land of Kahdisteria
Located on the northeastern coast of East Colassia, Kahdisteria is home to the elves widely known as dark elves. The Time Before: The modern dark elves claim to be the heirs of Disteria. They call themselves kahdisterian elves, which in Elven translates to “New Disteria.” At the height of the Second Age, there were countless separate elven nations, at least twenty of these nations had populations of over a million elves. The largest, most powerful, and richest of these nations was Disteria. Wood elf and grey elf historians say the Disterians were ruthless bullies ruled by unstable inbred tyrants. Dark elf historians speak of Disteria was a beacon of justice, art, culture that shone as a beacon to guide the lesser nations despite the lesser nations’ intense jealousy of their greatness. Either way, Disteria had a lot of enemies. The Time of Exile: The very Demon Lord to enter the material plane, the Harbinger, targeted Disteria first. At first the other nations had no idea of the true scope of the Void Demon threat. Initially, the other nations were content to sit back and watch while the hated Disterians die. By the time the other nations realized that the Void Demons were everyone’s enemy, it was too late to help Disteria. Their royal family was dead and the survivors were little more than a band of sad refugees. As powerful as they were, the Nine couldn’t project their power everywhere at once, so they had to pick and choose which mortals they would save and which mortals they would leave to fend for themselves. The Nine generally preferred to save their most fervent worshipers. Greymoria had very few fervent worshipers among the Second Age elves. By chance, the largest group of Disterian refugees fell under the leadership of a charismatic priest of Greymoria. This group seemed as close as Greymoria was going to get to fervent worshipers. Greymoria sent a spirt messenger and gave them the hard sell. “Pledge yourselves to Greymoria fully and Greymoria will make sure you survive.” They agreed and most of them did survive. Greymoria sent guardian spirits to protect them and empowered a number of their young as favored souls or sorcerers to be conduits of her magic. The Disterrian refugees stayed on the move for the entirety of the Second Unmaking at least briefly setting foot on every major landmass. They even picked up and absorbed and converted many smaller groups of refugees from other elven nations (provided they were willing to worship Greymoria). The Disterian refugees had to fight against Void demons regularly but whenever they had a choice, they chose running or hiding in lieu of fighting. The Time of the Founding: When the Third Age dawned, the Disterian refugees eventually settled onto the fertile lands on the northern coast of East Colassia. It was fairly far north, but prevailing wind and ocean currents brought up a lot of warm air from down south that then got trapped by a mountain range to the land’s west. This made the climate was fairly temperate and good for growing crops while the warm waters of the coastline made the area rich in seafood. A messenger spirit from Greymoria confirmed what the refugees already believed. This was a fine place to found Kahdisteria. While the elves only had a fraction of the technology and lore of their ancestors at their peak, they still had better weapons, tools, and armor than the emerging humans tribes. The Kahdisterians didn’t have huge strength of numbers, but they had a lot of spell-casters among them. They were able to utterly dominate the primitive humans known as the Chay that hunted and fished east of the mountains before their arrival The Kahdisterians had a manpower shortage, and the Chay seemed ideally suited to performing the elves grunt labor. The Kahdisterians decided they needed more slaves. They expanded outward and enslaved every humanoid they could find. The dark elves would enslave anyone they could catch but ended up with mostly goblins and humans. Initially it was a taboo for elves to mix their blood with humans but half-humans were considered too useful to dispense with. The Dark elves set up tiers of slavery, with goblins doing the dirtiest and most dangerous work, half-elves providing skilled labor, and humans in the middle. The Golden Age: For centuries the dark elves seemed unstoppable. They utterly dominated East Colassia and they effectively controlled large swaths of territory to the south including many islands and parts of northern Penarchia . The human kingdoms nearest to the dark elves fought each other as much as they fought the dark elves. For every square mile of territory the Kahdisterians claimed, there were ten square miles of territory that was not under their direct control, but the dark elves could kidnap or steal from these lands with virtual impunity. The Great Decline: The Kahdisterians expanded too far in their raids. The most disastrous campaign in Kahdisterian history was when a large army sailed to West Colassia to kidnap new slaves and also steal the pathetic humans' treasures and food stores. They won a string of early victories but these were fairly costly victories. Then they reached the outskirsts of Codenya, home of the wood elves. Until this meeting, the wood elves and the dark elves only were aware of the other group as vague rumors. The arrogant dark elf commander didn’t understand why the backwards wood elves didn’t want to join themselves with the all-mighty nation of Kahdisteria. The wood elves raised an army and decisively defeated the dark elf expeditionary force. As the retreating dark elf army limped on their way home, they were attacked by a second army, this time composed of humans . The human nations the elves initially raided regrouped and made a temporary alliance with each to pounce on the dark elves like an angry