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The Kingdom of Terra is the home of the Earthkin - considered some of the greatest craftsmen in all of Novitas. Seeing Earthkin is rare on the surface, as all of their cities are subterranean. Earthkin who find themselves in the rays of the sun are likely to be trading, and those who are not are either disgraced or unique. The Earthkin are a proud people, known for attention to detail and taking great pride in their work. One can spot an Earthkin quite easily, as they all have gems that protrude from their flesh and a generally darker skin tone.
Terran society is split up into three distinct sections: Family, Clan, and Province. To outsiders, the difference between Family and Clan can be confusing, especially because a lot of Clans are just one Family. A Family is the same as it would be anywhere – a group of people with blood relations. Understanding these associative groups is foundational to understanding the people of the Kingdom of Terra.
When the Earthkin Families arrived in Novitas, they began to inhabit the Thunderguard Mountains. After being immediately confronted by fierce dragons and their reptilian minions, these Families bound together for strength in numbers, thus creating the first Clans. Families that shared an expertise in a particular craft naturally formed Clans together, which is why many of the Clan names were chosen based upon their profession. The Rockcutters, the Brewmixers, and the Steelforgers are just a few examples of ancient Clans that still exist to this day. The first settlements and communities were created by such Clans, which is why one can still find old towns and villages in Terra that are named after their founding Clan.
The formation of Clans would not prove enough to prevent the early Earthkin from being driven below the surface by terribly oppressive brown dragons. These dragons demanded tribute in livestock, wealth, items of power, and labor, and did so until the Earthkin burrowed deep enough beneath the surface to avoid their tyranny.
Ultimately, these settlers encountered the Glittering Caverns, a massive enclosure replete with precious gems and ore. It was here that they would establish their largest and greatest city, Earthhold. With Earthhold at the center, the Earthkin established a large network of tunnels and cities embedded in the caverns. Long after the brown dragons waned in power and disappeared, Earthkin remained below the surface, as the surface-land in Terra in only mildly habitable, covered with great mountain ranges.
Out from under the thumb of their oppressors, Clans continued to disperse, populating the mountains and driving off the waning brown dragons from their homes. These clans formed a larger society amongst themselves. Free from the dragons’ tyrannical rule, Clans thrived, becoming interconnected in the large network of caverns and tunnels that came together as they dug deeper into the earth. The more powerful of these Clans took on the responsibility of settling disputes and enforcing the local laws of the various communities. The Clans that formed together under one ruling Clan would later become a Province, and the ruling Clan of that Province would be considered nobility.
How a given Clan rose to an elevated status above its peers varies from province to province. Some rose through force in numbers, others through renowned mastery of their craft. There is an old tale of one Clan that rose to power by an act of sheer heroics. The tale of Konbar Oresmelter is told not just in Terra, but all across Novitas. It is related thusly by the bard Eroth Songweaver:
|Konbar Oresmelter was of the Oresmelter Clan. He was an Earthkin who lived in the caverns of Voltanicus. His Clan did just its name suggests: it smelted ore and refined it into pure metals. The Oresmelter Clan was a small Clan, and Konbar was just a simple Earthkin who minded his manners and took pride in his work.|
|It wasn't until the tyrant dragon lord Lithisulus came to oppress Konbar’s people that he became more than just an ore smelter. Lithisulus demanded constant tribute and laboring from the local Terran people where Konbar lived, and he would occasionally kill Terrans for pleasure and entertainment.|
|It was Konbar Oresmelter who rose up against the tyrant Lithisulus, and inspired his Clan and other nearby Clans to gather and destroy this dragon who tormented them. Some of the more outlandish acconts say that Konbar and Lithisulus fought in a solo combat atop a high mountain cliff, where Konbar wielded a giant hammer made of pure light and with one mighty blow crushed the dragon's head. Most Terran stories, however, emphasize his ability to bring together the people and unite them for a common purpose.|
|Regardless, he was no longer known as Oresmelter from that day. The people called him Konbar Drakesmelter instead, and made him their leader. He became the first Clanmaster of the new Drakesmelter Clan. Eventually, the Drakesmelter Clan rose to be a high noble Clan, and they still are to this day, ruling the province of Stoneward in northern Terra...|
The Provinces and their noble Clans lived in harmony for many years, though minor disputes arose over time. The Province of the Glittering Caverns, the very first Province formed after the Terrans were forced underground, was elevated by the other noble clans to rule over all the Provinces of the Thunderguard Mountains. The noble Clan of the Glittering Caverns, the Quartzhammer Clan, became the Royal Clan, and the Kingdom of Terra was born.
