The Moonlight Kingdom of the Elves
Barricades in the Halls of PowerThe Moonlight Kingdom of Elves is a kingdom nearly in name alone - from the very start, the monarchy had merely been a figurehead for the noble clans, and the people under those clans fought hard for their say in what would come. Power was divested generation after generation, and a few times per generation at that, until the clans and nobility had titles without meaning, their votes merely reflections of those of their constituents. Nobles who attempted to vote against the will of their people were deposed, and new nobles voted into power in their place. Eventually, even the requirements that a voter be noble melted away. Nobility was now but a title handed down from parent to child. Democracy has been achieved. However, democracy is a bittersweet thing at times. Those necessary checks and balances become impediments and obstructions when parties begin to see each other as enemies and not simply rivals. The two most powerful parties in the parliament, who tend to control as many as a maximum of 80% of seats between them, and often as many as 60%, with most other parties holding no more than 10% at the very most popular, actually don't disagree severely on too much. Socially, economically, militarily, their differences are granular and minor. However, the Benevolent Interventionist Party and the Home & Hearth Party are bitter opponents based entirely on their beliefs on military involvement overseas, with the BIP advocating military aid and intervention to dismantle bad and support good regimes abroad, while the H&H believes that the business of other nations is their own. From these disagreements, all other issues have become polarized.
GeographyThe Moonlight Lowlands are lush and beautiful, full of forests and woodlands and bountiful farms. The mountain range dividing Starflame and Moonlight is rich with minerals. The lowlands are largely flat, meanwhile, and heavily wooded away from farms where the forests have been cleared to make room - those forests that don't get cleared are carefully maintained, cut as needed but promptly replanted, as the elven population care very much about long-term sustainability due to their long lives. In addition to the standard presence of rabbits, elks, wolves, and other such common woodland and plains creatures, the Moonlight Lowlands has a population of native Pegasi, Cockatrices, Chupacabras, and the rare but frightful Gallows Trees.
Government and GeopoliticsThe Moonlight Government is nominally a monarchy, ruled by the House of Écalais from the capital of Lunante. However, the traditional noble clans of the Moonlight Lowlands have largely become moot, symbolic, cultural bodies, and the monarchy is largely inert and ceremonial. The real power in this state is rooted in the power of the people, through the Parliament. The Moonlight Kingdom has universal suffrage for elven adolescents and older - all elves, male or female, that are 90 years old or older are entitled to the vote. Furthermore, all non-elf citizens have the right to vote at their age of majority. Parliament selects a Lord Chancellor every 28 years, responsible for being the Head of Government - the king is the ceremonial head of state, but lacks any significant power, and is just a rubber stamp. Provinces of the Moonlight Kingdom are ceremonially held by clan nobility, primarily dukes, but each province has its own democratic citizen's legislature led by a Peer Chancellor that holds the real power when managing provincial-scale issues. While federal, the Moonlight Kingdom is largely centralized and has much in common with a more unitary state, with only a handful of decisions being those entirely or largely the domain of the provinces. The government is run by civilian administrators, drawn from the large educated middle class of the nation. The national bureaucracy is largely centered in Lunante, with smaller or even skeleton crews running the administration of other provinces. Some provinces are the seats of smaller parties, many of which cut costs by thinning the local administration. These areas have a high turnover rate, as these administrators will often leave to escape the overwork. This has been a persistent problem for the Ladianna Autonomy Party, the Guisept Provincial Party, and the Houbon Traditional Party, three provincial parties who sometimes win a seat in their home provinces but don't run candidates in other provinces. Others sometimes bloat their bureaucracies due to an overly rapid and zealous expansion of programs that require such expansion. The National Communard Party - a more bureaucratic and centralized take on the Halfling communal