dragon. Out of an army of nearly a hundred thousand men, only a few hundred made it back to Kahdisteria alive. The The Raykar was blamed for this disastrous defeat and had to fend off a number of assassination and coup attempts, eventually he was defeated in a challenge. The dark elves never attempted to raid to raid West Colassia again. But the next few Raykars were eager to show strength so they turned their attention to the south and east. By this point the human nations were not primitive barbarian chieftains but well organized feudal lords so they could put up a real fight. The dark elves expansion slowed considerably as the humans made them pay for every inch of land taken in blood. The dark elves eastern expansion caused the dark elves to clash with the grey elves of the Elven Empire who were trying to expand west. There were no large scale battles with tens of thousands of men. Instead there hundreds of small skirmishes between Kahdisteria and the Elven Empire. Neither side had a clear advantage over the other and both nations lost blood, ships, and prestige fighting the other until they reluctantly signed a peace treaty. While the elves were warring with other elves, the humans didn’t sit on the sidelines and watch. They were eager to sucker punch the dark elves while their attention was drawn elsewhere. Within less than a century, the dark elves were forced to abandon their colonies in Penarchia. Then a problem appeared right on the dark elves' doorstep. The independent nations and tribes of East Colassia signed the Treaty of the Colassian Confederation. The numerous small kingdoms agreed to stop warring with each other and to open up trade. More importantly they agreed on a military alliance. A dark elf raid against one nation of the Confederacy was viewed as an attack on all of them. Having withdrawn from their far flung colonies, the Raykar rallied his armies and vowed to crush the Colassian Confederacy in its infancy. The Confederacy and Kahdisteria battled for decades. Losses were heavy on both sides, but the dark elves were losing a war of attrition. In addition to direct military conflict, the Confederacy sponsored adventuring parties to incite slave revolts and provided shelter to runaway slaves. This effectively made the dark elves have to fight a two front war. This action was backed by the Order of Delas , an organization for the welfare of gnomes. Gnomes may bepuny but they are very good at dirty fighting and guerrilla warfare. Gnomes are also good diplomats so they were able to convince goblins, humans, and half-elves to put aside their differences to resist the dark elves together. After decades of war, the Kahdisterians were back to sheltering behind their mountain range. Apart from a few sad tiny island strongholds, all their overseas holdings were lost. The Confederacy grew over confident, and attempted a full invasion of Kahdisteria intent on killing all the dark elf nobles and liberating every single slave…even the smelly goblins. Unfortunately the army couldn’t agree on a supreme commander. Their invasion force had numbers and passion but they also had five separate generals who were not very good at coordinating efforts. The dark elves took advantage of this weakness and handed the Confederacy a decisive defeat, but the fact that the dark elves had to fight on Kahdisterian soil for the first time made the elves eat some humble pie. The war continued for years later, but only as minor skirmishes and brushfire conflicts. The dark elves signed the Treaty of Delas. They agreed to free all gnome slaves and to never enslave gnomes again. In exchange the gnomes would cease providing aid in slave revolts for non-gnomes. For this reason, members of the Colassian Confederacy have a low opinion of gnomes to this day, viewing them as cowardly sell-outs. Not long after this, Kahdisteria signed a cease fire with the Colassian Confederacy. The Modern Age: Kahdisteria never signed a peace treaty with the Colassian Confederacy, but their cease fire has held for over two centuries. The Kahdisterians took the seas and occasionally staged raids on distant human nations but these were costly endeavors at best. Kahdisteria has millions of humans and goblins and hundreds of thousands of half-humans. By decree of the Raykar, Kahdisteria was better off just forcing their existing slaves to breed rather than warring on other nations to kidnap new people. In theory, the army was forbidden from engaging in slave raids on foreign lands. Unofficially, freelance adventuring parties, and even a few military commanders regularly stage small scale slaving raids around the world to earn some quick gold. Many of these raids are against the Colassian Confederacy. This is clearly in violation of the cease fire but the Confederate Council has thus far stopped short of declaring the cease fire broken and war reinstated. Unofficially, Confederate leaders quietly encouraging their soldiers and freelance adventurers to kill any dark elf they can find, even if they aren’t engaging in a slaving raids. A few rulers even offer a bounty for dark elf heads. This is also clearly in violation of the cease fire but the Raykar has thus far stopped short of declaring the cease fire broken and war reinstated. The current Raykar has an extremely controversial plan to improve the fortunes of Kahdisteria: commerce and peaceful diplomacy. Their largest southern port city was declared open to visitors and renamed it the City of Light in an attempt to prove that the nickname dark elf no longer applies. They are not giving up their slaves but they are giving up slave raiding (mostly). In addition to the fragile peace with the Colassian Confederacy that could theoretically shatter any moment, the dark elves are in a tenuous position with the Elven Empire. They two nations are officially at