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Photo of people of TarsikkaTarsikka

Government Style: Oligarchy
Ruler: The Council of Silver (Countess Adriana Tija, Baron Miklos Hideg, Lord Sorin Nimic, Baroness Nicoletta Torca, Count Octavian Tumul)
Population: Roughly two million
Capital: Atyuren
Alchemy: Uncommon
Ritualism: Uncommon
Inscription: Uncommon
Forge Magic: Rare
National Symbol: A plated gauntlet holding a longsword, both in silver, on a field of black

The History

According to scholars, the Great Kingdom of Tarsikka is all that remains of the once great Tharician Empire. According to commoners, most scholars are full of candle wax, and brain-addled from smelling too much iron ink. Certainly the land doesn't reflect such grandeur; in fact, the formal name of the nation, the Great Kingdom of Tarsikka, is mostly incorrect. The last king of Tarsikka died in 848 RE, during the Crawling War, which stretched from 847 RE until 851 RE. It was, relatively speaking, a small-scale assault on Tarsikka, but it was a costly one. Records are sparse, as much was lost in the chaos, but the remaining ones indicate that the war began with the utter decimation of the hamlet of Pierdut (pee AIR doot) and the sacking of the surrounding countryside. Who or what exactly was attacking is very confused in the remaining records, but most seem to agree that it was a mix of strange people with black markings on their skin, with strange ears, and men entirely made of shadow. These creatures swept through large portions of Tarsikka before finally being pushed back at the fortress of Viraj, the fortress that would eventually give way to the city of Atyuren.

This war had two major impacts on the Great Kingdom of Tarsikka. The first was that the royal line was wiped out entirely during a night assault on Castle Destin (deh STEEN). The second was that one of the groups that had the most success in the war was a group of silversmiths working out of a small town called Mereu (may ROO). Their weapons caused agony in the men that it struck and dispersed the shadows more quickly than a normal blade. Following the demise of the royal line, the remaining nobles grabbed as much as they could, as quickly as they could. After seeing the efficiency of the silversmiths in battle, each of the nobles took care to have a silversmith of his own, and learned to fight with the silver blade. What followed is known as the War of Brothers, wherein the nobles of the four lands fought for the crown. This war raged from 853 RE until 882 RE, when the war ended with the creation of the Silver Circlet. The four nobles agreed to concessions with the others, exchanging land to make the domains more or less equal in size, and so began the Tarsikkan Oligarchy. It was agreed that a castle be built and maintained in the fortress of Viraj, as a symbol of the Great Kingdom of Tarsikka. The throne was vacant, though each noble sent a portion of their troops to serve in the castle, and official edicts and laws were pronounced from the castle. The throne was to remain vacant until such time as a king or queen was needed, and one would be selected according to the Laws of Kingship and Rule, as composed by the Scribe Herrad, at the behest of the Silver Circlet. The Silver Circlet agreed to serve and protect the land so that they would never again be caught unaware. This began the formal training of the Silver Swordsman of Tarsikka. Each noble was required to train and receive their own silver sword, in order to patrol and serve the lands, and the tradition has stood ever since.

The Silver Circlet lasted until 1139 RE , when the ailing Duke Darnic (Dar NEEK) split his land into two counties, one for each of this children, Ilyena and Petrov. As such, the four lands became five, and to represent the new face of the land, the Silver Circlet abandoned their name, and have since been known as the Council of Silver.

In more recent years, the land has been ill at ease. The nobles patrol the lands more frequently, with casualties increasing. The killer known as the Copper Serpent has murdered those associated with nobility, and has not been caught, as of yet, despite the killings beginning in 1205 RE. A group of peasants has risen around this individual, styling themselves as the Bronze Fangs. Chafing under the harsh taxes and stiff penalties of the nobility, they led a successful uprising in Erze Hamlet in 1206 RE. However, their stock was sullied somewhat with the Revhely Uprising in 1208 RE. The Bronze Fang was dealt a heavy loss, and many of the remaining members have fled to Athral Isle, to garner support from other nations and escape certain death.

A group known as the Scorpions of Abendroth has been operating in Tarsikka for many years, uncovering corrupt nobility and raiding their holdings. In the last two years, however, they have disappeared from the lands. Rumor holds that they are heading north, allying with rogue homunculi who have escaped their ritualists, and are planning a grand gesture in the near future.

