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Arogansa Gazetteerby Jeff Daly
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT AROGANSA
"That's about as smart as vacationing in Arogansa."
--Ierendi wise saying
"Did you speak? Did you speak? Boy! Fetch me a magistrate!"
--Felyrana, an Arogansan noblewoman, just after the shocking event of being addressed by Galyn, a non-spellcasting member of the gentry
"Well, the orgasmic ring might fetch a good price in Arogansa, but I would opt for the longer trip to Sundsvall were I you."
--Captain Stubby, in response to a question from visiting nobles of Norwold
"Even our longtime rivals in Arogansa--Nay, especially our longtime rivals in Arogansa, must be welcomed as the dearest brethren in my reign."
--Empress Eriadna the Wise
The Kingdom of Arogansa, one of the southernmost kingdoms of Alphatia, is known for its very strict demarcations between classes. A non-spellcaster may not even speak to a spellcaster unless addressed first. Even then, he should be careful.
When a spellcaster feels himself put out by a non-spellcaster (whether due to the underclassman speaking out of turn, or some other insult), he may send for a magistrate. All major towns have as many magistrates as the real world has lawyers. In fact, the magistrate is something like a lawyer, and something like a policeman. This similarity may be due to the closeness of the Kingdom of Greenspur, where paperwork is a way of life.
The Kingdom of Arogansa is the place to retire, once one has lived a full life as a mage. From the beautiful, scenic beaches, to the lovely grasslands and forests, Arogansa offers visitor, and retiree alike, much to see and explore.
There are a few dungeons, maintained by the crown as "protected from cleansing", in which tourists may risk their lives in pursuit of long lost knowledge.
Then there are the "civil dungeons", as the aristocracy calls them. Here, one can satisfy the meanest desires, whether it be in humiliation of another human being, or in the delivering of pain to a line of slaves. While many Arogansans enjoy giving pain, it is considered rude and base to enjoy the receiving of pain. Therefore, the nickname "scarback", is NOT a compliment.
It is customary among the elite to feign disinterest in all topics, no matter how interesting. A man shouting FIRE! in a crowded room will find most people chuckling in a patronising manner, while making their way unhurriedly toward the door. This can go to far extremes when the door is so crowded, that a few nobles wander with aimless precision to a window, yawn, and carelessly fling themselves out.
The magistrate, garbed in a leather halter over his robes, and with a strip of leather binding his right wrist, arrives to judge simple matters of social law. The noble voices his complaint, the magistrate may or may not ask the non-spellcaster for his story (generally, as a courtesy, they DO ask gentry, and DON'T ask slaves. Anything in between is anybody's guess). But no matter the story, it is usual for the magistrate to deliver 20 lashes to the non-spellcaster, on the spot. There is no need for the state to waste time on the case, or for the noble to be put out any further by having to present his story in court.
This does not mean the magistrate cannot order a trial. He can. But it is in the best interest of the noble, the magistrate, and to some extent, the non-spellcaster, to have the punishment delivered quickly so that the spellcaster is satisfied, and the non-spellcaster can go freely, though painfully, about his business.
The Magistrate's Whip is an item carried by every magistrate. It is a symbol of office, as well as a practical tool. The leather strip which hugs the magistrate's right wrist, is a magical item which produces a whip in the hands of the wearer, when the proper gesture is made. The proper gesture involves bringing the hand up to the forehead, and flicking the hand down and away most suddenly. The produced whip may be used 3 times per day, and has no other powers.
Spell: Air Whip
Effect: With a flick of his hand, the mage may cause the air to churn in a suddenly violent, concentrated, manner. While there is no visible connection between the flicking motion, and the sudden shredding of flesh, the results are fairly spectacular at the higher levels. The Air Whip causes d4 points of damage, per level of the mage, up to level 20, upon a successful to hit roll.
RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBOURS
The Kingdom of Greenspur: The two kingdom get along fairly well. Most of the time, they appreciate each other's laws and ways. Greenspur doesn't cotton to the Arogansan debauchery, but admires the strict discipline displayed so openly in the streets. Arogansa sees Greenspur as being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but recognises them as always a potential ally.
