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National Character of Alphatia

by James Ruhland

The Empire of Alphatia is a realm full of magic, and all those able to cast magic - magic-user, clerics, druids or anything else - are nobles in Alphatia because of their abilities. Alphatian nobles have the right to do nearly everything unless they annoy another noble who has more personal, political or military power.

So far, so good, but from this (and some other facts) we can conclude something about Alphatian spellcasters:

In the western kingdoms - e.g. eastern Brun - a man or woman who is able to become a magic-user usually concentrates the focus of his life to this profession. He or she does all necessary to become better and better. Likewise a cleric devotes his or her life to the service for the immortal. (Of course there are other - especially in Glantri and Thyatis.)

Contrary to that a great number of Alphatian spellcasters will not be interested in their magic too much. After learning how to cast spells they have qualified themselves to the status of aristocrats. After that they have the right to do everything what they want, but this need not to be magic. Instead they might become traders, artists, fashion designers or scientists. The main difference to the classical spellcaster would be that they are proud of their status but not of their abilities - these are just the means to get the noble status.

Additionally we have to consider how some social improvements are to be reached. A servant who has managed to make enough money to afford his own business becomes a freeman, and a freeman with enough money on an account at an Alphatian bank becomes a gentry. Likewise an aristocrat with enough money and a business or an official imperial position becomes a lord.

As social status is important the empire must keep control over such facts as wealth and businesses. The logical consequence of this is that there offices like industrial inspection boards or revenue offices which administer every inhabitant of the empire.

Beyond this such regulations induce the people to work as businessmen - nobles and commoners likewise. This aspect of the national character is IMO neglected in the view to Alphatia until now. As every commoner and the nobles without the desire to get an imperial job desires to become businessmen there would be a lot of different businesses in Alphatia, and many things would be initiated and done by such businesses. Of course the money which are owned by nobles have more influence and more possibilities than the ones owned by commoners.

I have used this view to the Alphatian national character in some of my articles before as I've written that there was a merchantman who started to build up a sea trade lane to Thothia. The company took over more and more of the Thothian lands which became Alphatian colonies later on. Another example of my view of Alphatia are my "Order of the Lakes" which called itself an order of knights, but which indeed is a company with many fields of business throughout the empire.

This of course makes Alphatia a "modern" state like our RW home countries. Probably the mages who are sent by the imperial government to handle some problems are doing so as businessmen from consulting, construction or salvage companies.