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THYATIAN HINTERLANDS (Dominion of)
Location: Continent of Davania, Jungle Coast region. DV
Area: Approx. 83,980 sq. mi. (217,510 sq. km.).
Population: 165,000 (30,000 in Raven Scarp, 35,000 living in scattered Thyatian villages and towns, 100,000 Thyatianised Hinterlanders scattered throughout jungles, unknown number living deep in the wilderness).
Languages: Thyatian (official), Thratian.
Coinage: Thyatian Standard: emperor (5 gp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp).
Taxes: 20/25% income tax collected quarterly (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, and Ei. 1). Thyatians abroad must still pay their taxes. Expensive and magical items are also taxed 25% of their worth. 10% imperial commercia sales tax on all goods except food, clothing, and fixed assets.
Government Type: Dominion, member of the Thyatian Empire.
Industries: Agriculture (primarily fruits and grains), cattle, mining, sheep, war.
Important Figures: General Leilah ben Nadir (Governor, human, female, Pr30 of Tarastia).
Flora and Fauna: The Thyatian Hinterlands are rife with jungle flora of every sort. One can find here almost any specimen imaginable, from mangroves along the coasts, to cypress, olive, banyan, and sequoia trees inland. In the jungles themselves, the vegetation overhead forms a complete canopy, so that very little grows at ground level save for creepers, shrubs, fungus, and so on. In areas where there is no cover of foliage, tall grasses predominate. Scattered among these plants are the more fantastic forms of plant life, from grab grass in open lands, to amber lotus flowers, archer bushes, strangle vines, and whip weeds in the forest.
In terms of animal life, the Hinterlands are likewise endowed. The jungles hold all manner of beasts, including apes, tigers, snakes, wild boars, rodents, and birds of every sort. Likewise, the open areas have gazelles, lions, aurochs, zebras, and other animals. The more fantastic creatures include displacer beasts, blink dogs, chimerae, centaurs, harpies, and even black and green dragons deep in the interior.
Further reading: Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Marina Takanitas.
I was quite surprised when I was asked to venture to the Thyatian Hinterlands to comment on the area! I had grown quite accustomed to fulfilling my duties near my home in Kastelios, or at least not venturing too far afield. Without a doubt this was the longest journey I ever took, riding on the Thyatian vessels plying the new route to the Hinterlands through my nation's waters. Now I would have the chance to see the fringes of the much-vaunted Thyatian Empire, of which I have heard so much lately. With all the events happening locally, it seems only fair that the Hinterlands should be explored in all their glory, and with that I happily present them to you now, fair reader.
The Thyatian Hinterlands are set along a stretch of the northern Davanian coast known as the Jungle Coast, for obvious reasons. Though the lands upon which the Thyatians built their cities and towns was covered with virgin rainforests, much of it has been cut back along the coasts to clear space for the growing urban areas, as well as the numerous farms that are needed to feed the people. This is especially true for the area around Raven Scarp, which is surrounded by farms.
Once outside the heavily-settled regions, though, the jungles dominate. Great trees and shrubs form a dense blanket over the land, blocking out much of the sun's rays, and trapping in the heat like a thick blanket. At high noon in the jungles, the heat can be so stifling that newcomers to the area will find it difficult to breathe. For the most part, only the fringes of this land have been penetrated by the Thyatians, and beyond the expanding network of roads and settlements, only the wilderness prevails.
In terms of terrain, much of the Hinterlands slopes downwards gradually towards the Sea of Dread. In the western reaches of the lands claimed by the Thyatians, jungle-cloaked hills predominate, and here the seacoast is a mixture of sandy beaches and low cliffs. East of the River Torion, which flows through Raven Scarp towards the sea, the lands are much flatter. Aside from this general overview, however, very little in terms of precise details is known at the moment, due to the difficulties in surveying this vast land.
