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Ataqim

Ruler: High King Tolan II
Government: Magocratic hierarchy
Capital: I'l City (I'l Island)
Founded: 25am, by High King Lar I
 
Population:
Cultural Heritage: Western overlaid over: Qelna'n, Isali'n, Bieil'n, Dhon'n, Modi'n, Duqan'n, Southern, Eastern, goblins, other
Ethnic Makeup: Western, Qelna'n, Isali'n, Bieil'n, Dhon'n, Modi'n, Duqan'n, Southern, Eastern, goblins, other (large immigrant populations)
Major Languages: Q'lati,
Currency: silver Mage, copper Conjurer (1/10 Mage), gold Royal (10 Mages). Other currencies are measured against the silver Mage of Ataqim.
Islands: 74 islands in archipelago of Ataqim, plus: (Eridana) Aiidh, Aiqsas, Alatani, Dhilar, Eidra, Eirdaia, Epiqua, Iepi, Ieiqho, Irai, Ist'ba, Loorai, Maina, Oos'mai, Ouai, P'na, Qhaiduqo, Quaibo, Raiqha, Raioo, Themi, Ueiha, Zusq, (Vela) Roda, (Delf'nus) Aibev, Bona, Dailoodr', Iohuai, (Aquela) Aqaria, Iro, Odhi, Qel, Reis, (Qarina) Reibel, Taizi, Umeq, (Malus) Belan, Exen, Od'l, (Quena) Dh'ioql, Thibe, Upai — 116 islands
Resources:

 

Politics

All of the archipelago of Ataqim, along with twenty-eight of the islands nearby, and smaller groups in the Duqan archipelago, the Southern Ridge, and two on the Eastern Ridge, are under the control of His Magical Excellency, High King Tolan II of the Empire of Ataqim. All told, the High King's subjects number about one million. The capital of the Empire is I'l City, on I'l Island in the archipelago. I'l City has a population of about 49,000 — being probably the most diverse population of any city in the world.

The Empire of Ataqim was founded in 25am by Lar I, who massed together enough support on his native island of Telemia and the other islands of the West to eventually dominate the other warlords there. Originally ruling only the western portion of the archipelago (and with at best a tenuous hold over even that), over the next seven years Lar strengthened and extended his control over all Ataqim. The Empire continued its growth, conquering many of the islands around the archipelago. At its peak, around 420am, Ataqim had power over virtually the entire world, with the exceptions only of the islands of the Southern Ridge and the Elven Ridge.

Feudalism on Ataqim is necessary because of the long travel times (excluding the use of magic) between islands — a trip between even the close islands of Arna and I'l takes about two days by boat. Each island, or sometimes a group of islands, is the fief of a noble. High Sorcerers rule the eight Kingdoms: Arna, Telemia, Qelna, Bieil, Isali, Dhon, Alatani, and Duqan. Lesser nobles rule smaller groups of islands, single islands, cities and towns. A map at the end of Book One shows the fiefs of the archipelago and the ranks of their rulers. All the nobles of the Empire are users of magic. The gradations of noble ranks are explained fully on the card Social Class.

Rulers are generally aided by a cabinet of ministers chosen by the ruler. The composition of this cabinet is not standardized, but generally includes a minister of war, a minister of learning, a minister of commerce, and a minister of the gods. These ministers are not nobility and thus are not necessarily magicians.

Thirty-five Envoys assist in maintaining the unity of the Empire, traveling from island to island, ensuring that the High King's law is obeyed and taxes are properly collected. These Envoys have the status of a High Wizard, and thus the authority to command any noble except a High Sorcerer — but even the eight High Sorcerers tend more often than not to obey an Envoy.

The following cards show the various members of the noble classes of the Empire. Rulers of less important towns and islands are not shown — only the rulers of places that are named on the various maps in this stack are listed here. The names are accurate as of 1 Eridanola 618.

It is important to note that the nobility of the Empire is not strictly hereditary. In practice, it often is — noble parents educate their children, train them in magic, give them enough money to qualify for the nobility, and advocate for them to advance to the same position they hold. As long as the child qualifies, noble positions generally do pass from parent to child.

