Aorlis

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The year 1245 is a snapshot in time of this dynamic nation. Aorlis has come of age, and it poised to step up and take its place among the existing world powers.

Basics

The Empire of Aorlis is a collection of fractious countries and states loosely held together by marriage alliances and ties of patronage and manorialism. Constitutional monarchy is the norm, feudalism is the economic model, slavery is (mostly) illegal, and wealthy cities have come to wield considerable power. It is a crazy quilt of ancient traditions, migrating peoples, social mobility, and a mix of religious ideas ranging from the conservative, to heresy, Paganism, and other faiths.  

Flavor/Tone

Aorlis is a bastion of old world charm. It could be called rustic, bucolic, or even quaint. Indeed, this world is violent, but the people are far more accustomed to peace, commerce, and abiding by the law. Far from being jaded, these people still can be disturbed by impropriety or crime because “such things just are not done!” Aorlisians still believe in fair play, and they are shocked when people break social norms. Beneath Aorlis’ well-worn, gentile face, however, is a realm of Gothic horrors hiding in the world’s dark recesses, hidden away from the light.  

Medieval Framework

Aorlis comprises a piecemeal, mix-and-match, cobbled-together culture. This time is a fertile mix of what you thought you knew about the medieval period, combined with the unexpected. People have the habit of slipping between the accepted definitions, radical dreamers, social misfits, rebels, and freethinkers. Nothing is as simple or obvious as it might seem. This still may be a medieval, feudal-based world of emerging nations, but hidden with this guise is a setting many of us today would recognize. Embrace the incoherence!  

Exceptions That Prove the Rule

This is an age of wild inconsistencies. It is here that the roots of the modern, future world have been planted in the rich soil of ancient science, wisdom, and lore. For every “rule” you can list for this feudal world, there are many exceptions, and things that don’t seem to fit. Lower order priests who write bawdy poetry? Women who lead armies, fight in armor, or direct great nations? Industrialists? Scientists? Some people simply defy “normal” expectations.

Aorlis has 20 Followers

Technology

Science (and the scientific method) is actively practiced, but usually as part of alchemy, astrology, or magik. This is a time of vibrant technological advancement. Now optics, eye-glasses, chimneys, clockworks, cranes, automation, water power, the three-field agricultural systems, advanced metallurgy, printing, the rediscovery of dyeing, and international trade all are in their formative stages. The public is aware that Aarthus is a globe.  

Medicine

To modern eyes, this period’s medicine may seem ignorant, crude, and more deadly than the ailments it treats. Yet, herbalism brings a wide range of powerful medicinal drugs to the stage, including effective pain management. Skilled surgeons actually are practicing limited plastic surgery, sterilizing wounds and tools (often with wine), providing effective dental work, performing trepanning and even practicing successful c-section deliveries. Child mortality still brings down the average life-span, but it is not uncommon for people to live into their fifties, sixties, seventies, or even eighties.  

Social Class

Aorlis has a rigid class system, composed of the nobility, the Church, the peasants, and the emerging urban community. Guilds regulate the trades, and wealthy merchants often buy their way into the nobility or royal service. Social class is far more fluid than people imagine, and economics is the actual power behind the social hierarchy.  

Peasantry

These folk don’t conform to the stereotypical trope of short-lived, brutish, and ignorant clods. Rather, they often can read, conduct lucrative business, and sometimes they even have their own heraldry. They are very conscious of their rights and property and are quite litigious. They arrange their children’s marriages and property as carefully as do nobles, marshalling their property and wealth through strategic dowries and inheritance. Society is neither fair nor equal, but it is more structured, and the native legal institutions are set in firm foundations. This is a time of rich lawyers, thriving universities, and sophisticated banking.

Women

Most women have little voice in their own affairs, and typically they are the legal wards of their father’s or husbands. Females and their opportunities for careers and education are much more limited than those afforded men. Yet, strong-willed or exceptional women break this norm sometimes, even to owning property in their own right, or having professions and guild membership. There are women who command armies, rule countries, become saints, write famous tracts, and fight alongside the men, become professional writers, and surgeons.  

Religion

At first glance, Aorlisian religion (simply called "The Faith”) seems universal and monolithic. This is an age of widespread faith. Yet, other religions abound, such as the Hidden God of the Holy Karmithian Empire, or the sister faith of the Imerkanians. Even within Aorlis, there is an underground Pagan movement, and assorted heretical conclaves who cling to semi-gnostic faiths. Assume nothing! The Church’s layout matches the medieval Roman Catholic Church, and its theology incorporates a wide range of saints, angels, demons, and other occult beings. People with religious training are ubiquitous, with clerks, university students, even political figures included in this fold. There is a religious equivalent for almost every social class and setting. Despite Aorlis’ obvious religiosity, there are occasional secret atheist priests, and many agnostics who guard their tongues for personal safety.  

Diversity

Aorlis is part of a wider context, both economically and geographically. That means Aorlisians can be found travelling anywhere in the known world, and foreign traders from all over that same wide world can be encountered in Aorlis. Some foreigners are temporary, only coming to trade and then going home. Others immigrate and assimilate into Aorlis. Foreigners often take Aorlisian wives or lovers, so genetics and lineage mix as they will. Most coastal cities have wards devoted to different national groups, resulting in a Petite Shirim Town here, and Little Thendaros there, and so forth. You will only find ethnic homogeneity in the most remote and poor parts of Aorlis.  
by Scott A. Story

Travel

Many believe that medieval people were insular and never travelled far from home. The truth is different, because peasants and merchants travelled to fairs, pilgrims went on long religious journeys, and nobles went to war and even took part in foreign crusades. Aorlisians are a people in motion, travelling often and far. This age’s locomotion may be limited to foot, horse, and wooden sailing ships, but Aorlisians won’t be contained.