system - as well as the Hanganac Restoration Party and the Yobin Independence Party, the latter two being provincial provinces, have been guilty of this as well in the provincial seats they've won. The two major parties that win every national election are the Benevolent Interventionist Party (BIP) and the Home & Hearth Party (H&H). In most respects, these parties are very similar - the BIP wants to trim the fat of the bureaucracy, and the H&H wants to prune the military budgets, but both are trying to save some money. The BIP advocate for continued centralization, while the H&H wants to divest power slightly, but both believe that near-unitary federal government power is desirable. BIP wants to raise taxes on Djezet exports, while H&H wants to outright decrease extraction, but both want to control their most valuable resource more closely. In the end, the big difference is in one specific field - the BIP are prepared to take action, whether directly or indirectly, against perceived hostile forces, such as the Starflame Kingdom and the Canate Princes, while the H&H would rather simply focus on making their own home more wealthy, prosperous, and safe. And yet, this debate has become impassioned, heated, even totally polarized, as both sides see the other as short-sighted egotists. What right does the H&H have to stand by and watch as foul regimes continue their fell goals? And conversely, what right do the BIP have to demand that elves lay down their lives for ill-fated crusades against perceived evil? This mutual frustration has further polarized even the smaller issue. Trimming the bureaucracy is seen as callously overworking what staff would be left from the H&H, and trimming the military is seen as throwing the nation to the wolves according to BIP, for example. The Moonlight Kingdom has an early system of progressive taxation, and all taxes are taken in coin. A thorough census is taken once a decade, and annually tax collectors visit communities and settlements, handing out tax forms to those of an income above the poverty line up. They remain in town for a week, to receive the completed forms and the owed sum. Households who do not provide a suitable tax payment or simply do not take a form will be investigated - this has had the fortunate side effect of catching the Patient Zeros of nasty diseases, and the sites of otherwise quiet and inconspicuous murders. For this reason, tax collectors are also trained to perform basic investigations and lay the groundwork for any further investigations by more formal law enforcement. The highest marginal tax rate is 90%, designed almost symbolically to prevent any individual having the wealth to build a stone castle and man it, as a means of fundamentally refuting noble privilege in the aftermath of the rise of democracy. The Moonlight Kingdom practices religious freedom, though it is significantly advantageous for a would-be politician to follow the dual-natured Elven Pantheon, particularly the more benevolent side of that Pantheon. The Moonlight Kingdom has a long-standing historic animosity for the Shogunate to their south, both victims of their warrior culture and having previously shown their own jingoism in the past. They would band together in times of need if it became necessary, but largely prefer to keep to themselves and one-up one another peacefully. The Moonlight Kingdom chooses its allies and determines their commitment to them based on political need - sometimes they associate with the cordon around Canate, other times they open channels to Renepalia, Yalenva, or Otha-Friusau, and recently there has been talk of forming a partnership with Fiuthnolla, but only time will tell who's side they'll be on if and when conflict breaks out. One consistent partner has been Hanxi, who see the Moonlight Kingdom as partners in containing Starflame slavers and fellow allies to and believers in order. They do not have a formal alliance, nor really an informal one, but those channels remain quite open. However, one side will never be their ally. That is the Starflame Kingdom, the reviled slaver state on their border. They have undergone frequent wars, wars that both sides initiated at different times for different reasons. The most shameful chapter of Moonlight history is the reign of the Nova Party, a populist genocidal movement dedicated to the destruction of the Starflame state and Drow people. A generation came of age under this century of blind hate and spite, and the noxious influence of their reign persists in many circles. Nevertheless, certain specialized slave takers continue to cross the border from Starflame to kidnap elves, so some animosity is certainly justified.
