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DAROKIN (Republic of, Heartlands)
Location: Central region of southeastern Brun, along the banks of the lower Streel River and Lake Amsorak, south of the Broken Lands, north of the Cruth Mountains, east of Sind and west of the Altan Tepes Mountains. OW
Area: 68,964 sq. mi. (178,615 sq. km.), not including Orcland which is now considered a sovereign nation.
Population: 1,280,000 (95% human, 2% elven, 2% hin, 1% dwarven and other), including Darokin City (capital, 56,000), Akesoli (17,500), Akorros (23,000), Athenos (15,000), Corunglain (31,000), Selenica (40,000).
Languages: Thyatian (Darokinian dialect), many other languages also present, including Elvish and Lalor.
Coinage: Daro (gp), half-daro (ep), tendrid (sp), passim (cp). For transactions involving large amounts of money (larger than 500 daros), a CLOC (Certified Letter of Credit) is used.
Taxes: 5% of annual income (8% for incomes over 100,000 daros), collected annually on Thaumont 1. Every 5 years, a net worth tax is assessed; anyone whose income has increased since the last assessment must pay 5% of the gain in taxes. There is also a 3% sales tax.
Government Type: Plutocratic republic governed by a mercantile elite. Member of the Western Defence League.
Industries: Agriculture (very high yield), fishing, trade (mostly overland), finance, craft industry (mills along the Streel and other rivers), timber, some mining in the Cruth Mountains, and diplomacy.
Important Figures: Corwyn Mauntea (Chancellor), Corwyn Linton (Master of House Linton), Bertram Hallonica (Master of House Hallonica), Natalie Kalimi (Mistress of House Corun), Elissa Pennydown (Mistress of House Pennydown), Greenleaf Vickers (Master of House Umbarth), Eshram al-Azrad (Master of House al-Azrad), Arturo Franich (Master of House Franich), Mendel Callister (Master of House Toney).
Flora and Fauna: Herds of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. The various mountains around the nation are home to mountain lions and bears. Malpheggi Swamp is known for its crocodiles and giant lizards, as well as being the refuge for roving gangs of bandits and goblinoids. The southern part of Darokin is mostly covered with oak forests, while to the north, evergreens dominate. Around the nation of Aengmor, blight oaks can be encountered within the borders of Darokin. The northeastern section of Darokin is known as Orcland and is completely dominated by bands of goblinoids.
Further Reading: GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin, previous almanacs.
Description by Dromeda the Shadow.
The nation of Darokin is a republic, meaning that we don't have to put up with the kind of hereditary royalty found in other nations or wizards elevating themselves to the status of princes simply because they're wizards. We get a say in how we're governed, or some of us do, anyhow. But it's true that most of our rulers have come from the same small circle of families and the grip of the Maunteas on the chancellorship is virtually hereditary in all but name. These flaws are not as bad as the governments less fortunate nations must suffer under, where they're often governed by the king's drinking buddies or relatives, persons given title regardless of merit, without regard to the people's wishes, but even so there are danger signs that the republic could become nothing more than an oligarchy. How did we gain the system we have and why should we be concerned about its future? Well, I'm not a historian or a scholar, but I know my own mind and I'll try to share what I've learned with the almanac's readers.
We Darokinians like to think we ended up with the land no one else wanted, thus making our achievement in becoming so prosperous seem all the greater. But this is just a founding fable, not unlike what they have in other lands, and about as truthful. The reality is both more heroic and less heroic than that, because we had to fight to get our nation, just like everyone else. We don't like to think of ourselves as warring types, but it's not true that no one else wanted these lands. We struggled to get them, and our achievement was in winning.
In distant times the lands of Darokin were overrun by orc bands and by lots of human clans and villages, almost as fractious as the orcs. These were lush lands and almost everyone wanted them, and they weren't interested in sharing. There were also the elves, still in Alfheim in those days, pulling the strings. The ancestors of the Darokinian people could be said to have been the Eastwind clan of humans. They got help from the elves-arms and magical support, in return for fighting the elves' wars for them, mostly against the orcs. But the Eastwind guys also worked to absorb the humans of the region under their control, by negotiation and diplomacy when they could (that's how we probably got that skill, really), but also by knocking heads when they had to. As they say, a kind word and a sword is better than a just kind word at getting people to be agreeable.
Eventually, shortly after the Thyatian revolt against Alphatia and the crowning of their first emperor (whatsis name, you know, the guy that killed all the kings), the leader of the Eastwind Clan made himself the first king of our area. His name was Ansel Darokin, and it is from him that we get our nation's name. Fighting with the orcs continued as both sides sought to expand and expel the other out of the region, first going our way, then the orcs' way, but in the end they were beaten back and the last of the human clans of the area submitted to the new Attleson Dynasty.
