Around 2900 PN, after Sarmatti and Tigraen had bled each other nearly to death over thousands of years of warfare, the Gnome Vaanern and his spellcasters swiftly seized the Ruxallen, the long isthmus which connects eastern and western Valea. Vaanern quickly conquered the isthmus and fortified both ends. Instead of fighting the other powers, Vaanern charged them tolls to pass through his lands - and never took sides. Exhausted by their wars, the neighboring powers had no choice but to accept Vaanern's dominance of the Ruxallen. From there, the Gnomes expanded, eventually coming to dominate the littoral around the Ruxallen, which they call Crythentarc.
Crythentarc is a kingdom of coastlines. Controlling the Ruxallen isthmus in central Valea and the littoral regions surrounding it, southward down both banks of the deep Seleuc fjord and the northern banks of the Diadoc bay. In the north they also hold the fortified island of Corjedoon.
Crythentarc is close to the equator, cooled by the sea breezes. It has a mild, seasonless climate, with frequent rains and occasional storms.
While Crythentarc controls significant areas of Valea's coast, they believe the sea rightly belongs to them.
There are two classes of common folk in Crythentarc, Gnomes, and 'lesser' races. Over the centuries the Gnomes have grown to view themselves as culturally superior to all other races. Gnomes were created by the gods to rule the world. All other races are second-class citizens. They may never hold an office of rank, and may only serve Gnomic culture.
Crythentarc's culture has a deeply rooted sense of superiority; so those who lead the Gnomes of that nation think of themselves as an entitled class. They were born and bred to lead the greatest race in the world. To say that they are arrogant is understated. They are descended from three thousand years of nobles.
They believe Kylee has blessed them specifically to rule the oceans, and all the lands the oceans touch. This idea has imbued their entire culture. Because they are charged by Kylee with a holy mission, those who follow Kylee wield enormous power. Balanced by the monarch (Shahreyaan) and the Merchant Princes, the cult of Kylee is the third pillar of their culture. Kylee's Paladins, Inquisitors, Clerics and Oracles wield great influence, and can in same cases command Merchant Houses and exert great pressure on the Shareyaan.
Most heavy work is done by servants, second class races and peoples who serve the Gnomes in every capacity. Flen are preferred as indoor servants, Goblins as outdoor, and 'big' races as guards or soldiers.
Most Gnomes here dress in fine imported silks, made by lower class servants. The preferred colors are black, or dark blue, to show devotion to Kylee; though significant amounts of gold braid and ornamentation can be found on the clothing of high-status Gnomes. The lower classes are limited to linens and wools, usually in white or light brown colors.
Gnomish is the dominant language. Of course everyone understands High Valean, since they border Sarmatti; and many understand Black Valean.
The use of languages other than the three above is discouraged. The Crythentarcers don't like hearing such 'rude noises' in their realms.
Kylee is far and away the dominant deity of Crythentarc. The Gnomes belive Kylee has chosen them to rule the seas. Since Kylee favors them heavily while on the seas, their belief is often supported by her favor. Since she is tempestuous, they carry on in their faith when she abandons them, convinced they are merely being tested.
The followers of Kylee are quite powerful, easily rivaling the Houses and the Shahreyaan. A visit by an Inquisitor of Kylee or making an enemy of a powerful Cleric is not to be taken lightly. Seven times in Crythentarc's history, the Prophet of Kylee has announced a holy cause, usually to defeat an enemy and claim sea control, and the wealth the comes with it.
While everyone gives their due to Kylee, there is a large and powerful following of Avaruum among the Merchant Houses. A small minority follow Vigos (whom they see as a Golden Dragon) though always in secret. Each Merchant House is reticent about which minor gods they follow (after Kylee) but one might favor a War god, or another element, depending on their business.
Kylee's temples are massive and omnipresent. Statues of the sea goddess are in every gnomish household. Kylee is invoked before important decisions, declarations of war, and trade deals. The other gods are not permitted public temples, and are worshiped privately.
The most important religious figure in Crythentarc's history is Charelaam, First Prophet of Kylee. An ancient and clever Gnome from the most powerful Merchant House in Crythenarc. He died 101 years after the founding of the Kingdom, after writing the prophecy assuring his people of Kylee's divine plan for them. Prophet Charelaam is the single most influential cleric that has ever lived, and his writings set the doctrine for Crythenarc's society.
Crythenarc has a constitutional monarchy. The Shahreyaan (King) of Crythenarc traces his lineage back to Vaanern. The Assembly is a gathering house of Merchant Princes, the highest rank of nobility below the Shahreyaan and each the head of a Merchant House. (Also called House, or Great House). They raise funds, assemble fleets, negotiate treaties and enforce the Shahreyaan's laws.
They Shahreyaan alone can grant a Patent to a noble allowing him to establish his own Merchant House, including the right to bear his own symbols and raise his own armies and fleets.
While not officially part of the government, the followers of Kylee wield tremendous power and influence, and may even be more wealthy than the Houses. They maintain their own army of temple guards led by the Prophet, and their own fleet of 'temple ships'.