EconomyThe Moonlight economy is centered on agriculture, with a majority of the population working in agriculture. Cash crops are found in places, but most farmers produce food. Most farmers hold significant plots of land from which to grow enough food for their family, and enough to sell to pay for what else they need and, if the land is new, pay their loans for it. Wealthy farmers tend to, as a form of civic responsibility, choose to build their farms up rather than out - they have nearly perfected a system of irrigation, mirror-reflected sunlight, and tower-building allowing them to build spiral-shaped tower farms. All kinds of fruit are raised in orchards, with apples and peaches being favorites. Out in the fields, wheat, grapes, soybeans, and nuts are the most common crops. Herding and livestock are available, but less common, typically treated as artisanal luxury items. Most local elves practice a vegetarian diet, or simply prefer to import what meat they do eat from overseas. This is due primarily to economics, as the limited room available to the Moonlight people and the space that herding takes up makes them too inefficient. Many argue that their choice is also ethical, and this is not without cause - most elves in Moonlight recognize the economic basis of their diet, but many also embrace it for personal ethical reasons, and some take it perhaps a step too far and hold their choice not to hurt animals as a fundamental demonstration of elven moral superiority. The fact that Otha, a much larger elven country, eats meat on a wide scale, either goes unmentioned or is handwaved as corruption caused by their union with the human nation of Friusau. The Moonlight Kingdom is also highly urbanized, with a widespread urban bourgeois class and early companies and proto-corporate bodies. While some things remain the realm of skilled artisans, especially the time-honored art of bow-making, even arrow production has become a production line task. Moonlight factories produce, mostly by hand and with hand tools, bulk jewelry, non-perishable food through canning and dehydration, pewter cutlery and kitchen wear, incense, and textiles. Most cities are built along the coast to maintain access to both the sea, and to facilitate a fishing industry to help feed these cities. They are also typically supported by a marble quarry each - marble is abundant in the ground of Moonlight, and used to construct any number of structures. There is also the Moonlight Mage College in the capital of Lunante, which draws students from the world over as the most prestigious mage college in the world. The Lowlands are rather sparse with minerals, largely coal, lead, and to a lesser extent gold. However, the border mountains are lush with iron, silver, copper, mercury, and even rare pools of Djezet. In particular, the Rust Well under the Mage College was the reason for its foundation - it is the largest known pool of Djezet in the world, and it makes the campus a place where magic is easier - easier to learn, easier to cast. The Rust Authority is an independent body designated by the Grand Burgher of Lunante. Their job is to crunch the numbers and make the predictions necessary to determine how much Djezet is drawn from the Rust Well in any given year. The city of Lunante does not tax sales of Djezet, only the federal government does, and passing on those profits to Lunante is considered a form of gross corruption. The Pool will eventually start to run low, but extraction will stop before its depletion, to ensure that its empowering effects will persist for the college's benefit. The Mage College is the primary source of magic items, which are sold the world over. Students of various courses either produce such magic items for their assignments which they can then sell after, or they make them to directly help pay their way through the college. There is a significant market for magic items among high-income farmers and the urban bourgeoisie. Some minor magic items are even purchased by middle-income farmers who manage to save up. Many rich foreigners will visit, either to directly commission magical items or peruse the creations of the many students. Many of the school's professors are responsible for some of the most high-profile magic items projects in the world. The Moonlight economy exports manufactured goods, food, magical items, and small quantities of Djezet. They import metal, weapons, meat, and animal products, and some particular nobles have imported firearms and gunpowder as curiosities.