This is true of the High Kings and Queens of the Empire as well. Technically, the successor to the High King or Queen is elected from among the eight High Sorcerers, by a general vote of all the High Wizards of the Empire. It has usually been the case that the eldest child of a reigning monarch was already a High Sorcerer at the time of the monarch's death; in these cases, without exception, that High Sorcerer has been the one elected. However, there have been four instances in the history of the Empire where the succession was broken. Only on one occasion did a dispute over the succession arise (resulting in the election of High King Ar in 163am), but these situations mark the four dynasties of the Empire: the Lar'n Dynasty (25-162), the Atian Dynasty (192-291), the Quirian Dynasty (291-521), and the Fourth Dynasty (521 to the present). High King Ar was the break between the first two dynasties.

It should also be mentioned that the spouse of a noble, even the High King or Queen, is not necessarily even noble. This is important when one partner outlives the other. From the table of the Empire's rulers at the end of the History section, it can be seen that when a High Queen predeceases her husband, rule passes immediately to her child or whatever other successor might be appropriate, not to her husband. For example, High Queen Atia died in 207am, while her husband Leq lived until 210am — but Leq was never High King; rule passed to their daughter Alai instead.

The Proclamation of Lar III (148am) defined the necessary qualifications for entering the noble ranks, but it was left to subsequent law both to define the process and to set the requirements for advancement in the ranks. According to the Proclamation, in order to become a High Conjurer, one must first be a citizen of the Empire, must know magic up to spells of Third Level, must have at least eighteen spells in one's spell books, must have completed the state course of education and have studied under private tutelage for at least five additional years, and must own property to the value of at least ten thousand gold Royals. (See The Proclamation of Lar III, under History.) The corpus of law under succeeding High Kings has defined the process of becoming a High Conjurer more thoroughly.

A citizen who fulfills the necessary requirements must find a member of the nobility to act as an advocate. This is usually a High Conjurer simply because of the hierarchical nature of Ataqim'n society, but having a more powerful advocate can never hurt one's cause! This advocate is responsible for verifying the candidate's magical knowledge. The candidate must secure a letter of recommendation and certification from the tutor or tutors with whom he or she studied for the required minimum of five years. This letter must detail the subjects which were studied and evaluate the candidate's proficiency in these areas. This letter, along with the advocate's evaluation, are submitted to the Kingdom's Board of Learned Qualifications, which is made up of selected nobles from the same Kingdom as the candidate. The Board also assigns an auditor to assess the candidate's financial situation, and administers an examination covering a wide variety of academic subjects. When the relevant documents have been reviewed by the Board, the Board sits in its annual session and meets all the candidates (with their advocates) for personal evaluation. Following this meeting, assuming all requirements have been met, a vote of the members of the Board will determine whether the candidate will be granted the rank of High Conjurer.

The same Board is responsible for advancement to higher noble ranks, though the qualifications become increasingly difficult to meet. In the first place, the advocate chosen to represent a candidate before the Board must always be of a higher noble rank than the candidate. In the earliest days of this system, advancing in the ranks required more monetary assets, up to 100,000 gold Royals for the position of High Sorcerer. However, these requirements were abolished in 203am by High Queen Atia, who recognized that nobles were simply raising taxes in order to gather the required assets as quickly as possible. Atia's reign also marked the first and only Empire-wide tax reform.

High Magicians are not too far above High Conjurers in the ranks, and the qualifications are not too much harder to meet. The candidate must have mastered spells of the Fourth Level. No educational advancement or examination is required at this stage.

To advance to the rank of High Mage, a candidate must have mastered spells of the Fifth Level. In addition, one must have acted as a private tutor for at least five years' time, and in that time have taught at least five students. A very rigorous examination of a wide breadth of academic subjects is also required at this stage.

To become a High Wizard, a candidate must have learned spells of the Sixth Level. Of course, at this stage one also needs the advocacy of a High Sorcerer, which is requirement enough.

