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Obstaria

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No where else in the world of Atheus is the maxim "Power is money" so readily apparent than it is in Obstaria. And since, as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely, decadence and corruption has crept into the kingdom of Obstaria.

Table of Contents

    Power is always a good place to start. The balance of power is, in Obstaria's case, an especially important topic. You see, though Obstaria is ruled by a king (or queen, if the deceased monarch's eldest child is a girl), and that king does, in fact, have all the power, there is a slight catch to it. You see, the king is little more than a figurehead. His only source of power comes from fancy wordings on the constitution and charter of Obstaria. He has no more power in Obstaria than a frog does in a pond. Though it may chirp and call, this pond has herons in it, and if the frog makes too much noise, its dinner time.

    Who, then, has the actual power in Obstaria? The answer is quite simple, though the necessary followup is not so. The nobles have the true power. Indeed, Obstaria is little more than a gathering of a multitude of disparate kingdoms under a common flag. These nobles can do as they please on their allotted land, and don't need to pay attention to any decrees of the king. But this leads one to another question: how did this become the case? How did the king let his power slip through his fingers like sugar, with the nobles lapping it up from where it reaches their tongues?

    There are, in fact, two answers to this question: an easy one, and a hard one. The easy answer is quite simple. The nobles have all the power because they have all the wealth. Indeed, no where else in the world of Atheus is the maxim "Power is money" so readily apparent than it is in Obstaria. The hard answer, however, requires one to take a look at Obstaria's history.

    History

    See The History of Atheus for the generalized events occuring during this time frame.

    Uniting the Kingdoms

    There were roughly 25 separate kingdoms in the Obstarian geographic area at the time of the Exile. "Roughly" because the land was in near-constant turmoil and strife. Warfare was constantly going on in at least some part of the area. Alliances and deals and treaties were being made and then, but a year later, broken, and death became a companion the peasants were used to.

    This state of affairs had existed for at least a century before, and would likely (as the general consensus amongst the other peoples, as the Obstarians were too busy killing each other to consider the future, goes) exist for another couple centuries. That is, except for two things: pressure from the barbarians raiding and pillaging on the west, and pressure from the human countries scheming and plotting on the east. Pressure has a way of getting things done, and in this case it produced (or should I say allowed?) for Fakindus de Obstar, who was king of the then small country of Obstaria.

    Fakindus looked to the west, and knew the barbarians would soon spill over and overrun most of the land. He looked to the east, and knew the humans would soon launch either their dastardly plots or their experienced soldiers to take over most of the land. He had but one option: gather up the entire region under one flag.

    He was a genius in a way, though highly underappreciated. He grew to know who liked whom, who was allied with whom, who hated whom, who was willing to betray whom. He learned all of these details, and then Fakindus used them. He made alliances with just the right people, used warfare to take over just the right country, got countries to betray others at just the right times. Indeed, Fakindus, in the second decade after the Exile, had either most of the area under his flag, or had allied himself with most of the others. In the year 30 PE, Obstaria was either Fakindus' or his allies'.

    Before his allies could realize what had happened, he turned on them with a vengeance. That is, he played the political game, and before they knew it, they had each become a noble of Obstaria under Fakindus.

    To make the kings he had conquered or had taken over happier with their new lot and lesser station, he let them stay in control of the lands they had previously owned, and thus created an aristocratic class desceneded from kings.

    A Noble Disquiet

    At first, the kingship was strong and powerful in Obstaria. Fakindus kept the nobles under his power through political machinations, and the next king used military power, and the next simply used the ingrained notion in the noble's mind that the king was the ruler.

    But eventually, a couple generations down the line, the kings of Obstaria became more and more corrupt. Not worried about the nobles, the kings started consolidating their power. Where before the king had power as the nobles allowed it, and they had to make provisions to keep it, now the king started taking more and more power from the nobles and depositing it in the monarchy. Small things, at first, but they added up slowly and surely, until the inevitable happened.

    The current king, who went by the name King Fallidurich, made a decree. The nobles could no longer raise professional armies from the populace. This enraged them, for this took away a variety of things the nobles held dear- independence from the crown (now they needed the royal army to deal with barbarian raiders), cultural identity (Obstaria has always been a land where strength is rewarded; without a military, the nobles had no strength), and more. The nobles became enraged. The nobles remembered their royal root. The nobles launched a revolution.

    This revolution was not the normal kind, as perhaps any citizen of Obstaria was expecting. Peasants storming castles with torches and pitchforks was not the major element. The revolt played out, instead, in the political theater. Plots abounded, and threats were made quietly, and certain things became understood.