MilitaryThe constitution of the Moonlight Kingdom has unilaterally banned conscription and levy systems for military matters. Thus, the Moonlight Army is a modestly-sized but well-trained professional citizen army. The Moonlight Army is based around infantry, most troops trained as hybrid infantry, bearing spears, shields, and longbows. They fight a conventional style of warfare, marching in columns, deploying in lines, and firing volleys of arrows before engaging the enemy in melee. Their straightforward style of warfare is backed by a brilliant logistics system, allowing endless streams of arrows to be provided to the frontline. The long lives of elves allow them to master both short and long-ranged combat in their long military careers. These are supplemented by specialized units of light and medium cavalry, though heavy cavalry is generally neglected. There is also shock infantry, slightly more armored than the common infantry and bearing swords rather than spears. They are meant to storm settlements and fortifications, or for flanking. The nobility, as merely symbolic as they are, are overrepresented in military fields, often in the cavalry divisions. The standing Moonlight Army is made up of 50,000 men. There are also reservists, about 100,000 semi-professional citizens who train in periodic drills in anticipation of being called to arms. Typically speaking, they are rarely called up, but can and may be called up in the event of a Shogunate or Starflame invasion. Due to the expectation that the main army be trained over decades into masterful warriors, most non-elves who join the military are nudged towards joining the reservists rather than the main army. Their armies are supported by one of the largest battlemage and battlefield clergy corps in the world. Military recruiters periodically scout out the Mage College to find promising new casters and offer them employment in the military's magic corps. Military service is unisex, and there is no gender bias in recruitment in no small part due to the natural presence of general androgyny and lack of sexual dimorphism within the elven species. The main siege weapon employed by the Moonlight Army are various varieties of ballistae. Smaller ones are employed for firing onto enemy troops, and larger ones firing cast-iron balls to batter down gates and walls. The Moonlight Navy is largely made up of lighter, faster ships to police their trade lanes, with a modest but powerful fleet waiting in harbor to respond to major threats. These larger frigates and ships-of-the-line carry primarily heavy ballistae, but there has been a modernization effort despite the general Moonlight distaste for gunpowder to load some with cannons. Their basic naval doctrine uses their sloop and brig fleet to find concentrations of enemies, and attack them with their concentrated fleet, attempting to perform a Defeat in Detail of the enemy fleet. If necessary, the smaller ships might engage the enemy and draw them into killing zones.
DemographicsUnlike their neighbors, the Moonlight Kingdom receives some significant degree of immigration. In addition to representatives of foreign business and foreign crowns, many Iskar and Stormaki humans do make their way out to the Moonlight lands. Even some dwarves and liberal-minded Drow make their way across the border to start a new life in Moonlight, as do escaped slaves from Starflame. 85% of the nation's population remain elves, and about 8% of immigrant populations are human - 5% Stormaki, 2% Iskar, and 1% Hanxi. There is also a small population of Aquatic Elves coming from the isolated undersea Twilight Republic below, typically almost always exiles. Hanxi maintains reasonably close relations with Moonlight, who regularly send liaisons for trade and diplomacy, explaining why a small Hanxi population lives within. The main religion of the Moonlight Kingdom is the elven pantheon, a selection of 13 Gods, all but one of which represent two opposing but related concepts. The most popular God is, of course, Velda, the God of Elvenkind. However, there are many Gods who see great veneration. Examples include Oserin, God of Health and Sickness; Custori, God of Wisdom and Foolishness; and Rallek, God of Roads and Home. Immigrants have brought the cults of Stormakt, the Iskar Pantheon, Heikka, Morgen, the Kami, Naau Naz, and even a few secretive cults of Reeva and the abominable Gods revealed to Drow who dug too deep back in Starflame. The Moonlight Kingdom also has significant cults to God of Nature Jubeyer, God of the Wind Wuul, and they also show much respect to Laphan, the Lady of Souls and Goddess of Death. Religious freedom, however, is practiced for the most part with the exception of openly malevolent Gods, and the Moonlight state is largely secular. Religious liberty and the right to worship are guaranteed, but few exceptions to laws and responsibilities are made to accommodate worship. Literacy is widespread, and every city has a public elementary school for literacy, mathematics, history, botany, and in later years basic economics. Smaller country schools are established to which the children of farmers can walk easily for their school day. Schooling in Moonlight involves many years of teaching, each day of teaching much shorter than those of humans, and is more closely tailored and specialized to the students, with students with similar needs put in the same classroom. Shorter-lived races have access to expedited courses similar in pace and content to human school systems.