When a High Wizard has found favor with the High King or Queen by whatever means, the ruler may choose to bestow the title of High Sorcerer on that High Wizard, so long as there is a position open (either through death or retirement) for a new High Sorcerer to fill. No Board of Learned Qualifications has jurisdiction in this matter; advancement to the position of High Sorcerer is by Imperial decree alone.

As a general rule, members of the Learned class are only elected to the nobility when there are vacant positions for these new nobles to hold. Nobles are removed by death or retirement fairly regularly, however, so this is not often a problem. Only in the rarest of circumstances will it happen that a member of the noble ranks is without a place in the hierarchy of government. However, while the Board of Learned Qualifications in each Kingdom is responsible for the conferring of noble titles, the process of placing nobles in their ruling positions is entirely separate. Every ruling position is filled by the noble who has jurisdiction over it. Thus, the High Mage of Aqaria appoints the governor of Ito from among the numbers of High Conjurers in the Kingdom of Duqan. So competition exists in the system at two levels: Not only might two High Conjurers be vying with each other for the position of governor of Ito, but also the High Mage of Aqaria and the High Mage of T'qi might both want the same High Conjurer to serve under them. While the High Mage of Aqaria has absolute jurisdiction in the first case, cases such as the latter are often resolved by the High Sorcerer.

Law

In 148am, High King Lar III codified the law of the Empire, assimilating all the Imperial edicts and precedents from the past century into one massive volume. Even excerpts are too cumbersome to include here; what follows is a very brief summary.

The stressing of law and order in the Empire has led to strict punishment for crime; killing criminals is not uncommon. Those that have been given the death sentence are burned on the roof of the stone courthouse. Burning is gradually becoming less common; judges tend to sentence criminals to slavery for a limited length of time, rather than burning them. Imprisonment is never for life — there's simply no room to put criminals for that long, and no food to feed them —Êjails are generally used to store criminals until their trials. This is less true in the farther reaches of the Empire, where officials cannot afford leniency under the somewhat less civilized conditions there.

Thievery carries the multiple punishments of fines, imprisonment or slavery, and marking as an esqi. Murder brings burning or lifelong slavery. Rape is punished by a considerable imprisonment or slavery. Insolence or disobedience to the city watch or other representatives of the law is punishable by beating, imprisonment or fines in extreme cases. Polygamy is prohibited, as is prostitution. Slaving other than through due process of law brings slavery for the offender, as does mistreatment of slaves. Treason brings burning.

The Military

The military forces of the Empire are organized by fief. Each noble, from High Conjurer to High Sorcerer, has at his command a zilariani (brigade) of varying size, from fifty to 150 soldiers. The army is hierarchical as is the class system of the Empire, so High Magicians can call upon the soldiery of any High Conjurers who have sworn fealty to them. Generally, these soldiers are used as city or town watches, or wilderness patrols.

The total army of the Empire is made up of the eight arianii lal'niar (the armies of the eight High Sorcerers), and the Fiariani, the "high army" controlled by the Master of the Land. The Fiariani is made up of the brigades of Emir, Naqlir, Ethelbar, Mirqh, Qibil-Uzbad, Qibil-Zaram, Qom, Toqir, Lorin, Rol, and I'l City (two brigades).

Soldiers receive extensive training in the weapon of their choice. Army shields are pentagonal. Helms are designed to look like some kind of animal (generally a wolf or eagle or something similar) which is usually considered something like a totem of the individual.

Magic is the most important tactic used by the army. Since all-out war is rare, the soldiers are not really trained in any tactical maneuvers or the like, so the Empire relies mostly on magic and strength of numbers to win its wars.

Education

The society of Ataqim places an enormous emphasis on the value of education, an emphasis which is lived out in practical terms in the educational system. The highest social class is the "learned", the educated, and the members of the nobility must demonstrate a high level of learning in order to achieve those ranks, and to progress up the hierarchical ladder must have spent time in teaching as well.

