Egalitarian City-States along the shores of the Serpente Sea

A collection of independent city-states with a shared cultural history located along the shoreline of the Serpente Sea. Known to scholars as the City-States of Theodova, among its people they are far more likely to call themselves Palgorii or Croton than Theodovian. Once the lands of the Dragon Kings, whose ships stuck fear in the cities along the Serpente Sea, these city-states now are the center of the newest philosophy, art, and science in the Western Realms.

Ancient Theodova

Main Article: Ancient Theodova

From 1150 - 1561 AE the nation of Theodova, which had emerged from the fall of the Lycene civilization, was ruled by the Dragon Kings. Although these were not the same Dragon Kings as existed before the name still invoked a sense of fear. Their terrifying Dragon Ships raided along the shores of the Serpente Sea demanding tribute from other people. Anyone who defied their will was destroyed.

With the death of the last Dragon King, the nation fell to civil war. It would be another hundred years before the largest of the cities would emerge from the destruction. With increased prosperity came increased competition with other Theodovian cities. Once again war raged across the land and cities burned. The result this time was different as a plague nearly destroyed everything.

The rapid spread of the Red Plague in 1901 brought the war to a quick halt. For nearly five years this virulent plague spread across Theodova and much of the Western Realms. In Theodova nearly 40% of the population was killed as the plague peaked in 1906. This death struck noble, craftsman, serf, and slave alive. Most of the slaves were burned outright, but the death of the serfs meant the plague was followed by a time of bloody banditry and famine. By the 1912 the plague seemed to have finally run its course.

Commerce Period

The lack of destruction in the rural farmlands led to an overabundance of food and labor shortage. These conditions allowed the serfs to demand more freedoms from the nobles as the wages of craftsmen were rapidly rising. These new rights effectively destroyed the feudal system of land-bound serfs, replacing it with thousands of land owners.

The powerful craft-lodges who once controlled the means of production were now hollow shells as many of their masters were killed by the plague. This allowed new workers to rush in and fill the void. These new workers were not invested in controlling the “hidden arts” of their craft, but instead on increasing their own wealth. The newly enriched peasants and craftsmen demanded more access or foreign goods, which lead to huge increases in the size and reach of the city-states merchants.

As the cities became increasingly wealthy many merchants financed new settlements to increase their growing political influence. The city-states of Arakhova and Sfakia were founded along the shores of Miran, while Neokhori was founded in the Tarakian Islands. With the new cities the descendants of the Dragon Kings controlled Serpente Sea.

This period of expansion suffered a major setback when the Red Plague again struck in 232 AH. Although it was not as devastating the rebuilt roads and increased shipping allowed the plague to strike several of the largest cities before their rules could properly quarantine the affected areas. While the rural population suffered very little, the cities suffered nearly 10% dead and another 20% crippled.

Enlightenment Period

By 239 AH a new age of enlightenment began to take hold in the city-states. The wealthy merchant class began to use its wealth to support great works and art so that their names would be remembered long after their passing. Even the burgeoning middle class of craftsmen, artists, and land owners often drove their families into debt to ensure their place in history.

Word of these great works spread throughout the lands by the speed if the city-states merchant vessels. The Water Gardens of Kutulan, the Great Library of Mufari, the Sable Lighthouse Libero, and many other rose up along the shores of the Serpente Sea. The inhabitants of each city spent as much money as it had to out-shine its neighbors in art, science, or philosophy.

It continued along this path for almost 200 years. Although the city-states spent far more money that they had in their coffers, the large influx of the best scholars, artists, wizards, and philosophers made the city-states the shining star in the darkness. Human technology and understanding expanded rapidly with many other nations trying to copy what was happening in the City-States of Theodova.

The central core of this enlightenment is the central square and clock tower. Although originally simple water clocks surrounded by stones where anyone could stand up and debate anything it has grown over the years of Enlightenment. Most towns now have mechanical clocks and the large cities compete to have the most accurate astronomical clock among their neighbors. Great statues of the gods and well-known philosophers line the square as if to beckon all men to come forth and speak their mind.

Draco Period

By 420 AH, the complex system of patronage by the wealthy eventually began to shift from egalitarianism to materialism. The idle wealthy drew to them sycophants and criminals in equal numbers. The theaters that once held great works of art were now used for gladiatorial combats. The large number of debtors were forced to sell their children to the merchants who used them in massive orgies and carnal plays.

The excessive greed and corruption has caused a conservative backlash among the common people of the lands. In the small villages and hamlets the people have rekindled the worship of the Drago Setta. These people have cast off the worship of the gods of the cities and embraced the strictest traditions of the Theodovian Dragon Kings. Although their numbers are growing, they must still hide their faces for the worship of the Dragon Kings is forbidden upon pain of death within the City-States.