    Power was quickly redistributed, and a series of decrees over the year were made. The noble's position rose: in fact, they became more powerful than they were in the early days of the kingdom. Indeed, now the military had to consist of at least 75% divisions from the various nobles

    World War

    Obstaria was quiet for a couple of kingships. The balance of power stayed the way it was for the time being, as the nobles did not want to press their luck so recently.

    Then the World War started. All the countries except for Tauria and Obstaria began to fight each other, and refugees began swarming into the two western nations.

    Obstarian generals, knowing that they were bound to be pulled into the conflict eventually, started preparations. Pulling funds directly from the King's Treasury, the military started expanding their Research and Developement projects (such as the Raveten), expanding the army, and training their soldiers. Eventually, as they knew it would, Obstaria and Tauria were pulled into the war.

    The war was a great success. Pillaging and looting and the increase of holdings, as well as War Debts, made Obstaria, as well as Tauria, rich. But the money from the World War didn't flow into the King's Treasury. As the Obstarian military, because of a clause made during the revolution, was made up mostly of the noble's forces, most of the money flowed into the nobles' pockets. And as the Obstarian generals had previously used the money from the Treasury to finance the war preparations, the king had no money to keep control of the nobles. With no money, the kong could no longer maintain a powerful enough army to make sure its decrees were enforced.

    It was at the close of the World War that historians usually say is when the Obstarian royalty became essentially a figurehead, and the whole country reverted back to being a collection of disparate kingdoms, once again warring with each other.

    Social Ranks

    Monarch

    The kings of Obstaria have power, and lots of it. Its just that it is pen and paper power, these are the laws, and stick with them. Technically, the monarch is the only one allowed to gave a professional army, and the nobles are only allowed to train recruits and send them to the king. In reality, the nobles send the crappiest of their soldiers, and keep a standing army of their best soldiers, with supporting troops composed of mercenaries.

    This being the case, the king's army is both is both inferior to the others in quantity and quality. As such, it is impossible for him to enforce any of his decisions, and thus, if he truly feels that an issue is important and some noble needs to stop whatever he's doing, the king is all-but required to seek support from a noble, who is ostensibly his inferior, to provide military support for his threat.

    In actual practice, the kings of Obstaria don't actually do anything. They, for the most part, have resigned themselves to being unable to do anything, and now they just smile and wave for the peasants to think that the king has power, the king can protect them, the king can stop the nobles. After some speech or function, the king lives a life of luxury.

    Really, the king is just some actor.

    Nobles

    The nobles live like kings, act like kings, and are all but kings. Though the peasants aren't deemed fit enough to know this fact, if they even know of the nobles (Obstaria has a serfdom system), the nobles are kings in all but name. They war with each other, they do what they will with their citizens and peasants, all the things kings do.

    And the real king can't do anything to stop it.

    A major thing to note is that, although the nobles do in fact have professional armies raised from the populace, they aren't the majority in the army, except for a couple of the more powerful nobles. Their militaries are mostly made of mercenaries, and because of their increased wealth from the World War and from taxes that they should technically be sending to the king (but actually aren't), they can afford the mercenaries and troops the king can't. However, as having a professional army of some kind became a cultural identity thing after the revolution (see History: A Noble Disquiet), every noble raises a professional army of some kind, no matter how stupid economically that is.

    The territory the nobles control is divided even further into the Vassals. The Vassals are like mini-nobles, and each lord over their assigned territory, and are responsible for the management of their assigned lands. Of course, they are controlled by the nobles themselves, and have a firm grip on them. The relationship between the nobles and the vassals is the almost complete opposite of the relationship between the king and the nobles. They fulfill much the same role as in the typical Feudal Society.

    Populace

    The populace of Obstaria can be grouped into two general categories: the citizens and the peasants. Though the peasants are technically citizens of Obstaria, the term citizen is used here to refer to those living in the cities.

    The peasants are serfs. The only major difference between them and slaves is that you can buy and sell slaves. Exploited would a good term to describe them with. They lack any form of education beyond that required to push a plow. Most are illiterate, except for the occasional town wizard who recieved a higher education from the Wizarding Towers (upcoming sub, teaches magic basics), and self-educated town elder. Now, this is not to say that the peasants all hate their lives and want to see change. The are fine wih their current lives. This is because they don't know any other way to live their life.

    The citizens, on the other hand, are mostly educated and literate. They could be called the middle class if there is one in Obstaria. Their occupations range from teachers to merchants; from cobblers to servants: from tanners to tailors.

    Locations

    Beiureich

    (pronounced bay-yer-ik)

    The city of Beiureich is the capitol of Obstaria, and stands in the unique (for the country) of not being exploited by the nobles. Instead, it is directly governed by the king. Usually, though, the king relegates all the actual decision-making to some lower-ranking person. It has a street full of the nobles' capitol-homes, where they attend an annual gathering that is traditionally required. Just because they have all the power doesn't mean that they can't play the game and pretend, once a year, to be petty nobles under the thumbs of the king (besides, its political suicide not to attend).