CultureElves do not show a level of sexual dimorphism anywhere near that of other species - in fact, members of other species with more defined dimorphism may, every now and again, confuse the sex of an elf. Elven men and women have very similar physical capabilities and look similar, and the only difference worth noting is which side is involved in which part of reproduction. For this reason, elves did not have a concept of assigned gender until they learned of it from other species, and they have not taken to the concept in particular. Elves practice a form of pansexual polyamory with little ceremony involved. A typical elven household, fully realized, will average out at 5 men, 5 women, and their children. So long as consent is given on both sides, any member of the household is perfectly in their right to sexually pursue any other member. Elven polyamory and pansexuality are rooted in a survival instinct - elven communities that partake in potentially reproductive sex only are known to balloon out of control and expend their resources, as the children take decades to grow up and become productive. Thus, elves have adapted to be able to satisfy their desires, carnal and emotional, through homosexual intimacy while still being able to comfortably reproduce when the time is right. Elven households are also highly democratic and give their children more agency as they age than other species. Elves may not have a system of gender, but there are times when an elf is born purely homosexual or purely heterosexual. Both of these are equally likely as one another but significantly less likely than the pansexual norm. While this behavior is seen as unusual, even strange by some, they are by and large tolerated by society as a whole. Some local humans have adapted this lifestyle to their own needs and cultural backgrounds, however, it is much less common among dwarves who generally have a culture that is less intimate and generally have a lower sex drive that can be managed more easily. Nevertheless, most humans continue to maintain their nuclear-structure household dynamic. While also seen as quite odd by the local elves, this is not treated as a problem except by fringe political parties and their followers. Moonlight innovations in political science, manufacturing, and magic are distinctly impressive, but their weapons technology has lagged slightly due to politics and social questions. In particular, gunpowder is frowned upon in Moonlight due to the perception that it is a weapon that kills without skill, and that an elven warrior who has trained for decades can be executed from a distance by a half-trained soldier with a musket. This is seen as highly distasteful. Nevertheless, the BIP and other political parties have begun to tentatively advocate domestic musketry to balance the playing field. They remain only somewhat above the technological average. The elven people of Moonlight are defined by their longevity. They value patience, restraint, effort, and leisure, wanting to make the best of their time alive while making as few mistakes as possible. It is normal for a member of Moonlight society to spend decades on a hobby, and eventually master it. Then, keeping a few mementos of the journey to mastery, then proceed to move on to the next hobby to master as well. With as many as 750 years to live and no real fear of dementia or other similar disorders from old age, they have time to accomplish amazingly numerous things in their life. Rural elves prefer to wear aesthetically pleasing but rugged clothes. They tend to wear pale colors which are easily stained, to show their effort and work. Their clothes are regularly washed, of course, but it is considered a show of one's diligence to wear clothes that has been stained beyond fully cleaning. Urban Moonlight Elves tend to follow the ever-shifting fashion trends, which sometimes lean extravagant, sometimes minimalist, though the national colors of navy blue, black, yellow, pale grey and dark grey tend to be present to some extent. Higher-class elves tend to wear some gold alongside this, and middle-income folk tend to wear silver instead. The Moonlight Kingdom's people indulge in peaceful music by miniature orchestras who perform in plazas and at social events. Those who listen tend to value the music based on its technicality and the harmony of the instruments. Some celebrations will call for a more energetic music style, but it would use most of the same instruments and simply change the pace and tempo. Many parties are held, and those families that can't afford a miniature orchestra will instead purchase Illusion Boxes and Repeater Stones with performances loaded onto them for parties they host. Archery is a common pastime, but many elves indulge in casual, amateur crafts projects, attempting to achieve mastery of their art of choice. Dance, music, and writing are also common pastimes. Wine is the favorite drink of the elves in this country, with vineyards found all over the country. Wheat beer, cider, and brandy are also known to be popular in certain circles and communities.
Type: Nation, Kingdom, Crowned Republic, Democratic Continent: Beacepheron Population: 6,000,000 Standing: Local Power, Stagnant Allies: Depends on the party in power Rivals: The Karaz Taruhm Shogunate Enemies: The Starflame Kingdom
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