Tuesday, 4 August 2015

[new setting] Types of cultures (1) - city states

Having this many citizens in one place gave the elites who lived here an opportunity that is very difficult to do when the people are all separated by miles and miles of land; to enforce taxation and organisation. The people here build temples to the gods, and if you lived in the city you were expected and required to come and worship when and where you were told. This transferal of power from the individuals to the temple meant that the priests were able to command a lot of divine power and favour. This then made them more powerful and more able to control the population of the city.

So, I am thinking the game should have a bunch of different types of cultures for the tech level, to give people different types of places to adventure and different places to come from. So, I have five major types of cultures I will be including:

City states

My example city state is Sura

Image result for babylonThe city of  Sura rests at the center of some of the most fertile land in the world. Nestled between the flood plains of two rivers, the land is nourished by the silt and the water and the temperature is temperate and good for farming. This, if any land, should be one where the people can find a life of ease and luxury. The nearby sea opens trade and opportunity, but for the locals, it also brought an end to their freedom.

The local farmers lived a lifestyle of tribal ease for many centuries, each wealthy enough to maintain a culture of raiding and ritualised warfare while farming in their own areas. Unfortunately about a hundred years ago a traveling people arrived, raiding and conquering from the sea. More used to the reality of a war of conquest, having just been defeated in one and fleeing their homeland, they defeated and subjugated the local tribes, reducing them to tributaries who offered up grain and service to the empire that they intended to build. In the center of the land they had conquered, close enough to all the tribes that they could not rebel without a swift and sudden retribution.

This city grew over time to be large and well supported. It built it's thick walls and concentrated a great many people into it's boundaries. This kind of population density is rare in the world, and relies on a wealth from trade and from food extracted form the farmers who are the children of those who were conquered.

Image result for ancient temple
The citizens, rather than noble and priest class were being fed and so were able to specialise in crafts and skills which allowed the city to trade and tax a wealth that most cultures could only envy. This means that Sura is a source of high end goods and materials, and the tax on these things lead to more wealth being given for elaborate urban projects, which often served as a way of magnifying the priest classes power and influence, both divine and mortal. Many temples dot the city and their majesty has lead to it being the center of a number of cults.

This means that Sura is a land both wealthy and controlled. A citizen is expected to serve the needs of the gods and the priests, but is looked after if he or she does so, Their life is tightly regimented, but safer and wealthier than would be possible in a lot of other cultures. They are expected to serve in an army if called to defend the nation, despite not being soldiers and are expected to worship and give their magic as they are told, when they are told.

The city itself is considered one of the marvels of the world. Magical effects are, if not commonplace, at least well known. The magic of the powerful ensure that the needs of the city are maintained and wonders can be found in the bazaar. The city is also one of the most diverse places in the world, with people traveling from near and far to trade in the city and anyone who is wealthy, skilled and willing to live by the rules of the city welcome to live in the outlander's quarter.

Image result for ancient mesopotamia armyWhen war comes about, the soldiers of Sura would not be much on their own. They are, after all craftsmen and city dwellers. If they were in a room with your average tribesman, they would have the hell beaten out of them. But the people of Sura do not go into battle unprepared.

First, the standards of the people are taken to the temples, and each temple gives the best war blessing it can bestow on the signs of the army.

Then, the noble class, who initiated as captains and officers are preying in the temple of victory. Every 12th day the citizens have come here to worship the concept of the city's eternal victory. As such they priests call on all this stored magic and bestow it on the officers, and bless the soldiers.

The Soldiers thus line up, with strength from their officers passing down to them, and forging them into perfect fighting units. Their personal skill may not be all they could hope for but their discipline is perfect. The soldiers are covered by layer and layer of blessing that has been stored against this day, while their enemies find themselves cursed and wracked by the curses of the gods. Lightning strikes down from the heavens and disease stalks their enemies camp. When prepared they form an army that can sweep all before them. But if ambushed? Or the city is expected to fight two wars immediately after each other without time to regather power? These have been the times when the city has struggled.