    Beiureich is located in the middle of the plains of Obstaria, and is the largest city in the kingdom. This is not saying much, as the city's size is equivalent to the other countries' medium sized cities, and some of Tauria's small ones. And though Beiureich is also the cultural center of Obstaria, with the most painters, poets, and other such humanities, it has less than most of the other cities in the world.

    This lesser size and culture output was not always the case. Under the original kings of the country, after the unification, the area went into a golden age of sorts, and the kingdom flourished. Indeed, the size of Beiureich grew too, and in the modern age the population, leaving an uninhabited Old City, used now for only drug dealers and prostitution.

    Southern Hills

    During the midst of the World War, barbarians managed to gain a foothold in the eastern half of the continent, as the focus of the various nations were turned inward, with the various militaries turned that way as well. This allowed some barbarians to invade the sparsely populated Southern Hills of Obstaria and Dethia, Obstaria's eastern neighbor. Barbarians also arrived in the Souther Hills by countries bringing them over to kill their enemies, also in the World War, and the barbarians managed to hide in the Southern Hills in inevitable persecution after the war was over.

    This leads to a barbarian infested Hill country. This leads to major problems for the southern nobles, as some tribes raid the nearby human towns. Some nobles have proposed clearing out the barbarians from the Hills for more land, but generally such projects fail either before or after funding is granted. The northern nobles, when asked for aid, refuse so that the souther nobles have something that keeps the competing effectively with them, and western nobles refuse as they have to fight off raiders, and they aren't complaining, as well an the fact their military and resources is tied up in the aforementioned defense.

    Bandits and other such human marauders also hole up in the Southern Hills. The law can't touch them in there, and they have open, interracial markets to sell their stolen goods.

    Silaveruick

    (Pronounced sil-áv-er-ou-ik)

    Perhaps the most forward-thinking and progressive aspect of Obstaria is the Silaveruick. With no other country possessing something similar, the Silaveruick is a government-protected forest, where limits have been imposed on logging occuring in its lofty expanse.

    The ancient Obstarians- and this is referring to peoples centuries, maybe even a thousand or years- worshipped tree gods, and claimed the forest was a holy place, and the idea of that stuck with the people all these years. Though the need for wood has destroyed most of forested lands, the people of Obstaria have protected the rest. Now, a logger can only cut a certain number of trees (depending on the Silaveruick in question), certain types of trees, and in certain places. The healthiness of the forest is held paramount.

    The nobles are the ones who maintain and protect the Silaveruick. Most have laws where anyone can wander through them, making them like national parks. Hunting laws are also in effect, with limits on type of catch in a season, and amount of animals killed. These hunting laws are usually far more specific and restraining in lands controlled by hunting nobles. Usually, you can tell which nobles hunt by seeing if they have a law restricting hunting for a certain day of the week or month.



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    Comments ( 3 )
    Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

    Voted Shadoweagle
    September 27, 2013, 3:53
    5xp
    Let me start by saying that this, compared to your earlier work, is much more engaging to me and shows growth in you, Caesar, cudos!

    I liked the frog in the pond metaphor, and the sugar slipping between the fingers.

    Obataria sounds like a nation which behind the scenes is in turmoil, but they throw a veil over it ( in the form of the kings rule) and play pretend that everything is fine.

    I see a good espionage plot wherein the king is inspired by the stories of the first king, and beseeches the pcs to help him regain control of Obstaria. The night to strike is while the nobles are at the annual meet with the king. They must invade te keep of a prominent noble while is absent. Or perhaps hold them all hostage at the meet.

    Also, the annual meet can end up being a whodunit, where the most prominent noble is poisoned and the pcs, being the only nuetral party, must find out who did it before civil war breaks out in a scale like never before!
    Voted Gossamer
    October 4, 2013, 8:46
    0xp
    I'm guessing you found inspiration from the Roman empire, the initial founding of Obstaria fits well with how the empire ran at first, letting old kings keep their rule, as long as they payed their taxes. I also see the potential for a ruler to reclaim their lost glory if they manage to ally with some of the nobles, playing at their secrets once more.
    Voted valadaar
    October 7, 2013, 12:25
    0xp
    It would be interesting to see a king arise that held power not through his impotent army, and figurehead status, but through ties to the underworld. Blackmail, careful manoeuvring, intrigue. Keeping to the appearances of a lame duck, he would actually hold significant power. How the PC's play a role in this, perhaps they could give the impetus to change.

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