Chien

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Overview

Goblins, which are very family and clan oriented, moved in one of three directions, spreading to each of the major continents. Those that moved east from Naduum were less intelligent but seemed to populate much quicker. These became the goblins of Eian, and carried with them the goblin dialect of Dark Tongue. Those that traveled north, to Avantarra, were quickly dominated by the giants and have not developed much of their own society, living mostly in nomadic raiding clans. But those that remained close to Naduum, the Chien, developed well. There was no single "founder" of Chien. Nearly a million goblins simply moved together from Naduum westward until they ran into the sea and then settled there.

When Naduum sank into the sea, not all of the goblinoid peoples were caught unawares. Some of them had seen portents prophecies and heeded them. These were the goblins of Chien. In a mass exodus, which came in three waves, the Chien moved west to the coast of what became known as the Seleuc Fjord. At the time, the Chien thought it was the far western edge of Valea (having not come across the isthmus that is now ruled by Crythentarc), so they felt safe from the doom they had foreseen in Naduum.

Each wave of settlers staked claim to a different portion of the coast, the Nung, Xing and Saam. The Nung Chien took the southern region of the nation and left about 100 years before the true Diaspora. They settled their cities on the coast and began to farm the arable land just east of their cities. When they settled, there was little there, even in the way of beasts and monsters. Within forty years, the Xing had left Naduum and traveled across the eastern half of Valea to settle in northern Chien. They brought with them much of the religion and traditions of Naduum, hoping to preserve it. Thirty years after the Xing, the Saam started their trek across the Valean expanse to settle between the Xing and the Nung. These goblins were the last to make it out of Naduum before the Diaspora.

Each people group brought with them goblin traditions and Naduumian lore and religion. But, as goblins are quick to reproduce and not fastidious in keeping records, many of these became warped and skewed, almost unrecognizable from their origins.

Terrain and Weather

Chien is very long and thin. The north is quite a bit warmer than the south, year round, though the most of the cities are quite mild due to the ocean currents. The western coast along the Seleuc Fjord is lined with steep, green mountains that seem to fall directly into the sea. To the east, behind the interminably long spine of mountains known as the Sanhlang Mountains is surprisingly arable farmland. Fed by meltwater from the mountain peaks, large rivers run east from Chein into Valea, creating lush, green plains and semi-tropical forests (in the northern portions). Southern Chien, east of the mountains, is slightly hillier than northern Chien, as the mountains in the south tend to roll further into the mainland. Just to the west of the Chien coast are thousands of tiny spire-islands, individual spikes of rock shooting straight up from the water. None of them are permanently inhabited, and most are covered in dense forests and filled with all manner of creatures.

Seasons

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The summers along the coast aren't much different than the winters. It is always wet west of the mountains. When it isn't raining, it's foggy or at the very least overcast. East of the mountains is quite different. The low plains are very wet in the spring, due to the massive amount of snow melt from the towering mountain peaks. The summers are hot and humid, slowly rolling into hot and dry before autumn. Winters in the east are unpredictable. Some of them are very cold, others very mild. Some years there are inches of ice coating every blade of grass, and others the ponds never even freeze.


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Settlements

Each of the cities in Chien are identical, in that they are (to the untrained eye) barely organized heaps of rubbish. They all tower hundreds of feet into the air, scaling the steep mountain faces and dropping out into the sea (some even continuing out over the sea). All of them are also west of the Sanhlang ridge. To the citizens of Chien, however, each of the cities are entirely unique. Amongst the twisted nest of catwalks, gangplanks, rope bridges and canals, each city is as unique as an any individual goblin of Chien. Each city has a unique personality, though they are clearly a unified whole.

Major Settlements

Sunan - Though not the tallest city in Chien, Sunan is the oldest. Established just before 7000 PN by the Nung Chien. In 3416 PN, the city - which housed nearly a million goblins at the time - burnt to the ground when an alchemical accident lit fire to a lab in one of the lower levels of the city. With no way to escape, much of the city was killed in the holocaust. It is because of this that alchemy is never practiced in Chien, though the use of normal fire is perfectly acceptable. Before some of the ashes had even fully cooled, the Nung Chien had begun to rebuild their city. Sunan sits in the heart of the Nung province and spreads nearly four miles north to south, two miles east to west and a seven hundred feet top to bottom.