The geography of the city-states is as varied as their location, except for the cities located along the historical shoreline of Theodova where the land is near sea-level and flat. Geographically there are three major regions.


The largest geographical area are the historic lands of Theodova. Located along the northern shore of Aquanius between the Blasted Lands and mountainous Dengal Strait. This is a fertile land of marshy lowlands and large gentle hills. While the wide shoreline causes frequent flooding from the Serpente Sea, the lands immediately south of the bluffs have plentiful grasslands, rivers, and lakes. An abundance of rainfall allowed Theodoian merchants to export food for most of its history.

The dense broadleaf forest and tropical rainforest further south would provide excellent opportunities for lumbering, the area remains uninhabitable. Several attempts to colonize it have been met with failure either by attack from native tribesmen or rampant sickness.


Main Article: Dengal Strait


Theodovan politics revolves around “The Family” and “Respect”. Respect is what lessors display to their betters on a daily basis. The Family is not always bound by blood; although in many cases it may be so. Instead it is bound by agreements that are seen as tighter than blood. While Theodovan cities all have councilmen and officials that run the day-to-day workings of the bureaucracy it is the family that put them in the position that they work for in truth.

The Families have worked for a smooth and even relationship between them - a trust of equals. I may ambush and kill your men, while you do the same to mine. Those breaking this natural order will find themselves as outcasts - nobody deals with outcasts. They may live in the city and scrape out a living, but they will never amount to anything ever again.

Foreign Relations

As expected for a nation centered around trade, Theodova seeks to harmonize relations with as many potential trading partners as possible. The driving philosophy of the largest families is that “War is Profitable as long as you are not at War.”


Main Article: Zentirovan

Fierce competitors for trade along most of the coastline of both Miran and Aquanius, Theodova has a much larger merchant fleet while the Zents control the other mouth of the Serpente Sea. The Theodovan's could sail up the Black River, but that holds its own unique dangers. Theodovan merchantmen may grouse over tariffs their ships are charged, but the Sea Lords nearly single-minded devotion to destroying piracy makes the Serpente Sea safer for them. Even if they sell their goods as a loss in Zentirovan markets the largest Theodovan families still find the their relationship with the Zents profitable.


Main Article: Bornheim

The largest and richest port on the western shore of Miran. This Dakarian Free City has a population of over 25,000 people with well-established overland trade routes to Eastern Dakar and the dwarven towns in the Iron Mountains as well as Stoneheart Hold. Given the inability of Theodovan merchants to stop at Xianese harbors even to repair or wait out a storm, the port of Bornheim is a rich jewel in any merchants pocket. The largest Theodovan families have warehouses and factors within the city, with a few of them even setting up permanent residences.


Main Article: Turan

The Thoedovans have two massive fortress-cities located on either side of the Dengal Strait that hold a commanding position against any vessel seeking to enter the Serpente Sea from the Maritic Ocean. This is the reasons the Turanians conquered the eastern coastline of Miran and have established land routes - the tolls for passing between the straits was strangling their trade. Likewise, Theodovan merchants do not enter the Maritic as most of their ships never return. This stalemate is unlike to become a war as trade flows between the nations - it is just more restrictive and Theodova's other partners.


Main Article: Sithara

Although they are neighbors and have fought many skirmishes and battles of the years, there is very little trade between the two lands. Several Theodovan merchant houses, and even the great families, have tried and failed to have any meaningful contact with the shoag. The shoag are very alien to the humans of Theodova. The shaog see trade as tribute and demand ever more for ever less in return - until they decide to take everything including the people there (which are traditionally eaten). This ensures that few Theodovans will travel beyond the somewhat established borders.


Main Article: Talarak

A next of pirates and freebooters would seem to be anathema too a major maritime power, but being able to sink your competition's merchant vessels through a third-party ensures that Theodovan coin flows freely in the Talarakian markets. While the families praise the efforts of the Zents to sink pirates - they continue to pay enough to ensure people continue to flock to the black sails. It is a well-known secret that many of the pirate captains are actually completely paid by Theodovan families and in fact recruit their crew from Theodovan cities.


Main Artcile: Corvis

While much of the trade between this city and Theodova dropped when the Seat of Lords fell to Llannoth the Lich King - even trading with the undead has its advantages. All of the major families have frequently, and publicly, announced that they will not trade with Corvis and anyone that does is an outcast. Privately there is a great deal of trade that goes on with Corvis. The city pays well for those willing to trade with it. Most of the Theodovan trade goes through the black sails of Talarak, more desperate captains, or even Theodovan outcasts the families keep around for such off-hand work.