The Kingdom of Eadrin: Early on, when this kingdom broke off from the monolithic early Alphatian kingdom, Arogansa supported their rights as an independent kingdom. This has earned Arogansa the enmity of Randel, but they aren't too worried about this because they do not share a border with that military power. Besides, Randel has always been a supporter of the crown of Theranderol, a fact which annoys Arogansa to no end.
The Kingdom of Theranderol: From ancient times, these two kingdoms have waged a bitter political war over the imperial crown. Over the centuries, the crown has passed mainly between them. Right now, Arogansa finds itself in a particularly weak position, but is constantly seeking ways to strengthen it. The taste of victory turned bitter, when Tylion IV, so beautifully weakened by the failed Spike Assault, was replaced by his daughter. Gombar the magnificent, a Grand Council member and Arogansan supporter, had been quite successful at manipulating several younger members of the council to challenge Tylion. Then, once Tylion was defeated, he would further manipulate them into supporting Queen Delillia (called "Scarback" by most people of Theranderol). But that was when Eriadna made her move. The Queen, and her supporters, still grind their teeth over this near victory.
The royal family of Arogansa tends to put some form of "alpha" in the names of children destined to rule. So one may have Alphas, Alphar, Dalpheg, Boralphor, etc. Alphaks is not typically used, due to its historic significance.
At one time, dolphins swam and danced off the beaches of Arogansa. Now one may visit the magical aquariums to see the dolphins, all while luxuriating in the fine climate controlled villas and mansions that clutter the beaches.
The countryside is beautiful, though there is little in the way of untamed real estate. Most of it is given to vineyards, the rocky, hilly areas and the land along the rivers especially. It is the dream of the Arogansan gentry to own a plot of land and raise wine grapes, as Arogansan wine is a hot item, and drunk at every social occasion. There are also about 80 Grand Council members who live on wine producing estates, though these plots of land are much larger than anything the gentry can afford. They are usually divided into smaller sections, each run by a member of the gentry who reports to a nobleman on the Council member's staff.
Somewhere within darkest portion of the Forest of Char Borlon (located in the centre of the kingdom, and slightly east), lies the ruins of the ancient city of Meldrae. This haunted place has not known man since shortly after Landfall. The indigenous people of the continent, first defeated at Sundsvall, later slaughtered bloodily on the banks of the Greenlake River, made their last stand here. Calling forth strange, alien magic (at least alien to the Alphatians), the people destroyed themselves, their city, and many of the invaders, proclaiming, "This place will be closed to you, forever after!" Despite the fact that it is the only non protected ruin in Arogansa, it has indeed remained closed to any sort of cleansing.
Ascopal(10k) This large town contains one of the largest bridges in the world. Higharch is an ornate, intricately carved marble bridge that spans the delta between Ascopal and Archport. Twenty miles long, and 10 miles high at the very centre, it is a massive testament to the greatness of Alphatia.
Avrads (12k) Avrads and Kirn were once one city (Kirnavrads). The town is more often the site of combat between the kingdoms of Theranderol and Arogansa, than the fortified border itself. Patriotic mages from both kingdoms often take it upon themselves to challenge building owners, to the death, with the winner taking the building for himself and his country. This causes the border to wander quite a bit, in this one small area. It is rumoured that there are a group of 20 Grand Council members on both sides(8 in Avrads, and 12 in Kirns) who actually call the shots, and play the duellings as a kind of massive chess game. Conquered buildings have value depending on whether they have been designated "secret storehouse", "stronghold", "research", "trade", or "governmental". Whether this is true or not, there have been rare occasions when an important portion of the city has been fought over by Grand Council members.
Dhobig(10k) Another large town, Dhobig sends forth many pleasure cruises from its sizeable port. The party boats are wide, flat, and two-decked. They do not have a fast movement rate, and are propelled by elemental power.
