Seleucis

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Seleucis; Seleucisan, Seleucisans

History

Seleucis is an ancient realm, established by order of the Stratos of Sarmatti in 6312 PN.

The land was claimed by the seven heroes of Sarmatti - Arathes, Bactra, Sotis, Ipsis, Galacis, Phanges, & Leanis. Each established a capital city in the rich lands surrounding the Seleuc Fjord. The surrounding lands became a Strategan, ruled by a Strategos, all of whom owe fealty to the King. Folk from Sarmatti flocked to the new lands to the south, and the Seleucisans accepted immigrants from other Skosian successor states, rapidly swelling the population of their lands.

In 3720 PN, Seleucis and most of the Sarmattian allies were conquered by the twentieth dark crusade of Tigraen. With much of the Seleucisan army away in Sarmatti, few remained who could dare oppose the Tyrant's armies. In 3723, a young Barbarian called Bahar struck out against the occupying forces, and sparked a rebellion among the restive folk of Phanges. Their rebellion wrecked the occupying forces, and soon spread to every part of Seleucis. Those armies Tigraen had bottled up on Sarmatti broke out, and by the end of the year, Seleucis was liberated. Bahar became a hero to his people, and became Strategos of Phanges, and ten years later, unanimously made King.

By 2734 PN, the folk of Seleucis had lost patience with the endless wars with Tigraen. When Sarmatti called this sixteenth crusade, the King refused the call. Only the inspired leadership of the Paladin Antigraen brought Seleucis into the crusade - late, but in time to help the Stratos break the great armies of Tigraen and press on to the final siege of Arga-Pentha. Sadly, Antigraen was killed slaughtering devils on the walls of that city. Still, he is remembered as a good hero, and the last great crusader against evil.

The Enchantress Adocia rose to prominence two hundred years later, bewitching noble and commoner alike. She had influenced half the Strategos before her machinations were discovered. In 2558 she had the current King killed and launched a bloody succession war to place herself on the throne. Only the rise of the heroine Athemeter opposed her - and the two waged a brutal civil war for twenty years, until Athemeter proved to the people of Seleucis that Adocia was using magic to control the Strategos - magic taught to her by the Tyrant of Tigraen. Adocia died at Athemeter's hands at the battle of Seleuc Fjord.

The war drained Seleucis, and the boundaries of the eastern frontier contracted nearly a hundred miles as the weakened Strategos could not longer defend the eastern provinces. By 2219, the Kingdom had fortified the eastern border with magical singing stones, and the boundary stands there at the present day.

The next civil war broke out in 1913 PN, as two powerful Strategos resorted to armies to settle the deadlocked vote - for a Strategos and a King had died at the same time, and neither Strategos would accept the vote of the replacement, fearing it would go against them. The civil war raged for five years, splitting the Kingdom east from west for the next four hundred years.

In 1548 Western King Maxsarmattis married Aphrona, daughter of the Eastern King, reuniting both halves of the Kingdom. Forty years later Maxsarmattis fought a losing war with the massive cavalry armies of Warien, and the defeat cost him the throne - stolen along with his wife by his own brother. For two years, Maxsarmattis was thought dead - until he revealed himself in the gladiatorial arena. He fought his way to freedom, and slew his brother in a duel, reclaiming his own wife, and wedding his brother's second wife to pacify the Kingdom.

For nearly two hundred years, Seleucis gained power and prosperity. But in 1329 PN, the King was foully murdered and replaced by a Tigraenean doppleganger. The deception held for a century, during which time Seleucis fought wars with Warien, Chien, and Crythentarc - and lost most of them, costing them more frontier territory. In 1288 PN the deception was discovered by the brothers Mithrus and Admantius, who defeated the doppleganger and his Balor guardian. The brothers jointly assumed the throne, with one always in the field, leading the armies of Seleucis, the other ruling from the capital. Much of the lost frontier was recovered, though some land would never return to the Kingdom's control.

In 1004 the succession again devolved into a fourth civil war. Ten years later, all seven Strategos had declared themselves King. A year later, all but three were dead. The strongest, Strategos Maetigone, married the next strongest, Cladus, and together they married the weakest contender, Sybil. The three ruled jointly for twelve years, eventually abdicating and turning the throne over to the son of Cladus and Sybil.

The Great Wyrm Calebraxis rampaged across the Kingdom from 766 until 759, until slain by a convocation of wizards from across Seleucis and Sarmatti. Losses among the wizards were heavy, and it would be two centuries before Seleucis regained the magical power lost to the depredations of the Wyrm.

In 508 PN Seleucis fought and lost a disastrous war with Warien; losing eighty miles of frontier land to that Kingdom. The war was made worse by the 'betrayal' of Ipsis, who refused to support aggression against Warien and rebelled against the King when the war ended in defeat. Ipsis would remain independant for two hundred years and a day.

Ipsis rejoined the Kingdom in 308 PN, when their Strategos, Maxisarmattis III, married the Queen of Seleucis and her sister.