From that day forward, all Earthkin living in the mountains have been considered Terrans. Many outsiders use the terms Earthkin and Terran interchangeably, though in rare circumstances, the distinction becomes important. To a Terran, the difference between a Terran and an Earthkin is like the difference between a Civenite and a human. Citizens of Terra are Terrans. Earthkin that leave Terra to live elsewhere, for whatever reason, are not considered Terrans, except in very rare circumstances. In even rarer circumstances, a non-Earthkin can become a Terran. Few outsiders have ever been given citizenship in the Kingdom, and the instances in which it has occurred can be counted upon one hand.
The values of the Craftsman have played a large role in Terran culture. As a Terran, one’s Family and community come first. Everybody contributes to the community, and everyone has a role to fulfill. Many times this role is decided before the Terran is already born. The few that do not fit in with the community, commonly the rebellious or lazy, are gently shunned and encouraged to leave. Most Earthkin that turn out to have Fae blood (and thus become Faekin) develop a temperament that is not conducive to Earthkin communities and end up leaving to travel on the surface.
Wanderlust is not common among non-Faekin Earthkin, and so those who leave to explore the surface and travel the world are unlikely to be fully welcomed back into Earthkin society. The only Earthkin who are seen to have a reasonable need to leave Terra are noblemen, diplomats, and soldiers on specific missions, and even those individuals return within a couple years at the very most.
The large majority of Earthkin spend their entire lives never seeing the sky, and seem to die without regret. Earthkin who have traveled to the surface often report feelings of extreme vertigo, feeling as if they are going to float off and "fall up into the sky". This adjustment can sometimes take years, and only those that are determined to live outside of Terra even bother to become accustomed. Most just prefer to stay indoors at all times.
A given Terran will identify himself first by his Kingdom, and then by his Province, and then by his Community, and then by his Clan, and then by his Family, and finally as an individual. The individual is the smallest piece of a large machine that runs smoothly only if all the pieces are working properly. Many outsiders find this type of lifestyle to be oppressive and restrictive, but nearly all of the Terrans who live in Terra live there happily, taking pride in being an integral part of a greater whole. Those that do not feel this way will eventually find themselves on the surface, whether by choice or by force.
Customs and Traditions
There are a few traditions and customs that are so important to Terrans that understanding them is crucial if one is to avoid offense.
Drinking is important. All manner of alcohol is appreciated in Terra and the art of brewing is considered just as important a craft as masonry or metalsmithing. The most popular drink in modern times is the Terran Thunder brew, crafted with various types of fermented mushrooms and other mysterious ingredients. But those who know the Terrans know they will drink just about anything.
All important business is conducted over drinks. When a business arrangement has been agreed upon, the agreeing parties must drain their mug of ale to seal the arrangement. This demonstration of commitment is also made when toasting to others and other situations where proving one's honor and dedication is paramount. An inability to drink heavily is seen as a sign of weakness, and lacking the fortitude to finish a promised drink can result in a highly offended Terran. Once a Terran is offended, it is difficult to make amends. Diplomats from other kingdoms often train for months in drinking large quantities of ale before traveling to meet with important political figures in Terra for fear of causing an international incident. Some scholars believe that it was the elf's naturally low tolerance for alcohol that began the centuries of conflict between the elves and Earthkin, but evidence is inconclusive.
Another important tradition among Terrans is the apprenticeship. The relationship between an apprentice and a master is a sacred bond that many Terrans consider stronger than even family ties. Apprentices find masters in different ways depending on the craft, profession, and region, but one common way is the arranged apprenticeship through the tradition of Smithfathering.
When two Terrans are married, all who attend the wedding are expected to give gifts they have crafted themselves or had crafted on their behalf. Weddings are where master craftsmen compete with one another. The finest pieces of craftsmanship in all of Terra have been given as wedding gifts at one time or another. Oftentimes the father of the bride decides which gift is the best, but sometimes the bride and groom will do the judging. The giver of the very best gift has the special honor of being the Smithfather to the second son of the newly weds. The first son is reserved to be apprenticed by the father himself in the family's work.
The Smithfather takes the second son to be his apprentice as soon as the boy is old enough to begin the work. To an outsider, this work may begin at a surprisingly young age. Many Terran babies have been seen practicing hammering tiny anvils given to them by their Smithfather before they can even speak. The arrangements for this apprenticeship vary from master to master, but usually the apprentice must go and live with the Smithfather until he is considered an adult at the age of 65. Many such apprentices go on to become masters themselves, but the bond with one’s master lasts a lifetime.
