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THONIA (Kingdom of, a.k.a. Empire of)
Location: Northeastern Skothar, along the Bay of Thorin, north of Esterhold. SK
Area: Approx. 600,000 sq. mi. (1,554,000 sq. km.).
Population: 750,000 (including 80,000 in the capital of Serison), 90% human, 1% elven, 1% dwarven, 1% hin, 2% goblin, 2% hobgoblin, 2% gnoll, 1% pegataur.
Language: Thoniatian (descended from ancient Thonian).
Coinage: Imperial (5 gp), gilder (gp), pars (ep), mark (sp), pence (cp).
Taxes: 20% income tax (15% on nobles) collected biannually, 5% sales tax on all goods except food, 5% toll on all commodities passing through the realm.
Government Type: Monarchy advised by a council of nobles.
Industries: Fishing, cattle-raising, horse-breeding, shipbuilding, agriculture (poor), mining (iron in hills).
Important Figures: Iyxis XXXIV (King/Emperor), Verdis (Queen/Empress), Thelekari (Dowager Empress), Marick of Glevum (Archbishop of Serison), various dukes.
Flora and Fauna: Evergreens and deciduous trees, scrub brush, sheep, cattle, elk, deer, wolves, foxes, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, hawks, ogres, trolls, boars, lycanthropes, giant rats, mountain lions, rams, bison, hill giants, yeti, displacer beasts, mastodons, seals, walrus, giant toads, white and silver dragons, wyverns, ghouls, ghasts, thouls, wights, wraiths
Description by Yin Tang of Beitung.
After landing in Minaea and learning more about this land, our mood was filled with excitement and anticipation as we sailed to the legendary Thonia, a nation whose heritage dates back to the days of Blackmoor. While we have seen many wonders here, Thonia has to be considered a disappointing and disillusioning experience in reality.
The Bay of Thorin is bounded on the south by the Peninsula of Esterhold, to the east by relatively good lands and scattered forests, and to the north by sub-arctic steppe lands and hills. Thonia controls much of the eastern and northern shores of the Bay of Thorin, as well as an unremarkable stretch of territory north and east of that (borders here are very permeable, the area inhabited mostly by migratory clansmen with their herds, who share the region with the scattered northern fringe of Jennites). Thonia shares this region with various Ystmarhavner colonies that form enclaves within the region. The borders are not sharply defined, and the Thonian government tries to pretend, officially, that these enclaves don't really exist and that the Ystmarhavner lords are subject to their empire. The Ystmarhavners seem to pretend to go along with this arrogance when they have to have dealings with Thonians, but otherwise do their best to ignore it. Squabbles and even minor wars have started when this attitude has gotten too extreme or forceful, however. But since most Thonians live near their capital, frictions aren't usually too severe.
This southern area shared and feuded over by the two peoples is the best, and thus most densely populated, land in the area. The coastal area is reasonably lush, its climate similar to that of Heldann. There are plains and farms here, as well as forests and hills in the interior, near the dwarf-holds of Thorin. The northern area claimed by Thonia, the Marches, is considerably less welcoming, topographically and climatologically. This area covers the coast and much of the interior of the northern rim of the Bay of Thorin. It is covered with frigid moors, steppes, taiga, and sub-arctic lands, similar to the grimmer regions of Norwold. This region covers the vast majority of Thonia's land area, but is only sparsely inhabited.
Thonia has one major city and several smaller towns. The capital is Serison, built atop the ruin of an ancient, pre-Blackmoor Thonian city, by survivors of that great cataclysm. This city is very old, pre-dating Alphatian Landfall by centuries if not millennia. It rests on a mound that looms over the surrounding land. This mound is said to be not a natural hill, but rather the accumulation of centuries of debris, crumbled structures built over and over again in many layers. Magic has been used to "raise" various old and important structures several times over the ages to keep them from being buried over time. Such structures include the palace and the wall itself, among other things. Because of this build up, Serison is honeycombed with a network of tunnels and catacombs, and knowledge of much of what these consist of has been lost in time. A seamless wall seemingly carved out of a single piece of stone, thrust up from the earth, surrounds Thorin, and seems to be as old as the city itself.
