Nations, States, and Society (Praemium Terra Supplement)
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States are political entities with control over an area. As such, the word denotes a government with sovereignty over a piece of land.
Two main types of political divisions exist. The first are the estates of the archmages, which occupy most of the farmland (all of the best soil is under their control) and a number of cities and towns. All urban areas are essentially required to be loyal to one more archmages as there are no open cities or neutral settlements. In the eyes of the archmages, every settlement is an asset to be exploited, either for taxes, labor, or a special site.
Some towns are located on the archmages estates, but the majority of them are autonomous or semi-autonomous; the problem is, they want to be independent. Sometimes, most cities can simply pay their tribute to their archmage and refuse to cooperate with other archmages, and be otherwise left alone. On occasion, a city will be loyal to several cooperating archmages and have to pay tribute to more than one of them.
The problem with paying tribute to the archmages and having to be divided from other cities is that it severely limits growth opportunities for most cities. The largest city in the land is no greater than large size; there are no metropolises in Praemium Terra. Internal trade networks are usually limited to areas under control by the same archmage(s) as the city has to pay tribute to, and the great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few limits the amount of consumption power of most people. As a result, there isn't much of a middle class in Praemium Terra; what middle class exists is usually limited to craftsmen, scribes and shopkeepers. Most large-scale commercial activity is under control of the archmages, and this (among other things) prevents any independent state from emerging from the control of the archmages.
Nations are groups of people with a shared history or otherwise a group of people who share a set of certain common traits. In Praemium Terra, nations live split between different states. Unlike the nation-states which we expect to find, in which the state belongs to the nation which inhabits it, the states in Praemium Terra are considered to be the private property of those in power.
Unlike other lands, there is relatively little standardization of settlement size, organization, or pattern; some areas can have sizable towns in a close radius with laws, paved roads, government, and a sense of civility. Other places have vast expanses of wilderness dotted with densely populated clusters of villages and an occasional tower or palace belonging to an archmage. In these areas, there is little law, and the archmages control their own little fiefdoms.
On the top of society are the 500 archmages and a few other powerful creatures. Even the least wealthy and powerful of the 500 are a great power. The lowest 95% of the population owns less than 1% of the land, and has a similar percentage of the wealth.
Praemium Terra has many diverse cultures and traditions. Each race has its own customs, and divisions exist between rich and poor, mage and non-mage, male and female. The typical, non-magical human inhabitants of the lands tend to be quiet, modest, and relatively morally clean. The values of the common human population include scrupulousness, honor, trustworthiness, reliability, helpfulness, and loyalty.
The mages, by contrast, tend to consider themselves above or outside or morality, and act accordingly. Common values for mages include independence, greed, selfishness, self-centeredness, personal freedom, and individualism. Note that none of the archmages expect independence, individualism or personal freedom to be extended to those poorer or weaker than they are.
Among the cultures, a few constants exist. All cultures have some role in trade and/or commerce, all cultures have a religion, the females of all the cultures go barefoot much of/most of the time, and all cultures either have respect for or fear of the 500.
Social Conditions in the Game
If one wishes to create a character with a background fitting of Praemium Terra, one has to first select one's race, class, and gender. Then, a d10 roll can be made. If it is 8 or below, one's character will have come from a poor background. If one rolls 9 or 10, then they are not poor and can make another roll. If the second roll is 7 or below, one is from a middle-class background. If the second roll is 8 or above, one is wealthy. Finally, the distinguish between slightly wealthy (upper middle class) and super wealthy (rich), a final roll must be made; this one requiring a d20 die. If it is anything less than d18, one is not super wealthy. This will illustrate how difficult it is for one to be born into wealth in the lands of Praemium Terra.