World:The Crimson Veldt/Places/Astan
Westernmost of the six principalities, Astan has long held designs to expand eastward into its neighbors. Astan is a country of rolling grasslands, mineral-rich rocky hills, and fragrant peat bogs, bisected by the wide Tsennet River that runs southward from the mountains to the Scarlet Sea.
- /Astangard, the capital city
- /Sen's Mill, a wheat-farming community north of the capital
- /Stony Ford, a trading post built at the unnavigable rocky shallows in the Tsennet River
- /Wrensfair, a burgeoning market town on the eastern border of Astan
The Astan tax collection "agency" is a very loose community of government-sponsored mercenaries. For a set fee, nearly anyone can apply for a license to collect taxes in the name of the Prince. The license stipulates a certain amount that the tax collector is obligated to contribute to the royal treasury on a monthly basis. Should a tax collector fall behind on his quota, his own assets are forfeit to pay his debt. (And if that is not enough, there is always duty on the front lines...)
To keep up with the bills, the best tax collectors in Astangard (and other large cities) usually stake out a particular territory, employ a posse of armed enforcers, and adhere to the shakedown method of collection. Generally speaking, these operations are funded by the extra amount collected over the quota. Clandestine battles between tax collectors have been known to occur over territorial disputes; poison, knives, and all sorts of nefarious tactics are employed in the ruthless fight over who gets to collect.
In the rural districts, there is less corruption in the process. Tax collectors are usually elected by their towns and collect only what is required by the government, paid by the residents in proportion to what they own. The folk of the farms and small towns know their tax collector by name and would report (and vigorously defend themselves from) poaching.
This is a log of questions and responses from players in the first Crimson Veldt game, [Odd Jobs].
I. Regarding Prince Astan:
- How old is he? Horace Bar-Astan is 29 years old and has been Prince of Astan since 834.
- Has he any brothers or sisters? He has two younger sisters, Olga and Claressa, ages 23 and 17. His younger brother, Ector, would be 25 had he not died from a snake bite in 833.
- Who was his predecessor and who was he to Prince Astan? His father? His father, Kolvar, died of pneumonia in 834 following a series of protracted illnesses.
- How is his reign perceived compared to that of his predecessor? Kolvar was certainly no kind man, but resorted to political and economic pressures on the other principalities in his quest to be named King of the World. Horace is probably equally despised but feared for his brutal warfare tactics and conscription practices.
- Is he seen as the country's legitimate ruler? Yes, he is the only heir and has the backing of the military and nobility.
- Who else has a claim on the throne? There are a few distant cousins left, but most of the near relatives were given prominent positions in the military and subsequently died valiantly in the pursuit of the Astan cause. Several of the cousins have not been seen for years.
- Does Prince Astan have a reputation for being cruel? If so, is there a known reason behind his cruelty? (education? violent event in his youth? Political conflicts left by his predecessor? Territorial claims?) Horace's reputation precedes him for cruelty. His father once starved a border city to death--men, women, and children alike--for refusing to recognize his claim of lordship. The political and military thrust for power have been perhaps an outlet for the Prince's cruelty, not only in how he treats his own people, but how he handles prisoners of war.
- Who has an influence over Prince Astan? Does Prince Astan have powerful ministers? Skilled ministers? The generals of the Astan army are the primary advisers in wartime. His first minister, Goldric, is a skilled yes-man and knows how to keep the palace running to suit the Prince's desires.
- Is Prince Astan married? Does he have heirs? The Prince is unmarried, and there are no known heirs with claims to the throne.
II. Regarding the religious orders.
- In terms of power, how would you rank the different religious orders present in Astangard? The fire-worshipping Templars of the Scarlet Flame by far dominate the religious presence in Astan as a whole, and in Astangard in particular. The temples of Water, Earth, and Air are each about one fifth the size of the Fire temple, with Water and Earth holding a slight edge over Air.
- In terms of relationships, which religious orders get along well? Which ones are enemies? Fire and Water don't agree much with each other, and similarly Air and Earth disagree though less strongly. Earth and Water have perhaps the strongest relationship; Fire does not consort much with Air or Earth but are more friendly than hostile.
- Does Prince Astan himself have a religion? Which one? The royal family of Astangard has long been a great patron of the Grand Temple of the Scarlet Flame. While Fire is not the official religion of the kingdom (citizens are "free" to worship whomever they please), it is de facto endorsed and widely adhered to.