All citizens of the Empire are required to receive education in government-run schools from the ages of 5 to 18. These schools provide the basics of knowledge in a wide variety of subjects, from math and physics, to history and language, to spellcraft and religion, to fencing and athletics. There are no private schools at this level, and the schools are of a uniformly high quality. However, the educational system tends to emphasize the orderly function of the school and the structure of the school community more than the achievement of a given individual, so many are the children that fall through the cracks in this system. This is particularly true of goblin children, who are often the victims of prejudice in school and who drop out of school (illegally, but truant officers are rarely seen in goblin neighborhoods) at a rate about fifty times higher than that of human children.

Beyond the fourteen years of mandated education, those with promise and wealth often continue their studies at a university. The university system is based entirely on private tutelage, and admission to a university community depends on securing a personal tutor. Thus, some students might apply to ten different tutors before finding one who will accept him or her, but once that tutor's patonage is secured, admission to the university is guaranteed. While the individual tutor provides most of a student's university education, the university provides a faculty of other scholars as resources, as well as a library and a community where students live, eat, and congregate together.

There is no fixed length of time for university study. Five years is the minimum time required for admittance into the ranks of the nobility, but many students do more or less time than that, depending on their interests and aptitude and the desires of their tutors. No degrees are awarded by universities, but an individual's tutor can be relied upon to evaluate and vouch for a student for the rest of the tutor's life.

Social Class

Social life in Ataqim revolves around knowing one's place. The social world of Ataqim'n society is rigidly structured in a hierarchy, and it is essential for an individual to know his or her place in that system. One's place in the social hierarchy is one's place in the universe — it determines not only how one interacts with other people but also how one interacts with the gods. This is an essential element of Eit ("the Path"), a central theme in the Eridana'n religion of Ataqim (see Religion).

One's place is defined most broadly in terms of membership in or exclusion from the two castes: the Learned (qoli) and the Common (nan'li). All citizens have a place in these castes, but foreigners and criminals (who are stripped of citizenship) are outcastes (esqii), to an extent outside the system but also, for the most part, beneath it.

Citizenship is extended to all people who were born in the territory of the Empire or whose parents are citizens. Any member of the nobility may grant citizenship to a non-citizen after ensuring that the person is adequately educated in the law and history of the Empire, is capable of finding work and holding a place in society, and is prepared to swear loyalty to the Empire alone, renouncing all other allegiances.

Membership in the Learned class is certified by the state and sacralized by the Eridana'n Church. Therefore, it is difficult for followers of another religion to enter this class, no matter how much education they may possess. It can happen, but only if a tolerant priest is found. Members of the Learned class have all the privileges usually associated with high social class: wealth, social recognition, and the like. They are in turn expected to contribute to the continuance of society through protection and defense, information and education.

In order to enter the lowest rank of the Learned caste, the ufiqoli ("low learned ones"), one must have completed at least three years of private tutelage beyond the state-mandated course of education. Universities (see Education) typically hold annual ceremonies to bestow this honor (with the participation of the local government and the local Church), but those who are studying outside of the university system must often go through a great deal of paperwork to get properly certified.

Above the ufiqoli in the Learned caste are the tali, the "religious". These are priests of the Eridana'n Church, and are certified by the Church. The Church generally requires at least five years of specialized private tutelage before consecrating a priest. Eridana'n priests are exempt from the law of the Empire, but are subject to an ecclesiastical law which is at least as strict. They are forbidden to retain wealth, and are thus exempt from taxation. They are also the only people legally allowed (and required) to openly display holy symbols of their faith. It is by these symbols that tali are known.

Above the tali are the fiqoli ("high learned ones"), who, in addition to meeting the educational requirements for entrace into the Learned class have also mastered magical spells of at least Third Level. This magic-using social elite is the body from which the noble rulers of the Empire are drawn, and often fill local government positions beneath High Conjurers.

The hierarchy of titled nobility — High Conjurers, High Magicians, High Mages, High Wizards, High Sorcerers, and the High King or Queen — are the upper ranks of the Learned caste. See Politics in this section for an explanation of the requirements for attaining these titles. Titled nobility with fiefs of territory may collect taxes and enact legislation within that fief, subject, of course, to the lords above them. In turn, these titled nobles bear the responsibility of the welfare of their subjects.

