Acrozatarim/Appendix 1

From RPGnet
Jump to: navigation, search

Appendix I - Currency, Commerce and Language[edit]

The Drakkath region stretches not far shy of three thousand miles between the Marble and Malachite Seas, and reaches from the southernmost habitable lands of the continent across over two thousand miles to the north where the Myrmec desert precedes the expanse of the Desolation. It is, in short, a vast area filled with a myriad of different nations, ethnicities and traditions. Nonetheless, the Drakkath is tied together by its history, by the network of trade routes that thread through it (and the organisations that use them), and by shared languages that can connect communities over a thousand miles apart. The flow of coin, goods and information along the arteries of the Drakkath serve as a reminder of the mighty empire that once dominated the landscape.

Currencies of the Drakkath[edit]

GM's Note: Translate your character's starting gp into suns - ie if you start with 25gp that's 25 suns, or 2500 leaves. That'll buy you about half a horse, let you hire around twenty-five labourers for a month, etc etc.

Across much of the Drakkath, the old Imperial currency still holds sway. There is no longer any central ministry overseeing the minting and production of coins, nor Imperial authority backing the currency's value, but since the Dawn War most communities and nations of the region have continued to use the old coinage out of practicality. Most nations or states have their own rules controlling who can mint coins and addressing issues of devaluation and debasement of worth, but the Drakkath remains rife with coinage that has been milled, adulterated with other metals, is too small or so forth. The main new source of monetary stability is Huron, as the Lord Commanders have taken to maintaining and supporting the Imperial currency as a sign of their own legitimacy as future Emperors.

The standard base of the Imperial currency is copper (sometimes alloyed into bronze or adulterated with iron). The three types of copper coinage are:

  • The leaf, sometimes called the scroll, is the smallest and fundamental coin underpinning the Imperial system. Generally, prices and costs are stated in leaves, even when running to the thousands. Leaves are usually minted with a circular or square hole at their centre, to allow for stringing on twine.
  • The sun, sometimes called the book, is a larger, much heavier coin worth one hundred leaves; in some areas, a sun's worth of copper is a decent monthly wage.
  • The circle or minister is the largest denomination of copper currency, worth three hundred leaves. It is generally decorated with text and symbols of the four Great Elementals, and is believed to reflect the harmonious flow of wealth in the harmony of the four elements.

There is no standard silver currency; however, silver is still extensively used in trade and commerce for high value or volume goods. Silver is cast in cups or flowers, small ingots that are shaped so that they can be easily stacked one upon the other; in many regions, there is a tradition of casting adorned or elaborate patterns and designs (hence flowers, as a common silver ingot is in the shape of a flower-head with open petals). Cups have no standard value, shape or size; their worth is based on their weight and on the professional opinion of a silver-weigher as to the silver's purity.

Gold is valued for its lustre and as a material for jewellry and fine decoration; however, despite its great worth, it is not generally used as a form of currency. Where it is used in this way, gold is generally cast into cups and flowers like silver is.

A number of other forms of currency are also used in the Drakkath; some are specific to particular nations or regions, but due to the circulation of coin they tend to be accepted for all or most of their worth even beyond their land of origin. One particular form that has gained ground is the Ascarian silver stick, taken up by High Kyros and generally accepted as a different way of measuring silver to the standard cup ingot. Silver sticks are simply silver cast into a length; the resulting tube is generally marked with the original mint or mine and then marked every inch down its length, indicating subdivisions known as teeth. When silver is needed to pay for the trade of goods, the owner simply cuts one or more teeth off the silver stick. As these sticks are not standardised in length, breadth or purity, there is still need for weights and measures when making payments with this medium of currency.

Naseria makes use of the standard Imperial currency; however, it also uses dragonmarks, more widely known as red gold and indigo gold. Dragonmarks are an alloy of copper, silver and gold, creating a distinctive hue and a unique smell; this coinage stems from the tradition of the coins that Naskha himself gave to his followers being marked with a dragons-head and made from this trimetallic mixture. Dragonmarks come in two types:

  • Crimson marks, a distinctively gold-red-coloured coin, generally considered to be worth 1,000 leaves.
  • Indigo marks, with a higher gold content and a distinctively purple hue; these are made with small amounts of rare indigo metals found in the Indigo Marches. These are generally worth 2,000 leaves apiece.

