Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sturia*
*(but were unable to ask because of a Mute spell)
as of CG 67
- by Jeff Yxaus
Attention please. Read me first. I am the guiding principle.
Attention, future Game Masters: unless you have some good reason to do otherwise, make Sturian things like Roman things. That is, don't just up and decide that Sturian councils always met in apple orchards wearing blue robes, just because it would be cool. If there's some really compelling game or game world reason to do it, okay. But the closer Sturia is to Rome, the easier it is for everyone to understand Sturia; they can just read up on Rome.
For certain, there are going to be some differences between Sturia and Rome. Magic is the big one. Non-humans are another. But don't go out on a limb just because you like the limb. Go out on a limb because the Roman concept doesn't make sense in a world with magic, visible evidence of the gods, orcs, etc.
Sturia rose. She conquered. She got stronger. She conquered some more. She got prosperous. She got an Emperor. She got decadent and started to decline. The Kislennic barbarians started rolling in at the borders. She started to rot. The capital went BOOM, and she rapidly devolved. The barbarians carved up little fiefs, and the Dark Ages began.
History (a little more detailed)
Sturia set the foundation of Hesketine civilization. Her government, her writings, her religion, and her magic all live on in modern Hesketine culture. It was Sturia who put such effort into researching the prayers and theologies needed to summon the gods, and who studied the arts of magic to improve the potential of spells. This made Sturian armies much more powerful than the shamanistic, barbaric tribes surrounding the Empire, and helps explain Sturia’s rapid military successes in empire-building.
At its peak, Sturia (a city once on the border between modern-day Iñarra and Chardreau) ruled all of what is now Iñarra, Chardreau, Marakhin, Kiljukan, Delona, Tamplonia, Roudoigne, Valenne, most of Allondell, and southern Bilgosh, with its northern border edging modern-day Cadfaigh.
Sturia's Ancient Rival
As Rome had Carthage, Sturia had Bocorna (or Bou Kornein, as they called themselves.) Bocorna was located where the Iñarran city of Nova Bacaronna is today. Bocorna was conquered, its earth salted, leaving Sturia triumphant. Little is known today of the Bocornae or their culture; what is known comes through Sturian speeches and documents.
The Truth About BocornaSome of this information came to light at CG 67: Sleeping Legacies, but it is certainly not known to Hesketine scholars at large.
Bou Kornein was home to a society dominated by a "Kahla-ranite" theocracy. They believed that the best way to summon the power of the gods, especially their chief goddess "Molkh'har", was to demonstrate your piety through sacrifice. Preferably human.
In times of national crisis, the firstborn of all the Korneini noble families would be taken to the catacombs beneath their citadel of Molkh'mor. There, they would be impaled on spikes to slowly die over the course of the day, in a ritual that strongly resembles modern blood magic sacrifices. However, for most occasions, lesser victims would do, and so the Korneini would often exact tribute from the surrounding cities.
Until it was crushed by Sturia, Bou Kornein held a large portion of the Iñarran peninsula in a reign of terror. The priesthoods of Sturia attempted to eradicate the entire culture and religion, and almost succeeded. All that was left were senatorial records (sacrosanct to Elune), private journals, rumors and whispers, and the undiscovered catacombs beneath the site of the old city.
From Republic to Empire
Sturia got an Emperor later in her history than Rome did. Magic is the explanation; mages' organizations found it useful to maintain a powerful Senate so that they could continue to influence politics and play blocs of senators against one another. (It's a lot harder to influence a single dictator.) The modern calendar centers around the date of the first crowning. (See "Calendars" below.)
Late in Rome's history, the empire was split into East and West, each with its own ruler. This never happened with Sturia. Magical communication allowed the Empire to be able to effectively communicate from one end to the other, and so there was less need for decentralization.
Around the Christian Era (C.E.) year 400, Rome's outer provinces fell to tribes of Germans, and the Visigoths sacked Rome herself. The Sturian Empire, too, began to weaken in the 100s and lost territory to Kislennic tribes, but these tribes would not have the opportunity to sack the capital. Instead, the city of Sturia herself was utterly destroyed by magical force. On June 6, 206 AI, people hundreds of miles away saw a glow on the horizon as the city was leveled in a fierce blast unequalled in history. Not a trace remains, and the once-lush surrounding countryside is now dusty Iñarran waste. Nowadays, conventional wisdom holds that Sturia had become decadent and that Nen cast Its judgment upon the city.
With her capital destroyed, the already-fraying Empire collapsed. Provincial warlords grabbed for power, invading tribes carved out territories of their own, and (as with the western Roman Empire) the Dark Ages set in. Invading tribes like the Allondi would settle down and form their own kingdoms. North of the old imperial border, tribes like the Caelti, Cadfainn and Linneralians found themselves free from Sturian aggression and they too settled down and became modern kingdoms. The remaining Kislennic tribes settled in lands now known as Kislevia and Kjolnir, and the map of Hesket began to resemble its modern form.
Sturia Fall Down, Go Boom. Film at 11.