The People

The Council of Silver keeps a tight rein on the lesser nobles in Tarsikka, and, in turn, these lesser nobles keep a tight rein on the Tarsikkan peasants. Taxes are very high in Tarsikka, and must be paid in silver. This presents a challenge to the people of Tarsikka. Money hasn't been issued outright since the death of the last king, Ferenc of Komorfuld. The small amount of coin that circulates in Tarsikka is very old indeed, and becoming increasingly rare with every year that passes. As a portion of these coins are smelted down every year, this does little to help the situation. As a result, Tarsikka has extensive mining operations throughout the country, digging everywhere from foothills to mountains to dried up lake beds. This yields the largest amount of silver ore in the known world, each year. The peasantry sees very little of this, as taxes claim most of their earnings. Still, Tarsikka is known for their ore and their silversmithing. Those peasants that are not miners are usually farmers or craftsmen for the local noble. A small percentage are shop owners, and a still smaller number travel and pursue treasure, hoping to better themselves and their families. Had the peasants been unable to adapt to these taxation demands, the history of Tarsikka and its modern face might be very different. Certainly the Silver Circlet did not think to reissue currency before imposing these taxes. By the time they could have done so, the peasants were already meeting the new demands.

The lords of Tarsikka do not just take, however. It is the duty of every Tarsikkan noble to become a Silver Swordsman, or have those in their house that do so. They must patrol the lands of Tarsikka, fighting back the forces of Shadow and keeping the lands safe. The lords are very serious, and are quick to exact justice on the spot. Tarsikka has almost no justice system to speak of, with the local lords and constabulary meting out justice as is required. The protection of the land and the people is the foremost concern of the Tarsikkan nobles, and most of the peasants know it. It's a harsh existence, but one that they know keeps them alive, when otherwise the land would have fallen long ago. The lords are known to offer positions in their house to peasants that have served or pleased them in some fashion, offering hope for all of the peasants of the land. There are many who chafe under this harsh law, and splinter off to fight this oppression. Those that are not "freedom fighters" are quick to sever any ties with those that are, especially if they are blood relatives. The penalty for treason is death, and woe those caught in the back-swing of the executioner's axe. Most peasants fight against these deviants, not wanting to lose the safety of the protection of the nobility. Still, there are those who side with them, and discontent is always present in Tarsikka.

Each of the five greater nobles have a variety of lords, baronets and marquis under them. The average Tarsikkan is more likely to speak of their local ruler with fear and respect, and speak of their greater ruler with awe. Peasants count themselves blessed and lucky when one of the greater nobles visits their towns or hamlets, and they often throw great feasts and celebrations in their honor when this occurs. The lesser nobles all answer to these greater nobles, and while they must do so, or face the consequences, the Tarsikkan nobility is not without its machinations. The politics of Tarsikka are a tense thing at best, and always revolve around the ownership and well-being of the land. A sentiment is growing in the town of Trofeu, in the Barony of Torca, to be granted autonomy and become its own land, either with a ruling lord serving under the baroness, or their own lands with a place in the Council of Silver.

Warriors in Tarsikka learn the way of the Silver Sword, should they be wealthy enough to do so. Otherwise, they are trained well by the local lords, but not in any special manner. Those of a scholarly bent pursue either the ritualistic or alchemical arts, though their ways are distrusted and may draw the ire of the nobility, depending on what occurs. Cabals in Tarsikka are widespread, with some serving the people and the lands, and other only serving themselves. Many towns have their own circles of wise men and women that fill this role, though they may or may not consider themselves to be members of a cabal.

Tarsikka deals very little with the rest of the world. There is some trade with the Caliphate, whom the Tarsikkans consider strange and bold outsiders, but harmless enough. The rest of the trading occurs with the Principalities, who has been both a foe and an ally. The last time they were opposed was in 997 RE, with the annexation of the Skattenmark from Tarsikka by the Principalities. Since then, relations have been strained, but have thawed somewhat over the last fifty years, as the Redwood Throne has made overtures to the nobility and peasants of Tarsikka. The church has had little success, but a few centers of practice have been opened in the western border regions.

A Tarsikkan Lady and her HomunculiWhat makes Tarsikka great?

Tarsikka is the oldest surviving nation in the known world. It might not be the Empire of Tharicia any more, but scholars and historians claim that Tarsikka was. Tarsikka is a land of ancient truths, hidden mysteries, and secret horrors. It is a feudal nation where the nobility shows their dedication to the peasantry by patrolling the land with their silver swords to drive back the shades and werewolves that plague the land. The Silver Swordsmen fight to keep the land safe, venturing into the wild borders of the nation to hunt down their foes. These shades and werewolves aren't the only horrors that plague the land, they are simply the most common. If monster hunting was a competitive activity, the Tarsikkans, the Duskers, and the Oresunders would be fighting for top honors every year. Secret enclaves of magic and mystery dot the land. Tarsikka is the home of the homunculus, and the number of ritualists and alchemists in the land reflect this. Tarsikka is also a land of rich folk tales and superstitions. Tarsikka has not felt the grasp of the Redwood Throne yet, and the mystery cultists known as the Servants of the Eternal Dawn have earned the respect and trust of many of the peasants, causing the nobility to trust them as well. No one in Tarsikka has it easy, with it being a constant struggle for survival, but this ever present threat has turned the land into one of vibrant life. Peasants steal pleasure and happiness where they can, hoping to improve their lands. They dream of becoming wealthy merchants, joining the knighthood, or even of being granted land. Nobles dream of a land of peace and safety, allowing them to turn their eyes fully inward and regrow and repair their nation.