Like a son who always has something more to learn from his father, a craftsman will always have more to learn from the master who taught him. The two are in touch for many decades after the apprenticeship is completed. The master of one's master is called one’s grandmaster, and his master is one's great-grandmaster, and so on. There are famous lineages of craftsman that span centuries, and being accepted into this long line of masters is one of the greatest honors a Terran can ever achieve.
Master and apprentice relationships can be found in every type of profession in Terra, from the crafting of goods, to mining, agriculture, fighting, and brewing. Nobles apprentice their own in the ways of leadership, law, and diplomacy. Every Terran is a life-long learner, and every Terran is expected to eventually teach as well. This educational progression is a cornerstone of Terran society. Terrans exceed all other races and cultures in Novitas with regard to passing down knowledge and skill through the generations, and many believe this is how they have remained the greatest crafters in the entire world for over a thousand years.
Religious worship of the Sept is done as a community. While many humans, elves, and even some goblins consider their worship to be an individual relationship with oneself and one’s gods, Terrans pray together as an entire community. Even silent prayer is done in groups. They ask the Sept to bless their families, their fungus crops, the fires of their forges and the safety of their miners.
Terran Septons play a large role in society. They teach the value of community and family, the importance of conformity, and will instruct one how to dedicate one's life to the mastery of a craft in order to make Terra as a whole a better place. They teach that honor is working hard, keeping promises, and sticking together regardless of the circumstances. Their interpretation of the Sept's wishes, especially the wishes of the Craftsman, is one of the many contributing factors to how Terrans became so very hard-working and yet insular.
Terra is the number one supplier of raw materials in Novitas, but Terran craftsmen are also widely known for their finished products. Their craftsmanship is renowned throughout the world as being masterful, and they were the first to perfect the art of masterwork weaponsmithing. Terrans value function over beauty, and most crafted pieces will be far more functional than fashionable, at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned.
The other major export in Terra is alcoholic brews. Brewing alcohol is considered just as important a craft as smithing, and Terran brews are world famous. One brew in particular, Terran Thunder, can be found in nearly every tavern across Novitas. Some merchants make their entire fortune in Terran Thunder trade and transport.
The Kingdom of Terra is a large importer of foods that cannot grow underground and fabrics for clothing. While some of the lower class working Terrans are willing to wear clothing made from fibrous mushrooms of hemp-like quality and eat a variety of mushrooms and stews, the merchant class and nobles must buy their finer textiles and foods from outside sources.
Trade is often done inside of Terra, or through deliveries. Outsiders are encouraged to travel to Terra in order to buy their goods, and due to the incredible value of Terran craftsmanship and the willingness of Terran merchants and nobles to purchase fineries, most merchants are willing to make the trip.
There is no standing military in Terra proper except for the King's Guard.
Above ground, Reavers act as the first line of defense for the Terran Kingdom. These Reavers form a militia, loosely organized in regional bands. Reaver bands tend to gather near bottleneck areas on the border – mountain passes, valleys, and streams, and will use guerrilla tactics to harangue any armed force that might invade. The fleetest of foot in a given band of Reavers is known as the Runner, and he will be dispatched immediately if an invading force is too large for a given group of Reavers to stop.
When this happens, the Reavers who initially engaged the threat are honor-bound to slow the advancing force using any means necessary while all others retreat below ground to bolster the forces in the more defensible underground. It is seen as a great honor to fight and die while giving time for the Kingdom to prepare its defenses, and Reaver bands are known to try and be the first to engage an oncoming force while all others are forced to retreat.
Once an invading force has reached the entrances to the great Terran underground, each citizen of Terra is expected to take up arms against the threat.
The governmental infrastructure put in place in the formation of the Kingdom of Terra is still in place today, with King Quartzhammer ruling over the given Provinces and their subsidiary Clans. While once quite fluid, the current arrangement of Clans and Provinces has been quite stable under the rule of King Quartzhammer – with each of them paying small tribute to Quartzhammer’s ruling Clan in exchange for protection from the King’s Guard and for the settlement of disputes.
Place of Interest:
Earthhold is the capital of Terra and is in the largest cavern among the wide expansion of naturally formed caverns known as the Glittering Caverns province. Its high ceiling reaches up into darkness, and the fires in the city cause the gemstones within to sparkle, making the ceiling appear as the night sky full of stars. This city is the home of King Quartzhammer, the Clanmaster of the Royal Clan of Terra. Earthhold is relatively close to the surface, and is thus the main trading hub with outside merchants.