Darokin was a large kingdom then, larger than the republic is now. Roads were built through the kingdom, and trade sprang up. Eventually the traders started to get more wealthy than the kings and their nobles, and the kings made blunders (like the Elfwar), and the merchants started to think that they'd do better running the place in the place of guys who got the job by blood rather than merit.
The kings gradually became figureheads as their noble lackeys were replaced bit by bit throughout the kingdom by the merchant lords of the cities. These nobles met various ends, but not too many people missed them so no one looked to closely into how they got removed. Eventually the last king died and his royal house "just happened" to die out as well (some say this didn't happen by accident either, but by this point hardly anyone even noticed they were gone), and the kingdom was at an end. In those days, Darokin stopped being a nation, and became a region of independent city-states, each one governed by merchant lords, usually a council of the most prominent merchant families in the city. Some things change but others don't. These city-states didn't fight much (or at least not so much that it would hurt business), but they weren't friends, either.
The royalty and their nobles were gone, at least, but this new arrangement didn't work so well, either. Glantri took part of our northern lands from us, and when Ylaruam was formed by Suleiman al-Kalim, they grabbed some of the eastern country, parts of which had already been invaded by Ethengar nomads anyhow. Orcs and other humanoids began to infest the Cruth Mountains again, and we lost that (nowadays parts of that are in Karameikos, and they get to deal with the orcs and goblins).
Also, because we weren't unified, every tom jack who lost a fight in one of the neighbouring lands ended up here. Now, eventually that would be good for Darokin-we got a lot of vibrant types coming in. And today we celebrate that kind of influx, and like to think of it as being peaceable and agreeable. Well, this is another thing that is half true and half not. It's true that almost always, eventually, accommodations were worked out and everyone ended up getting along and cooperating. But not without friction and strife first, since the people already living here didn't always want to make room for newcomers, and the newcomers, being a bit angry anyhow, usually, since they just got their fundaments kicked back home, weren't always nice about making room for themselves either, and were pushy about it, especially the warrior-lords who got booted out of Glantri after their "Light of Rad" pronouncement. Those guys were in a foul mood when they got here, I know 'cause my great-great grandpa was one of them. He told me stories that could curl your hair about being forced out of there and making a place for his family here (yah, the old coot was still alive when I was young due to some magical stash he had, and his eyes shown the fire of rage whenever he spoke of the princes of Glantri).
Things had a way of working themselves out, sort of, but with all the monsters and with some of these guys becoming bandits and the like, it was starting to affect trade, and not for the better. The merchant-lords ruling the cities could tolerate a lot, but this was bad for business. So, not quite a century ago, the leaders of the major cities all met to discuss what to do about the fix they were in. Now, these guys were rivals and competitors, but they saw they needed to cooperate to survive. Some of them wanted to create a kingdom again, with themselves as the nobility this time, but others figured that's what got Darokin in the state it was in now, they needed something different. So they created a republic by signing the Great Merger. I'll get back to the republic itself later, but first let me tell you about the land that made up this republic.
They claimed what was left of the Kingdom of Darokin, minus those bits that other nations had already grabbed in the meantime. We possibly could have got back some of the areas in the Cruth Mountains, but Thyatis had gotten there first and we had no interest in fighting them over monster-infested crags in what was, at the time, the backwater of Traladara.
So our borders were fixed pretty much where they are now. The major area of Darokin is the Streel River basin, a wide plain south of the Broken Lands and north of the Malpheggi Swamp, bounded in the east by the Canolbarth Forest and in the west by the Elstrich Hills. Even then, most Daros lived there. This land isn't just leftover, it's among the most fertile agricultural land in all the continent and, indeed, the world. West of that is Lake Amsorak, a large freshwater lake that drains into the Streel River near Darokin City, which allows for good riverine trade. The lake produces lots of freshwater fish, and allows shipment of goods between Akorros and Akesoli, then into Sind and beyond.
Eastern Darokin is mostly forested, but is also dotted with small farmsteads. This region produces more than enough timber to fill all our needs and then some, with timber being shipped by road or down the Helleck River. South of that are the Five Shires, possibly the best neighbours a nation could have, since the hin are decent folk who don't stir up trouble for their neighbours. Here too is the Cruth Mountain Range, a rugged series of peaks but also not just leftover land, since there is good mining here, and this area produces considerable mineral and metallic resources for Darokin without even digging that deep to get it.