What makes Tarsikka less than desirable?

Tarsikka is a land with harsh rules and a pervasive mistrust of any who are not Tarsikkans, particularly the Tharici. The nobility taxes the peasants harshly, needing the silver gathered to sustain the Silver Swordsmen, which in turn protect the nation. Peasants must serve their lieges without question, no matter what is handed down from above. The law is harsh and swift, with the nobility being the final judge in all matters. When the nobles are unable to provide constant safety for the peasants, this causes unrest and rebellion is a perpetual threat in the nation. The threats of the shades, werewolves, and stranger creatures are not small ones, and peasants are killed daily in their struggles with these creatures. As such, the mistrust of outsiders is a very real part of Tarsikkan life. The Tharici are blamed with the ruining of Tarsikka in the past, and are still not accepted in the lands, something that causes conflict between the Tharici and Tarsikkans. The Redwood Throne and the Principalities are long standing adversaries of Tarsikka, much of it centering around the Skattenmark and the aggressive expansion of the Throne. The Caliphate to the East is all right, but if they fail to secure their own lands, Tarsikka will have even more problems. Subjects of Tarsikka must be constantly vigilant, lest they be accused of misdeed by their fellow peasants, or are believed to be practicing the wrong magics or arts. To be wary is to be Tarsikkan.

Faith and Religion

Tarsikka is not a land of faith or religion. The Redwood Throne has a small foothold in the western part of the nation, and none in the rest. Most peasants and nobles believe in old wives' tales and superstition more than any one codified belief structure. They believe in ghosts, kobolds, imps, Vulthing the Crafter of Flesh and Bone, and the Army of the Spoken Word. They believe in creatures of Shadow and the pervasive evil that awaits to wipe the land of Tarsikka from the world.

The exception is the group known as the Light Under the Mountain. They are caretakers of the dead and guardians of the secrets of the grave. They heal the living and can channel the protection or fury of the dead to aid them in their cause. Those that wish to learn from them are taught the ways of their order, but they do not seek to spread the knowledge otherwise. Not much about their beliefs are known, save that it revolves around the spirits of the departed and the guarding of their legacy. The rites they perform seem to call to a higher power, but none outside of the order know for certain.

Theme & Costuming

Tarsikka is a land of monsters, shadows, and superstition. The nation is very xenophobic and insular. It takes a long time for a Tarsikkan to trust, but when they do, it's until something major happens to breach that trust. Parallels can be drawn between the legends of the Black Forest and Transylvania. Eastern European superstition plays a large role in the theme of Tarsikka. German and Romanian folk tales are good places to look for thematic references.

Tarsikkan clothing is dark (black or grey), with brief highlights of bright color. Jewelry and buttons are silver. Charcoal and smoke greys feature highly in Tarsikkian fashion. The deep charcoal colored dye and the pale smoke grey comes from the wool produced in Tarsikka, prized for it’s versatility. It can be woven to feel no heavier than cotton, or thick enough to withstand the harshest chill. Skilled spinners can even produce almost pearlescent shimmers in the wool, and this is often incorporated into formal clothing. Although brighter colors are certainly worn, they are used sparingly in trims and highlights.

Tarsikkan Nobles wear primarily jet black. Their fashions heavily feature velvet, lace, leather, and even some silk. Often noble outfits are accented by bright, vibrant colors, and highlighted by silver embroidery. Nobles use a lot of buttons to show off their wealth in silver.

Tarsikkans peasants tend to wear rough, sturdy clothing, favoring local wool for it’s availability and long-lasting wear. Skirts with aprons are common for females. Both genders tend to wear basic peasant-style shirts, with poofed sleeves. Clothing is adorned with colored embroidery on the sides of sleeves and/or legs.

Vests are common among both males and females, usually with inner pockets to contain valuables, as well as one or two outer pockets. A pattern akin to the Greek Key is often seen in clothes and decor, as it is a sign of generations connected to each other, past, present, and future. Mint is often grown around houses to protect from the evils of the forest. Because of this superstition, mint is a common ornament, either in image, or actual sprigs (often worn in hats).

Cultural Advantages

Tarsikkans pay two fewer points for Shortsword, Bastard Sword, Greatsword, and Longsword.