The Common caste is similarly divided. At the top are the artisans (danai), engaged in artistic or otherwise creative labor, who are assumed to possess a good deal of specialized education in their craft. Next are merchants (zai'nii), who certainly possess the valuable knowledge of a variety of cultures and languages. Note that sailors are (oddly) considered part of this class, because of the specialized knowledge their labor requires. Below the zai'nii are farmers and fishers (val'nai), who are engaged in life-sustaining labor. And at the bottom of the Common caste are the simple unskilled laborers (boroi), a class which includes most soldiers (though it is not uncommon for officers in the army to have a university education).

There is no certification of status within the Common caste, but everyone knows where they fall within it, and makes every effort to know where others fall as well. Members of the Learned caste are distinguished by the fact that they are legally permitted to wear metal jewelry on their heads; people in the Common caste may not do so. Proper social behavior depends on knowing the status of everyone you interact with, so that proper respect may be shown to your superiors and proper disdain may be shown to your inferiors. People of lower status must greet their superiors with a repeated clicking of the tongue, varying in length depending on the difference in status. When a person of the Learned class passes by a Commoner, the Commoner makes the same sound. One is expected to take one's place at a shared table according to one's social status within a caste (members of the two castes may not share a table), and give up a higher place to a person of higher status. A qol may not marry a nan'l, and neither a qol nor a nan'l can marry an esqi, according to the laws of both Church and state.

People outside of the caste system fall broadly into two groups. Non-citizens (qagi), while they are outside and generally below both castes, are often treated with the same respect that a citizen with their own occupation would receive — so a foreign merchant would often in practice be greeted as a zai'ni. Although marriage between a citizen and a non-citizen is prohibited, qagi may dine at the same tables with citizen members of the Common caste. Non-citizens are not permitted to own land.

Far lower than qagi are branded criminals, known as "low outcastes" (ufiesqii). Certain crimes, from grand theft to worse felonies, carry the punishment of loss of citizenship. These people may not share a table with any citizen or marry a citizen (if the criminal was married before sentencing, the marriage is annulled), are excommunicated from the Church and thus barred from entering a Temple or participating in any religious rite, and must defer to any citizen in any matter. They are further not permitted to carry any weapon or to own land.

Obviously, the caste system of Ataqim is not hereditary. A certain amount of mobility is possible, if one has enough money to acquire an education or to train in a higher trade than one's parents practiced. However, the system does tend to be self-perpetuating — that is, it is far easier for the child of a qol to enter the Learned caste than it is for the child of a Commoner, simply because of the economic realities of life in the two castes. Children under the age of eighteen are treated as though they were at the bottom of their parents' caste.

The following list summarizes the social classes of Ataqim:

Qoli (Learned caste)
Filal (High King/Queen) ruler of Empire
Firan (High Sorcerer) ruler of one of the 8 Kingdoms
Fiqaq (High Wizard) ruler of large group of islands or important city
Fidzhur (High Mage) ruler of smaller group of islands or important town or village
Figat (High Magician) nobility, possibly ruler of single island, village, hamlet, or thorp,
or bureaucratic functionary under High Mage
Fizhon (High Conjurer) least powerful nobles, possibly ruler of small settlement or
group of people, or bureaucratic functionary under High Magician
Fiqol (high learned) educated, and user of magic
Tal (religious) Eridana'n priest
Ufiqol (low learned) at least three years of private education

Nan'li (Common caste)
Dana (artisan)
Zai'ni (merchant or sailor)
Val'na (fisher or farmer)
Boro (laborer)

Esqii (Outcaste)
Qag (foreigner) non-citizen of any class
Ufiesqi (low outcaste) branded criminal

Trade and Commerce

Money

The basic monetary units of the Empire of Ataqim are the copper Conjurer, silver Mage, and gold Royal, in ascending order of value. Mages are the most common units — an average meal costs about one. One Royal is worth 10 Mages or 100 Conjurers. Ten Conjurers are worth the same as a single Mage.

