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Karnum Setting Information
Geography and Natural Trade Items
The kingdom of Phoria Heights lies in the northern section of the Phoria Mountains, which are a long thin chain of mountains that run from north to south. The kingdom controls the only pass through the mountains connecting east to west. The other options are going around to the north into the lands of the Ice Elves or around the south, where the great city of Nimphoria lies. The pass is open half of the year at best.
The kingdom appears smaller because most foreigners only see the chain of valleys that allows access to the pass. Most of the kingdom lies on the east side of the divide with the capital city in the highest valley prior to the pass. The eastern entrance is a long gorge carved out by the Crisolin River, whose headwaters arise from snowmelt and springs within the kingdom. A combo of tunnels and winding cliff roads connecting the rising valleys allows easier access from the gorge to the pass.
The lower valleys, with fertile soil from the spring flooding and longer growing season, produce a great variety of vegetables and fruits, primarily traded within the kingdom. The upper valleys tend toward root vegetables and a thriving industry of sheep and goat ranches. Phoria Heights is well known for its high quality fleece and mutton, which are the main agricultural trade items used to acquire grains.
The mountains are rich with minerals, gems and metals. These assets produce the bulk of the trade items and allow for a highly profitable kingdom.
The kingdom is a monarchy with a tier system of royals to rule counties, baronies, and towns. A judicial system allows for disputes to be handled locally and filter to the higher courts based on the level of the crime or if appeals are made. A magistrate who reports directly to the king oversees the judges. Enforcement of the laws falls to city and village guards, who belong to a network that is overseen by the magistrate.
The kingdom’s army is only called on for large internal disputes or attacks from foreign powers. The military is usually at a skeleton crew, with militia taking turns for a month to assist and train. War is rare for the kingdom despite its neighbors coveting control of the trade pass. Palanon during the reign of King Turlan proved the greatest threat, but it rarely rose above the random movements of troops on the border and skirmishes until… read Champions of Light.
Tax collection pays for the judicial system and its enforcers. Each royal receives a small percentage as living expenses. Most of the tax money assists with the maintenance of a flood control system containing several dams and protection from the avalanches that come with the significant amount of snow in the higher mountains. The system is a marvel combining dwarven and human engineering centuries old. The remaining taxes assist in programs to educate the populace, assist with innovation, and assist with needs of the poor, mostly via donations to the Cathedral of Light.
Despite an obvious spread from peasant to royal of who has the wealth, most of the populace is content with life. Between what the monarchy and the Cathedral of Light supply to keep the kingdom running and safe, few are left out in the cold. However, some slip through the cracks despite the number of orphanages and the efforts of the cathedral to assist the poor.
Education includes schools run by the Cathedral of Light and many children start apprenticeships at thirteen, usually following in a family member’s footsteps. Literacy is slowly on the rise with the invention of the printing press. The primary reading source is the Script, which is the words of Light, and the growing industry of newspapers.
Core values of truth and honesty keep this society’s crime rate low, but there are those that buck the system or may act out of necessity. Petty theft of goods is the highest despite the efforts to help the poor and orphaned. In any well to-do society, there are those that thrive on controlling what they can via blackmail, extortion, and other means. A black market exists within the kingdom.
The Cathedral of Light runs a program to help young deviants find a path other than crime. Each session runs for thirty days. Most are from the capital city and despite the efforts of the cathedral, this program usually contains three quarters to max capacity each session. This is attributed to population growth of the kingdom thanks to a long period of peace, but not enough employment growth to match.
The primary religion is a belief in the Light. The capital city houses one of the largest and strongest cathedrals in eastern Karnum. Weekly masses fill the cathedral and churches throughout the kingdom. With the invention of the printing press, the Script is available for all who wish to learn to read and know the Lord of Light better. The cathedral pays for the publishing of the Script.
The opposing side is the Dark. On the surface, it may appear weak in the kingdom, but it has slowly dug in with the rising population and overall prosperity the kingdom has gained.
The populace believes in angels and demons and that they can manifest into the real world. A prophecy wraps around a mural within the cathedral, but only a certain sect of monks and the hierarchy of the cathedral knows the full prophecy. The monks are the keepers of artifacts and secrets to be kept until the Lord of Light tells them to reveal them, or so they think.
Some man-made laws have crept into how the cathedral runs, but the one thing that remains pure is the Script. No matter how the clergy has changed over the years, no one wants to change the wording given to man by the Breath. Having commoners and laypersons able to read it for themselves has led to more questions, but also a deeper spiritual connection with the Lord of Light.