In 55 TC Seleucis was wracked by yet another civil war - this one a three-way battle between Strategos. The war lasted for five years, until the threat of invasion from Tigraen unified the Strategos behind a fourth choice, King Examemnon.


Terrain

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Seleucis is large enough to contain nearly every terrain type except for the very cold. There are high mountains in the north, pains in the far west, a small desert on the eastern frontier, many forests, a few jungles in the northern valleys, and everywhere, steep, rocky hills.

Seleucis is far enough south of the equator to have proper seaons. Summers are warm and rainy. Winters are cool but snow is rare in the lowlands.

Being a Skosian succesor state, the folk of Seleucis are comfortable on the waves. The Kingdom is split by the Seleuc Fjord, but ships and sailing are so common and comfortable that Seleucis maintains its cohesion better across the Fjords than overland.

Seleucis is 1,200 miles east to west, and over 500 north to south. It was once larger by several hundred miles to the west, north, and east, but those lands have been lost over the centuries.

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Culture

The Seleucisans are a nation of citizen soldiers. Most folk live on their own small farms, and serve in the armed forces of their Strategos. A minority live in cities and work skilled trades, in businesses they own themselves. A portion of all labor is taxed by the Strategos, and goes to the maintenance of the Strategan and to the King of Seleucis.

Seleucis was settled by seven great heroes of Sarmatti. Each of these heroes established their own capital city and built a society modeled on ancient Skos, but incorporating their own preferences. Each hero became Strategos of his own region of the Kingdom, all all seven Strategos serve the King.

Seluecis has tried to remain 'purely Skosian', but as the eons have passed, the seven Strategans each have their own idea of what 'pure Skosian' is.

Each of the seven Strategans differ from the others, influenced by the Strategos who settled them.

Arathes (Male Aasimar Fighter) focused on the martial prowess of Skos. Folk of his Strategan prize skill and heroism in battle, along with physical fitness and readiness. Aratheans love to wrestle, fight, and to watch these events, making gladiatorial combats quite popular.

Bactra (Female Human Cleric of Skylae) preferred the faith of Skos. Bactrians are very religous folk, following the light gods and several of the good minor gods. They are very generous and giving, helping those in need and always giving aid to the other Strategans.

Sotis (Male Half-Elven Inquisitor of Athor) desired the justice of Skos. Folk of his Strategan have great concern for law and order, and a zeal for combating the servants of evil.

Ipsis (Female Half-Elven Witch) wished to emulate the magic of Skos. Magic of all kinds is far more common here, and children are tested at a young age for aptitude in the magical arts. Those with ability are trained by the Strategos' Masters to become powerful spellcasters.

Galacis (Male Human Ranger) remembered the mission of Skos. Galacii are hunters - skill in the hunt is of paramount importance. Of course, they do not merely hunt animals - they hunt the servants of Naduum. Because of the long wars with Tigraen, the folk of Galacis have an especial hatred for evil outsiders.

Phanges (Male Human Barbarian) admired the strength of Skos. He and his followers sought out the harshest land in Seleucis - rugged hills, cold mountains, volcanic heat - and live much of their lives outdoors, seeking to recover the sheer strength and toughness of their ancestors.

Leanis (Male Aasimar Illusionist) wished to recover the cunning of Skos. Leanii are charming folk, with a love of theatre, stories, and magic. They rarely tackle problems head-on, preferring more elegant solutions.

In addition, their faith in the light gods has influenced marriage in Seleucis. It is common for men to take two wives, as Athor did; this practice of duogamy creates a scarcity of marriageable women. Moreover, only one wife must remain in the marriage; so long as one remains, the other is free to leave the marriage and seek a better match. As a result, competition in Seleucisan society is fierce, as men struggle to gain or keep the favor of the finest women, and women combat each other in their own way for the attention of the most prominent men.

Most folk dress in simple short tunic, sandals, metal belt (often silver), and bracers. Headbands are also common, as both men and women wear their hair long. Married men usually have beards. Cloaks are common in poor weather, as well as long tunics or robes. Metal jewelry is common, but few precious stones are worn.


Language

High Valean is the common tongue, though the Seluecisans have a pronounced 'accent' compared to folk from Sarmatti or Warien. Their speech is slower but has finer diction than High Valean spoken elsewhere. Of course, each region also has slight tonal differences which are instantly apparent to Seluecisans, but sound quite similar to outsiders.

As folk from Seleucis are seafarers and merchants, warriors and scholars, they have a great deal of contact with the outside world. Few languages are entirely unknown here, at least to academics or nobles.


Faith

Worship of the light gods is most common, practiced in every part of Seleucis. The light gods are worshiped together, in a single temple. The strong following of the light gods is responsible for the common practice of duogamy in marriage here.

Other minor gods have regional followings and small temples in some areas. The Elemental gods are scarcely worshiped at all.