Main Article: Pah

The Pah'Shar do not build cities or even villages on the coastline as they consider it cursed. This requires that merchants anchor near the shore and transport their goods to Pah'Shar villages by hand. Several attempts to build trading houses on the Pah'Shar coastline have met with failure and the disappearance of those that worked there. Pah'Shar is poor in iron, but it is also so wet that iron and steel rust rather quickly - instead most of the trade is in food.


Main Article: Chrysalis

While their coin is good, all trade with Chrysalis only goes one way. Everything the Chrysalons produce is tainted with the power of their land and thus it only lasts a few days it is removed from the land. The sole exception to this rule is trade in precious metals (noble metals). These metals carry the taint of the land, but after a few days the taint leaves the metal and it is indistinguishable from that traded anywhere else. Where they get the gold since all other trade runs into the same problem is not the problem of the Theodovans - only that their cities import a great deal of goods and pay in coin.


During the Commerce Period new technological and financial inventions allowed the city-states to rapidly expand. Some of these include Fuel Coke, Dry Compass, Portolan Chart, and the Triangular Sail. Their contacts with the Turanians gave them access to non-naval astrolabes and intermediate algebra.

The Enlightenment Period saw more social advancements with the addition Legal Dissection, Movable Type Printing, Personal Hygiene, and the Water-powered Paper Mill. The inventions of Movable Type allowed for the mass creation of books. While the wealthy still have private tutors all but the poorest peasant could afford at least one book and educate themselves and their children.


The most important invention can be directly tied to the quick expansion during the Commerce Period. Existing Trading Companies were heavily restricted to the nobility and a few well-connected merchants. Banks allowed even simple peasants to save money, which was in turn invested in merchant vessels and craftsman.

To this I've added some darker elements of Poe (Cask of the Amont…, Masque of the Red Death, Pit/Pendulum, etc. [aka torturers and dungeons]), the beginnings of the darker side of trade and mechanization (hereditary slavery by race, abuse of workers by capital, child labor, dehumanization of lower classes) and a conservative backlash.

Conservative backlash to all this change takes the form of increased superstition in rural areas, religious revival, peasant revolt, constant small conflicts, bloody skirmishes, revenge raids and bigotry stereotyping, witch-hunts, etc.

The rise of civilization and order has also brought a more “organized” criminal element. Not only do they seek to profit outside the laws, but they also participate and act as cat's paws in others intrigues. They cause Reversals of Fortune and “make offers you can't refuse”.

The prominent iconic center of each city is a gigantic clock tower rising over the city and surveying the countryside. Beneath and around these structures the populace: debates philosophy, exchanges ideas, engages in trade, angles for patronage, trades favors, gossips, shops, attends entertainment, discusses foreign events and criticizes literature, music and theater.

For racial stock lets look at Canaanite/Lebanese/Semetic. Their language will be a shade different, but mostly just coupled in with the Irillian language.

We mostly put them on the southern Serpente Sea (northern shore of the southern continent) and scatter some city-states on the southern short of Miran (northern continent) and Tarakian Archipelago. Talarak (largest island in the Tarakian archipelago) is my Tortuga - this nation's Silicians should slot in nicely.

In order to fuel this growth - even though they are now in a stagnant/devolving stage of their cycle - they will need access to some limited trade goods. Something that will draw wealth to them - rare spices, dyes, etc.

Some of these wealth will come from taxes on Turanian shipping and goods, which has been greatly reduced with the founding of the new Turanian colony on Miran.

For this nation, I am seeing a small idle class at the top. A very top-heavy wealth system. The middle class would be very precarious - relying on patronage and favors to keep them from falling down. The lower classes would be massive and for the most part squalid (slavery, beatings, etc.). The sciences are not used to reduce labor-hours, instead favoring manual labor intensive industries.

I would imagine that their gods will be reflective of their idle lifestyle. They will have gods dedicated to coin, arts, literature pleasure, and the sciences. To keep the lower classes in line there would be a god of labor, good works, and paladins.

For the rural conservative element - a dragon cult would work wonders. There is a very powerful shadow dragon that lives in the mountains. Plus dragon elements are found in Irillian stories and beliefs (shared beginnings). They believe they were created by the blood of a dragon (Irrish) when it fell to earth as she battled a powerful devil. A dragon cult among the populace should slot in nicely.

Nationally they would struggle against the Turanians in the oceans. They would control the Serpente Sea via control of both sides of the Straits. Although Sithara (Shoag) stretches through there, the Shoag care not to restrict passage of ships. The Turanians founding a colony on the eastern shores of Miran is a problem as now the Turanians can transship goods into the Western Realms without their ships paying taxes to enter the Sea.