Demographics of the Forsaken Isles
The Isles were sparsely populated before -3000 DAR when refugees from Merakor arrived. These refugees built their civilizations atop an ancient one of the thri-keen (a race of giant sentient praying mantises). The Allegiance of Blood that gave safe haven to the refugees also had the thri-keen retreat from the main island of Tsora. Only a few remnants of their vast cities on the surface endure. There were also a few barbarian human tribes in the area known as Morbatten. These were watched over by the dragon Alerius. Except for these two groups, the Isles were either wild and given to monsters, or were paradisaical gardens sanctified to the god of Tehra, Krentismar.
The refugees consisted of the "good" races of Merakor: human, all elf types except drow, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes. By choice, they settled far from each other. Though called the Isles, Tsora and the Isles are a broken continent. Though the eastern half of the Isles was obliterated in a cataclysm, the collective size is on par with Eurasia in our world.
Each race settled into their own territory and left about a 4-16 week grueling overland journey between them. The paths taken by the refugee groups became the wildland roads that crisscross Tsora.
- Humans - In honor of their new home, the humans settled on the Gulf of Ymac and named their new home "Taysor." In ancient Merakoran, Tay-tsora meant "welcome rest." There were 100,000 human refugees. They hoped to build a bright new civilization dedicated to Pha Rann, but in reality, they were war weary and tired. The ideals are reflected in their early writings and stories, but the actual city and building of Taysor just kind of happened in each generation. Eventually, they encountered a gold dragon named Oranstakar. Oranstakar helped them stay the course and became their great philosopher sage.
- Taysor was aware of the barbarians, but the Shield Mountains created a barrier no one wanted to cross. Tales of a fire demon and the difficulty of even reaching the tribes ensured sparse contact until Dar Tania became their high priestess and the worship of Tiamat launched their empire in 1 DAR. In -3,000 DAR, the tribes outnumbered Taysor 5:1, by 3,000 DAR that had grown to 10:1.
- Elves. Krentismar guided the elves to the forests of Morilon where, at the base of one of the few world trees, they at last laid down their weapons and began to rebuild. The elves were split into three nations in Merakor and they wanted to retain this structure. Very few elves reached the Isles. Of them all: Gray 5,000, High 25,000, Sylvan 7,000.
- Gnomes. 35,000 gnomes survived, and are ashamed of it. Only the mechanic and engineer classes survived. They settled in Gnomsh on the southern tip of Tsora. They have a chip on their shoulder and actively plan for a return to Merakor.
- Dwarves. 55,000 dwarves survived in 2 factions: Stone (40,000) and Gar-Galad (15,000). The dwarves of Stone are traditional dwarves seeking out the treasures of the earth. Gar-Galad dwarves seek to ally themselves with the earth so that it willingly gives up its treasure to them. The difference is active mining and blasting, versus wooing earth elementals. The philosophical divide between these 2 groups is intense and they went to opposite poles of Tsora. Gar-Galad is based near Bloodstone's northern side. Stone is on the extreme southern side of Tsora adjacent the gnomes with whom they have a friendly treaty.
- Halflings. 200,000 Halflings survived and came to Tsora. They were all farmers, potters, weavers, shepherds, and the like. They split up amongst all the other races and established agricultural settlements near each of the other's nations.
Orcs, goblins, ogres, giantkin, and other monsters roam the other Isles occasionally coming to Tsora by ship or accident. Because the refugees did not come with prejudice against the Orcs, there is a tense but workable relationship that includes Orcs on the Isles. Orcs are by far, the most numerous sentient species on the Isles as no one knows how many thri-keen there are.
Tsora sits very high on the polar axis and yet ocean currents keep it temperate except at high latitudes. The northermost part of Tsora is called the Sea of Glass. It is a vast almost-polar desert. The other isles have their own unique characteristics with no ocean crossing longer than a handful of days to reach land.
Titles of Nobility, Religion, & the Military
Morbatten's strong military and religious culture has influenced all nations of the Isles. Though they might not use the same titles, like Taysor which tends to be more traditional "My Lord" and "My Lady," the general division of the law between Innocents and how this translates to titles and power has insinuated itself into everything.
In Morbatten, a hero of the realm is recognized by the title R'Dar. Heroism is the only way to get this title. Once attained, it held until death. It is inheritable, though the nature of Tania says that only the very insecure would claim an unearned title, or gift it to their children. Part of recognition as hero is a grant of land and income. Because of this, there are many R'Dar in Tania because the spouse and children are recognized as "higher class." Over many centuries, R'Dar therefore also came to mean "Wealthy Person" or "Celebrity." When used in this context, the formal Tania bow of hand on heart and one knee down, or even bowed to the ground, is never used.
There is another title above R'Dar, which is Dar. This title is an Imperial grant by the Circle, the Military, or the Temple. It is not inheritable. It means "Person of Great Power" where that power could mastery of magic, political, economic, or something to the point it could affect and sway the nation. The grant of this title comes with some token that bears the symbol of Tiamat. Holders of this title often mask it as it changes the way they are treated throughout the Isles. Within Tania however, all Dar are treated with great deference. The dragon equivalent of Dar is Dread Lord... a title reserved for the humanshifted dragons, and used even with metallic and fallen dragons when such creatures are not in dragon form.
