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Thyatian Distinctiveness:by James Ruhland
Purpose of this Document: A valid criticism that is sometimes raised with regard to writing for the Almanac is that events don't always take into account the distinctiveness of the nation they are set in - that they could just as easily happen somewhere else. The purpose of this short document is to list and describe a dozen things that those who write events for Thyatis, or events including Thyatians, should keep in mind.
1) Efficiency - Thyatians and their institutions should be orderly, efficient, and productive. At their best Thyatians are both efficient and virtuous (excellence), but see #5 below.
2) Expediency/Treachery - Thyatians tend to be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. NOTE though, that treachery should be crafty, creative, and not obvious/cartoonist. And it should have some purpose other than just showing Thyatians to be untrustworthy double - dealers. In other words, first decide what a Thyatian is trying to achieve, then decide what the most efficient/expedient way of achieving that goal would seem to be (to the Thyatian in question) - not treachery for its own sake, but treachery if it seems to be of the most utility.
3) Republican Mores in an Imperial System - Thyatians are ruled by an Emperor but also have a Senate, some of which is elected. Thyatian cities should be similar; a powerful aristocrat/noble in combination with an elected Civic assembly. Thyatis has been portrayed in past Almanacs as a purely feudal society, but this was inaccurate. Keep this in mind when describing the Thyatian decision - making process (it shouldn't be "the Emperor does this, the Emperor does that" - reference to the Senate's authority should be included. And of Thyatian ministries - Thyatis has a civil service bureaucracy, not just a bunch of nobles like Karameikos).
4) Slavery - Something I don't like about Thyatis and you shouldn't either. Remember that Thyatian slaves do have legal protections and that ex-slaves (including a famous recent Emperor) can rise to prominence in Thyatis. But slavery not something that should be ignored (or romanticised, the way many Alphatiaphiles do with that nation's slaves & servant classes). Keep this in mind; there doesn't have to be a slave revolt every year, but the issue of slavery should be ever - present and troubling, not comforting.
5) Corruption - Something that should be de - emphasised a bit because it has been highlighted continually in previous Almanacs. Plus, as the "Reformation" of Thyatis progresses, this will become a less important aspect. But it will not disappear. This aspect of Thyatis runs against the "efficiency" grain, but as time goes by it can run alongside it - one can have semi - corrupt officials who are also efficient and dedicated. How? Well, a guy who doesn't see anything wrong with lining his own pocket a bit, or making sure his friend gets a road building contract, but who simultaneously works hard and in the Empire's interest when push comes to shove (wouldn't do something that would cause the Empire significant difficulty, but isn't against getting a little for himself on the side. Or if job opens up, sees nothing wrong in hiring a friend through the "old boys network," someone who will do the job but who wouldn't have gotten the job if he wasn't well connected). Think MAFIA efficiency - which also goes hand in glove with #2 above (Expediency) - a well-oiled machine enriching "the Family" (Thyatis) and its "Made Men".
6) Greatness & Glory - Things in Thyatis should be on a bigger scale than that of almost any other nation. Thyatis City is bigger than any other City. Thyatian monuments more glorious. Thyatians themselves think their accomplishments are greater than others are - they have some justification for this belief, but not to the degree to which they take it.
7) Militarism - Thyatians are fighters, they tend to consider military options before they consider diplomatic ones (though, at least for the next couple years while the Empire recovers, Eusebius and his closest advisers are something of an exception). Thyatis' armies and fleets are ever - present. Thyatis is an "interventionist" power. If there is a war somewhere, and Thyatis might benefit from sticking its nose into it, they're likely to do so.
8) Mercantilism - Even in DotE Thyatis is mentioned as a trading power. Eusebius "running the Empire like a business" places even more emphasis on expanding trade as a means of refilling the Empire's coffers. Thyatis is not Darokin, though - it should not lead the world in speculative trade, caravan trade, crafty & independent merchants, and the like.
9) Imperialism/Colonialism - Thyatis is an expansionistic power. Their first goal will be to keep (and colonise) what they already have. If they think they can grab something nearby without spending too much effort (see Efficiency above), they will try to do so. This should be kept in mind with regard to areas weakened by war. From now on Thyatian "expansionism" is probably going to be more along the lines of attempting to increase influence over other governments/establish puppet governments instead of overt conquest, however. But their grasping nature should not be ignored.
10) Citizenship - Unlike Alphatia (all mentions of "Alphatian Citizenship" in a "canon" document aside), Thyatis is inhabited primarily by Citizens (exception - #4 above) who have legal, constitutional rights. Thyatis is governed by the "rule of law," the rights of Thyatians are respected. Thyatian Citizenship is not tied to blood, but loyalty to the Empire - anyone, of any background (even of Alphatian heritage) can become a Thyatian citizen.
11) Cosmopolitanism - Thyatians are not insular cultural supremacists, like the Alphatians. Thyatians are constantly adopting/learning from other nations, in an almost faddish way. This means they can sometimes benefit from the best the world has to offer, are quick to adopt good ideas no matter where they come from, but also suffer from centrifugal forces (note also the "Hattian Problem" as an example of "culture shock").
12) Tripartite Power: Fighting, Magical, and Clerical - As opposed to Alphatia, which built its strength on magic - users, Thyatis is noted for basing its strength on the combination of fighting skill, magical prowess, and faith/religion. Thyatis makes efficient use of all three of these. This Thyatian attribute should not be confused with/lost to Alphatia; this is one of the things that distinguish each place from the other, and confusing this Thyatian attribute with an Alphatian one only serves to create all sorts of problems as both places lose their identities. If this continues soon we'll have people talking about democracy in Alphatia & the rights of Alphatian Citizens. Keep them separate and unique.
Note that in the above I made special reference to Alphatia a number of times; this is because, as originally described (in DotE and elsewhere), the Empires were described in opposition to each other - they were distinguished, in part, by references to their differences from the "other Empire." They are not the same place and should not be described similarly. Hopefully someone will do a document similar to this one for Alphatia & NACE. I think such a document for all the nations and important places appearing in the Almanac might be useful. Hopefully such documents will help writers better envision the places and people they are describing, and what sets those places and people apart from the other areas of Mystara (and, as importantly, sets them apart from the real world places they are similar to).