Hajura(4k) Small town, not very remarkable. It is a town of retirees, mostly consisting of villas and estates, with Grand Council members fairly numerous here, comparatively speaking. There are no less then 10 Grand Council members in Hajura, the largest concentration in Arogansa.
Nasperid(2k) Though little more than a village, Nasperid boasts the best place to find ship or import wine. Almost as much wine merchanting is done here as Bluenose, and it is the only port beside Bluenose and Ascopal that can accept the larger vessels. The remaining ports have to tender from large ship to the shore.
Perponaz(4k) Perponaz is a quite town, and the retired nobility likes it that way. One of the more "lawful" of Arogansan settlements, wild behaviours are kept in the dark. Gelemon is a very unfriendly Grand Council member who encourages the general unfriendliness toward outsiders. In truth, he is the head of a major thieves' guild in Arogansa.
Rhuboka(2k) Most of the population here consists of vintners, their employees, and those who buy and sell grapes. Wine tasters come from all over the world (read: All over Alphatia, for the most part) to help judge the famous Rhubokan reds and burgundies. The winner travels to Shavadze to pit his wines against the Shavadze whites and the blushing sorceresses. Three Grand Council members live here and tend wine as a hobby.
Shavadze(3k) The people here also tend to be vintners, workers, and traders. They specialise in white wines and gentle pink brews called "blushing sorceress". "Blushing slave" refers to a cheap wine coming from the same area. The tasting contests in both Rhuboka and Shavadze are used to set the prices of the wines when they are taken to Bluenose and Nasperid. This makes the vinting towns the best place to buy (if one has a skill in tasting) as the wines are not yet priced. Four Grand Council members live here.
The army of Arogansa is small, and the country offers little to the Imperical army. The magistrate police force is strong and swift in punishment, keeping interior trouble to a minimum. There are druids which roam the wilds around the dungeons, helping to enforce the royally protected spots.
The domestic army is found mainly along the border, stationed in the forts which look across a small no man's land, at the opposing Theranderol forts. Because of the outlet for violence in Kirnavrads, there are only rare outbreaks of battle between forts. The force consists mainly of spellcasters who have rejected the hedonism of the main kingdom, rejected so thoroughly, that they would rather live a life of dangerous duty, in an extremely underfunded military, than live among the useless aristocracy.
No more than 500 men are stationed in each fort. There are about 3000 additional men who patrol the countryside and the ports.
PLACES TO SEE
Ruins of Charmath
This is an ancient tower, dating from a century before the last millennium celebration (AY900). A reclusive archmage died in a hideous green fire, and his tower has remained haunted ever since. Many heroes have died in the place, and some few have returned with minor treasures. The greatest treasures, which belonged personally to Charmath, have never been recovered. Shortly after the disastrous millennium celebration, in which the Thyatian slave colony declared its independence, the Arogansan crown declared the ruins protected. This means, no priest or paladin may wilfully attempt to bless the area, or attempt to consecrate any portion thereof. If the dungeon should ever be conquered by any group of heroes, or powers, then the property consisting of the geographical area of the dungeon, and everything the heroes consider "controlled territory", will be immediately handed over to the crown and repopulated with monsters. The king at the time, did not want any further morale losses from failed attempts at cleansing the area.
Smarg's Dungeon of Delights
Located in Nespirid, this playhouse is one frequented by all manner of spellcasters with itchy whip fingers. Only the liveliest, loudest, slaves are tied to poles for the guests' enjoyment. Anything goes, though death is frowned upon, and a higher fee must be paid to the establishment.
