Hi guys. Long time no see.
I haven't posted on here in a while, so let me re-state: I'm working on a fantasy novel, not a rpg world, but it's close to the same thing anyway, and requires the same amount of specifics. Thanks to you guys and two years of work, I just finished a major part of the book, but I now I'm on to the next section and there are terrible, gaping holes.
This post is about one of the provinces in my world. The province is called "Vryne" (not to be confused with the "Vrynenwood" post - that forest's name has been changed to the "Riddenwood".), and I'd really appreciate some ideas on just about every aspect of society from small cultural peculiarities to large-scale organization of society. More specific questions at end of post.
The following is everything that I know about it so far. I'll try to keep the stuff that doesn't directly relate to Vryne short.
GEOGRAPHY OF VRYNE:
Vryne is a penninsula of volcanic rock connected by a very narrow isthsmus to the south-eastern tip of the Tyrian continent. It used to be a volcano/island set slightly off the coast, but a historic eruption connected it to the mainland. It is mostly blacklands and ash, the city built among the stalagmite spires formed after the eruption. It is also home a large network of underground tunnels formed by air pockets as the lava settled and hardened. The chemical reaction that the terrific heat from the explosion wrought on Vryne's subterranean minerals resulted in a metal that to outsiders seems useless. But the lords of Vryne know its secret.
HISTORY OF VRYNE:
The current inhabitents of Vryne are the descendants of Elven refugees that left the northern woods before the war against magic began. The Elves of the northern forest beleived that the deities they saw were the keepers of magic and protectors of the wood and world, and so worshipped them. One evil year, strange sorcerers arrived among them preaching a new magical philosophy. The sorcerers said that their deities were not gods after all, but manifestations of the Spectris, the life-force that unites all. They said that to become a powerful user of magic, one does not supplicate to the dieties, but learns to control the Spectris. They also insisted that an apocolyptic event was nearing.
Some, the Queen included, believed them, because their magic was indeed much stronger than any they had seen. Some, the King included, wanted them banished, and said that if there was any apocolypse, it would be caused by their blasphemy. The king and queen had no love for each other, and tensions grew among their guardsmen. Then began a period of confusion and witch-hunting. The queen's guard and king's guard fought skirmishes against each other; believers in the new science of magic were dragged into the street and tortured; still others believed that neither party was in the right, that the elves and their opulence were not deserving of magic, that they were not deserving of their land.
One calling himself a "prophet" preached the latter idea, insisting that he would lead whoever wanted to follow to a land of hardship and toil where they would become worthy of their land and magic. When they were worthy they would be led back to glory and peace.
The migrations began. Those who believed the sorcerers followed them across the mountains to finally settle in the northern aspen forests. These scientist-settlers would become the founders of Aaren Laar. Others, taking the pilgrims for cowards, stayed to fight for their land. And the rest followed the "prophet" south to a dark, uninhabited land that they named "Vryne".
The prophet, proclaiming himself and his descendants "forgiven", became the first dynast of Vryne.
THE TYRIAN ALLIANCE COUNCIL (1790 years later):
Defying the conquistadorial urges of his forfathers and tired of incessant inter-provincial warfare, King Korvan historically unites the major provinces under one oath, the Tyrian Alliance Treaty. One point of the treaty demands that no slaves shall be held under any province. Another prohibits espionage.
THE PRESENT SITUATION (1870 years later):
The Tyrian Alliance Council recieves word that Vryne, a seclusionist province, is breaking the treaty by using/selling slaves in/for their mines. The current dynast of Vryne declares it a lie, and refuses to allow an investigatory delegation across his borders. He insists the "false" information was gained by espionage, which is prohibited in the treaty. The Alliance Council responds by sanctioning the province and posting patrolls along the border. They are in stalemate.
In the book, several Alliance Council soldiers will get captured and taken into Vryne, where they will be the first enemy outsiders in a couple of centuries to see what's going on there. I want the situation to be dire.
Not only are they using slaves, but they have made the discovery that their special metal conducts magical energy. They are feeding the metal powder to the slaves in their food, and thus making walking, talking spell-conductors. The problem is that the metal does not leave the body (think aluminum). It stays in the cells and begins manifesting as a degenerative disease whose effects are much like Parkinson's.
Vryne justifies this slavery to themselves and each other by saying that the more "toil and hardship" the people are put through, the sooner they will all be "forgiven".
Points about Vryne:
- Only the mages are nobility
- Vryne is home to the biggest black marketplace in the world, and the most unsavory of things pass through there.
- Perhaps the dynast's greatest secret is that he cannot do magic, and so has created some kind of rule by which no one can watch the dynast's spells.
- No casting is allowed underground where the metal is exposed - any spell cast in such close proximity to that much of the metal may have disastrous effects.
Where would the slaves be kept?
Can you think of any special places, landmarks, etc. a city like this might have?
What kind of culture/society would result from people who believe in the concept of "toil"? What social rituals?
Anything else at all would be great.