At the far east is the city of Selenica, the gateway to trade with Karameikos, Ylaruam, and beyond. In the north there was the Dwarfgate Mountains, Darokinian until the recent Great Giveaway. While it's true this region was overrun with hostile orcs, that's certainly no cause to have given it away, since the region, like the rest of that mountain range in Rockhome, is full of unexplored mineral reserves, and thus was part of the future of Darokin. Giving away part of our national patrimony to orcs shows the dangers inherent in a government ruled by people who have a short term concern with immediate profit and cost and who want to avoid conflict to such a high degree that they sometimes make decisions that aren't in Darokin's long term interest. This is as good a point as any to discuss that.
The people of Darokin are the finest, most honest and hard-working sorts in the world. It's even hard to say a bad thing about our rulers, as individual people at least, which is more than one can say about rulers in most other places. But Darokin is in many ways a federation of city-states ruled by and for a mercantile elite. If Darokin's government seems small and unobtrusive compared to that of other nations, that's because the great houses prefer to keep real power in their private hands as much as possible, even though they run the government. Looked at properly, it's hard to tell where the government ends and private business begins in Darokin, since the business of Darokin is commerce and commercial interests are in charge, filling the offices with only a few exceptions. To take just one example, in Darokin there are more private security forces employed by the great houses than there are people in Darokin's army.
The government officially may be unobtrusive, but the great houses intrude into everything. The republic is a great idea, and certainly better than being ruled by nobles or people who think just 'cause they can cast spells that makes them better than everyone else. But to a large extent Darokin's republic is just the institutionalisation through formal rules of the political influence the wealthy have everywhere. What it does is cement the power of the great houses and create a government devoted to maintaining their interests while giving the impression of popular sovereignty. But I'll bet more folks have a say in things through their vote even in benighted Thyatis, with its backwards system of nobles and its emperor, than in our republic, because the bar for being a voting citizen was placed so high-one has to have 15,000 daros in net wealth just to be allowed to vote-that most people don't qualify. And even if you do, you can't just decide to run for office just because you think you've got something to contribute to the welfare of the nation. You need two more things. First, to hold an office you need even more wealth than you need to vote (or the approval of some big shot to exempt you from the requirement). Plus, you need to be selected as a candidate by one of the previous officeholders. You can't just run of your own free choice.
Now, some of these guys believe in the integrity of the system and do try to give the voter a choice in who to vote for, so they select persons with different views. But most of the time there's cronyism and nepotism, virtually fixing things so that the elections are a sham. Politicians select candidates who share their own views, usually from their own family (Maunteanism on a small scale), and many rig the choice they give to the voters by providing only one obvious competent candidate, filling the other slots on the ballot with ciphers, non-entities, incompetent boobs and idiot cousins, insuring that the guy they want to win will win. This threatens to turn Darokin into more of an oligarchy than a republic. It's not an accident that the same faces always end up being chancellor and sitting around the table at Inner Council meetings.
But I'm not down on Darokin, not by any means. I'm a concerned patriot. We just need to reform things to give more people a chance to have their say, and to provide them with a true choice when they vote, to give people the same fair deal in politics that we give them in business. Most countries don't have it nearly this good. In many places there is religious friction and strife, but the people of Darokin are open-minded in religion, there are a variety of beliefs existing side by side without conflict and without the benighted heathenism of Glantri.
This might be because we're prosperous and everyone believes they've got a shot to get ahead if they work hard and play by the rules, so hardly any one in Darokin looks to blame others for things. Our prosperity is based on commerce, the exploitation of internal and external markets. Our merchants excel at overland trade and, to some extent, river trade (especially along the Streel), but with the exception of House Linton we don't engage in much sea trade. This handicap by itself shows just how skilful our merchants and traders are, since shipping goods by water is almost always much more efficient than shipping them by land, but still Darokin is the most prosperous nation in the world because of our nation's knack for commerce and reputation for giving folks a fair deal, quality goods at decent prices. But imagine how much more prosperous we could be if the iron grip the oligopoly wields over public affairs and policy could be broken, and with it their increasingly outdated methods, freeing up the nation for a new burst of enterprise and innovation?
I say "iron grip" because since the Great Merger the great houses have been trying to establish themselves in all aspects of Darokin's economy, forming vertical monopolies and collectively operating as an oligopoly, and if they succeed this will result in driving independent operators out of the market. The truly wealthy and powerful can ride out bad luck but most tradesmen don't have that cushion, so the smallest misfortune can put them out of business and even into debt (and with it, indentured servitude, I'll say more on that insidious practice below. I know from personal experience, having just last year gotten out, and only then because of the generosity of a helpful friend who gave me some information I used as leverage to get my freedom back from my "employer"). I bring this up because it is not unheard of for the more powerful to arrange such accidents to befall their less prominent competitors.
