The Pirates Of Atlantis
Atlantis rules over half of the civilized world. Its territory is known simply as the Dominion of Atlantis, since it doesn’t control its client realms the way empires like Lemuria and Tellat do. When Atlantis conquers a foreign kingdom, whether through force of arms or a simple show of force, it chooses one prominent person in that kingdom — the current king, a powerful nobleman, a noteworthy soldier, or the like — to rule. Besides competence to rule, the main quality it looks for is a willingness to be loyal and deferential to Atlantis (qualities the Atlanteans can test for with magic). The chosen ruler, who has the title Prince, answers to an “overlord” — one of the Ten Brothers (other than Vondarien). The Brothers have parceled the world among themselves, ensuring that each of them has whatever degree of say he wants in the governing of the Dominion. Some Brothers are actively involved; others barely participate.
A foreign ruler has wide latitude in governing his people, provided that:
- he enforces the Atlantean code of laws. With his overlord’s permission he can declare illegal things that are legal on Atlantis, but he cannot make legal things the Atlanteans outlaw.
- unless he has permission from his overlord to keep them, he removes the walls from around all cities in his land
- he obeys the commands of his overlord
- he protects Atlanteans visiting or living in his realm from native crime and similar threats. If he fails to do so, his overlord often requires him to recompense the victims out of his own
- he provides all necessary assistance to the Atlantean military and Atlantean diplomatic envoys (which can become quite expensive)
- he gives preferential treatment to Atlantean traders (such as not charging them certain tariffs or taxes), and adopts Atlantean coinage as the currency of the realm
- he and his realm adopt the Atlantean religion
A prince of the Dominion who satisfies these obligations might govern for years without receiving any direct orders from his overlord. As long as things run smoothly the Ten Brothers prefer not to interfere in “local matters.” But if something goes wrong, or word reaches an overlord that his “vassal” is not doing his job properly, woe unto the prince. More than one prince has simply committed suicide rather than face Atlantis’s wrath over some failure.
“Ruling” his brother overlords as “emperor” is Atlan Vondarien himself. Typically the Ten Brothers can reach agreement on Dominion matters among themselves, but by millennia-old custom all issues not settled that way are decided by the Atlan.
Atlantean attitudes about the Dominion vary. Some Atlanteans consider any part of the world other than their island to be a barbarian backwater populated by fools or savages (possibly both). At the opposite end of the political spectrum are Atlanteans who believe Atlantis should use its power and wealth to make all of its subject peoples as educated and sophisticated as Atlanteans themselves. Some of the latter group are hawkish enough to argue that Atlantis should continue its long-dormant campaigns of conquest and take over the rest of the world. The middle ground is occupied by Atlanteans who find the “outside world” fascinating and full of opportunities for trade and adventure (this includes most traders, explorers, and heroes), and a large group of Atlanteans who just don’t think or care about the Dominion too much.
The current lands of the Dominion aren’t always the same as they were when first conquered. Some (like Karshemish) are identical; in other cases the Atlanteans have reorganized things as they saw fit, breaking some kingdoms in two, combining parts of several lands into a new kingdom, and so on.