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Morrigain

Samal

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Curse my random inspiration. :blink:

 

This will be an encyclopedia. I'll add more as I think of it. And I'll probably edit a lot. It's going to be very spoilery with regards to "where are you from?", "how does your religion work?" type stuff, but none of them are major spoilers *coughGodtouchedcough* so it's all good.

 

Anyone who can correctly guess what real-life historical nation/civilization Samal is inspired by gets a cookie. :biggrin:

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Geography

 

Samal

 

The nation of Samal occupies a leaf-shaped peninsula, the most noticeable feature of which is the long-winding river (the Almar) that runs neatly down the middle from north to south. The connection to the mainland at the north is guarded by a mountain range. The climate is tropical, with forests to the south and east, farmland to the west in the smaller river basins, and drier grasslands to the north in the shadow of the mountains.

 

Although the most important settlement is arguably the port of Cireline to the west, the capital of Samal is the southern city of Jimena. The reason is simple. Jimena sits on a large lake on the Almar. A day?s walk upriver to the north lie the Blessed Falls, a waterfall system nearly three-thousand feet high and wreathed in perpetual rainbows; and at the top of the Falls perches the holy city of Azafran, home of the Avatars.

 

Other Nations

 

To the north of Samal, across the mountains, sits the nation of Therrin. The two nations trade with each other (metal and precious stones from Therrin, textiles from Samal, mostly) but otherwise relationships are coolly tolerant. Their governments get along, more or less, but the people want little to do with each other: Both consider the other?s religion to be abhorrent. Occasionally Therrini religious extremists, preaching that the Samali gods are demons, will sneak past the borders during Passings to capture wandering Godtouched and burn them at the stake.

 

Samal?s western ports are frequented by traders from several far-away nations. These people are alien. They are tall, pale, with strange ideas, and the few people who?ve visited their countries report that their homelands are even stranger. They regard the Samali religion with amused tolerance. They don?t seem to have one of their own. The Samali think this is terrifying.

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History and Politics

 

Overview

 

The Samali landed on the peninsula about four hundred years ago, led by Jimenara the Bright, fleeing overseas from the south. Some say they fled religious persecution, some say plague, some say some sort of magical disaster, but in any case their southern homeland is lost to them; all efforts to sail through the perpetual storms off Samal?s southern tip have ended in tragedy.

 

The original inhabitants of the peninsula the Samali lacked a standing army. Jimenara was able to drive them back past the northern mountains over a period of six years, where they founded the nation of Therrin. There they stay to this day. Samal warily trades with Therrin even as it keeps several armed garrisons along the border. The threat of invasion, however, is historically low...if only because neither country wants to invest in an army large enough to wage war over the mountains.

 

Government

 

The government is essentially feudal. There is a huge class discrepancy. Religion is seen as essential in keeping the common people from revolting ? the king (or queen, gender doesn?t matter) will always give generously to the church, and will seek the advice of the avatars before all major decisions.

 

The king is determined by bloodline, though the gods will speak up if an heir is unfit; the one time the heir apparent went against this it sparked a swift and bloody civil war. He is supported by a small council of elected upper class twits.

 

Recent

 

Five years ago, the King of Therrin and his new bride toured the cities of Samal in what was meant to be a gesture of peace. The Avatar of Kasidis died while the two were visiting Cireline. They regarded the Passing as a quaint curiosity and, jokingly, allowed a Godtouched to test them...and it was discovered that the young queen was the next Voice of Kasidis. The Godtouched?s insistence of ?kidnapping? her to Azafran (and her death in the ensuing struggle) sparked the Crusade of the Stolen Queen. Therrini troops poured in from the north to occupy the grasslands. The area is still in a state of constant, stagnant warfare to this day.

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Religion

 

The Gods

 

The Samali believe in six gods. Because they know that the gods can, literally, speak to them, religious faith is incredibly strong and they find the idea of other religions ridiculous: how can you believe in something if you can?t see it?

 

Each god corresponds to a color of the rainbow. Indigo is referred to as ?Gira?s shadow? and may be identified with a lost seventh god (see ?Magic?).

 

Kasidis ? Red. Goddess of motherhood and family. She takes young women as her Avatars, preferably those who are barren or at least have never born children, and holds them until they are past childbearing age.

 

Cezn?n ? Orange. God of war. He takes soldiers as his Avatars, young and old. Most of these avatars are male, obviously (though one of the first recorded Avatars of Cezn?n was female: Jimenara the Bright became the Voice of the god after praying in what was to become Azafran, and went on to lead her armies in conquest of the entire peninsula). He tends to hold his Avatars for as long as their minds and bodies are strong.

 

Talal ? Yellow. God of crafts, hard work and material wealth. Talal is the most unscrupulous about his Avatars, and will take almost anyone: farmers, smiths, painters, sailors, midwives, thieves, bankers, it doesn?t matter as long as they are skilled.