Pakpao - The first city of Xing, Pakpao is the tallest city in Chien. Pakpao started immediately on the coast (within twenty feet of the water's edge) and continued up the mountainside until the slopes became too steep to settle on. They had already begun building upwards, trying to keep the top of the city "level". Realizing that, if they wanted to keep that level roof, they were going to have to start building in the opposite direction; goblin engineers worked out how to start building on piers over the water. Because of this, part of the city sits on mountain slopes, part on poles into the water and a third section simply floats on pontoons in the water. The city runs a mile east of the coast and a half mile to the west. North to south, it stretches nearly six miles and reaches almost a thousand feet off the water's surface.

Ann - Chief city of the Saam region, Ann is almost entirely built over the water. Towering six hundred feet up, Ann covers more than thirty square miles of water, with less than a tenth of the city over dry land. Ann comes into conflict most often with Crythentarc, as they lay claim to much of the northern sea zones of Chien. Oddly, Ann has few ships. Fishing is simply done by dropping nets, poles and baskets off the lower level of the city. Boasting over fifteen million citizens, Ann has long attempted to perfect underwater dwellings for its citizens. No attempts have been successful.

Dun - Set in one of the only navigable mountain passes in Nung, Dun is as close to a trading city as they have in Chien. A small overland road connects Dun to the eastern continent, where hearty (or desperate) traders venture into Chien to hawk their wares. Dun has the largest population of non-goblins as a result. Dun is piled nearly three hundred feet tall.

Truc - Truc decided that it would not be hindered by the nearly impassible terrain of the Sanhlang, instead choosing to clamp some of their structures directly into the cliff faces and building straight up the surfaces until they could again expand eastward. Truc's western edge sits about fifty feet above sea level and the eastern edge ranges nearly 6500 feet above that. Portions of the city are less than a hundred feet tall (very short for a Chien city), but others are more than five hundred feet tall.

Thu - Covering over twenty square miles, and standing four hundred feet tall in most places, Thu is home to some of the best trap-makers in all of Chien. Those who have little training in recognizing, avoiding and disabling traps have no business going to Thu.

Binh - Shaped like a capital letter 'U' Binh is home to two bitter rival super-gangs, who began trying to 'out build' each other, to gain advantage in combat. Natural competition caused the city to grow into a pair of drunkenly staggering 'towers' each a mile across. The middle of the 'U' is only a hundred feet high, but the two towering stacks are over six hundred. Regular attempts to build higher caused repeated collapses until the local goblins realized they had hit the roof of the sky in this area, (birds flying above the towers are pointedly ignored and further attempts were abandoned. The city has seen thousands of rival gang battles across the 99 foot 'gap' between towers. Both gangs are constantly shifting alliances of dozens of gangs and pirate groups. For all the fighting, Binh brings in thousands of tons of hops and barley from the stepped hill-farms on the other side of the mountains (accessed though a single long tunnel) and both super-gangs support their own breweries, which export the famous Binh Beers (Monkeytail from the north and Dead Dog from the south) across Chien.

Ngai - The City of Balloons. Five thousand years ago the steep hillsides of Ngai were full, and it seemed the city was doomed to be nothing more than a modest two hundred foot town. Then Ng the Mad built another house, higher up on the slope - attached to a balloon filled with the talk-funny gas that seeped from the ground at the city's foundations. Soon the city was soaring again - supported by massive bladders of helium. There were many collapses and disasters over the next two thousand years, but the Chien are persistent, and Ngai eventually built high enough to reach the Ledge of Heaven five hundred feet above the sea. Here the city was able to anchor itself, and keep growing. Thousands of goblins live in balloon-supported houses tethered to the city structure. The city is shaped like an anvil, with the base on solid ground, half the anvil anchored to the Ledge of Heaven, the other half looming out over the Fjord. In addition to the normal pirates and street gangs, balloon-gangs terrorize the upper structure, and balloon-pirates raid shipping in the Fjord, a very risky endeavor, since bad winds could blow them to Warien and certain death. Other Chien claim that denizens of Ngai have squeaky voices.

Klahan - A modest pile only three hundred feet high, Klahan is quite broad, nearly twenty miles from east to west, with two thirds of the city overarching an entire fjord. (The narrow one west of the C in Chien). Massive pillars have been sunk into the shallow parts of the Fjord, and crude but strong arches built across the deep parts. Klahan is home to a massive fleet of junks - pirates, traders, houseboats, and thousands of fishing boats. Ships cruise between the pillars and beneath the arches, sometimes miles back into the Fjord to their ports. Piracy is rampant, with the western gangs preying upon ships trying to warp their way into the Fjords. They are very wealthy, as most ships simply pay them protection money for safe passage. Klahan is home to major shipbuilding families, who construct their vessels aloft in the city, and lower them into the water for launching.