The Thyatian Hinterlands are a prime example of Thyatian colonisation in action. In the cities and towns, the population is divided between the various peoples of the Thyatian Empire, and the native Hinterlanders who have adopted Thyatian ways. When these lands were first conquered, the Hinterlanders made up the vast majority of the people living in the urban areas. Now, with colonisation from the Thyatian mainland increasing in recent years, the Thyatians are rapidly gaining ground, and will soon form the majority in most settlements.
The Thyatians living in the Hinterlands, especially those who were among the first colonists, and their children, are slightly different from those living on the mainland. Being a distinct minority far from home, many Thyatians in the Hinterlands have adopted some of the local customs, including a more individualistic outlook on life, and a greater reverence for nature. Some have even learned druidic lore and left civilisation for the great jungles to start a new life. In other ways, they are still typically Thyatian-they heartily support their emperor, and the empire itself, and they have a great respect for the legionnaires who serve all around them. They also tend to be rather cosmopolitan, claiming to represent the greatest nation on Mystara, but also one of the most sophisticated ones. To me, the charms of their culture are seductive in their own right, but, as with everyone else on this world, they conceal far more sinister elements. [Obviously her own opinion. Ed.]
The indigenous Hinterlanders, who make up the majority of the population here, are truly unique. These tall, fair-haired people are said to be great warriors, who respect strength and bravery in all its forms. I have heard tales that the physically weak in their culture, among those who still adhere to traditional ways, have miserable lives. Supposedly, only those who have the talent for magic, which is recognised as a strength or sorts, are given the same respect as that accorded a warrior. The Hinterlanders are also said to be highly individualistic. I have heard tales from retired legionnaires in which they describe the Hinterlanders in war as "great, pale-skinned men running rampant across the countryside, paying no heed to formations or discipline, and trying to scatter all those before them." What they lack in discipline, they make up for in ferocity, it seems. It is a good thing we in Kastelios do not have such for neighbours, but I digress.
The Hinterlanders are composed of four clans: the Raven Clan, the Rhino Clan, the Jackal Clan, and the Leopard Clan. Of these four, the Raven and Rhino clans are predominantly under Thyatian rule, and more and more of their people are adopting the ways of their conquerors. In the western reaches of the Hinterlands, the Jackal Clan is intermittently warring with the Thyatians, but is steadily losing ground, or so my sources say. Only the Leopard Clan is wholly free of Thyatian rule, but the locals tell me that a great offensive to the east will come someday, in which that clan, too, will fall under the rule of the Thyatians. Time will tell.
Generally speaking, the two groups seem to get along reasonably well in the towns and cities of the Hinterlands. A large number of the Thyatians living here, especially those who were born here, or those who have lived here a long time, respect the Hinterlanders, and treat them as equals. Intolerant Thyatians, more often than not, tend to be those who have just arrived here, and often they are the ones who have not spent much time around people of other ethnic groups. In the countryside, relations tend to be more strained, it seems, as more land comes under the plough, and the more traditional Hinterlanders are forced to retreat further into the jungles. What this augurs for the future, I have no idea.
Although Thyatian interest in the Hinterlands dates back to AC 988, when the first military vessels established beachheads not far from where Raven Scarp stands today, this region of Davania has a great deal of historical significance for the Thyatians through their legends. The story began long ago, when, according to the most ancient Thyatian tales, a great evil threatened their very existence. The Thyatians were forced to flee south, leaving their cool forested homeland for a great journey across the sea, to the jungled land of Davania. There, they fought to survive in their new home, fighting off humanoids and savage beasts, and ultimately they managed to make a home for themselves.
Not long afterwards, it seems, a great empire, possibly that of the Milenians, was growing at a meteoric pace on the Meghala Kimata Plains to the south, and its warriors pressed in all directions, subjugating all before them. Although they fought bravely, the folk who would become the Thyatians, Kerendans, and Hattians were ultimately forced to leave, though some remained behind. During the intervening years, the fair-skinned folk who remained, and who survived the death throes of the Milenian Empire, may have become the people known as the Hinterlanders. They developed into a people of warriors, whose harsh, and often short, lives in the jungle dictated great strength, adaptability, and quick reflexes. It is unknown how long ago all this happened, though the Thyatians, Kerendans, and Hattians fled several centuries before the fall of the Milenian Empire, which we in Kastelios have documented as happening circa BC 50 by modern reckoning.