 

Eizen ? Green. Goddess of sickness, healing and death. She takes old people as her Avatars, usually women, and holds them until their death.

 

Inara ? Blue. Goddess of love and shadows. She takes youths as her Avatars. They are usually (but not always) women. Being flighty, she only holds them for a short time, and out of all the gods is the only one who encourages them to go back to a normal life after she is done with them.

 

Gira ? Purple. God of imagination, invention and children. It?s a well-known saying that ?Gira often lies.? He takes young children as his Avatars, usually boys; it?s theorized that he needs their imaginations to fuel his creativity, and their naivet? so they will swallow all the rest. The cruelest of the gods, Gira only holds his Avatars so long as they are ?innocent,? never keeping them past age fifteen - and when he leaves them, they die.

 

The gods are creatures of colored fire. It is said the first time they made the world, it burned when they tried to set foot on it. This is why they must take Avatars to speak to the people in safety. The ?seeing? power of the gods while speaking through humans is limited, however ? they often talk in riddles or find themselves unable to answer questions. If asked, they explain that they can?t use their full power without burning their mortal host?s mind (Gira will if sufficiently bribed, however. His full power gives rise to the most amazing art and inventions...and leaves his Avatar violently insane. The Godtouched are therefore very careful to screen everyone who questions the Child God so that this doesn?t happen).

 

The Avatars

 

Anyone can be an Avatar. You, your child, your spouse, your mother ? anyone. Luckily, the gods only take one Avatar at a time (barring fanciful stories like the legend of Jimenara?s entire army taking on the Voice of Cezn?n for the pivotal battle of Burning Sand), and Gira is the only one with a significant turnover rate. So the odds are low.

 

The god inside an Avatar is ?asleep? until it is discovered by a Godtouched. Once found, the Avatar is taken to Azafran to sit and prophecy for pilgrims. Apart from their duties they try to live as normal a life as possible ? as ?normal? as life can be in a nearly-empty holy city where your only companions are Godtouched.

 

When the god moves on to a new Avatar the mortal is free (unless that god is Gira). Some leave and try to go back to normal life. The majority, however, take up black robes and become the only purely mortal residents of Azafran, responsible for dealing with pilgrims and conducting business with the world below.

 

The Godtouched

 

The Godtouched live, exclusively, in Azafran. They are responsible for caring for the Avatars and the holy city and documenting the words of the gods. They may only leave the city during a Passing to search for a new Avatar ? for the Godtouched have the power to look into the eyes of a mortal and call out the fire that lurks within.

 

It is said that the touch of a Godtouched curses, and the sight of their uncovered flesh kills. The people regard them with reverence and no small amount of fear.

 

Azafran

 

When Jimenara the Bright landed on the southern tip of the peninsula four hundred years ago, she fought her way inch by painful inch in guerilla warfare up along the Almar river. At the close of the rainy season she stood at the foot of the Blessed Falls and looked three-thousand feet up, through rainbows and spray, to see a lone, abandoned white tower perched at the top. She spent the night alone there, praying, and when she came down the next morning her eyes shone orange with the power of Cezn?n; and from then on all her victories were swift and brutal, and the nation of Samal was born.

 

That tower became Azafran. The holy city is reachable only by foot, a day?s walk from other civilization; most come from the capital and must walk the winding Pilgrim?s Path up the cliffs. It is built almost entirely of white stone and rainbow-tinted glass. The roar from the waterfalls is deafening.

 

In truth, calling Azafran a proper ?city? is a lie: it?s only expanded a little beyond the original tower and is mostly empty, as the only permanent residents are the Avatars, the Godtouched, any ex-avatars who chose to stay, and the priests-in-training who reside in a smaller settlement halfway up the Pilgrim?s Path. Pilgrims come and go. The king makes frequent visits to beg advice on matters of state (advice that is rarely granted). Azafran houses no workers and produces nothing for itself besides faith; it exists on taxes and (mainly) tithes.

 

Worship

 

Pilgrimage and Godtouched are all very well and good (indeed, everyone must go on a pilgrimage to Azafran at least once in their lifetime), but the main conduit between the gods and the people are regular priests. Services are held in six-walled shrines, but many houses have their own small altars. Holy days are abundant.

 

Magic

 

Magic is almost unknown. It's a lost art. What little there is remains in trinkets that no one can duplicate, or minor spells passed down from generation to generation (and, of course, in the Godtouched and the Avatars).

 

Legend say that there used to be a seventh god of magic who wore indigo and was Gira?s wife. Her Avatar drowned during the crossing from the south, and magic went out of the world. This would explain much of Gira?s rage and childish behavior.

 

Rumors that the Therrini crusaders have strange, new magics that let them mow down Samali troops like wheat to the scythe are dismissed as heresy.

Edited by Morrigain

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