Chau - The city of Chau has been on fire for two hundred years - a slow burning blaze deep in the bowels of the city. From time to time, parts collapse and the blaze increases, and then the residents work to keep things under control. Residents believe the city was built over a sleeping dragon who is trying to burn his way out. The fire is most unfortunate for Chau, as it is the paper-making center of Valea, harvesting nearby reeds to make rough but strong paper as a building material (Chau is very light) and also for export.

Ngoc - Looked down upon by all other Chien for being a horrible slum, Ngoc is even more a jumbled pile than other Chien cities. Built on a slightly-too-step slope, parts of Ngoc break off and tumble into the fjord from time to time, where it becomes dubious foundation for more city. Denizens of Ngoc are slowly poisoned by the bad water which seeps through the rocky foundation and filters into their fjord, but Goblins being tough, many have adapted and it has been discovered that goblins from Ngoc are poisonous to eat. Ngoc goblins often live shorter lives, and often in miserable conditions in their tumbledown city. That said, the rogues of Ngoc are expert thieves and infiltrators, and the shambles of a city is said to be home to a training camp of assassins - the most deadly in Chien.

Culture

Chien are fantastically superstitious and, while typically brighter than the normal goblin, still prone to bouts of what is known as "goblin logic" to the rest of the world. They are relatively violent and, to many other cultures, quite boorish (though most of their rude actions are in accordance to tradition, superstition and custom in Chien). Due to the nature of their cities (addressed later), the Chien have little concept of personal space and even less concept of personal property. In a world full of thieves, it's easier to not own anything of value. The streets (and canals and walkways and catwalks and bridges) are ruled by roving gangs of young goblins. Lethal violence is uncommon, but non-lethal violence is simply expected. Any non-goblin members of Chien quickly learn to adapt, and exploit, the nature of the common folk.

The folk of the three regions of Chien are relatively similar, with the people of Xing being slightly less prone to "goblin logic" than the other two and the people of Saam being rather more violent.

There are three different types of rulers in Chien, each represented rather similarly in the various regions. In the canals of the cities, inland pirates pole small craft, looking for people and shops to loot. The local folk pay them for protection and look to them to resolve disputes. In the upper elevations of the city, street gangs take the place of the pirates, extorting and defending their territories. Each city also has a governor and a set of marshals, though they hold symbolic power at best. Many of them are nothing more than pirate captains or gang leaders with nicer hats. Behind it all, though, there is a secret organization of goblins. They have held to the ancient prophecies and the ancient traditions. They retain the arcane naduumian as their language and worship the old gods (that is, the Nine). From them, many of the superstitions and traditions that "govern" the common class arose. They are the ones to broker peace or incite war with the bordering nations; they are the ones who truly establish and break alliances; this secret society controls nearly every facet of Chien society, all of it without the common people ever knowing that they exist.

Clothing

If there were only two words to describe goblin clothing, they would be "ill fitting". Goblins only construct items that fit themselves, but they still sell them. A goblin tailor always fits things to himself. So, when the tailor is oddly sized (too short, too fat, missing a limb, etc.) the clothes that he makes fit oddly on his clients. The locals seem to accept this as a matter of course, and you are considered lucky if the tailor in your bloc is about the same size as you. Colors would vary across the whole spectrum, if the cities weren't so filthy (or if goblins were more prone to bathe). As it is, most clothes are some shade of brown, and usually made of patches of wool or cotton cloth. Hats are common, but shoes are not. Skirts are common for both men and women, though trousers are equally unisex (but less common, since they are harder to make).

Superstitions

This is merely a sampling of some of the most common superstitions in Chien.

-Goblins never say the number seven. The Black Valean word for "seven" sounds rather similar to the Black Valean word for "duck" and ducks remind goblins of water, which they aren't big fans of.

-All goblin tables are round. This is because, whenever goblins eat together, they always steal the plate of the person to their left. This is to fool any would-be poisoners trying to get to them.

-Goblins always begin a journey with their left foot. This is due to a mistranslation of the elvish proverb, "Always put your best foot forward". The goblin translation states, "Always put your left foot forward."

-If you ever pick up a tool, you must use it for its intended purpose before you are allowed to put it down. The list of uses for any item always includes striking another goblin, or a duck.

-One of the first rakhars of Sunan was nervous around women. When going to see a potential wife, his nervousness manifested in some flatulence. Trying to cover his mistake, he declared that it was for good luck. Always wanting to make sure that luck is on their side, his aides began to "pass luck" before entering any home. The luck charm caught on, and is now very popular among the people.