Duties, Tariffs, and Taxes
(excerpted from the laws of the Empire, with annotation)

A town shall charge as duty on goods brought into it for sale an amount equal to 1 Conjurer for every 2 Royals of value of the goods (i.e. 0.5%). This amount shall be sent to the High King. An additional 1 Conjurer for every 4 Royals of value (0.25%) shall be charged as duty and given to the High Sorcerer controlling the fief in which the town lies. Finally, the town shall charge a duty of a value of its choosing, but no greater than 1 Conjurer in 4 Royals, which shall go to the town's ruler. (Total is not more than 1% — 1 Conjurer in a Royal.)

The following goods shall carry a tariff of the listed amounts, to be paid in addition to the duty and given to the High King:

grain, beer, ale, and all grain products: 1 Conjurer for every 4 Royals value (0.25%)
honey: 2 Conjurers for every 5 Royals value (0.4%)
ivory: 1 Conjurer for every 2 Royals value (0.5%)
other precious metals: 1 Conjurer for every Royal value (1%)
bluefire wood: 1 Conjurer for every Royal value (1%)
silverwood: 4 Conjurers for every 3 Royals value (1 1/3%)
silk: 1 Conjurer for every Royal value (1%)
wine: 1 Conjurer for every 4 Royals value (0.25%)
incense and perfume: 1 Conjurer for every Royal value (1%)

All citizens of the Empire of Ataqim must pay yearly to the High King a tax equal to 1 Conjurer for every Royal of their income that year (1%). This sum is to be collected by the cities — the High Sorcerers are responsible for it. In addition, the High Sorcerers are to collect an amount equal to 1 Conjurer for every 2 Sorcerers of income (0.5%) of all the citizens of their fief as tax. An additional amount of the ruler's choosing, but no greater than 1 Conjurer in 2 Sorcerers (0.5%) in any event, may be collected by the ruler of a settlement, provided the ruler is of the status High Conjurer or higher. (Total is no more than 2 Conjurers in a Sorcerer = 2%.)

Trade Goods

I'l Island: Ethelbar provides such foods as apricots, apples, peaches, pears, mushrooms, and nuts, as well as excellent woodcraft of all sorts. Qom produces much of the scarce grain products of Ataqim: grain, beer, ale, biscuits, bread, pastries, and pies, as well as wool. Qibil-Uzbad is the only source of ivory on I'l, and also mines copper and electrum. Qibil-Zaram mines gold and copper. The dwarves of both settlements are fine jewelers and metalworkers. Emir produces a wealth of gemstones, especially emerald, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, and obsidian, as well as jewelry and other metalwork. I'l itself produces jewelry, tapestries, metalwork, paper, ink, and rope. Mirqh is known across the Empire for its seasonal fairs, held every solstice and equinox, which attract merchants from Alatani and I'l alike. Naqlir is a stop on the route of gems and precious metals from mines in the foothills of the Western Peaks to the capital. In addition, it exports small quantities of goods made from the skins of the crocodiles and monitor lizards that inhabit the banks of the Naqlir River. These beasts are rarely hunted, but the skins of those that attack merchant barges do have a market.

Telemia Island: Ethir, like Ethelbar, provides foodstuffs and woodcrafts. There is considerable rivalry between the woodworkers of the two elven cities, resulting in exceptional quality from both. Ainian is renowned throughout the Empire for its fine wines. Ieiiahiaha provides honey and ivory. Ranalf trades metalwork, rope, and jewelry.

Arna Island: The city of Arna produces some of the finest tapestries of the Empire, as well as fine metalwork. Qelai is a source of rare silk. Nend produces many spices, as well as grain and grain products. Meth deals in tapestries, and, to a small extent, furs. Q'len mines silver.

Isali Island: Oob'r produces tapestries, incense, and perfume. Id'n deals in spices. Op'l mines gems and platinum. Ieits has a thriving fur trade, while Maisq'm trades in herbs.
The major products of D'sail, on Hisai island, are paper and ink. Ieivoo, on Bieil, is one of the only sources of bluefire wood. Alatani, capital of the "island fief", is a major source of silks. Bona has an important weaving industry. Epiqua is one of the only agricultural islands in the Empire. Maina is an important iron, copper, and gemstone mine. Ueiha is a very important source of gems and silver.

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