On June 6, 206, without any apparent warning, the city of Sturia and surrounding area went BOOM.
What happened? No one's quite sure, although conventional wisdom holds that Nen punished the city for its decadence. Essentially, Sturia fell out of favor. Some scholars hold other theories. [And as the History page says, feel free to present theories, but do not answer the question of what happened. It should remain a mystery.]
Note that the capital's destruction didn't make the Empire collapse immediately. However, the capital and surrounding areas held the Emperor, the Senate, much of the bureaucracy, many of the generals… you get the picture. With the head lopped off, the body thrashed for a while but never recovered. Moreover, since the Empire was already starting to fray by 206, the capital's destruction held great symbolic value. The rising decay and barbarian attacks were both accelerated.
With the Emperor (and all visible heirs) now dead, many provincial leaders and generals declared themselves Emperor, and raised armies to back their claims. The resulting civil wars did little to help preserve the Empire, and there was never a clear victor. Within a century, barbarian tribes had overrun the northern provinces, the desert nomads were rising in the south, and any hope of a cohesive Empire was gone. The Dark Ages began.
The Collegium after the Fall
When Sturia went nova, the original Collegium went with it. The original meeting hall, all the original artifacts, and many (of not all) of the Collegiates (depending on whether the Collegium was in session; this hasn't been answered)… all gone in one fell swoop.
The remainder of the religious had to rebuild everything -- a difficult enough task during peaceful times, but one doesn't imagine 206 to be all that peaceful after the big boom. They had to somehow rebuild communications, pick new Collegiates, decide where to move to, and so on. Starting over from square one.
Many Sturian institutions were never able to rebuild after such a terrible disaster. The Collegium barely held through, and most folks think that without the blessing of the gods they'd never have managed. The Collegium relocated elsewhere (we've never said where, although we know they didn't move to Tolbury until after the Dark Ages ended and Allondell became the premier kingdom) and slowly but tenaciously rebuilt itself.
As a result of this, note that there are very poor written records of the Collegium from the Sturian era -- only what had been copied and sent out of the capital. And there are no Collegiate artifacts from that era at all.
Before the first Emperor, the Sturians used a calendar based on the mythical date the city was founded, which was in 844 B.I. This would be "Year of the City", or "A.C." which stands for Anno Civis or something like that. (I can't decline nouns in Latin.)
Other city-states may have used a similar city-based calendar, or used a calendar based on the ruler, e.g. "the third year in the reign of Galix." (Ancient Egypt used the latter format, keeping track of the year by the pharaoh.)
Remember also that the Sturians, unlike the Romans, did have a year 0. (You're welcome.) The first Emperor was crowned in the year 0. Similarly, Sturia would have been founded in 0 A.C.
Magic and Knowledge
"It was better then." We haven't said how. Presumably, non-magical technology was akin to Rome's (when Rome was at her peak), but magical technology was clearly stronger in Sturian times. Many Sturian magical secrets are still lost to modern Hesketines, and the classical Sturian period is considered the time of greatest magical achievement.
We haven't said exactly how Sturian magic was better, because frankly we don't wanna have to whip up the new rules systems and explanations and blah blah blah. You get the idea. It was just "better"; now stop asking pesky questions.
Mind you, this refers to the Empire. The barbarians were always much less advanced.
In really ancient times, magic (by which I mean Mage magic) was still based around elemental forces. You had to study Fire spells, Water spells, etc. all independently.
Sturian mages found a way to fuse these forces into one unitary magic; this is the basis of the system of magic still used in Hesket to this day. This method was much more powerful, and helps explain why Sturia was able to overrun its neighbors, who were still using the much less efficient elemental magics.
The barbarians surrounding the Empire lacked this unitary magic. They only picked it up when they began conquering territory from Sturia.
And no, we don't have any rules for modeling the elemental magics, either. (Jer Bxernstein and I started doing some speculation down these lines, but stopped once we realized it was pointless. If you ever feel like you need info on elemental magic, feel free to ask us.)
Cleric magic presumably still worked the "normal" way, since that isn't elemental. (Also, I have a (non-canon) theory that the reason 9th level magic costs double nowadays is that Hesket has "evolved" to the 8th level of magic, and so any levels beyond that cost double. Thus, perhaps the barbarian priests might have only evolved to 6th level in Sturian times, so 7th level Cleric and up would cost double for them.)
Yeah, okay, the city of Sturia itself sits on what is basically the border between Spain and France. Yeah, I know, not exactly paralleling Earth. Too late to change that now. No use crying over spilled maps.
So here's the explanation: that area was much more "Italian" in those days. Only after the Empire's fall did the "French" migrate in. On Earth, imagine if Rome blew up and the Germans and Gauls and Franks migrated into Italy to fill the void. (German tribes like the Lombards did overrun northern Italy, such as well, Lombardy.)
Even with the capital located where it was, the Empire's core was still Delona (just as on Earth, where Rome's focus wasn't Italy, but Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.)
Sturia sat at the center of the province of Ludia. Even today, the mountains between Chardreau and Iñarra are called the Ludian Mountains.