This wall arcs out into the bay itself, forming a breakwater and creating the city's port. The wall is immune to natural and unnatural damage (such as earthquakes or spells), and is protected against normal, non-magical missiles (including non-magic artillery). The battlements likewise protect the defenders during time of war as if protected from evil/good (regardless of the alignment of the attackers). Numerous pieces of artillery are mounted in and atop the towers that stud the walls. These are operated by ancient mechanisms, allowing them to be aimed and fired with only one crewman, who is protected by 90% cover. They are able to aim these skyward against flying creatures or skyships. Serison itself is a large city, covering almost the same area as the great City of Thyatis does, but with only a fraction of the population. Much of the interior is parkland, fields, even small gardens or croplands, with the occasional cows, chickens, or goats. The population has gradually dwindled for centuries, and here and there can be found weed-choked ruins (though few of these date back to the time of ancient Thonia or Blackmoor-most of the older ruins are buried under several feet of earth). The palace of the Thonian King (a.k.a. "emperor," though usually only outsiders call him that) is a monumental relic to ancient Thonian architecture, with a gilded dome at its centre and many large windows. The palace is heated magically, and would be quite pleasant if it wasn't for the jury-rigged towers and fortifications built into its sides, obvious later (and architecturally clumsy) additions. The city is defended by a small but elite royal guard force, some royal marines, and a force of pegataurs tasked with protecting Thonia against aerial attack. Many if not most Thonians live in the lands around the capital city. These engage in farming and fishing. They use large galleys in warfare, and large (if somewhat slow) sailing ships for trade and fishing.
The rest of Thonia is divided into approximately ten provinces, and is inhabited mostly by herdsmen and ranchers (on the steppe lands) and miners (in the hill country). Scattered rustic towns and villages dot the coastal lands of the Bay of Thorin, these mostly built of wood, surrounded by palisades, and having none of the splendour of the city of Thorin. They are grim places, where social life centres around the local watering hole or tavern. There are few inns, and foreigners are distinctly unwelcome in these parts. Only in the capital are accommodations made for outsiders, but they are usually treated brusquely there as well-not rudely, but in a businesslike fashion.
The Thonian people seem to share physiological characteristics with Antalians, though cultural drift has separated them linguistically and in civilisation (Jaggar von Drachenfels and some other old Thyatian families trace their lineage back to scions of elder Thonia, however). They are a very spiritual and religious people, devoted to the Immortals and to maintaining their traditional faith. The Immortals they worship include several that I have not heard of before, though some of these may just be variant names for more familiar Immortals. To make things confusing, one of these Immortals is called Serison. Either the capital was named for this Immortal or vice versa. Unfortunately, the Thonians are very reluctant to share more than just general information regarding their faith with non-believers, and keep its rituals secret. Greater study is needed here before I will be able to report more on this.
Thonia's noble class is, if anything, even more haughty and arrogant than that of Alphatia-their hauteur based upon ancient bloodline claims rather than an inborn knack for magic, however. Some of these use their heritage as an inspiration to spur them to excel and thereby honour their ancestors. But many see their heritage as an excuse for indolence, sloth, and arrogance, seeing little need to accomplish anything on their own. In my eyes, this disgraces the very heritage their claims of authority rest upon, and dishonours the legacy of their ancestors.
Many of these nobles will not deign to speak directly to a "foreign barbarian," using an intermediary as a "translator" in conversation, even if the outsider speaks Thoniatian. Some are marginally more open and accepting, doing this only until the outlander has "proved himself worthy" of direct conversation. Thonia's nobility could be called decadent, interested only in pursuing frivolous pleasures.
