The Pirates Of Atlantis
Occupying the northwest corner on maps produced in Atlantis, the small but doughty Empire of Hazaria has remained free despite occasional threats from both the Dominion and the Lemurians. Though it has never succeeding in expanding beyond its present borders or retaken the lands it lost when the three kingdoms to its east joined the Dominion, its people still stand proud, ready to face their enemies with heads held high and swords at the ready.
The Hazarians are a loose grouping of four closely-related tribes who each speak basically the same language: the Drondor; the Gelkings; the Agdorons; and the Alvdars. In early Hazarian history these four tribes occupied all the northern lands of Sangobar, roughly from west to east in the order listed. The Alvdars were the most numerous, but were eclipsed in fighting prowess by both the Drondor and the Gelkings.
In time the tribes grew larger and more powerful, and warfare between them more frequent. Some Hazarians reveled in warfare, but cooler heads realized the senseless slaughter could be avoided. The Hazarian volo (wizard) Engbur, wise in all things, counseled the leaders of the four peoples and convinced them to form a compact. Thus united, under the rule of a high king, they could accomplish far more and leave their children a better world to grow up in. Swayed by his eloquence and wisdom, the four chieftains agreed. One of them, Helget of the Gelkings, was chose by Engbur to become high king, and the other three agreed… though not without some grumbling.
Under the rule of Helget and his successors, tribal warfare diminished considerably (though it never ceased) and the Hazarian civilization began to rise and flower. Freed from the demands of fighting, the Hazarians were able to develop their technology, art, and culture to unheard-of levels. Many of the great Hazarian sagas and epic poems, telling tales of heroes and monsters and wars in the heavens, date from this time. The high king, seeing that he ruled over many peoples and lands, changed his title to Emperor (a title that some, including many Atlanteans, still scoff at).
Eventually, though, schisms arose. The Alvdars were never happy at not ruling the Hazarians, since there were more of them than any other tribe, and over the years their trade with Simbria and lands further south had exposed them to new ideas and beliefs. Under the leadership of the mighty warrior Avar, the lands now known as Avaria, Hernicia, and Varinia declared themselves free of Hazarian rule.
Years of warfare followed, but for once the powerful Hazarian soldiers were thwarted. The eastern lands won their freedom for true, leaving Hazaria to lick its wounds and hope for a better result next time. Unfortunately, the Hazarian Empire has never achieved that result — but nor has it lost anything else. For some reason the Atlanteans have never tried to conquer it, though it seems they easily could if they so chose. The Lemurians have made several half-hearted attempts, but the mighty Hazarian knights have fought them and their magiconstructs off each time. No one knows what the future may hold, but for now Hazaria is safe and secure.
Hazaria occupies the northwest corner of Sangobar; to its south is Gardarica, its east the three “Hazarian kingdoms” of the Dominion, and its north the endless hyperborean wastes
Most of its land is northern grasslands and hills, broken up here and there by small, swift, cold rivers and patches of forest. Many of the trees are evergreens, but a few hardy oaks and other deciduous trees also exist. Aside from the Hazarians’ domesticated horses and cattle, the major animals are a large species of deer (similar to the one that exists in northern Pelasgar) and an equally-large species of wolf that often terrorizes Hazarian homesteads but also serves the Hazarian military.
The capital of the Hazarian Empire is Vastrond, which straddles the ice-cold Ivling River at its mouth. An often grey and depressing place of dirty streets and squat brown and white buildings, it brightens up considerably when the flowers bloom during the short Hazari summers. The city’s center is located on an island in the middle of the river that can only be reached by two bridges, one to each shore. The bridges are designed so the Hazarians can easily block or cut them to defend the Imperial Palace, which occupies the hill at the center of the island.
The biggest and tallest building in the city, the Palace is a confusing mass of towers, wings, and alcoves that’s a testament to the number of rulers who’ve occupied it. Each emperor added his own “personal touch” in the form of a new structure, tearing down an old part of the building and replacing it, or the like. Since no central plan was ever followed, it’s easy for almost anyone, even someone who’s visited it many times, to get lost.
The centerpiece of the Palace is the Throne Room, which becomes the Feast Room on high state occasions. A long, rectangular room, it has a mezzanine where archers stand guard over the Emperor whenever he’s there; the columns supporting the mezzanine are carved in the shape of famed Hazarian heroes, monsters of legend, and the like. The wooden floor is inlaid with an enormous copy of the symbol of the Empire, a sword inside a sunburst.
The Boralan Islands
To the west of the Empire are the Boralan Islands, inhabited by a people known as the Boralans who may be related to the Hazarians.
The Hazarians conquered the islands easily centuries ago, for the Boralans are not a warlike race. But the rocky, windswept islands have little to offer, and so the Hazarians leave them and their people alone… provided the emperor receives his annual tribute of walrus ivory and other goods.
The former tribal society of the Hazarians has evolved into a more sophisticated clan structure of extended families (though disagreements and feuds between clans, mirroring the tribal conflicts and clashes of old, are not uncommon). A typical Hazarian family lives in a wooden house with a central fire-pit for warmth and cooking. Related families live nearby, forming a loose sort of “town” in which everyone’s related as part of a small clan. Clans get together with other nearby clans several times a year for socializing, trading, and entertainment. Marriages are usually arranged at these events by the respective parents, with the wife joining her husband’s family after the wedding. The newlyweds live with the husband’s family for a few months until their own house can be built.