Many modern country names do not match the names of the old Sturian provinces. Chardreau had a different name, since its current name reflects its conquest by the Kislennic tribe of the Cardi. Similarly, Roudoigne was conquered by the Rudundi, and Allondell by a number of tribes including the Allondi. Note, however, that the names of these former provinces have yet to be defined in-game. (And presumably Allondell and Chardreau each constituted multiple provinces. They're rather large countries; Allondell is about the size of Britain and Ireland combined.)
Iñarra, Tamplonia, and eastern Chardreau were heavily Sturianized, like Gaul and Hispania. Iñarra was called "Hiniara" back then, and was actually two provinces (Hiniara Major in the northwest and and Hiniara Minor in the southeast.)
Roudoigne, Allondell, and western Chardreau were fairly provincial, just as northern Gaul and Brittania were.
Modern Delona is pretty much the same: the Thanaeans (the "Greeks") were Thanaeans then, and the "Italians" were "Italians". Place-names have not changed much, although their spelling may be more antiquated.
Marakhin and Kiljukan were considerably different. Neither area had yet been conquered by nomadic tribes (the Kiljuks or Marakhs), who in this era were still impoverished bands of little consequence. Instead, the resident populations were generally more "Mediterranean" (just as North Africa and the Middle East were before the rise of Islam) and were culturally Sturianized. [We do have some place-names here: western Marakhin was then called "Doramea". Eastern Kiljukan parallels Egypt and was called "Ebis".]
Linneraigh and Cadfaigh were full of uncivilized Gaeldic barbarians. Kjolnir was virtually unknown. And Kislevia was just hilly frontier -- at least, until the later Sturian era, when Kislennic tribes starting pouring out, moving eastward and southward and conquering territory. Ragnorack wasn't even inhabited by humans (and maybe not even by mahiri); it was an unknown valley in the northern mountains. Modern Bilgosh was full of barbarians, and no Sturian ever went as far northwest as modern Zdunarova, which was also full of barbarians.
The northern coast of Shenga was Sturian-occupied at the Empire's height, just as Rome tried to penetrate down the Nile. Like the Romans, the Sturians found only moderate success.
Sturia had never heard of it.
Religion worked pretty much like the Roman era. Religious orders and churches1 (the organizations, that is, not the physical structures ) were not as cohesive, and there was more variety of dogma from one temple to the next.
As the Empire aged, religion started to look like the early Church: sects began to form between temples, and each began to profess doctrines that become increasingly standard. Eventually, Sturia created the Holy Collegium of Churches (Collegium Sanctum Ecclesiarum) so that there would be a body to impose a semblance of order upon a religious world that was growing increasingly cluttered and noisy.
|Modern Name||Sturian Name (with classical Latin pronunciation)|
Holidays in Sturian times will have Sturian names. The "-nalia" suffix for "Feast of ___" is common. Thus, Kintaka's Fest becomes "Cantacchanalia", and Aliane becomes the very amusing "Alianalia".
Lucky you: I got this word translated into Latin. The male form is "Praesidor", the feminine "Praesidrix".
These terms are still used on official documents to this day. Presider Elaine of Ornach signs official documents with:
Praesidrix Collegii Sancti Ecclesiarum
(Incidentally, I think "Praesidrix" is one of the coolest words ever.)
The Other Races
The mahiri are in many ways the same. They might wear Roman-era tunics instead of medieval ones, but since they are long-lived, their culture didn't change much between then and now. At Sturia's height, the mahiri were slightly less advanced than Sturia in terms of magic. However, while humans were to then lose much of this knowledge in the Dark Ages, the mahiri did not. In fact, much of what humans know in A.I. 1000 comes from having re-learned it from the mahiri. By 1000 the two races are back on par.
Note that the mahiri of the Sturian era still speak the old mahiri tongue in their daily lives, so humans and mahiri often could not understand one another.
Just as Sturian humans were more advanced than their human counterparts, so too were the dwarves of that era. The dwarves, however, were really advanced, outpacing the Sturian humans. This technology did not pass out to the surface much, because the dwarves were much more of a "keep to themselves" species back then. By 1000, their growing numbers mean that they rely on trade with the surface to provide them with food and other goods. In Sturian times, this was much less so, and their numbers were smaller.
Just as humans lost knowledge in the Dark Ages, so too did the dwarves lose technology in the wars between the clans. Thus, by 1000, dwarves still have an edge, but only a slight one.
Dwarves in the Sturian era still spoke "Middle Dwarven", so humans and dwarves often could not understand one another.
Orcs and other monsters
This was the Really Olde Days. No knights. No religious orders patrolling the countryside. And for that matter, a lot fewer humans, so much less human-occupied land, and thus more wilderness. The result? More nasties. Monster attacks are much more of a threat in this era, especially to the farmers and rural residents.
Unbelievably Trivial Data
The Emperor as of July 18, 114 AI, was Diophratian II. Diophratian II assumed the Imperial throne in 111.