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A Gazetteer of Ochalea - Geographyby Giampaolo Agosta
Next: Ochalean Defence Forces Up: A Gazetteer of Ochalea Previous: Politics Contents
Ochalea is a large island, located south of the Known World and west of the Pearl Islands. While its coastal areas are mostly plains, allowing a considerable agricultural development, the interior is mostly composed of rocky badlands, short mountain chains, and deep forests and jungles. Most of the Ochalean population lives either in the coastal plains or along the Chungkiang, a wide, slow-flowing river that cuts the islands in twain.
PopulationOverall, circa 680.000 people, mostly humans and Lupins, live in Ochalea. Demihumans and goblinoids are not native of this land, while a small Rakasta population survives - most Ochalean Rakasta left the island centuries ago. Table 1 shows the racial breakdown of the Ochalean population - with the exclusion of most intelligent monsters, which are not taken into account here.
Humans are mostly of common Alphatian stock, copper skinned and brown haired, with slanted eyes and high cheekbones. A minority of Thyatians is also present, mostly working the administration and the military. Few non-Thyatians live in Ochalea, though a small mercantile community can be found in the foreign ward of Beitung.
Four native Lupin breeds are found in Ochalea: the larger High Shar-Pei and Ogrish Chow-Chow, and the smaller Ochalean Crested and Ochalean Houndling. Shar-Pei and Chow-Chow clans originated in the wilder areas, though Shar-Pei are sought after as mercenaries - they are well known for their skill with polearms, and can be found everywhere, from Beitung to the most isolated fortress. Most Chow-Chow Lupins are hunters or herders. Ochalean Crested are the Lupin aristocracy - most of them live in Beitung or in the provincial capitols, and work in the imperial bureaucracy or have business or land-owning interests. Ochalean Houndling and mongrels mostly belong to the commoner classes. Many Lupins of Thyatian origin are also found in Ochalea, more or less in the same range of occupations of their human counterparts.
The only Rakasta breed present in Ochalea is the Pardasta - proud, aloof hunters and rangers who rarely leave the rocky badlands, and seldom interact with either humans or Lupins.
Due to the great interest shown by Ochaleans in religious matters and in the Immortals, outer and inner planar creatures visit this land more than usual. A small population of so-called ``spirit folk'' is therefore found in Ochalea. These represent only small, rural communities where the extraplanar blood is common enough to maintain itself through the generation - in larger towns, such bloodlines tend to dilute quickly.
Table 1: Population Breakdown by Ethnic Groups Human 75% 510.000 Ochalean 500.000 Thyatian 9.000 Thyatian, Kerendan, Hattian Other 1.000 Nuari, Alphatian, Hinterlander, Alasiyan, Minrothaddan, Ierendian, Darokinian, Milenian Lupin 20% 135.000 Shar-Pei 20.000 Chow-Chow 30.000 Houndling 25.000 Crested 15.000 Mongrels 36.000 Thyatians 7.000 Das Hund, Doggerman, Pitbull, Mastiff Other 2.000 Shag-head, Nithian Rambler, etc. Rakasta 3% 20.000 Pardasta ``Spirit Folk'' 2% 14.000 Aasimar 2.500 Tiefling 750 Water Genasi 2.500 Earth Genasi 2.000 Air Genasi 1.500 Fire Genasi 750 Werecreatures 4.000 Weretiger, Werefox, Wererat Demihumans 1.000 Thyatian elves and dwarves
ProvincesThis section describes the fourteen provinces of Ochalea.
BohanBohan begun as a remote, lightly populated agricultural province. However, the presence of a large river, the Wuxingjiang, allowed good irrigation and the development of large rice farms.
Around AC 985, the preliminary operations of the Thyatian colonisation effort in the Hinterlands in Davania led Wumingdou, the provincial capitol, to be chosen as a major waypoint in the Thyatis-Hinterlands route. The Empire funded major upgrades of the town harbour, and built weapon and ship maintenance facilities, depots, and barracks, boosting an otherwise minor town to the rank of fifth larger centre in Ochalea.
This sudden influx of funds brought also a wave of immigration from neighbouring provinces as well as from the mainland, as well as the development of fishing activities and a more aggressive use of the farming land. Right now, Bohan is one of the more cosmopolitan provinces, and a rising economic power - which is why it is also known as the tiger province.
This province has a larger amount of settled land than most. The only true wilderness here is the Wa'ang forest, which marks Bohan border with the Chi province.
Wumingdou is also the province where the first temple of Chang Dangsu was build, and this cult and the Church of Thyatis are especially popular here. The Imperial influence is so strong that the elected senator for the region of Bohan, Chi and Shun is a Wumingdou-based merchant aligned with the Church of Thyatis, and a close friend of General ben Nadir.