Government

Seleucis is governed by an absolute monarchy. Succession, however, is not hereditary. The seven Strategos all owe loyalty to the King, but after the death of the monarch, one of the Strategos will become King. Ideally this is decided by simple majority vote, but over the course of Seleucis' history, warfare has been a more common method of settling the question of succession. Each Strategos is the equivalent of a prince of his own region. All maintain an assembly of lesser nobles, who also server as magical and military officers. The King of Seleucis is unusual in that he maintains the day to day administration of his own Strategan as well as being monarch of the whole nation.

Laws are enforced by the Strategos and his nobles, each of whom can serve as judge for his own area. Street level enforcement is carried out by the military.


Foreign Relations

For centuries, Seleucis maintained close alliances with Sarmatti and Warien, sending troops to fight in crusade after crusade. Often, the allied armies would travel south through Seleucis before invading their eastern foes.

An ancient alliance exists between Seleucis and Sarmatti, which still holds. They are friendly with Syrenia and once gave great aid to Barizein as those people passed through their lands. A tenuous but friendly link exists with Gardorian and New Skos, kept alive mainly through overseas trade.

After centuries of civil wars, bloody successions, and outright conflict with Warien, Seleucis and Warien are foes.

Naturally the long emnity with Tigraen continues, occasionally launching their own crusade against the Tyrant, or marching on a border Kingdom to liberate it from Tigraen's control.


Military

Every Strategan maintains more than a dozen Hosts, commanded by their Strategos in the name of the King. A Host usually numbers about three thousand soldiers, and each Host is a mix of infantry, cavalry, archers, and war beasts. Every Host is of course led by great heroes and powerful spellcasters, in the tradition of ancient Skos.

All the Strategans but Phanges has a coastline, and so these six regions each have their own fleet of coastal galleys - Biremes, Triremes, Quadremes, and Quintiremes. Most of the Seleucians are good sailors but rarely leave sight of land. Folk from Arathes are more comfortable than most with the open sea, and maintain massive three masted square-riggers, capable of plying the open ocean. Their ships keep open the sea links with distant lands.

Each Strategan brings different strengths to their Hosts. Arathes is the most martial and stresses skill and heroism. Bactra's Hosts have many servants of the divine, and often carry holy relics with them into battle. The Hosts of Solis show great zeal in battle, and have a reputation as the most stubborn of the Seleucisan troops. The Hosts of Ipsis are the least numerous of the Strategans, but field the greatest numbers of spellcasters. Galacis was a beastmaster, and his Strategos have kept to his tradition, fielding great numbers of trained war-beasts, monstrous mounts, and summoned animals in their Hosts. Finally, the Hosts of Leanis are great skirmishers and clever foes, making deception in warfare an art form.


Magic

All magic is commonly accepted and commonly taught in Seleucis.


Cities

Every Strategan has a capital city, named for their founder:

Arathopolis, largest seaport in Seleucis, Bactropolis, the city walled with temples, Solopolis, second seaport in the Kingdom and largest shipbuilder, Ipsopolis, the city built upon a magical cloud, Galacopolis, the city of beasts, Phangopolis, the city under the sky (there are few roofs) and Leanopolis, the city of theatres. The capitals are not the only cities of importance. Demakos is a great seaport on the large island of the same name, dominating the center of the Fjord - the sailors of Demakos are often in conflict with the pirates of Chien. Thick-walled Annibael lies on the border between Arathes and Solis, and has changed hands five times in the civil wars. Tolemace, the city of swindlers, lies half-in and half out of the sea, partly flooded after an earthquake in 4019 - the traders there are said to be the sharpest in Arathes. Naripan one lay deep in central Lenis, but now is a fortress on the border with Warien. Dark Dragoros hides in the shadows of volcanic mount Gatna, the highest city in Seleucis. Swordis is the furthest south of any Seleucisan city, taking up most of the island the port city nearly hides from view.

There are literally dozens of minor cities in every Strategan.


Races

Humans are by far the most common people, making up more than three of every five Seleucisans. Most are of Sarmattian stock, with that trace of the Celestial, but the isles of Solis also host a large population of Gardorians who did not return after the Isles were reclaimed. There are no true Elves in the Kingdom, but there are large communities of Half-Elves and Aasimar that usually wed among their own kind. These folk tend to congregate in the great cities. Flen are quite common here, with every city having a Flen district, and quite a few of the forests and wild places concealing a hidden Flen town of some size. Gnomes and Dwarves travel here from time to time, but there are no communities in residence. There are no Firbolg here, and indeed they are looked down upon by the locals as brutish folk who are incapable of learning Seleucisan culture. Goblins are hated and despised, as are those who have adopted the ways of Chien. Most foreign folk not from Sarmatti or New Skos are looked upon as uncultured, with the exception of Sea Elves, who are welcomed as old friends.


Classes

Nearly all classes are represented in some capacity, though Necromancers and Summoners are forbidden by law. Enchanters are also looked upon with great suspicion. With their historic emphasis on individual heroism, there are a great number of heroes in Seleucis.