Legends of this reclusive city keep are told far and wide by bards and adventurers who speak of the riches within this "city of made of pure gold." In truth, only the palace of the Goldwright Clan is made of gold, with the rest of the city looking fairly drab and plain. Residing within the palace is the Clanmaster of the Goldwright Clan, Midas Goldwright, who rules the province of Gildencrest while counting his endless golden treasures.
Within the deepest of all the Provinces, the Province of Burnglow, a town known as Underfall can be found by those willing to travel the depths of Terra to find it. The town is seated near a sea of underground lava, with a giant lavafall pouring down from above. The Terrans claim the town is perfectly safe and has existed for hundreds of years without being flooded in magma, but only the most adventurous outsiders dare to travel down to see this natural beauty.
Relationships with other Countries
Freelanders seem to be the outcasts of all other societies. They appear to work toward little more than simple subsistence and generally lack the infrastructure for true craftsmanship. However their surface villages seem quaint and they're eager to trade what they have, so do Terrans generally hold no malice toward them. Many respect the iron will and stout resolution it takes to live in such a wild and monster infested land. In recent years, since Prince Quartzhammer has returned, safaris into the Freelands become popular among adventurous Nobles.
Empire of Civen
Terra and Civen have a long history of trade. Civen coin flows freely into the treasuries of Terran craftsmen, and all of Civen is adorned with the workmanship of Terran artisans. Most Terrans do not understand the individualistic nature of Civenites or their mistrusting need for wordy contracts and other written agreements, but they are usually happy to work with a Civenite in need of craftsmanship.
Terrans do not often interact with Dellins, though they are fascinated by their tribal culture. Dellins do not offer much in the way of trade to Terrans, and often do not have the coin or goods to buy Terrans craft, so trade between the nations is limited. Unlike many other countries, Terrans do not have a hard time keeping track of the different tribes, viewing them much like they view their own Clans. Terra has a different relationship with each individual tribe, and does not treat them as one nation. As long as a Dellin is willing to follow the laws, they are welcome inside the mountains of Terra.
Realm of Evenandra
There has been a long-standing feud between Terra and Evenandra, and not even historians know exactly when it began. Their values are opposite in many ways. The Terrans value practicality and logic, while the High Elves value beauty and emotion. The Terrans believe in remaining neutral in worldly affairs and not interfering, while the High Elves believe it is their purpose to meddle and get involved in all international business. To a Terran, the individual is but a cog in the machine and to an Evenandran, the individual is the purest form of beauty. Terrans do begrudgingly work with Elven Steel, which they revere as a high quality metal, and they claim to take credit for being the first to craft it into weapons.
Kingdom of Gersh
Terrans are willing to trade with just about everyone, but Snow Goblins rub them the wrong way on many levels. Snow Goblin craftsman work with poisoned metal called Goblin Iron that Terrans find absolutely appalling. Goblin Iron is a tainted metal that is considered an affront to many Terran values. The way that Snow Goblins treat each other, and live in such competition and disharmony with one another, is completely alien to the Terran way of life. While Terrans do occasionally trade with Snow Goblin merchants, and stay neutral in their political affairs, most Terrans do not like Snow Goblins at all.
Terrans cannot understand how or why the Wood Elves of the Great Forest live the way they do, and find their culture just as alien as Snow Goblin culture. From the Terran perspective, Wood Elves are lazy and unproductive, and have nothing of value to trade with. Terrans do not know why the Wood Elves patrol their lands, as they see no assets to protect. The Great Forest is a chaotic land of untamed nature, and not even Terran merchants have a desire to visit it. Friendships between Terrans and Wood Elves are unlikely, but when they do happen, both parties find they have much to learn from one another.
Theocracy of Vlean
Terra has remained neutral in the Civen-Vlean dispute, and provides masterwork weapons and armor for both sides. Terrans do not worship the Sept in the same way as Vlean, believing that true reverence to the gods comes from hard work and living a good life instead of constant prayer and obeying strict rules. Nevertheless, Terrans do not view the Vleanons as very different than Civenites when it comes down to it, as they are all humans with the same ancestry.
Other Information (Unsourced)
In the southwest of Novitas, the Terran Mountains stretch from the shore of the sea all the way to the Free Lands. These mountains are the Kingdom of Terra, the ancestral home of the Earthkin. From their glittering subterranean capital of Earthhold, they move throughout the mountains, mining metals and gemstones from deep in the roots of the mountains. To outsiders, they seem taciturn and gruff, but to those who know them they are loyal, fast friends, and possess a dry wit seemingly at odds with their dour mien.