peace, but the grey elves are very concerned that if traders ever buy into the propaganda from the City of Light, the Elven Empire’s mercantile might will be seriously threatened. The Elven Empire is trying to quietly undermine the dark elves’ re-branding efforts and the two nations are fighting a subtle cold war. Geography: Kahdisteria is kind of like the modern nation Chile or Argentina. It’s long and narrow with mountains one side and the ocean on the other. The mountains are rugged but they are far from impassable. West of the mountains is a desert. Beyond the desert is a region of grassland that is not especially good for farming but it is well suited for grazing livestock. Beyond this are the fertile coastal lands where the nation states of the Colassian Confederacy have their base of power. In theory the mountains are the sovereign territory of Kahdisteria, but in practice most of it is empty wilderness. The dark elves have some productive mines in the mountains but they have to guard these mines fiercely. Among other creatures, the mountains are home to dragons, kobolds, ocumati, giants, and small bands of runaway slaves . The desert has its fair share of monsters too including either gnolls or desert dwelling orcs, haven’t decided which yet. In the ecotone where the desert meets the grassland live the nomadic humans known as the Mereshnari. The Mereshnari are herders and hunters who hold no farmlands, but they are full members of the Colassian Confederacy. If the dark elves (or rogue monsters) try to sneak across the desert, the Mereshnari will destroy them, or if the threat is too big, they will call for reinforcements from their more civilized allies. In exchange for this advanced protection, the civilized nations of the Confederacy supply the Mereshnari with weapons, armor tools, salt, spices and other things they cannot easily make or acquire themselves. Economy: Kahdisteria gets their food from a mix of farming and fishing. They have adequate timberland. The mountains are rich in mineral resources and are the most productive mines in the world not operated by dwarves. Nearly all of their industry is based heavily on slave labor. Kahdisteria’s main export is cash crops. Because of their mass slavery of humans offends nearly every nation on the Scarterra, Kahdisteria has historically done little in the way of peaceful trade. Only in recent years have they even begun to try. The Raykar has set the ambitious goal to elevate the City of Light, into the most prosperous port in all of Scarterra, but they have a long way to go. Their main trading partner is the nation of Uskala. Uskala being reputedly run by a vampire and having few moral compunctions does allow for the slavery of humans is legal in Uskala although it’s not very common. Since gnomes have zero risk of being forced into slavery, a great many of the merchants who are daring enough to trade with the dark elves are gnomes. tengku are also frequent visitors. There is no treaty or decree banning the enslavement of tengku, but tengku slaves are generally considered more trouble than they are worth. Religious Laws and Practices: The priesthood of Greymoria is very powerful politically. Nearly every Raylis and Rayhok has one of the Children as an advisor. If a high ranking Child of Greymoria makes a “suggestion” to those in power, the suggestion is probably followed. Greymoria is the patron religion of Kahdisteria. There are almost more temples and more clergy for Greymoria than the other eight deities combines. Most dark elves go out of their way to make public displays of piety to her. Due to Greymoria’s influence, magic users are given more status in society. Most members of the ruling class have a Child of Greymoria whispering in their ear. Sometimes masters force their slaves to go through the motion of worshiping Greymoria, sometimes they do not. It’s very rare for the slave class to pay Greymoria more than lip service. Maylar, Korus, and Phidas are called “the consorts of the Dark Mother” which is kind of true.The Testers , Stewards , and Masks have some real influence. Collectively the three priesthoods are as influential Greymoria’s Children. The Masks of Phidas are the next most powerful group after Greymoria. They are very influential in regulating Kahdisteria’s commerce and they are huge proponents of the new initiative to turn Kahdisteria into a mercantile power. The Testers of Maylar are almost as influential as the Masks. The Testers get to administer Challenge Day. Maylar worship is very popular among dark elves in the army, especially non-spell casters. Maylar's social darwinism appeals to may dark elves. Many of the wealthiest slave owners are devout Maylar worshipers. If you see dark elves and their slaves having a joint worship service together, you are probably watching a worship service for Korus . All levels of society will at least pay lip service to the god who makes their crops grow. The Stewards of the Korus have the right to demand the emancipation of a slave if they believe said individual would make a decent recruit into their order. About half the local Stewards are elves and half are not elves. The priesthood of Zarthus, Khemra , and Nami all have an official state presence, but they are essentially toothless. Hallisan worship is negligible and Mera worship is forbidden. Hallisan worship is discouraged but not explicitly forbidden. A tiny number of soldiers in the army quietly worship Hallisan in lieu of Maylar. Most elven members of Kahdisteria’s abolition movement are Hallisan worshipers. Few local Hallisan worshipers are priests or spell-casters though. Zarthus worship is complicated. Zarthus is very anti-slavery, but centuries ago, the Raykar decided to make Zarthus worship legal and no subsequent Rakar has overturned this decree. Once a year during Zarthus