The Hazarians divide jobs and duties between the genders along strict lines. Men do the farming, hunting, fighting, guard duty, building, and other heavy labor, and are generally considered “head of the family” with the power to speak for it in legal matters. Women take care of domestic chores, cooking, raising children, gardening, and the like, and quite often have far more say in what a family does and says than any husband is willing to publicly admit to. Children typically have only a few chores (at most) to do until age 10, at which point they undergo the “adulthood ceremony” and start to become a much more important part of overall family life, with various duties and responsibilities.
The Hazarians trade extensively among themselves. Typically the south, which has a longer growing season and better farmland, trades foodstuffs to the north for herd animals, furs, amber, and other goods. Most trades involve barter, but the Hazarians do have a currency in the form of small silver bars about the size of an adult man’s middle finger. (The Hazarian silver bar is worth about half an Atlantean boullios, or gold coin, and thus equal to five Atlantean drakahms [silver coins].) Hazarian merchants often travel beyond their empire’s borders to trade in Deoghar and northern Sangobar.
They usually carry ivory, amber, furs, Hazarian ale, and gemstones from the northwestern mountains, which they exchange for fine Atlantean cloth, wine, musical instruments, jewelry, and other high-priced luxury items that the Hazarian nobility desires.
The ruler of the Hazarian Empire is Areld Halfhanded, who earned his nickname when he lost two fingers on his left hand to a Lemurian’s sword during a skirmish in his youth. Like many Hazarian emperors, he came to the throne by killing his predecessor in a challenge combat. He hopes to leave it to his son, also named Areld and known as “the Red” for the color of his hair, but it’s possible some ambitious nobleman will try to take the empire from the younger Areld by combat as well. Although he holds the title “Emperor,” Areld doesn’t really have any more power or wealth than a typical Atlantean prince (or even many Dominion nobles). He rules mainly by edict, with little in the way of a court or bureaucracy to assist him.
Like most Hazarian rulers he’s learned to be wary of establishing new laws or policies, since the Hazarians are an independent-minded folk who don’t take too well to having their government try to actually govern them too closely. As long as Emperor Areld doesn’t overstep his traditional bounds and properly enforces the existing laws, his people will respect him (even if they don’t necessarily always like him); if he goes beyond those bounds, feuds, vendettas, and even rebellion could result.
The Hazarian nobility consists of the heads of the larger clans (and even some important extended families). By longstanding custom they are the de facto rulers of the region they live in, despite the absence of a traditional feudal system or the like. Since tending to their administrative duties often makes it difficult for them to farm or do other work, they often get by on gifts from people seeking their favor… which creates a delicate balancing act of interests and perceptions.
Despite their reputation for feuding and settling matters with duels, the Hazarians are actually a people of laws. They have a lengthy and often elaborate legal code that’s written down in large books kept at the Emperor’s court. Local nobles are expected to know the law (or to have an advisor who does) and to hold court at least once a month to resolve legal disputes. Anyone not satisfied with a noble’s ruling can appeal to the Emperor, who holds court for one week every three months. The Emperor’s decision is final, and if necessary will be enforced by his army.
Hazaria doesn’t maintain a large military force anymore, since it’s given up on trying to retake Avaria and the other kingdoms to its east by force, and Lemuria rarely threatens it with military force any more. But the Emperor needs soldiers to enforce his will and protect the land from monsters and other perils, and so an army exists.
Rather than having a large body of lightly-armored infantry, Hazaria relies on a small army of highly-trained, heavily-armored warriors that can be considered “knights” (though they don’t follow any code of chivalry, just their own general code of honourable conduct). Hazarian knights are unusual in two respects. First, they’re more heavily armored than other warriors of the Atlantean world. Unlike, say, an Atlantean or Tellat fighter, who wears a breastplate, greaves, vambraces, and a shield, the Hazarian knight wears what amounts to plate armour. Second, instead of riding horses, Hazarian knights ride semi-domesticated giant Hazarian wolves. Managing one of these brutes is difficult (in game terms, it requires TF: Hazarian Riding Wolf) and tends to involve brute strength and blows to the animal’s head rather than soothing words and treats. In the heat of battle, an injured or weakened knight may find his wolf turning on him! But despite these risks, the Hazarians prefer wolves to horses because (a) to them the ability to “tame” and ride a wolf indicates manliness and skill, and (b) the sight of wolf-mounted cavalry tends to terrify the opposition.
The Hazarian volo, or wizard, practices a style of magic not quite like any in the world. Mainly involving lengthy rituals instead of easily-cast “combat magic,” Hazarian wizardry involves drawing out the ambient magical energies in certain substances and materils, such as ivory, amber, gold, blood (human or otherwise), fangs and claws, certain flowers and herbs, oddly-shaped stones, and the like. The volo gathers up the substances that relate to the type of spell he wants to cast — such as gold for a spell of luck, or blood for a spell to make a man brave — and prepares them, often by tying them together with special cords he weaves himself.
Hard, durable substances like ivory may be carved with arcane sigils to heighten their power. Once all the materials are prepared, the ritual is performed. In most cases this involves casting the spell right then and there in a process that destroys the substances (typically by burning them or throwing them into a body of water). But in some cases the volo “charges” the item(s) with magical energy for use at a later time, creating a sort of one-use “fetish” that can affect his foes in battle.
|Everyman Skill Addition||Rating|
|AK: Hazaria||8 -|
|L: Hazarian (No Literacy)||Rank 4|
|L: Atlantean (No Literacy)||Rank 3|
|PS: (Farmer, Miner, Shepherd, Stonemason – Pick one)||11 -|