Thonian commoners do not share this arrogance, per se. They are more gregarious and warm-at least among themselves. But, rather than being haughty, they are very suspicious of foreigners, and insular. Outside Serison they have a small-town mentality, isolated and wanting to be left alone. Fearful of what a strange person might introduce into their community. Surrounded by dangers, I suppose one can see why they might develop this insularity. Once an outlander proves himself or herself worthy and friendly, they are more accepting, though they still seem to share many of the attitudes of villagers in Bellissaria. Which is ironic, considering the disdain that the Thonians in general have for Alphatians and, indeed, all foreign peoples.
An interesting note are the pegataurs and the gnolls of Thonia. The pegataurs of Thonia insist that they are a natural and true race, rather than a magically-created hybrid. They claim that the pegataurs in Alphatia were produced by Alphatian wizards wanting to replicate the natural and original pegataurs, which those in Thonia claim to be. I have not been able to either verify or disprove this claim.
The gnolls are, likewise, somewhat odd [they might actually be flinds. Ed.], being somewhat different from those found on Brun, being hairier and larger. These gnolls are nomads, living mainly on the northern moors and steppes. They often are soldiers in Thonia's frontier forces, but have distinct communities of their own within the nation.
The dwarves are of clans from the dwarven Kingdom of Thorin.
Thonia is a survivor-state of the ancient Empire of Thonia, which predated even Blackmoor. Its people are conscious of their history, but surviving in the rugged lands is enough of a challenge that they have never managed to recapture their old glory. The history of Thonia since the destruction of Blackmoor has been one of rebuilding followed by the struggle to survive in their harsh environment.
According to Thonian histories which I have read while here-one of the few things with which to occupy one's time here is to read-, they felt the appearance of the Alphatians as a sort of insult, and rancour at the prestige of the Alphatian Empire while it existed and pushed itself onto the world stage. At the time of Landfall the Thonians were in the process of colonising the continent to their southeast, the continent that the Alphatians would claim as their own. But only a few small Thothian settlements had been created-exploration was just beginning, as Thonia had only recently managed to recover true seafaring capacity and had few ships and did not match the Alphatians in strength. In essence, the arrival of the Alphatians permanently restricted the Thonians to the region they inhabit now, preventing them from ever recapturing the glories of their lost empire, and thus embittered them.
In the interval, the Thonians have occasionally fought with, but in other times cooperated with, the Jennites to their south and the Ystmarhavner peoples who colonised here after they were forced from their homes by the invading Alphatians. The Thonians see these peoples as barbarians who "know their place." The Jennites are respectful of the Thonians-not so much because they feel themselves inferior (which is what the Thonians would like to believe), but because the Thonians have never cared to try and invade the steppes of the Jennites (having enough near worthless lands of their own). As a result, when the Alphatians attacked Esterhold 800 years ago, the Thonians and Jennites developed closer ties, and see each other as a potential ally to keep the Alphatians at bay.
Almost of necessity, trade sprang up between Thonia and Alphatia over the centuries. This trade was rather meagre, however, as the lands of Thonia produced little that the Alphatians wanted (if it had, they would simply have seized it outright). The Thonians often raided deeper into Skothar to capture slaves to sell to the Alphatians in exchange for the wares the Alphatians produced. When Alphatia sank, many thought the Thonians would try to take advantage of this by marching into Esterhold, or at least helping the Jennites recapture that peninsula. But Thonia did nothing. They seem instead satisfied with the disappearance of the Alphatian continent, smugly happy with the pitiful state of the surviving Alphatian kingdoms (which have now formed Nayce)-there is little compassion or awareness that the destruction of the Alphatian Empire echoes their own experience of long ago. They are just happy that the long shadow cast by Alphatia has been removed, and that now the "glory of elder Thonia will be revealed." Thus the Thonians stew impotently, living in their past, having apparently no real energy to actually restore the glories they still dream of and pantomime. They think that greatness will come to them without their having to take initiative to seize it, a very abnormal perspective on destiny. They only grudgingly accepted some basic trading be established with Thyatis in AC 1017.