the Known World of Silvertide.
Stormhaven: “The hustle and bustle of city life is beyond my ken, after seeing it firsthand some 20 years ago when my unit returned from The Wall [Laupennin]. So many people crammed in without actually KNOWING anyone else – it was HORRID! But on the other hand, everything is for sale in Stormhaven – if you don’t see it right now, ask and wait a moment, and it will be found.”
Courtalton: “The only reason they still have a nation is because of the reign of terror pushed on them by their despotic rulers. The whole nation needs to be freed! Given a spark, the entire region will explode in civil war.”
Carinnia Vols: “Their love of being underground will be their undoing – they never take the time to look at the stars or the world around them! And their custom of BURNING their dead rather than letting The Mother accept them back into her teary bosom is barbaric.”
Thalaria: “She is a fine land with a good understanding of the sciences. If I were to emigrate, I would move to Thalaria. While they are wrapped around that mountain of theirs, their attitude regarding scholarly pursuits and the arts are admirable. ”
Sulon: “She’s an odd egg – a ruling king that actually listens to his subjects! The natives down there are amazingly adept at grasping new concepts, Snowchild and en-Hoc stayed here for a time when I was a lad and I was greatly impressed."
Inondacare: “Although they bottle the best wines in all the lands, their cold attitude to all others is distressing. You would think a people that fond of fermented grapes would be kinder to their fellow man, right?”
Ankalan names follow the Kernikoan custom of a personal name followed by a family-based surname.
All male names end in either “-o” or “-a,” with the letter signifying first-born or subsequent-born, respectively: Achaiko, Anacletuo, Arista, Berreniko, Biona, Cleato, Daeta, Deomono, Eumeno, Gyra, Helica, Hipparcho, Jurana, Kirphiso, Lorrenzo, Medono, and Riaano.
Female names end in either “-i” or “-a”, with similar significance to the male names: Adelphi, Agapa, Batri, Calisti, Chloa, Damari, Elena, Erota, Helena, Hermoini, Iola, Gwenna, Kaliopa, Leda, Malana, Nicoletta, Philomena, Rhea, Selena, Tanni, and Zoi/Zoia.
Surnames are either based upon famous family members, vocation or location, with the suffix, “-ina” indicating “child of (famous person)”, “-ila” meaning “involved with (vocation), and “-ido” saying the person is “from” a particular location: Akerina, Bakila, Ispartido, Nuevina, Roanila, or Arcadido.
The following terms and phrases are uniquely Ankalan.
“What worked in the past must be done in the future.” This is a reminder to maintain the traditions and not be rash.
“No man should be placed above another – and he is not – at least not without permission.” A terse urging to control your own destiny and that subjugation is for animals – not men.
“Leave haste in the past, and finish a work in the proper time.” A reminder to take your time and do what is necessary to complete a job – not leaving the job partially completed.
“Raised voices are a sign of caring, but a raised fist is a sign of a failed heart.” This explains the use of debate on the daily stage in Ankala, and warns those that might get a bit too passionate that failure to control themselves is a weakness.
The Orders of Knighthood
The Regency has three Orders of Nobility which are granted for various reasons:
Stavro Mapotos – The Ebon Cross
The most frequently granted honor, the Stavra (singular: Stavro) Mapotos (Cross of Ebony or Ebon Cross) come from every walk of life – the military, clergy, even alchemists, mages, artists, and merchants – though the most common are members of the military and the governing class (primarily clergy). Unfortunately, the order has lost much of the prestige associated with Noble Orders due to its common usage – so many citizens have received the title that it is commonplace to have a Stavro Mapotos (or three) in the family.
This non-hereditary order is granted by the Principality upon recommendation by the town Honoros (mayor), with the Telietti de Stavro Mapotos (Ceremony of the Ebon Cross) conducted in each town to honor the year’s recipients (if any – usually at least one or two are awarded – larger cities may have 100 or more). The ceremonies are public spectacles and there is much feasting and partying – all on the florin of the newly inducted, (usual costs range from 300fl to over 1500fl, depending on the number of honorees).
All honorees gather in the center of the town square, dressed in their finest clothing, after an evening of prayer (poorly disguised as drunken revelry) and bathing, and all repeat the Mapotos Orco, the Ebon Oath, swearing to uphold the ideals of the Teacher (Talon) and the Regent, and to forever persevere in upholding the traditions of Ankala. There is as much pomp and circumstance as a high-school graduation. The newly honored members of the nobility cross a central stage to receive their ceremonial sword, shield, cloak and cape, and a large (12”x8”), black cross of ebony. The items are quickly stowed in a safe location after the ceremony has ended to prevent loss (or theft by kids), and the crosses are usually mounted on the wall in the new Knight’s quarters. It is common to see an arrangement in the main living spaces of a house, showing off the fact that several (or many) members of the family have received the honor.
Recipients may use the title “Stavros” in their names, akin to the appellate, “Sir.”
