Zodanga in Detail
Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:23 am
Zodanga in Detail
Zodanga is a nation of proud, ambitious people who, while not warlike, pride themselves on never backing away from a conflict. They were the last nation to fall to Kordan Empire and the first to throw off the Empire's yoke.
An industrialized nation, Zodanga's technology and manufacturing prowess are second only to its rival Korad. As its business expands across Ioun, so does its political influence and military power.
For centuries, Zodanga thrived as a feudal culture with rich fields, bountiful forests, and a merchant fleet that kept the nobles' coffers full. When the Kordan Empire marched against it, the nation was able to hold the invaders back for years, given its wealth and defensible borders. Indeed, it might have resisted the Empire even longer, but as Korad absorbed Zodanga's trading partners, the nobles realized they would have no choice but to surrender. Rather than destroy their country's infrastructure with a prolonged war, they accepted Imperial rule and became the last province added to the Empire.
It was during the Imperial rule that the merchant guilds rose in prominence. They spoke the Empire's language of commerce and technology, though they chafed at its punishing taxes and arbitrary trade restrictions. Zodanga became a center for manufactured goods and boasted a Machinist Order chapterhouse every bit as advanced as the central Order labs in Korad.
The Machinists Schism originated in Zodanga when the local chapterhouse refused to turn over its new discoveries to the Machinists in Korad. When Korad grew militant in its demands, the Order offered its technology to Zodanga in exchange for the nation's help defending itself. Zodanga accepted and thus ignited the spark that would eventually burn the Empire down.
When the black ships came, Zodanga was on the front lines, fighting to defend the continent. When the invaders were repelled, Zodanga supported the rebuilding efforts with its own riches, going so far as to loan money to those nations that were damaged in the attack in order to rebuild.
Zodanga is now in the midst of an industrial revolution. It is still a manufacturing center and it has reclaimed its place as an economic powerhouse, shipping its goods all over Ioun. Though it's still technically a feudal society, ruled by royalty and the noble class, the true power has slipped into the hands of the guilds.
The people of Zodanga value ingenuity, practicality, and ambition. They admire those who adapt to their circumstances and thrive no matter what. They have little patience for those who bemoan what has been lost, pine for the past, or embrace the appearance of success over success itself.
Physically, Zodangans are tall and slender, with skin color ranging from light brown to pale pink, with lightly colored hair to match. Their clothing is always practical; even their formal wear is comfortable and durable. Because of the rains, cloaks, capes, and hoods are always in style; Because of the humidity, they are designed to be shed at a moment's notice. Since Zodangan culture celebrates the self-made and ambitious, it's no surprise that the nation produces so many adventurers. Some are the second- or third-offspring of nobility, with no hope of inheriting, who go out to seek their fortune. Others are lowborn laborers with nothing to inherit anyway. Still others may be professional scouts, entrepreneurs, or agents, either independent or working for one of the guilds. Zodangans are found wherever there is business to be done—and wherever there are Zodangans, there is business to be done.
The Guilds: The true powers in Zodanga are the Guilds. As the country shifted from an agrarian one to a manufacturing center, the Guilds gradually rose in power. There are many guilds: cloth-makers, ship-makers, smiths, drivers... the list goes on. If a significant number of people are engaged in a business, chances are they have formed a guild. The exception is farming, which remains under the control of the peerage, though the farmers are no longer peasants legally bound to the land, but tenant farmers who rent. The official purpose of these guilds is to protect the lives and livelihoods of their members. But while many of them do this, they also spend a great deal of effort ensuring the wealth and power of the guild leaders. The guild system makes it very difficult for a worker to be independent. The guilds support their power by loaning money to the peerage and then demanding concessions from the indebted nobles. Some guilders acknowledge the corruption high in the ranks and are trying to initiate reforms. A few are having success. Others are being silenced.
The Peerage: While the nobles of Zodanga don't have nearly the power they did before the Empire, they remain respected traditional figures of authority. A Lord's keep is the seat of government for the region, and his word is law, insofar as he can enforce it. Each hereditary Peer is responsible for the commoners in its domain, both defending them and keeping the peace between them. To that end, the nobles have soldiers, administrators, and agents under their command.
Though they'd be loath to admit it, many Peers don't have the money to back up their orders and are forced to borrow what they need from the Guilds. As a result, their policies tend to favor the merchants who control their purse-strings. Some Peers are trying to move in on the Guilds to take their power back.
The Techs: After the Machinist Schism, Zodanga became home to the new headquarters of the Machinist Order. The University of the Machine, as the former chapterhouse became known, has opened its doors to any who want to learn the secrets of the Ancients. There are more technicians residing in Zodanga now than anywhere but Korad. Techs are at once respected and mocked. Because they spend most of their lives in the University studying, they are perceived as naive and ignorant of the "real world" — and many of them are. They have resisted the power of the Guilds and are their own independent entities, though techs are often found in the employ of Guilds and Peers. They are especially common in the factories, where techs are required to keep the great machines running.