Tania recognizes a civilization as having: A Religion, A Temple, A Society, A Military, and an Economy. Around this 5-pointed star (called '5 Star'), all else moves. The Dar obsess over the status of each point and some are assigned as "kings" over a single one... like the King over Military, or Dar Priestesses over the Temple.
Society is the foundation and the god emperor Alerius observed very early on with the barbarian tribes that the human soul fights the strongest for his family and friends and only after those, his country. As such, Tania's culture reaffirms this triad of family, friends, and country. It then divides the law into 2: a law for the Innocents, and another stricter law for the Mighty.
5Star is the foundation of Tania's rule:
Religion - A person's faith influences the nation's faith. This is personal and Tanians are free to worship Tiamat according to the dictates of their own conscience. Other gods are tolerated.
Temple - A person's faith is best expressed at a place of worship. If the worship is engaging, the person will be engaged. It is the Temple's role to encourage participation in any person's religion. Most imperial actions of citizenship are best accommodated via the Temple. The Tanian philosophy is "make taxes invisible" to the faithful. It's not a tax; it's tithing.
Society - Give people something to fight for and they'll defend it to the very end. Society is the culture of heroic songs, deeds, and how these relate to all levels of society. If you cannot wield a sword against the Mother of All Nightmares, then help feed, clothe, and equip those who can! Tania's legends and songs interject family and friends and love of country into everything from architecture, to music, to religious ceremony, to work, to everything. Tanians know who they are, what their role is, and why it matters.
Military - If the Temple is the highest caste of Tanian society, the Military is next. All Tanians serve 18 months in the military as "dog soldiers" unless the Temple grants them a different track through the Coming of Age ceremony, ages 14-18. In the Military, people learn how to fight, how to defend, and they see the edges of what Tania is up against. They learn respect for the R'Dar and Dar, and if they lack a Coming of Age ceremony, they come to terms with their chosen role in life.
Economy - A basic understanding of the economy is key to Tanian childhood education. However, there are those who excel at profitmaking. Once Alerius saw the positive impact granted by social mobility, he instituted the Mercy Court and formalized Tania's economy. It was originally a measure of Society's health, but the Temple figured out how to relate Society to the dragons via treasure and the Economy focus became part of 5 Star.
Embassy - Because Tania chooses not to exert control over anyone's Religion, Temple and Religion are depicted as the same star. Embassy is the foreign relations component between Tiamat and other religions, Tania and other kingdoms, Dar to Dar, and Dar to the Innocents.
The Two Laws: Innocents & Mighty
The Law of Innocents stipulates that everyone must observe the law and do their best to support the 5 Star. Whether a person's job is farming tomatoes or serving in the military, Innocents have equal footing in their relationship with the Country. Being Innocent, they cannot be charged with crimes or blamed for things beyond their power to influence or control. This means that if a mage possesses an innocent and has them kill another, the mage is to blame. If an innocent is struggling to pay taxes because of weather or bad rulership, the blame is on the Mighty, not the Innocent.
One of the key tasks of Tiamat's Temple is to enforce and equalize the Law of the Innocents so that Tania's population is growing and able to support the 5 Star.
Different from this is the Law of the Mighty. Any R'Dar and Dar or anyone who MIGHT be is governed by this Law. This Law holds this group responsible for their interactions with the Innocents so that the 5 Star is not compromised by greed, power struggles, or anything that would rob the innocent of their faith and morale. It also governs how the Mighty might interact with other Mighty, via dueling rules as set forth in Vendetta. If the Dar are deemed able to sway the nation's direction, then a fight amongst the Dar would be a civil war.
Vendetta - To prevent it, Shak D'Rath created a rule for Vendetta... which is that the fight has to be declared to the Circle and sanctioned before action occurs. Once sanctioned, the Dar fight only against each other though their families are welcome to join; they cannot be made part of it against their will. The winner takes all. Most Vendetta begins as a claim of everything owned by the other.
Role of the Mercy Court
The Mercy Court was established long after Shak D'Rath to judge Innocents who might be R'Dar or Dar and were just never recognized. It allows the Mighty to declare Vendetta against an Innocent and have them certified. The same can be done by Dar against Dar as a certification of a Dar as not by the Mercy Court is a humiliating way to lose everything without bloodshed.
In King Rojo II (Malcor's) time, the Mercy Court functions as a place for Innocents to air grievances against the Dar and receive Imperial compensation and/or judgement. It also serves as a place for Dar actions to be judged against 5 Star and either stopped, or understood for implementation throughout the nation.
The Mercy Court's High Judge is always a Dar hero in retirement.
The Temple of Tiamat
Within 5Star, no point is brighter or as sharp as the Temple. With the entire clergy tasked with looking after the Innocents and the dragons desiring more population to support the Military, the Temple often acts as judge, jury, and executioner. Any R'Dar or higher priestess can function as a mobile Mercy Court. Any priestess of any rank can grant mercy to any single Innocent. Any priestess can call into judgement the actions of any R'Dar or higher member of Tanian society. Dar priestesses can revoke R'Dar and Dar grants by their word.
While not all R'Dar+ members of Tanian society worship Tiamat, they all hold Tiamat's edicts with great respect and caution.