CaoThe Cao province bases its wealth on a combination of riverside agriculture and mining activity. The Great Dragon Spires are dotted with small but numerous iron and copper mines - usually a village or enlarged family will work one mine on its own. Smelted ore is sent to the metal market in Wongzhao Tsushao, where merchants from the central provinces of Chung, Kiang and Yuen gather to buy it. Several mining villages are home to Earth Genasi (a.k.a. mountain spirit folk), who are only found here and in the Celestial Territories.
Unfortunately, Cao has very unsafe border regions, including the undead-infested Marsh of the Dead Men (also home to the dangerous purple worms), the bandit-ridden Forest of the Green Men, and the mysterious Weilunglin, the Forest of Little Dragons. Therefore, exporting the ore to Kiang or Chung requires heavy escorts with specialised skills. These services are provided - at a significant price - by the Escort Masters (biaoshi) and their organisations. Professional caravan guard services include expert guards, scouts, animal handlers, guides and negotiators. The escort organisations maintain a corporative monopoly of their professional field, basically forcing the merchant to use their services by ``discouraging'' individual guards-for-hire. Only veteran guides are allowed to found new organisations, and permissions are only issued by the biaoshi council.
Wongzhao Tsushao houses several temples, but the Mystic Way of Order is especially popular here, as several monasteries, including the Zhonghu Siyuan, are located in the mountains at the border with the Celestial Territories. This province is also home to several member of the Circle of Heaven and Earth, though that cult is not especially popular.
Celestial DomainThe Celestial Domain is composed of the city of Beitung and the surrounding countryside. It was originally known as the Bei province, but the name was changed when the Bei kingdom was united to the Wang kingdom as the Wang heir married the last of the Bei queens. The Wang moved their capitol to Beitung, and gave the province the current name.
The economy of the province revolves entirely around the court, the naval fortress and the related personnel and services: the upper tiers of the society are composed by wealthy court officers, merchants, and noblemen related to the current ruling dynasty, while the lower tiers provide servants, guards, soldiers, lower-ranking bureaucrats and clerks. The countryside is devoted to intensive agricultural exploitation, in order to support the large urban population. Food is also imported from other provinces, and merchants and traders make up a large part of the middle class.
This territory is also one of the best defended, with several units present in the city itself. Cohorts of the XXV Imperial Legion also patrol the countryside.
Celestial TerritoriesThe most wild areas of the Grand Duchy of Ochalea are collected in a large province, known as the Celestial Territories. Largely composed of rocky badlands, mountains, and the impenetrable Jungle of the Tiger Men, the Celestial Territories are only populated by a number of Weretigers, Pardasta, and a small human population in the village of Waping Piao and the surrounding countryside. The Demon Cults also maintain a significant presence in the Jungle of the Tiger Men and in the neighbouring areas.
Other humans in the region are mostly hermits, or small coastal communities. Some of these are fully inhabited by Genasi, Aasimar or Tieflings. Most, if not all, ``Fire Spirit Folk'' (Fire Genasi) and ``Half-Demons'' (Tieflings) live in this province.
The Ogre Magi Ox clan maintains its last strongholds in the forested hills in the southern part of the Celestial Territories. Ox clan Ogres are not the brightest of their kin, but they are fiercer and more numerous, making the southern hills as dangerous as the Jungle of the Tiger Men.
ChiThe Grasslands of Chi dominate the landscape of this province. Most of the population is composed of semi-nomadic herders and hunters, and a large proportion of the population is made up by Lupins, descendents of those who fled from Shun during the first years of the Ogre Magi wars. Chi is not rich, and only sparsely populated. Its wildernesses, however, are not home to many monsters, though human and Lupin bandits are more common than in other regions, due to the proximity of the rich Bohan province.
The Warmasters of the Five Directions are so popular here that even many humans revere them. The cult of Chang Dangsu and the Jade Temple are the other major religions in Chi, which is also home to many wandering priests.
ChungThis central province is mostly composed of wilderness. Its human and Lupin population, with the exception of some small Chow-Chow hunting clans, concentrates along the coastal trade route and in the plains around the capitol, Wu Li. Wu Li is one of the smallest provincial capitols, really more a village than a town.
The economy of Chung is mostly dependent on subsistence agriculture and a little trade, though the profits of the trade taxes mostly go to line the pockets of a greedy and over-ambitious provincial governor.