Since the people of Zodanga are famously practical, they aren't much given to religion. That said, Ibis, a deity worshiped in Lothar, is slowly growing in popularity in the rural areas of Zodanga where the religion's emphasis on independence and strength seems appealing. During the height of the old empire, Kordan-style ancestor worshop was practiced by many peers and quite a few commoners, since Zodanga has regained its independence openly practicing the Koradan faith is seen as somewhat unpatriotic, although a large minority of the population still keeps the old traditions.
Zodanga is in the midst of an industrial revolution. With the power of force rays and energy crystals, the small factories that turned out cloth, clothing, and consumer goods have been able to ramp up production capacity by a factor of hundreds. As manufacturing has grown in importance, agriculture has faded, and each generation more people leave the farms to work in the factories in the cities. While there is more money to be made in manufacturing than agriculture, most of that money flows upwards to the guilds and merchants who manage the production. The bottom-rung workers barely make enough to survive, much less get ahead.
The poor of Zodanga are just as ambitious as their wealthier counterparts and are encouraged by stories of lowborn workers who turned a great idea, a little start-up cash, and a whole lot of hard work into a successful venture. It doesn't happen that often, but it does happen, and everyone celebrates a good success story.
The nobles, by and large, don't have nearly as much money as they used to. Many of them are in debt to the various guilds, and those that retain their wealth have only done so by investing in outside businesses. Zodanga imports ironglass, energy crystals, and other raw materials for manufacturing. Ivory stone-silk from Thark are important imports, as clothing is one of its biggest exports. Other exports include paper, wood products, ships, meat, and force ray weapons.
The Machinist Order has its headquarters in Zodanga and each year produces many new inventions; it's up to the guild engineers to figure out ways to make these inventions profitable. Zodanga produces and sells airships, skimmers, blaster weapons, and other common, practical crystal gear. Less common items are available at a premium price and all the wealthiest homes feature electric lights and heat.
Each noble house has its own household guard of twenty to a hundred troops, depending on the size of the fief and the wealth of the house. Peers can also call up a levy from their lands if necessary in times of war, but since these are largely made up of untrained lowborn it hasn't happened in decades and most Peers are loath to resort to this measure. If their household guard is short, they prefer to hire mercenaries. Zodanga itself boasts a small but professional army funded by the royal treasury. This includes the famous terror-lizard cavalry mounted on trihorns. The military is primarily defensive, specifically assigned to defend the trade routes with the other nations. While it has numerous well-armed airships at its disposal, the military is careful when defending trade routes, as this entails encroaching on other nations' air space. It happens quite often, but it's a delicate matter that sometimes requires political maneuvering after the fact.
Zodanga is dominated by thick forests in its north, which thin towards the south into sparse trees and rolling fields. It's bordered by the Toonol Desert to the north, the Kaol Jungle to the east, and the Warhoon River to the west. The climate is temperate, with heavy precipitation in the forested lands. The south shores of the Warhoon Expanse are subject to freezing, snow-filled winters.
Zodan, the Crossroads: (Population 54,000) Zodan is the gateway between Zodanga and the world. It's a massive trade center, with the highest concentration of foreigners in the nation. It is by far the most eclectic market in Zodanga, where rare spices from Kaol are sold next to stone-silk from Thark and hand-crafted blaster pistols from Korad.
Warhoon, the Summer Court: (Population 27,000) Warhoon, the ancient capital of Zodanga, is a located at the south of the Zodhood Basin alongside the Warhoon River, which serves as a trade route to the northern seas. Warhoon is the seat of government, where the royalty live much of the year, and most nobles have a home here they visit at least a few months during the season, just so they can be seen at court. The top guilds also have their headquarters here. The outer rings of Warhoon contain the factories, which are spreading out into what had been farmland and orchards for centuries. Some say the run-off from these factories is affecting the nearby crops, but no one has been able to prove these stories true.
Flora and Fauna
Feeders: These giant duck-billed terror-lizards are slow-moving, thick-skinned, and dim-witted; when butchered, they provide enough meat to feed a whole family for half a year. They eat a lot and are largely raised on the central plains where there is enough room for them to graze. Trihorn-riding ranchers watch over their herds, keeping an eye out for rustlers and predators.
Stalkers: The various types of these predatory terror-lizards range in size from that of a large rat to a small horse. They are bipedal, with long necks and tails, and armed with vicious claws and teeth. They hunt in packs and are disturbingly intelligent. Stalkers prefer weak prey and will flee from any fight they can't win. They're seen mostly in the forests near farms, where they hunt livestock, but smaller species have been found living in the sewers and back alleys of the cities, where they hunt prey of another sort.
Trihorns: These giant, three-horned terror-lizards, originally imported from Exum, are used as mounts and beasts of burden. They have been largely domesticated and are raised on ranches in the rural southern areas. Trihorns are the backbone of the military's famous cavalry.