Each Merchant Prince and his Merchant House controls their granted area of Crythenarc. Each Merchant House is like a small nation unto itself, with it's own laws, judges, armed forces, and the like. It is not unknown for Merchant Houses to wage wars on their own, or set their own foreign policy, or to fight each other. The one cardinal rule is that no Merchant House may risk defying the Shahreyaan, for his power is greater than any of them, and the enemies of a given House would unite and destroy them at the Shahreyaan's order.
Laws are enforced either by the Proctors of the Merchant Houses or the local temple of Kylee. The Proctors enforce the letter of the law, while the Inquisitors of Kylee see the enforcement of the Prophet's writings as their duty, and so, though followers of a neutral deity, work to see that their own rules are enforced. They can be capricious in this enforcement, and it is widely known that law enforcement in Crythentarc is not fair, and is not expected to be. There is a great deal of institutional conflict between Proctors and Priests.
Crythenarc is primarily a mercantile state, and so they wish to trade with everyone. However, they are not shy about using force to protect their interests. The Shahreyaan rarely makes allies, but is careful about making enemies as well.
They consider any major naval power a natural rival. Therefore Corsairia, New Skos, and Sea Elves are natural conflicts. Any power which attempts to restrict the profits of the Houses will likely also be seen as a foe.
Other nations - and races - are seen as markets to be exploited, land to be conquered, or workers to be employed. More lands for the Gnomes to dominate in Kylee's name. All non-Gnome civilizations are considered inferior to Crythenarc; and the Gnomes feel they are doing them a favor by trading or speaking with lesser races at all.
Even powerful nations like Murmanityed or the Corsairians are viewed with cultural disdain. Any nation with a navy and significant navigation is viewed as a rival. Gnomes who do not agree with Crythenarc's culture are though of as deluded; followers of Kylee who challenge Charelaam's prophecies are proclaimed heretics.
Gnomes themselves have no desire for personal valor in battle. However, they are culturally imbued with the idea they must be leaders; therefore they naturally give orders to 'lesser' races and most actually make excellent officers.
Each merchant house maintains their own army and navy. Officers are always Gnomes, and rank-and-file or common sailors are always lesser races. Being are hired into service from wherever the Gnomes find willing recruits. The contracts of service always favor the employers, though often hard-working soldiers and sailors can make a good living if they adopt Gnomish views of economics or investment, or become Bondsmen to the Merchant House. (Basically, very junior partners with a vested economic interest in the military or trade success of the House).
The Shahreyaan maintains a massive military, supported by the bountiful tax revenue the Houses pay to their monarch. The Crythenarc fleet are all Bondsmen to the Shahreyaan himself; so long as they live, he will feed, clothe and house them. Many Firbolg from across Valea have accepted the Shahreyaan's Bond; so thousands of Firbolg serve in his regular military. In war-torn Valea, service to the Gnomes offers more security than most races have in their own homelands.
The Houses have their own armies, patterned after Crythenarc's national army. The Shahreyaan's army is massive, organized into Bands of a thousand. Then of course the Prophet of Kylee commands his own small army of Temple Guards.
Several - the Houses own fleets of armed merchants, and the Shahreyaan's personal fleet of warships. They are one of the most powerful navies on the high seas, and often concentrate their fleets into the Armada; a single massive fleet which smashes the navies of foes like a massive seaborne hammer.
Gnome officers leading a menagerie of other races. The majority are Firbolg, but Goblins and a dozen other races are common too.
The Merchant Princes of the Houses command their own Bondsmen and fleets; the Shahreyaan or his deputies command the regular military; and of course the Prophet his troops.
As Gnomes have innate magical powers, magic is ubiquitous. The study of magic is commonplace, and many of the upper ranks of the Merchant Houses are encouraged to learn magical skills to aid themselves in their endeavors. The heavy worship of Kylee demands thousands of Priests and Oracles; and arcane magic is respected and widely taught.
The most powerful spellcasters in Crythentarc are usually the Shahreyaan, who is often trained as a Diviner or an Enchanter, or as a Cleric of Kylee. The Prophet is often a close second.
The entire Ruxallen Isthmus is a single massive city, cris-crossed by canals, locks, docks, and elevated roads. Every building is constructed on sturdy stilts to protect from flooding. Ships can pass through the isthmus - north-to-south - at a dozen points, and the Navy uses this flexibility to project power into two seas. The locks also bring in a massive volume of tolls as merchant ships pass through them.
The Kyjmagen is a massive manufacturing city on the western shore of the Diadoc bay. Huge workshops owned by scores of different Houses employ thousands of workers in the manufacture of all manner of goods, most of which will be transported elsewhere.
Sahnoven is a protected bay south of the island of Corjedoon; here half the ships of Crythenarc are constructed from imported timber.
Brigdeel is a whaling town on the eastern shore of the Diadoc. Hemaar is a trading post and fishing town in the extreme south, in the Seleuc fjords. Vulkemaar is a shady town of ill repute, opposite from Hemaar, a haven for smugglers. Felmjallen is a lighthouse and naval base on the northern tip of Corjedoon island.
Other races are fairly common, but always second-class citizens or servants.
All classes can be found in Crythenarc, though arcane and divine classes are unusually common, as are craftsmen and merchants.