Aimothetis Stavro – The Blooded Cross
The most respected honor is the confraternal Aimothetis Stavro, the Blooded Cross (or Bloody Cross), with all recipients coming from the military. Rarely granted, this honor almost ensures that recipients are quick to move up the ranks afterward. Hereditary, the title is passed on to the eldest male child (or female if there are no males). Existing members of this Order must recommend each potential Candidate, and TWO Aimothetis Stavra must sponsor each Candidate.
Candidates endure a “Night Vigil,” spending a full 24 hours fasting and praying in a Temple dedicated to Talon. During the evening hours the candidates also ritually bathe three times, ensuring they are clean in mind, spirit and body (three is a holy number for Talon). The Candidates are dressed in white t-tunics (representing purity) and black hose and shoes (signifying death).
With newly forged, masterwork swords and shields placed on the main altar, the candidates are arranged around the altar to offer silent prayer for the last ten hours of the Night Vigil. The Vigil ends with a large worship service attended ONLY by Aimothetis Stavra (and Krisho Stavra, the Golden Cross, if available). The sermon expounds on the Virtues of Honor and Tradition. As the sermon reaches its peak, the Candidates’ sponsors quietly approach them all from behind, and on a prearranged signal, all sponsors step forward to take up the blessed sword and shield.
The presiding High Priest moves in sequence to accept the sword from the first sponsor and exchanges vows with each Candidate in turn. The Candidate swears an oath of allegiance to the Church, vowing to spill the blood of any who would stand in the way of Talon or His Message. Once completed with all Candidates, the Prelate then accepts the shield from the other sponsor (the two of whom then move to each shoulder of the Candidate).
The Shield Oath is the most binding (usually to the utter surprise of the Candidates), and promises swift retribution for failing to uphold the obligations. The vows include charges to never traffic with traitors, never to give evil counsel to a child, a woman, or an infirm man – respect must be freely given to all groups and they must be defended from all who would wrong them in mind, body, or deed. In addition, observances must be made of all Holy Days and fasts as required by Talon. .
The Prelate then loudly announces to the assembly, “Candidate (insert name here) has been sponsored by two just Aimothetis Stavra, and this Candidate has sworn the most ancient oaths. Are there any here who would oppose their names being inscribed upon the Aimothetis Stavros?” This is purely ceremonial, as the investigation involved for prospective Candidates is quite thorough, and they allow no undesirables to progress to this stage in the process.
Upon hearing no objections, the Prelate announces, “The silence has been heard and must be honored.” The Prelate then orders the Candidate to kneel, and gently strikes him on the neck with his ceremonial mace. While kneeling, the sponsors then affix wing-shaped spurs upon his feet, and the Prelate loudly announces to all, “Candidate (insert name here) is no more. Arise, Stavros (insert name here), Aimothetis Stavro!”
After dubbing the last Candidate, the new Stavra turn around and clergy rushes in to hand the appropriate cloak or cape to the sponsors, who affix them to the Stavra, with the deep red cross resting over their heart, keeping their sword-hand free. Once suitably outfitted, all involved with the ceremony (clergy and sponsors) loudly announce, “STAVRA, GO MEET YOUR NEW BRETHREN!” This signals the end of the formal ceremonies, and this usually heralds the start of several days of great feasting and festivities.
Upon the conclusion of all parties, the Order grants each new Knights a fully trained destrier with full saddle, tack and harness. All horses are fully trained to bite or kick on command. The Knights then undergo several days of intense training on the history of the order, and customs and courtesies
Krisho Stavro – The Golden Cross
This is the pinnacle of noble orders in Ankala, and the Regent conducts the dubbing ceremonies personally. Existing members must recommend possible recipients, and their qualifying exploits must be truly epic. At this time, there are 37 Krisho Stavra alive. Very little is known about the ceremonies, though the exploits earning them the title will be known far and wide.
h3. Order Affiliation
Benefits of belonging to the various orders depend upon the order itself. First off, all members are given a sword and shield, with both a cloak and cape that displays the appropriate Stavra (black, red or gold) over the heart. The Stavra Mapotos’ swords and shields are ceremonial and barely functional, though beautiful – all swords and shields are masterwork quality. The orders above the Stavro Mapotos receive a full suit of masterwork plate mail (with the appropriate cross enameled on the breast-plate) as well.
In addition to this, Aimothetis and Krisho Stavra receive a fine, well-trained riding horse with full tack and saddle (no barding). The newly minted Stavra then begins one full month of intense training, which includes courtly etiquette, order obligations, the rules of all orders, and the history of their order. This grants an automatic bonus skill level 1 in Knowledge (Nobility) (caste).
Player Benefits for Playing an Ankalan
GENERAL: All characters are literate, and may choose bonus languages freely. To gain other bonuses, all characters will be Lawful or Neutral.
STATS: No benefit or penalty.
SKILLS: The following skills are now class Skills: Diplomacy. The following skills are bonus skills granted to all PC’s: Diplomacy +1 (cultural bonus), Perform (Public Speaking) +2 (cultural bonus).
FEATS: Free – choose one: Combat Expertise, Endurance, Leadership, Persuasive, Skill Focus, Spell Focus, or Weapon Focus… as long as you qualify. This choice may be held in reserve, to be used later (i.e. Leadership)