Carthagia has a more extensive and complex system of currency than elsewhere, mostly based around rings - coinage that can literally be worn on the fingers. The minting and casting of coins is a right granted by the King of Carthagia, but it is heavily overseen and administered to ensure that the currency does not suffer. The types of Carthagian coinage are:

  • The pattern, the smallest coin of Carthagian make, is a bronze coin with a very small amount of silver in it but also with traces of other metals in it; each mint given the authority to make patterns has a particular secret mixture that they apply, resulting in a distinctive and unique pattern (hence the name) of swirls and marks from the heat of the casting. Patterns are generally worth two leaves.
  • The knife, a strange coin shaped somewhat like a small knife-blade. Made from bronze, knives are worth ten leaves apiece.
  • The shield, a large iron coin worth around two hundred leaves. Traditionally, shields were the monthly pay that a warrior-caste soldier would receive from their liege when they were called to war. This is a larger sum than soldiers can generally expect, presumably due to Carthagia's general wealth.
  • The fire ring, a ring of bronze with a fairly high level of silver in it, worth some fifty leaves.
  • The sky ring, a ring of silver; outside of Carthagia these would be assessed and weighed like cups, but in Carthagia the standardised minting of sky rings means they'll be accepted for 300 patterns (and hence 600 leaves).

The Drakkath coastline south of the Fractured Coast has also seen another currency rise in the centuries after the Dawn War, that of nacre. Pearls are themselves valued, but a coinage made from carefully cut and carved nacre is practised amongst many of the shore communities, where it is generally called sea money or sea silver. Sea silver is generally patterned after the standard leaves, suns and circles of Imperial currency, but a sea silver coin is likely to be worth significantly more than the corresponding metal version. Sea silver coins are generally etched with prayers to Ishrak, Qinjao or Kevayek, and are considered to be sacred to those gods.

Rarely seen, jade coins are an old form of Imperial currency that was used amongst the highest echelons of society. Jade coins are never simply lumps of the precious stone; each and every one is hand-carved with adornment and decoration. They are not a standard part of modern currency, are not produced by any current mints, and are extremely valuable. Only the Kyrosi ever create new jade coins, and those extremely rarely; still, rumour that the Frost Envoy or other emmissaries of High Kyros might pay with precious jade are lure enough to bring all sorts seeking Kyrosi patronage.

Plentiful other coins and currencies come from further afield than the Drakkath. Silver sequins from the western lands, gold-iron and silver-iron coins from the north, gem-bits from the east - these are relatively standard and likely to be accepted in most trade-centres in the Drakkath region. Other forms of transaction are suitably exotic or unknown that they are more difficult to use in commerce - solid golden coins from the west, promissory tattoos from the north-west, ivory talon-nails from the far north-east, moon-quartz tokens from Vekath, and so forth.

Trade in the Drakkath[edit]

The regions that make up the Drakkath produce a vast and dizzying array of goods, services and raw materials; trade is brisk both between the Drakkath prefectures and with farther-flung foreign lands. Common goods make up the bulk of trade, commerce to feed the hunger of nations across the world; Naseria, Huron and the Eastern Drakkath Plains are major agricultural producers; Carthagia, Qyashun and High Kyros are rich in mineral wealth and export a great amount of metalwork and ore. Fine timber and leather are common goods through Huron, the North Drakkath Hills, the Central Drakkath Basin and the Western Drakkath Reaches; fine parchments and papers are produced in significant quantities in the Central Drakkath Basin. Herbs and drugs are another major export from across the Drakkath, along with strains of tea and certain fruit. Amber from the Fractured Coast fetches a high price, especially amongst the markets of the Tavashta and Great Amun. Most prized of all, the silks of the Drakkath region are perhaps its most well-known export.

In return, the Drakkath draws in trade from foreign lands. Salt is perhaps the most valuable, brought in great weights from the northern lands and from the city-ports of the Masked Kateni. Peppers and other spices from far Vekath bless the markets of the Drakkath trade-towns, alongside wool, skins and metal ornaments from the lands west of the Wasteland. Alchemical goods from a myriad of places of origin are expensive but in demand, along with perfumes, gemstones, oils and foreign animals. The Kamuri Conglomerate sell strange metal alloys of particularly unusual property and produce craftwork of incredible intricacy, while the Bright Empire's dyes possess a brilliance of hue rarely matched in other sources.

More unusual goods also see trade. God-ink, also known as theurgic plasm or immanence humour, is a highly prized substance distilled through eldritch and alchemical means from rare locations; the exact workings of ink distillation is generally a guarded secret. Tattooing and scarification to access or alter the flow of the body's elemental channels is an art practiced in the Drakkath and many other lands, and god-ink is of great use in this process. It is commonly understood that god-ink comes from areas where a divinity's presence still lingers strongly, or where the fabric of reality is weak and otherworldly energies seep into the natural world; through the correct use of god-ink, the sickly can be made hale and hearty, magi can draw more deeply upon their elemental magic, and martial practitioners can reach greater heights of mastery.