Of the intervening years, little is known. The Hinterlander tribes kept no written record of what happened in their lands, keeping only oral records of great invasions of humanoids, as well as of the presence of a people that might have been elves, judging from their description. All that is known of events happening here between the collapse of the Milenian Empire and the arrival of the Thyatians are contained in those tales.
This changed in AC 988, when the Thyatians returned to Davania in great warships. After initially winning some easy victories along the coasts and around Raven Scarp, progress inland has been much slower, though steady. Of the four Hinterlander clans, only the Raven and Rhino clans have been largely conquered by the Thyatians. The conquerors have also been quick to tame the land in areas that have fallen under their control, clearing land for fortresses, fortified villages, roads, and even the occasional homestead for those brave pioneers who wished to settle the land far from the growing settlements. Outside of these pockets of Thyatian civilisation, the land is still filled with danger.
During my stay in the Hinterlands I found several things of note, which any passer-by should visit should he or she have the chance. Perhaps the most breathtaking sight that first greeted me as I entered Raven Scarp was the actual Raven Escarpment, after which the port city is named. Although the cliffs themselves are only 150 feet tall at most, the rock itself is crisscrossed with many different-coloured bands. A gnomish prospector who I had the pleasure of meeting in that city told me that the different colours are caused by the gradual sedimentation of different forms of rock over many eons. At ground level one can see pink granite, with itself was extruded from mighty volcanoes ages ago. Above that are many layers of sandstone, limestone, obsidian, mica, and finally chalk at the very top. The swirling of the different bands of colour was breathtaking; I have never seen its like anywhere else.
For those seeking imperial grandeur at its best, the Imperial Square is the place to go! Much larger than even the greatest market square in Kastelios, the Imperial Square is where imposing lines of Thyatian legionnaires drill every day, and perform parades on holidays. Their ceremonial bronze armour was so highly polished on the day that I went, that I was nearly blinded! Aside from the displays of military prowess, one can also see the majestic buildings that house the colonial government of the Hinterlands. On the northern side stands the Imperial Legislature, where the famed Leilah ben Nadir, Governor of the Hinterlands, resides and holds court. On the other three sides stand impressive examples of Thyatian architecture, with great columns and walls of dressed white marble. Mind you, they are a far cry from the graceful buildings of Kastelios-it is clear to me who served as an inspiration for Thyatian architecture.
Another thing worth seeing is the Great Fall. Located a day's ride south of Raven Scarp, along the River Torion, this great waterfall plunges 300 feet, and is bathed in multicoloured water droplets where it ends its fall. Locals, both Thyatian and Hinterlander, say that the waters where the falls end have curative properties, and some claim to have been cured of horrendous diseases by bathing there. At night, the waters at the base of the falls glow with a faint blue luminescence, the source of which is unknown, for many have tried digging there to no avail.
One area that Hinterlanders say should be avoided like the plague are the Fens of Lost Hope, which lay in the south of the Barony of Fiorenza. Ancient Hinterlander legends tell of a great battle fought here ages ago, after which the defeated force was imprisoned somehow. Local lore has it that this imprisoned entity was so malevolent that the very forests nearby were corrupted, and ultimately the Fens of Lost Hope came into being. This vast trackless waste is filled with all sorts of foul beasts and poisonous plants, and the murky waters hold nothing but danger for the wanderer. So evil is this land that Hinterlanders who have greatly wronged their clans are sent here as penance for their deeds. I have also heard that there are great treasures within the fens, remnants of a bygone civilisation, but none who have ventured here have ever returned.