-Goblins always carry with themselves three things: "A penny, so you'll never be poor; a button, so that you will never be naked; and a marble, for the things that come after." What "the things that come after" are is never explained.

-A goblin never speaks ill of the dead, or bakers.

-Whenever taking a drink, you always spit out the first mouthful of whatever it is. It started soon after the fire in Sunan, when ash still covered the surface of the waters. The top of each mug of water tended to have a thin film of ash on it. The first drink took in that ash, and then was expelled so that the goblin wouldn't have to consume it. After that, the beverage was clean. It is unclear why the goblins have not ceased to do this, despite the waters having been clear for almost 3600 years.

-All goblins sleep with their feet on their pillows. This is to fool any potential attackers.

-Any goblin who leaves his home for more than a year and a day cannot return home facing west.

-Whenever a goblin baby is born, an identically sized stone is launched as far to the east as possible. When first arriving at the coast of Chien and settling down, the goblins were convinced they had reached the edge of the world. Afraid that their proliferation might cause the world to tip and fall into the sea (as Naduum had done), they made the best attempts they could to counterbalance the added weight. For some reason, this was not done for any visitors to Chien or for the birth of animals. Knowing now that this is not the case, the tradition still remains.

-The bottoms of all Chien boats have gruesome and terrifying faces painted on them in an attempt to scare off sea monsters.

-Napkins are always included with every goblin meal; however, it is considered very rude to ever use it. The cook expects his diners to consume all of his food. In some establishments, the napkins are nailed to the table.

-It is considered bad luck for a business if the first customer of the day does not purchase an item from a merchant. So as to not bring bad luck upon themselves, most goblin merchants open their doors and then immediately sell themselves something.

-Goblins always size things for themselves. Tailors, hat makers, weaponsmiths, jewelers or any crafter uses themselves as their forms. Because of this, crafters that are too small, too big, or otherwise unusual, tend to not get very much business.

-It is unlucky to be right handed. So, to make sure to not have an unlucky child, goblin parents tie something unsettling to their child's right wrist, making them want to use the left hand for most tasks. For many goblin families, the "charms" are passed down for generations.

Heroes

Tian Xian Chu, a sage and prophet, has gained legendary status over the millennia since the founding of Chien. He started as a simple teacher or, as some held at the time, lunatic. Slowly his teachings and aphorisms took hold in the hearts and minds of the Chien and more and more goblins began following his teachings. Many do so unquestioningly, since questioning the traditions brings bad luck, and those that question it tend to do so in private. Tian Xian Chu might never have actually existed, having been given very fantastical and often contradictory qualities and accomplishments. Most goblins accept all of these features (even contradictory ones) without batting an eye.

Language

The common people speak Black Valean, though many words filter into it from the other Valean languages (especially Valean Gnomish). Arcane Naduumian is still spoken by the secret society.

Religion

There are shrines and temples to every single god all over each city in Chien, and they are visited by all of the members of society. An indivual goblin worships all 30 deities, nearly equally. They visit a temple or shrine of whichever god is in charge of the portfolio most relevant to the goblin's current situation. A goblin who is setting off to war will pray to one of the war gods, and then, when he gets hungry, thank Dra for his food and then pray to Chatalize to ask her to not take him home during the battle. When he gets home, he'll thank Alyssa as he sees his wife and then offers a small votive to Vigos before opening up his shop the next day.

Temples are simply placed where there is an opening at the time, and their size has little to do with their prominence. A massive temple might be infrequently visited while a tiny shrine might consistently be packed full of worshipers. At many of the shrines, there is simply a small altar that is never attended by a priest or adept. The large temples might also host idols and shrines to a dozen gods, with the clerics and acolytes having devoted themselves to all of the represented gods, rather than just one.

Tian Xian Chu is attributed most of the prophecies and superstitions of Chien. Religious scholars are unsure if someone by this name ever even existed, though surely if he did, much of what is ascribed to him was done so ages after his death. Many goblins know this, but still treat Tian Xian Chu as if he were are real as anything else. "It may not be true, but why question it? If it is true, then we'd have a lot to answer for."

Government

The public physiocracy (that is, rule by physical power) came to Chien from Naduum and has been running the cities ever since. The clandestine magocracy (known as the Pidphey) was the driving force for the goblin exodus. They have remained in power since before 7100 PN, though how long each member is a part of the society is unknown. They are also the originators of many of the superstitions that the common folk adhere to almost religiously.

