General CultureRotalhm is, from the ground up, a rachtoh 'nation', embodying their arachnid-like sensibilities and intensely communal nature. Their societal organization is measured in a family-like nature, where they regard each other and strangers in terms of relationships. First is their respective Great House, then their respective Clan, then their respective Blood Family, and finally their individual name. Through this, they recognize each other in varying degrees of importance–one Great House may ignore another, and so its members immediately disengage when that ignored house tries to speak to them. Maneuvering this simple barrier, without deceit or trickery, is an art form in and of itself. As a whole, Rotalhm is a welcome and accepting land that pays little regard to trivial details so long as its rules are obeyed. The rachtoh citizens fervently take in and welcome all kinds, as much seeking opportunities as they are from the kindness of their own hearts. Nonetheless, they despise free loaders and lazy good-for-nothings, and if such people cannot be put to work (honest or not), they will be expunged. Highly communal in nature, the Rachtoh are (despite most others regarding them with fear) vibrantly social and relatively easy going. This is painted alongside their predatory nature, where their understanding of all things is often drawn by that of predator and prey. It is worth noting this is not done maliciously, nor to the extent one expects bloodthirst or killing games to be frequent. To summarize it succinctly, "... a Rachtoh merchant might rob you blind, but if you genuinely don't got anything left, well, they'll give you something useful so you aren't all out of the game. Don't try to play their sympathies, though." In terms of languages, they tend to handle pronouns in degrees of "major, moderate, minor, insignificant", befitting of their predator and prey mindset. Proper address demands understanding of the relationship between each other, as using pronouns "above your station" can be seen as a highly aggressive social move. Similarly, using a lowly regard for one's station can be seen as submissive or a move to dominate the weaker discussion partner. A moderate-type response is considered with either suspicion, polite disregard, or a warm comfort among familiar friends/family/lovers. Conflict is a multifaceted hydra in their society, as armed warfare is almost always a kind of last resort. Given that any two or more groups fighting often have significant amounts of relationships on either side, killing is avoided where possible. Thus, this has made the few true internal wars of their species especially devastating, well catalogued, and lambasted by artisans and writers throughout the ages. Externally-driven conflicts from the other species, on the other hand, they'll embrace in a heart beat. These fights are rarely seen as means of conquest and closer to "defending our home/family/friends/kin"; the acquisition of riches is incidental to that. Thus, Rotalhm can be seen as an amiable neighbor or ally, but an insult to one rachtoh is an insult to their rather large social network.
Whether inspired by their (relatively) nearby neighbor of the Aerthen Imperial Federation, Rotalhm–or the land of the Seven Houses–is a pseudo-republic, based upon the Great Houses of the rachtoh people who live there. These houses are akin to dynasties, queendoms, and other forms of government, each operating 'independently' of the other. Although, the closeness of their relationships with each other for the most part makes them appear as a single nation outright to outsiders. A dynamic political body, Rotalhm is principally driven by the interests of its Great Houses. Mutual cooperation occurs in a variety of ways, from backroom dealings to grand senatorial meetings. The constant back-and-forth of these political machinations mean a great deal can change in the day-to-day operations of the houses. Nonetheless, when dates are settled and decisions made, the Great Houses march forward on their agendas, for better or worse. Despite their distance from rival nations, and with plenty of wild lands between them, Rotalhm is a massive center of commerce and trade. Rachtoh wares can singlehandedly fuel an entire textile economy thanks to their natural web-silk, and their lands are filled with reasonably valuable veltrony wealth as well. Given their location between the AIF and several other nations, and their neutral political stance, Rotalhm's stranglehold on overland trade has continued for centuries.
