Kingdom of Seoghar
The ancient land of the east where tradition rules all, home of ancient monastic traditions, philosophy, and inner peace
Governmental StructureThe Jade Emperor: Rules the country as its absolute emperor and presides over all matters of country and state. Leads the Court of the Jade Emperor, the highest court in the land. Unless deposed by rebellion, the position is typically hereditary. See the sidebar for more information on the Political Philosophy "The Mandate of Paradise" on why rebellions are so common in Seoghar. The Court of the Jade Emperor: The Highest Court in the country. Led by the Jade Emperor and the Five Heavenly Dragons, made up of the highest ranking members of each of the five lower courts. The Five Heavenly Dragons: The heads of the five grand courts of Seoghar. They each handle an aspect of government and civil service and manage thousands of ministers beneath them.
- The Court of Asceticism: One of the four 'Pillar Courts', and a more neutral court that presides over tradition, history, ancestral teachings, matters of religion and spiritualism, monastic orders and temples, as well as teachers and instructors. Most all members of the country join a temple run by this court at some point in their lives - it is also the only Court open to females, and the only court that does not require passing an Imperial Examination to enter.
- The Court of the Quill: One of the four 'Pillar Courts', that presides over matters of rulership, legality, bureaucracy, and diplomacy. Ministers and members of this court are those who actually hold rule over villages, towns, cities, and population centers - they also act as diplomats, lawyers, advisers to rulers, and all-purpose bureaucrats. All in all, they are the cogs that keep the country running - those who rule over it and handle all the tasks the other courts cannot or will not.
- The Court of the Ox: One of the four 'Pillar Courts', that presides over a vast swathe of duties ranging from war and military matters to that of food, farmers, and all kinds of unskilled labor. They are the military arm of Seoghar, but also known as "The Peoples Court" for good reason - they also preside over crop collection, harvests, grain, and all related food matters for Seoghar as well as all the unskilled laborers across the country. They are the court that most commonly interfaces with the public, and is most familiar and well-liked by the people. Their ministers can take on roles ranging from soldiers, commanders, Labor Leads(Who oversee large farms and multiple farmers), Managers of Unskilled Jobs, and more.
- The Court of the Scales: One of the four 'Pillar Courts', that presides over many things considered unsavory for most Seogharans including Commerce, Trade, Merchants, Craftsman, and Skilled Workers. Their Ministers handle many of the jobs in the country related to coin, such as tax collectors, bankers, investors, tradesmen and the like - anything related to coin, currency, and skill is handled by the Court of the Scales. Their ministers are also often seen as the heads of Trade Guilds, Blacksmithing Associations, and similar unions of skilled workers - or those who deal with such skilled workers on behalf of the government. Though somewhat looked down on by most Seogharans, their duties are invaluable to the country's future and prosperity.
- The Court of Flowing Silk: The secretive 'fifth court' not a part of the other four "Pillar Courts" considered central to Seogharan society. The only court that most Seogharan people will never interact with for most of their lives. They are secretive, and are believed to be the country's secret and internal police force - handling matters of espionage, assassination, sabotage, and more. Also refer to as "The Court of Internal Affairs".
Governmental Rankings:In Seoghar, the government is run by the civil service - made up of thousands upon thousands of ministers who work for the different courts in service to the emperor, carrying out kinds of tasks needed for the country's day to day operations. Of these nine ranks(Labeled Minister First through Ninth Rank, respectively), first is the highest and ninth the lowest - each differentiated by the type of badge they wore on their robe, as each rank has a different bird on their badge. Robe color and trim, similarly, is used to distinguish between which Court a Minister serves(Brown for Ox, Jade for Quill, Grey for Scales, Purple for Asceticism, White for Flowing Silk). Notably, females are only allowed to serve in the Court of Asceticism. In practice, there are nine ranks of ministers that serve the Seogharan Throne - advancing into and even joining the ranks of the ministers is something that can only be achieved by passing varying levels of the now-legendary Seogharan Imperial Examination, a series of tests that are not only notoriously difficult, but cover topics ranging from Seogharan Philosophy, Military Tactics, Mathematics, Geography, Calligraphy, and even Poetry Writing. In order to enter the ranks of the Ministers, a more general Imperial Examination is given covering a broad range of topics as described in the paragraph above - this test is designed to act as a 'placement exam' to decide not only if prospective applicants are capable enough to enter the ranks of the ministers, but also to serve to decide which Court they are most suited to joining. Once in the court they are most suited to, more specialized tests are given when they wish to rise in minister ranking within their respective court. Despite the massive number of applicants who apply each time the examinations are held, they are regulated extremely thoroughly to prevent oversaturation of even the most basic degree(Often held at the country or prefecture level) so that even they can find offices suiting their talents. While it is not unheard of for hereditary aristocracy to buy their children into degrees or pressure the government into giving them favorable ratings in tests, such children tend to be weeded out quickly once they enter the workforce and lack many of the talents required to do their jobs - instead, well off parents are incentivized to give their child an edge by sparing no expense in their educations. The Imperial Examinations are administered at three tiers, each held in ascendingly more populated areas - the entry level examinations are held annually and are accessible to educated individuals from their early teenage years. These are held locally and broken down into a few different exam types. The provincial exams, above the entry-level exams, are held every three years in the major cities across Seoghar, while the Metropolitan Exams are held once every three years as well but are held exclusively in the capital city of Seoghar. Finally, the Palace Exams - most honored of them all and used to decide the absolute highest ranking ministers and members of government and society, are held every three years in the imperial palace and are supervised by the Jade Emperor and the Five Heavenly Dragons themselves.
