[Ankispace] Kanesh Pt.I

January 11, 2011

Kanesh is located in a mountainous plateau region on the planet Kigal.  They are a semi-feudal society, in that rather than conquering neighboring lands and trying to integrate them into a cohesive whole, they leave the existing social structures mostly in place and just demand fealty and tribute from them.  As such, the empire is a patchwork of smaller kingdoms with fairly substantial independence and self-identity. This also means that a handful always cause trouble with the anointing of a new king. Oftentimes a new king’s first few years are spent putting down rebellions it problem regions.

The people of Kanesh are a devoutly religious lot, who believe it is important to pay homage to every deity within their sphere of influence; as such, they effectively have one of the largest pantheons around. They do not make any sort of syncretization, so encountering the same deity in two different guises, to them, is no different than two completely separate deities. The great king, or Labarna as his title is said in their tongue, is the chief priest of this pantheist faith, while the great queen, or Tawannana, is the chief priestess.  The Tawannana is usually the primary wife of the Labarna, although not always; if a Tawannana survives her Labarna, she retains the title and powers she held. Now, while each of the positions are the chief priests of the pantheistic religion, their positions are a matter of ceremony, rather than policy.  The high priests of individual temple complexes and orders hold the real religious power.  However, occasionally an extremely charismatic king or queen will exercise religious power, but this only ever lasts for their lifetime before reverting back to the old ways upon their death (although the changes they institute may stay in place, depending on the effects). All of this is not to say the entire position of king and queen are ceremonial, mind you.  They do in fact wield real political power, and are truly the rulers of the land.

Kanesh has a long history of lower populations than is necessary to work the land, and is one of the great motivators for warfare and conquest.  Every few years the Labarna leads his troops on expeditions to neighboring lands, to either gain new vassals or to acquire material wealth and capture people to be resettled on Kaneshite farmland.

The legal system of Kanesh varies between vassal states, but in all cases, the Labarna (or his appointed representative) are the highest judicial authority. Most local disputes are handled by local magistrates, although there is a Royal Court that travels a circuit through the kingdom to hear appeals and more serious cases.  The final recourse of appeal is the king himself, although more often then not he lets the lower decisions stand (as he directly appointed the magistrates who make up the Royal Court). The ideal of the system is to strive for justice and fairness, with most penalties taking the form of fines to be paid to the king and/or the plaintiff; capital punishment is not uncommon for serious crimes, however. Justice and fairness are prime ideals of the kingship, which most of the rulers over the course of the kingdom’s history have striven to hold themselves to.

The Labarna is amongst the small group of highest ranked rulers, who hold themselves equals as “great kings”; the others in this rank include the king of Engir and the queen of Keftau. Rulers of other lands are of lesser stature, although that does not mean they are expected to pay fealty or acquiesce to demands. Their primary contacts are with Keftau, Varratu, and the city states of Akhna, as well as the minor border kingdoms that surround all these lands. They also have extensive contact with Engir, although there are buffer states between the two that prevents most direct trade and military contact.  They have much lesser contact with lands such as Rensenna, Khaltam, and other nations due to physical barriers and buffer states.

I’ll expand details on this land, and others, as I come up with it.  :)

Ancient Forms of Divination

December 29, 2010

I was recently thinking about how to incorporate the various ancient forms of divination (such as such as extispicy, haruspicy, augury, and astrology) into the 2nd Edition magic system for use in Bronze Age era adventuring without re-inventing the wheel and adding in a whole new system of magic.  I’ve been thinking that the best way to do it is to add in proficiencies for each type of divination, and require the use of them with the spells, and using the requirements of those proficiencies to replace most of the existing material and somatic components of the spells.  For example, to cast a divinatory spell using the Extispicy proficiency, a priest or wizard would need to examine the entrails of an animal of some sort; it would make sense that a larger animal would be required for higher level spells (birds for low level spells, sheep and goats for mid-level spells, and bulls for high-level spells, for example).

The main goal with this is to add flavor to a game without actually changing the rules.  Obviously, in this world, such divinations don’t really work (although haruspicy and extispicy can identify some aspects of poor health in local animals, which could indicate the area is poor for whatever plans the people have), however, it makes sense that in a fantasy version of the ancient world, they would work.   One thing that should not be done is making these types of spells any more explicitly difficult to cast, or no one would want to play characters who cast such spells.