Demography and Population
Driven by rachtoh markswomanship and supported by the sturdier, more melee-capable races, the militaries of the Great Houses are terrifying forces to witness. They are experts at ranged warfare, harassing raids, and flanking attacks in terrain most others consider it an impossibility to do in. All of this is bent with a defensive slant, emphasizing (for the most part) an encroaching and inevitable style of warfare. There are many who speculate if Rotalhm could fully take on its neighboring nations, particularly that of the AIF. A lack of expansionist tendencies, and being a wealthy center of trade, have greatly disincentivized anyone from actually engaging each other in open warfare. This has lent them to the mentality of trench warfare in the extreme, fighting both in depth and distance at every inch on the battlefield. Dislodging a proper rachtoh garrison is often considered an absurd notion, with the usual 'answers' being artillery or outright siege attrition. However, the rachtoh themselves are slow to advance the battle lines, as being forced into range-unfriendly terrain strips their devastating advantage away quickly. Left to their own devices, the Great Houses treat their armies as extraordinarily well equipped guards and police. The rachtoh sense of crime is distinctly different from others, making the likes of bandits, raiders, and other miscreants almost non-existent as a problem. They do often have to contend with the Relentless and the Forsaken, making their normal enemies an eternal disaster they have become frighteningly adept at handling. On the occasion, a Great House may sell out its army as a mercenary force, but the social stigma of such a thing is truly great. Much of their armed forces also loathe to fight aboard and be away from their wider circle of friends and family. Notably, the AIF itself enlisted aide in several wars of conquest, bringing the two great powers closer together than their neighbors might actually like.
For the most part, Rotalhm is a hotbed of religious diversity, with a number of faiths setting their roots in its territory. Not any one in particular dominates, and the rachtoh Great Houses themselves tend to follow a kind of ancestor worship. These religions are at best tolerated, and any who promote discrimination or social unrest are violently ejected out. It is very much in the interest of the Great Houses to have a happy populace, and with how diverse their people are, such division isn't a cost they will pay.
Agriculture & Industry
There is no textile economy greater in the world than Rotalhm's. Wielding their natural web-silk production and the wool of their baatari members, the Great Houses have access to an unfathomable array of choices for clothes. Exorbitant amounts of effort goes into researching new methods of production and design, with every season being greeted by ever different products. Their export capacity is so intense all of their neighboring trade partners have to place incredible tariffs on the goods, lest their own textile industries be driven out of business outright. One can mark a rachtoh's wealth by the degree of 'other, non-web based' additions to it, such as precious gems, metals, or new fabrics. A poor rachtoh may simply be a traditional bra and panties web-sling, but a skilled rachtoh–no matter how poor–can weave themselves at least decent clothing. This itself can be seen, in a paradoxical sense, as highly desirable, as they prove their skill with relatively poor resources. Exports of these productions, overall, fetch high prices among their trade partners. Rachtoh merchants can easily dominate foreign markets with their wares, especially 'tailor-made' ones for the affluent or noble elite. A number of trade wars often ensue as a consequence. Although a reasonable amount of natural resources exists in the ground, the difficulty of access makes it expensive to mine. Thus, they tend to import such raw goods more than mine themselves. Foreign companies are sometimes employed, especially with newer, exotic technology like steam drilling. It's predicted to become a new area of booming economics thanks to such innovations. Food and arts make up the rest of the Rotalhm economics, mostly with food being exported and arts a bi-directional trade route. Art, in the sense of anything from paintings to fine jewelry, is a precious commodity in the rachtoh social mechanism. New trends rise and fall like the sun, and the ever-changing value of art makes it a constantly desirable thing. Magecraft is not something they normally take toward, as most of their mana expenditure tends to be burned up by their web-silk production and high maintenance biology. However, the few schools that have cropped up tend toward veltronworks and other labor-intense fields. Magically enhanced silk, for instance, is a premium commodity that can create things like sheer cloth that is better than steel at protection. It can also be used, for example, to enhance construction silk, letting it endure more than otherwise possible. Given the rarity of their mages, though, they tend to import magically gifted workers where they see a need for it.
Enjoying a healthy degree of intellectual freedom as much as religious, Rotalhm has a number of rising experts across different fields. While their civil engineering is nowhere close to Atenkhet's, the integration of veltron magic and web-silk has resulted in a very distinct brand of architecture not seen elsewhere in the world. Great webs, intermixed with stone and other composite materials, stretch through the forests of their homeland. Displaced persons and traveling scholars also find their home in Rotalhm, either temporary or more permanent. This has brought a number of foreign innovations into their fold, adding a hodgepodge of technological marvels.
Land of the Seven Houses