Bandits are very common, and very aggressive, in this lightly protected province. A Jade Dragon is also reputed to lair in the Forest of Little Dragons, while the large Ogre-Mage clan of the Kingfisher dwells near the borders with the Sung and Daisun provinces. Finally, the Forest of Spirits is home to the only Faerie Kingdom in Ochalea - sprites, mandrakes, elemental drakes and brownies are all found here, together with a number of other friendly woodland beings, such as Hsiao and Dryads.
Culturally, Chung is not very developed - it mostly copies trends and ideas from the neighbouring provinces. However, it is home to some monasteries of the Mystic Way of Order, and to a Jade Temple. Wu Li is the only provincial capitol to have only a small shrine maintained by the Church of Thyatis - all others have full featured temples with at least a dozen priests.
DaisunFor the most part, Daisun is a dangerous wilderness. Its population concentrates in the coastal plains, where it supports itself by a combination of agriculture and fishing.
The only major product of this region are trained birds, especially falcons and eagles, which are common in the wild lands. The locals have developed excellent training skills, and practice the art of hunting with hawks. Many falconers have a bit of ``wind spirit'' blood, and Air Genasi villages are mostly found within this province.
The Bear Woods (Xionglin) are avoided by the locals, due to the presence of aggressive cave bears and owlbears that lair in the neighbouring hills. The Forest of Fear (Weishulin), at the boundary with the Celestial Territories, owns its name to the evil spirits that dwell in its depths. The vilest Ogre Magi of the Kingfisher clan are also found there.
KiangOne of the major provinces, Kiang is densely populated, especially along the banks of the Chungkiang and along the coast. The border region are more sparsely populated, with many small Pardasta clans living in the Forest of Li. Water Genasi (River Spirit Folk) are particularly common in this province.
This province originated as a place where independent-minded Cypri pioneers settled, driving away the native Ogre Magi, and keeping far from the power of the rising Ochalean kingdom during the Wang dynasty. These pioneers evolved into a strong aristocracy of wealthy landowners, and Kiang remained a semi-independent vassal of the Wang kings until the Alphatian Empire took control of Ochalea. The Fields of Yi still are the stronghold of Ochalean aristocracy, and the town of Chungkiang Li is politically aligned with the Thyatian pro-senatorial faction, the Gens Aemilia.
As one of the key provinces, Kiang enjoys a greater degree of protection, and the native Kiang regiment is supported by two cohorts of the XXV Legion and three centuries of Lupins. The Lupin guards are in charge of protecting the road to Beitung from their base in the village of Wu Li, keeping the dangers of the forest of Li (marauding Ogre Magi and Pardasta bandits, mostly) at bay.
Rice growing and fishing are the staple of Kiang economy, but the large aristocracy supports also a significant craftsmen class, and some jade mines are also found in this region. The artisans of Kiang are reputed to produce more durable goods than those of Beitung, but the latter are better regarded (and better paid) for the artistic value of their goods.
ShouA small but historically important province, Shou was one of the first Cypri nations in Ochalea. The Shou princes where defeated early on by the kings of Wang, who absorbed the province into their kingdom. It is currently much reduced in status and power, as it has few natural resources - most of the population survives by combining fishing and subsistence agriculture.
The population of Shou is mostly humans, with a few ``Sea Spirit Folk'' (Water Genasi) villages and a limited Lupin population in the capitol town, Wangzhao Ha. This region is not very dangerous, and is generally considered quite dull by foreigners - and the locals like it this way. Some evil shapechangers do, however, infest the upper reaches of Shou, though they are usually content with the abduction of livestock or the occasional human straggler.
SungColonised by Houndlings from Ta'ang and Cypri from Bei and Wang, Sung was never very important, until rich gold mines where discovered in the Hills of the Sun, prompting the Alphatian occupation. Gold mining is still the richest industry of the region, though hunting and farming are important to guarantee the survival of the population.
A large number of hermit refuges and small monasteries of the Mystic Way of the Eight Immortals is located in the hills and mountains of this region. The Mystic Way of the Eight Immortals is the most popular religion here, but the people of Sung stress more the passive aspects of the faith than the focus on personal achievements. A content, modest folk, even the humans of Sung seem to have absorbed the stereotypical deferential attitude of the Ochalean Houndlings.
ShunA minerary region well known for its high-quality jade, Shun was one of the first regions settled by the Lupins. It was, however, heavily raided by the Ogre Magi of the neighbouring Chung and Kiang provinces for slaves, and in modern times the Lupin population is only average, though Chow-Chow are slightly more common here than in other regions.