The rakhar, or city governor, has his own set of thugs which try to exert his will, but they only do so when they can overpower the local gangs. The Pidphey employ ninjas, wizards and rogues to make sure that events play out according to their will.

Foreign Relations

Sarmatti: Completely hostile. Sarmatti sees the warrens of Chien as a nesting ground for evil. Over the centuries, they 'conquered' Chien more than once in the running wars with Tigraen. However, conventional forces weren't sufficient to push into the cities, and the amount of power needed to wipe them out would've distracted from the far more important battles with the infernal servants of Tigraen. So 'conquer' means 'occupied all the land not already taken by goblin cities'. They've endured some long sieges, but never been truly conquered.

Crythentarc: Has a secret agreement & alliance with the Pidphey, but is openly in conflict with the Goblin pirates. Crythentarc sends a lot of merchant traffic down the fjord, some of which is preyed upon by pirates. So there would be occasional fights and reprisals. The Gnomes learned long ago not to land themselves, but to hire gangs to fight the most troublesome pirates to settle the raiding down a bit.

Tigraen: Keeps trying to control Chien, and mobilize them into a massive field army to fight Sarmatti. Might have even worked a few times ... and Chien never missed a few hundred thousand goblins fed into the wars. Also the Tyrant likely has close ties to the Pidphey, and is always attempting to use them for something. Equally, the Pidphey attempt to influence Tigraen politics.

Usurper Kingdoms: Chien hires mercenaries from here to fight wars, and the Pedphey meddles heavily in their politics.

Zyft: They've tried to stay out of the Sarmatti-Tigraen wars, though they have not been entirely successful. They have a special distaste for the goblins of Chien because it was they who have been used by Tigraen to invade the Zyft tunnels.

Warien: They see Chien as having no honor and, if they could, they would burn their cities to the ground. The two nations have struggled over the Seleuc Fjord for centuries.


Military

Every goblin has fought since the day after they were born. Nearly every one of them carries with them some sort of weapon, and their cities might as well be an enormous maze filled with traps for as labrynthine as their construction makes them (not that this is entirely unintentional). The cities are relatively safe from invasion, as they are on the thin sliver of land between the nearly impassible Sanhlang Mountains and the almost beach-less fjord.

Whenever large scale military action is required, the Pidphey ensure that enough mercenary companies find their way into Chien to be of service. For smaller raiding offenses or defenses, the local gangs often put away their differences long enough to fight the common enemy. If a certain gang can't control the city, they sure as abaddon don't want a non-goblin to take it over.

They have ships, but having ships doesn't constitute a true navy. Their junk-like ships (mostly used for fishing and piracy) are quickly retrofitted if sea combat is needed, though they are never true warships. As with the army, in times of great need, the Pidphey hire privateers and naval mercenaries to handle the affairs at sea.

Magic

Arcane and divine magic are viewed equally, with a combination of wonder, respect and confusion. The Chien love magic, but fear it at the same time, since not very many of them have the ability to wield it.

Divine magic rarely comes from a single god, but rather from full pantheons. It seems that the gods have decided that none of them are going to be able to gain control over the mercenary Chien worshipers, so they are begrudgingly content with sharing the worship and responsibility of empowering the faithful. The Chien also ascribe magical qualities to pretty much everything that they don't understand, including celestial movements, advanced technology and why their shirts never fit quite right.

Demographics

The vast majority of the population are goblins. This is partly because goblins breed so quickly and so prolifically, but also partly because few but goblins can manage to survive long in the rats nests they call cities. This does not mean that there are not other folk that reside in Chien. In the cities, you can find pretty much any sentient race, though the populations tend to be skewed towards the smaller races. Aside from the physical differences, they are culturally indistinguishable from the goblins of Chien. On the far side of the mountains, there are pockets of orcs, humans and elves. These peoples are generally autonomous people groups with little to no affiliation with Chien.

Classes

Rogue is by far the most common class among the goblins (after commoner, obviously). They have little taste for being monks or paladin, as they require too much focus and attention to rules. Rangers (urban, skirmisher, infiltrator), fighters (mobile, two-weapon) and barbarians (drunken, superstitious) are rather common. Arcane and divine casters are rare, except among the Pidphey, who tend towards wizards, sorcerers and clerics. Most of the priests in the temples tend to be adepts rather than clerics. Alchemy used to be very common in Chien, until the very tall city of Chian Ri was burnt to the ground. Nature classes (spell casting rangers, druids and witches) are unknown to the Chien, as over 98% of the population lives in the massive cities.