Societal ClassesNobility: Those who participate in the government in some way. Made up of either the hereditary nobility or the Scholar-Bureaucrats that have been rising in recent years with the establishment of the Imperial Examinations that, upon passing, can grant theoretically anyone into this class, signifying a larger push towards a meritocracy-style of government. Peasant: The most respected of the classes. One of the two major classes, alongside the Nobility. Those who make up most of the common population as farmers, unskilled laborers, and the like. Craftsman: The second lowest of the classes, who sit below the peasants in status but above the merchants. Like the merchants below them, they are seen as societally below the peasants in terms of respect and social standing, though they often make much more than the peasants. They often work directly for the state or the Nobility. Merchant: The lowest of the classes, who sit far, far below peasants in status unless they buy their way into the higher classes. Despite their low societal status, much like craftsmen above them, they often earn more than peasants - this low societal ranking comes from a Seogharan belief of seeing merchants as unproductive leeches who are believed to only profit through underhanded means.
See the Seogharan for more information on their culture.
The Public Agenda of the Kingdom of Seoghar is ironically not very focused on public expansion or even foreign relations - it is a somewhat isolationist power more concerned with adhering to its own traditions, honoring their ancestors, and keeping the status quo while bettering themselves and their people. However, this is not to say they are helpless - in fact, far from it. See the 'Foreign Relations' section of the page for more info.
Demography and Population
Seoghar's territory, unlike the two other great empires formed during the Age of Conquest, The Narixian Empire and The Shaoshu Empire, the lands of Seoghar have changed very little in the time since the Kingdom's founding. Their territory consists of that settled by their ancestors when they migrated out of the Seogharan River Valley and settled the lands to the east of the Guezhan Mountains - the only territory they have lost is the small northern plot that now serves as a mainland foothold for the Jugeum Union. Otherwise, they have stood firm throughout time and proved to be one of the most secure of the three great empires. ...at least, that is what most Seogharans would want others to think. In the single most notable example of the nation renowned for its intelligence gathering ability it was dealt a severe blow as it lost its north-eastern most city that dwelled on the western shores of the Tolderan sea as well as its Forest Elven allies in the Guezhan rainforest to the Kassau Matriarchy...and while they have yet to retake the city or the Rainforest, none are foolish enough to assume they do not have plans in the works to do so.
For all their great size, the Seogharan Empire does not have an overly expansive military - in times of peace their 'Swords into Plowshares' initiatives ensure soldiers stay happy and content with lives on farms and in other aspects of society, while should a sudden need for violence arrive they tend to rely on their supreme intelligence gathering services and the military power of the Court of Asceticism and their monastic ways of life to act as special forces squads to endure the beginning salvos of a war until an army can be raised - typically from among the peasantry and the Court of the Ox, who rallies an army at surprisingly incredible speeds by pulling on old contacts, retired soldiers, and pressing peasants into service to complement their extreme focus on special forces warfare. So, while they do not commonly employ a large standing military, they are at least equipped with a force capable of holding their own internal affairs - and since every citizen of Seoghar is trained in monkly asceticism and the ways of unarmed combat for at least some period of time from birth, it becomes surprisingly easy for them to raise a standing army based on these values. In the field, Seoghar prefers to use small, flexible squads supported by a massive intelligence network - striking at foes hours in advance and destroying them in complicated firestorm assaults that destroy enemy battle plans before they can be launched. However, there is one exception - historically, the Bomujeo that have run Seoghar alongside the Human minority have known they are small fish in a very large pond, and are mostly outmatched in open warfare...so, ages ago, they made the wise choice to accept the Dwarves into their nation after they had to flee the fall of their capital due to the events in the Age of Descent. So, while normally incapable of fielding standing armies on their own, their alliance with the Dwarves means they have the legendary Rockcrusher Legions once used by the Dwarven Hero King Lomdael Blackgranite in the Age of Descent against the armies of the Celestial Host - meaning that they compensate for their own weaknesses quite well with strong alliances. Armed with the strength of Dwarven Rockcrusher Legions and their own small-scale flexible special forces groups, the Seogharan Military is a powerful thing indeed.
Seogharan Religion is a thing closer to monk-like asceticism than anything else - they are taught from a very young age the power of self-reflection and inner peace, and are often raised in monastic orders if only for a short time to teach them the values that Seogharans hold dear. However, this monastic way of life does not mean they shun normal religions - most all are welcome in Seoghar, though that of Jericho the Enlightened are most prevelant.