Bartolek's Pleasure Dome
Situated in the port district of Bluenose, this massive edifice dominates the local scenery. A great dome, measuring 100' high and 400' in radius, and constructed of solid pink granite, is a regular meeting place of the jaded Bluenose elite. Here, one can procure any form of drug known to the empire, including opium imported from Ochalea, Ylari hashish, the more exotic Five Shires pipeweeds, and of course the highly illegal zzonga fruit. All drugs are sold at market value, which means they can be prohibitively expensive, even for the most established nobles. Many an unwary member of the gentry, caught in the web of drug addiction, has found their estate ruined by this evil pleasure. Also available is a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, from the most potent dwarvish grog to the gentlest elvish wine, for those patrons who come to socialise, or to lose themselves in drink. In addition to the prices paid for the drugs and alcohol, there is a 10 gp cover charge to enter the Dome itself. The dome itself is divided into five floors, each subdivided by coloured silk curtains into many lounges and salons, in which patrons relax and partake of the narcotic of their choice. To aid in producing the "ultimate high", a small staff of wizards is on hand to cast phantasms and other illusions to make the dream worlds produced by the drugs as real as possible. For those drug-induced fantasies involving other people, professional actors are also available to provide a "physical anchor" to that imaginary person. All in all, the Dome is a place where the wealthy (aristocratic or gentry) may go to have their secret desire fulfilled.
Though most fantasies are rather benign, or at least cause very little disturbance, outbreaks of extreme violence are known to happen. To ensure that this sort of thing does not drive away future customers, Bartolek, a practising wizard and lifelong resident of Bluenose, has a squad of battle-hardened gnolls at his disposal to quell any disturbances quickly and efficiently.
While on the surface the Dome is not as abhorrent as, say, institutions where sadism and other base pleasures are served, it does pose a threat of its own. Long-time patrons of the establishment, craving that elusive high that will take all their troubles away, have been known to spend days at a time in drug-induced hazes. Dreading the inevitable crash to reality, regular customers always swarm back to the Dome, frantically trying to recapture that golden glow of being high. This has ruined the lives of many a promising person, from the enterprising gentryfolk to the boldest leaders - which has caused Arogansan society to slowly, but surely, slide deeper and deeper into decadence.
opium (1 dose): 5 gp
hashish (1 dose): 7 gp
Arogansan cherry (1 cherry): 10 gp
zzonga fruit: 20 gp each
zzonga essence* (1 dose): 50 gp
*Zzonga essence is the distilled juice of the zzonga fruit, served in a tiny (size of a shooter) glass. It has twice the effect of eating a zzonga fruit. The Arogansan Cherry is a small, black fruit, which gives the user 10% additional hit points for the duration of one combat. At the end, he loses the same amount (temporary). After 3 uses, he is hooked. He'll have to take one cherry each day or have those 10% gone all day.
The Temple of Alphatia, in Rhuboka
This temple is considered the capital for all Arogansan Alphatia worshippers. Unlike Haven and Bettelyn, which have their own views of peace, these Alphatia worshippers believe in a philosophy of "peace through strict discipline". In other words, the slightest infraction of the law should be punished severely, that society will remain at peace. They consider it a moral duty to support the magistrates, and support all laws.
The Temple of Rathanos in Bluenose
This is the major religion in Arogansa. There are probably more worshippers of Rathanos here, than in any other mainland kingdom of Alphatia. This is not to say, however, that the religion has a sway over the community. Only about 30% of Arogansans are religious at all, and about 18% worship Rathanos. And even that number, is filled with lukewarm worshippers and those merely mouth the faith due to the pressures of the particular community they live in. This is why Rathanos has to move carefully in Arogansa. Open disagreement with a law, such as the dungeon preservation law, could result in suspicion from the local authorities. Indeed, the temple often sends clerics secretly into these protected dungeons in order to consecrate even a small portion. When caught, the priests are supposed to try desperately to rid themselves of their holy symbols, in order that the religion will not be recognised. Even so, the temple will disavow any knowledge of the priest's actions.
THINGS TO DO
Arogansa may seem, at first glance, to be an odd realm in which to seek adventure. Dungeons are available, but it is a crime to have complete victory over the evil therein. This of course, only makes the adventure more exciting, especially if a priest of Rathanos has asked for help in cleansing the area, and then making his getaway before the cops come.
Then, there is the option of helping out a slave, commoner, or non-spellcasting gentryman, who finds himself on the receiving end, of the harsh justice of Arogansa. That could lead anywhere, with the rescued victim possibly becoming a friend, and possibly turning the heroes in, for thwarting justice, and further exacerbating his crime.