This can happen and people look the other way because streeters such as myself have been demonised by the powers that be as being involved in shady deals, selling shoddy goods, and even trafficking in stolen merchandise. But we are the exemplars of the enterprising Darokinian, people struggling to make a go of it on our own terms in the face of the domination of the great houses. We provide goods and services to Copper people [working-class individuals. Ed.] at decent prices, while our cousins, the travellers, go one step beyond this, transporting goods to out of way locales and providing them with stuff that would otherwise be unavailable. Prominent keepers are trying to move into the street market, dumping goods at below cost and besmirching the reputations of honest, hard-working streeters in an effort to squeeze us out of the market. If this happens they will have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, harming Darokin in the long run. Most streeters are resilient and feisty, though, and doggedly cling to their way of life. We also adapt, and are creative in coming up with ways to earn a coin. I myself provide my fellow streeters with useful information with which to fight those who want to stack the deck against them. I sell it for a fee, of course, since a gal's got to make a living and we Daros are no charity cases. But it's an important job. Only family members ever wield true power in the great houses, so that means that if the houses succeed in squeezing out the little guy, then opportunity and the chance to make your own life decisions will vanish for the majority of Darokinians. Since Darokinians are naturally enterprising and won't tolerate the kind of stuff that folks in other nations do, that would naturally lead to revolution. Thus, for the good of the nation the power of the merchant houses must be curbed, so this doesn't happen.
But if streeters have low reputations because of being badmouthed, the snakes who broker indentured servants have a low reputation because they deserve it. Let me be frank, these guys are little better than slavers. Now, I know why the powers that be instituted indentured servitude, and they thought they were doing the right thing. A little hard work for a criminal to pay back their debt to society and perhaps learn the good that comes from honest work, plus restitution to the victim, plus it saves money that would be spent on prisons otherwise. Sounds really good in theory. But in practice it's terrible, I can honestly say. Indentured servants are sold to brokers at cut rates, and then the brokers sell the indentured servants to some of the least reputable businesses in Darokin, where they work us like galley slaves and pay us squat. This doesn't teach folks the value of hard work, it just embitters them. Now, I know what you're saying-they don't sell the indentured servants, they sell the services of the indentured servants (so it's not slavery, officially), and the indentured servants are just working off their debts. Well, I tell you, given half a chance to use my true skills rather than the kind of drudgery my master had me doing, I could have paid off what I owed long before I got released. At the rate most indentured servants are paid, many can barely feed themselves, much less set aside some coin to pay their debts. Plus, most employers don't make working conditions what they would have to do if they were using free labour. I've been in mills before, and when they hire employees they make some efforts at safety, 'cause they don't want the workers to leave for better opportunities. But in the mill I worked at as an indentured servant, the owner didn't care about safety 'cause we couldn't leave, we had to work for him. I saw more folks get mangled limbs and die of festering wounds there than I did in the army. If it wasn't for a friend who owed me a favour and slipped me a juicy bit of info on the owner, I'm sure I'd still be there. Even a guy like him didn't want people to know... well, I promised not to say, and for that simple promise he paid my debts for me and I got out of there while I still could. But don't ever buy goods from Quelganic Mills.
Now I do want to say something else about Darokinian culture before I'm done, lest you get the impression that we only care about business and getting ahead in the world. Some folks think that because we don't like tasteless ostentation, that we aren't a very artistic people, we are so busy with business we don't like beauty. Well, I guess its true that except for the Merchant's Guild Hall we don't have lots of grand buildings and monuments like in other countries, since such things are kind of frivolous if you ask me. But overall, well I'd put a Darokinian house or place of business up against those of any other country, with the possible exception of hin homes. We have nice houses, and everyone works to keep them up, beautifully painted since it's good advertising and it keeps the place from falling apart, which saves money in the long run as well as being pleasing to look at.
So too we like good art as much as the next fellow. But we like art on a human scale, not gargantuan statuary or panoramas run amok; Darokinian art is usually intimate and personal, home scenes or portraits of fields and family. It is true that many merchant lords who commission art like to have faces of themselves and their family plastered over representations of the Immortals or in portrayals of historical dramas in order to inflate their egos, but even those are well executed works of art, and I'll bet they'll stand the test of time. Because that's another thing we keep in mind-good art is also a good investment, as is being a patron of a promising artist. We just don't go in for gauche and extravagant displays like they do in other countries.
The Darokin Central Market in Darokin City, its one of the biggest markets in the world and probably the best stocked as well. You'll get better deals here, too, and can find just about anything and everything worth having. If it isn't here, you don't really need it anyhow. Plus, if you need the good word or want to get hooked into the grapevine and know what's up, look for me, I'll be around the market. If you say you read about the hardest working woman in Darokin through the almanac, I'll give you a discount.