Seoghar is widely known to have a standing foreign policy widely summarized by the infamous maxim "No Second Strike" embodied in their Monastic and Military doctrines - to this end, they see spying and information gathering as par for the course when dealing with other nations; though to them, it is hardly underhanded. In keeping with their foreign policy directive of "No Second Strike", they embrace the similar dictum of "Knowledge is power" to win a battle and war before it even begins, and the absolutely unquestioned superiority of their intelligence services allows them to use their military to maximum effectiveness. Oftentimes, well before fighting breaks out, they possess near complete knowledge of their enemy's positions, intentions, and timetable - and their flexible special-forces services and combat squads ensure that in every war in which they have fought, they have struck first and without warning. For the Seogharans, to know an enemy plans to attack and let it happen is absolute lunacy; to announce their own plans to attack is insanity to them, and they find the concepts of "do not fire until fired upon" and "declare a war before it begins" incredibly foolish. In defensive wars, they execute devastating preemptive strikes hours before the enemy's own attacks. On the offense, they have never issued an official declaration of war before attacking.
Agriculture & Industry
Seoghar has a fairly expansive fishing and maritime industry - their fishing boats and trade convoys are well known across the land as some of the best on Zheng-Kitar, and though their farming and agriculture isn't massively notable, it provides enough to sustain their populace. Thanks to their acceptance of the Dwarves into their nation, they have also quintupled the output of the mines in the Guezhan mountains, and their smithing and mining industries have begun ramping up to truly impressive levels. Most famously, it is known for its silks and beautiful cloth materials which many come the world over to buy for themselves.
Trade & Transport
The roads across Seoghar exist, but do not stand as anything impressive - transport across the land is done by overland caravan or overseas, depending on which is more fitting and available.
Education is a thing typically only available to the well-off in Seoghar; Only those who can afford to pay can be tutored or taught most of the time, unless one has ready access to a source of learning as a library.
By the mandate of paradise.
Seoghar uses the "Saltsheets' of The Gāngtao Migrant Fleet as their official currency. In times long past, they had many different regional currencies, but they were all eradicated in favor of a universal currency "for the sake of the country's sanity and economic survival". Though many assume this an understatement and obvious exaggeration, historians who have studied ancient Seogharan currencies have quite quickly learned how true that claim was.
Silk, Fish, Pearls, Teas, Salt, Sugar, Porcelain, Spices, Misc. Luxury Goods
Cotton, Ivory, Wool, Gold, Silver
The Jade Emperor is the sole authority figure in the country who can write laws and rules.
Though the Jade Emperor writes the laws, he does not preside over them - instead, the various courts of the land tend to handle matters that require judiciary duties in place of the Jade Emperor.
The Mandate of ParadiseAccording to this doctrine, the The Spirit Kings, which embody the natural order and will of the universe, bestow this mandate on a just ruler of Seoghar, who is known as the Jade Emperor, or "Son of Paradise". If a ruler is ever overthrown, Seogharans interpret such as an indication that the ruler was unworthy, and had lost the mandate that was bestowed upon them. It is also a common belief that natural disasters such as famine and flood are more often than not divine retributions bearing signs of The Spirit Kings' displeasure with the ruler, so revolts following major disasters are not uncommon in Seoghar as the people often see these calamities as signs that the Mandate of Paradise has been withdrawn. This mandate does not require a legitimate ruler to be of noble birth, and instead bases the right to rule solely upon how well that person proves capable OF ruling; Retaining the mandate is contingent on the just and able performance of the rulers and their heirs. Most intrinsic to the concept of the Mandate is the right of rebellion against an unjust ruler - the mandate is often invoked and has often BEEN invoked by philosophers and scholars in Seoghar as a way to curtail the abuse of power by a given Jade Emperor, as the system of Seoghar has few other checks against such things.
Unpleasant but neutral
Though the Jugeum Union proved a hostile nation in the first contact war that saw them claim a cluster of land far to the north of Seoghar, the hostilities ended extremely quickly when the forces of the union, believing themselves to have encountered a pitifully easy enemy, overextended south into the homeland of Seoghar only to have their entire army obliterated by ambushes, firestorm assaults, and almost superhumanly precise surprise strikes that decimated their forces in lethal night raids and ambushes. Ever since this short but brutal contact war, most of the animosity has faded on both sides and they have engaged in a long-term battle of the minds that both countries seem to enjoy now that they realize the other is a truly worthy foe - waiting and scheming behind the scenes to see who can win the war before it begins. Outwardly, however, they are perfectly fine allies who can, at least, meet on neutral ground for peace discussions without fear of either striking.
Openly hostile but not at war
While not at open war, the Matriarchy and Seoghar are enemies in all but official diplomatic name. Ever since the Matriarchy took one of the cities of Seoghar and convinced their Forest Elven allies to secede and join their cause of Female Supremacy, Seoghar has been eerliy quiet, but almost all assume that they are simply plotting their revenge in a foolproof way sure to reclaim their lost land.