holy festival, the Raykar and various wealthy land owners will pick a few slaves to set free. Out of millions of slaves, Kahdisteria sets about a hundred slaves free every year. Making this act symbolic at best. Before this practice at the Zarthus festival, The dark elves already had a practice of setting a small number of slaves free, they just dedicate this to Zarthus now. The slave masters view this as a useful tool. “If you serve me well, I may set you free” is a great motivator. The state Lanterns of Zarthus get to oversee these emancipations. Also, the state Lanterns are charged with making sure all slaves are treated gently and fairly. This is purely symbolic as state Lanterns have no real power, but if a slave master decides to give her slaves a reward of some kind she’ll often have a Lantern preside over the ceremony. Most true Lanterns view the state approved Kahdisterian Lanterns as traitors and sell-outs. The state Lanterns argue that a hundred slaves freed a year is better than zero but this rarely appeases their kin. Kahdisteria has several secret Zarthus cults that stage guerrilla resistance to protect runaway slaves and occasionally assassinate slave masters in order to sew fear among them. These mainstream Zarthus cults spend almost as much time attacking the state Lanterns as they do attacking the slave masters, and this is why no Raykar has opted to rescind their predecessor’s decision to incorporate a token Zarthus priesthood into the government. Mera worship is officially forbidden. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, Mera happens to be the favorite goddess of most of Kahdisteria’s slave class. Mera worship is too wide spread for even the most brutal slave masters to stamp out entirely, but they will step in with harsh punishments if they get noisy about it or if a slaves shows even a whisper of possessing divine magic. Mera sponsors a few magically empowered favored souls and theurgists that are very good at working their magic without being seen. Many are pacifists but more than a few are not. Many secret Zarthus cults and secret Mera cults work closely together. Demographics: 28% Elves, 27% Human, 8% Half-Elves, 30% Goblin, 7% other. Internal Divisions: Just because someone can challenge the Raykar on Challenge Day does not mean that someone will challenge the Raykar. Throughout history, on average the Raykar faces one challenge every five years. Since the Raykar has decided to push for Kahdisteria becoming a peaceful mercantile power, this has infuriated a conservative old guard. The Raykar has had to face on average, four challengers every five years and the challengers nearly always makes it crystal clear that the reason they are challenging the Reykar is because they disprove of this diplomatic effort. The current Raykar is both mighty and cunning and has yet to be defeated by a challenger. It’s only a matter of time before one of his enemies opts to assassinate him rather than challenge him. The Raykar has many supporters as well as enemies. Many powerful nobles have made it clear that if a new Raykar dies a mysterious death, they will make sure the Raykar’s policies endure. If the challenge systems breaks down, Kahdisteria may opt to settle things with a civil war instead of an arcane duel. There is also the question of the Kahdisteria’s mercantile push means they are now in direct competition with their distant Elven cousins in Elven Empire. Many powerful dark elves are champing at the bit to go to war with these heretical pompous insults to elven kind. A smaller minority wants to do the exact opposite. Ally with the Elven Empire and between the two of them bring the humans nations to their knees. Together they could rule the seas if not the land. Then of course there is the issue of slavery. The abolitionist movement is very tiny among elves but it’s growing. Also, slaves are getting bolder in their escape attempts and humans, half-humans, and goblins are slowly getting better at cooperating across racial lines. Rather than staging raids on other nations for new slaves, the army is now largely occupied combing the Colassian Mountains and the City of Light for runaway slaves. External Threats: The ceasefire between the Colassian Confederacy and Kahdisteria is tenuously fragile. Between its members, the Confederacy has a larger army but their navy is quite small. It’s not feasible for the Confederacy to invade Kahdisteria by sea. That means they have to cross a desert and mountain range. The dark elves know this, so they have built a series of forts to guard the most traversable mountain passes. If Kahdisteria and the Elven Empire went into a full war, a short war would probably favor the dark elves and a lengthy war of attrition would probably favor the grey elves. The dark elves have more spell-casters and more soldiers, but the Elven Empire has more ships, so they can mobilize what they have easier. Apseldia, the half-elf nation is far too small to seriously threaten Kahdisteria militarily but they loathe to allow Kahdisteria’s mass enslavement of half-elves to go unchecked. The Apseldian Senate has frequently considered sponsoring small resistance cells to liberate slave. So far this has always been voted down, but the idea refuses to die. Hypothetically if Apseldia, the Colassian Confederacy and the Elven Empire all joined forces, then Kahdisteria doesn’t stand a chance. Given how unpopular the dark elves are, if these three powers engaged in war with the dark elves simultaneously, a lot of other nations who would ordinarily never dream of poking a stick at Kahdisteria would join in the war opportunistically. The only foreign power that might ever consider supporting Kahdisteria in such a case is Uskala.
The ruler, called the The Raykar, is determined by a formal magical duel.
Related Tradition (Primary)