Shun is the centre of the cult of Chang Dangsu, who is believed to have resided in Chung Tsu some time before the Alphatian occupation. A large temple-hospital is located in the provincial capitol, and it is known for a massive, white jade statue of the god which is believe to protect from all disease. Thanks to the large priesthood of the Benevolent Order, indeed, the citizen of Chung Tsu enjoy good health, and some of the oldest men and Lupins in Ochalea live in the town.
The Blue Woods, west of the Dragon Spire Mountains, are known to the priests of Chang Dangsu for the medicinal and alchemical value of its trees. However, it is guarded by powerful tree spirits, who do not appreciate intruders - especially those who carry axes!
Ta'angTa'ang was the landing point of the first Taymoran Lupins to reach Ochalea, and still is one of the provinces with a higher percentage of Lupins, especially Shar-Pei and Houndlings.
The Immortal Spire is the sacred location where the Archdukes of the Wai dynasty were traditionally buried before reforms enacted in 430 AC by the first Teng Archduke moved the tombs near Beitung.
The Tang hills in the northern part of the province are dotted by hermit refuges and small monasteries of the Mystic Way of the Eight Immortals, which is the most popular religion in this area. Less concerned with order and more with balance and harmony, the people of Ta'ang are independent-minded and focused on personal growth. Scholarly and martial training are common among the upper classes, and even the members of the lower classes invest whatever spare time they have in these pursuits.
The Forest of the Ancients is another refuge for hermits and monks. Some people believe that elixirs of long life can be brewed from herbs found in this forest, and that, in general, the forest itself invigorates those who live under its canopies and lessens the effects of old age. The Forest of the Ancients is certainly home to many nature spirits, who closely protect its secrets.
WangWang is a poor, sparsely populated province. Its meagre economy is mostly based on cattle raising. Livestock is exported to Beitung to feed the Legions and the court.
Historically, Wang is important because the first dynasty of Cypri kings (the Wang dynasty) arose here. However, most of the province's strength was sapped during the Thyatian-Alphatian war, when Ochalean freedom fighters joined battle against well equipped and magically armed Alphatian troops in the Plains of the Dead - which gained their name for the enormous number of casualties that the Ochaleans suffered before pushing the Alphatians back to Beitung.
Spirits of the dead warriors and wizards still haunt the plains, which is another reason why Ochaleans never tried to develop this region, preferring to leave the dead to their own mourning.
YuenOne of the economic powers of Ochalea since the very beginning, Yuen was the siege of the first Ochalean Crested kingdom. During the late Yuen kingdom, silk production was introduced by Cypri settlers, who became more and more important as the war with the Ogre Magi kingdom in Sung and Kiang escalated. An alliance of Yuen, Bei, Wang and the Pardasta clans of the forest of Li finally shattered the Ogre Magi resistance, and in modern times only the Frog clan survives in the darker reaches of the woods.
By the time of the Alphatian occupation, the humans where the larger part of the Yuen population, but the Ochalean Crested, being powerful magic users, where able to obtain Alphatian citizenship, and protected their kingdom - reduced to a simple administrative province - from the worst of the Alphatian abuses. However, the merchants resented the higher tax levels, and prompted Yuen to side with Lucinius Trezantembium when the Thyatian envoys reached Wongzhao Tsu Yi. The Yuen Ochalean Crested still maintain their role as provincial governors to this time, though their magic users tend to keep to themselves, and let the priests and warriors rule.
Silk production is the strong suit of the Yuen economy. Yuen silk is exported not only to Beitung, but to Thyatis city and to Thothia as well. Minrothaddan merchants can also be found in Wongzhao Tsu Yi on a regular basis.
Table 2: Provinces of Ochalea Provinces Total Rural Capitol Pop. Villages Pop. Bohan 45.000 37.000 Wumingdou 8.000 Cao 42.000 36.000 Wongzhao Tsushao 6.000 Celestial Domain 92.000 42.000 Beitung 50.000 Celestial Territories 14.000 13.500 Waping Piao 500 Chi 34.000 32.800 Chi 1.200 Chung 34.000 33.200 Wu Li 800 Daisun 38.000 37.000 Chihue Phong 1.000 Kiang 92.500 83.000 Chungkiang Li 9.000 Ying Li 500 Shou 21.000 20.000 Wangzhao Ha 1.000 Shun 57.000 50.500 Chung Tsu 6.000 Kai Tsu 500 Sung 58.000 48.000 Wutang Dongha 10.000 Ta'ang 49.500 42.000 Yingtang Tangyiha 7.000 Haiho Piao 500 Wang 14.000 13.000 Kaikiang Li 1.000 Yuen 89.000 80.000 Wongzhao Tsuyi 8.500 Wu Li 500 TOTAL 680.000 568.000 110.000 2000
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