Various types of unusual metals, alloys and related substances can be found in the markets across the region. The family of harmonic metals are bright, strong metals that pick up and resonate with sound and music to produce some intriguing and beautiful notes of their own; harmonic metals are commonly used for instruments, chimes and so forth, and are considered to be particularly potent as warding chimes against spirits and evil beings. Weaponry made from harmonic metal renders the battlefield an orchestra; arrowheads that sing as they fly, blades that roar or cry with melody as they thrust and slash, armour that clamours like a temple's bells when struck. Deposits of harmonic metals are generally small, but are widely scattered across the central Drakkath lands. One myth states that they are the tears of the moon, shed as it saw the carnage of the Dawn War below it.

In comparison to the high reputation of harmonic metals, viper steel is considerably more sinister in nature. Generally found in large, twisting deposits that taint the rock and ore around it, viper steel is a corrosive material that seeps an acidic ooze over time. It is prized in alchemy, as well as by drug- and poison-brewers, assassins and the like; viper-steel weapons bear a terrible bite but have to be kept in alchemical sheathes when not in use. There are large deposits of viper steel under Qyashun, as well as significant proportions found in Carthagia. Viper steel is believed to be a creation of the Elder God Hashrukk the Daemonflesh, though for what purpose is unknown.

A metal that is entirely the work of human hands, not Elder monstrosities, is the summersteel produced in Adhuri alchemical forges. It's an alloy that is notably stronger and lighter than regular steel, but the metal that is used to strengthen it is one of the Adhuri alchemical fraternity's well-kept secrets - although a few rumours mention strange, red crystals of ore that the Adhuri mines occasionally produce. Only small amounts of summersteel are produced due to a limited supply of the alloy metal. Summersteel weapons are highly prized and are a precious trade good for those who can secure the material.

GM's Note: If you're curious, summersteel is basically vanadium-strengthened steel.

Two forms of pure element are mined in the Drakkath region - earth and fire. Jade is generally considered pure elemental stone, and highly regarded for its spiritual and aesthetic qualities; it is generally considered one of the highest forms of material to make ornamentation from, as well as being vital in the crafting of elementally-aligned items of metal and stone. Fire-metal, on the other hand, is a far more dangerous material to handle; it is compressed, solidified fire. Like jade, it is left over from the creation of the world by the Great Elementals, but unlike jade fire-metal is extremely unstable and seeks to return to its true, fiery nature, Usually a bright, silvery colour, sometimes dappled with fiery hues, fire-metal will erupt in bright flame if it contacts water and will sometimes do the same with air; if a seam of fire-metal is found, it needs to be rapidly coated in alchemical oils to prevent it from igniting. Once preserved and recovered in this way, fire-metal is one of the most prized alchemical goods in the world. Due to its brilliant flame, fire-metal is also acquired by nobles and rulers to serve in special lamps or as part of displays of their power; various faiths also use it in specific ceremonies and rites.

Found in both the Storm and Sarokean mountains, deposits of parchment crystal are sometimes found beneath the earth but, more often, appear as great jagged spikes of the crystal that spear out from the ground. Parchment crystal is greatly valued because it can be carved relatively easily, and because the natural formation of the crystal has it in easily-seperated layers that can be used to make beautiful pages. Crystal books are, on the one hand, highly valued as imperishable texts of immense aesthetic value, as parchment crystal tends towards pale beige, green, turquoise and pink hues; on the other hand, the material has arcane properties that render it vital for magi seeking to produce eldritch sigils or engrave arcana into the form of words. Parchment crystal is also used by higher castes for amulets, emblems and other insignia of rank. Another crystalline material, twystcrystal, comes in a great number of colours and varieties, usually found in areas of elemental concentration such as Naseria and Carthagia; this magically infused material is very useful for arcane power sources, but is of particular value to flesh-twisters. There are reputedly great 'gardens' of twystcrystal in underground Carthagian grottoes, attended to by Manipulators who encourage crystalline growth at nexi of magical energy.

As noted before, drugs and alchemical materials are harvested and processed from various sources across the Drakkath; notably, the fungal monolith spires found in a few outlying areas of Huron and the Great Sarok Expanse are the basic material for a number of toxins and perception-altering substances that are particularly prized in the western lands. Monolith spires are immense fungal pillars, growing up to eight or more metres tall; their ashen flesh and spores demand tools more suited to timber than herb-gathering. The religions of Lliras and Churaphrat both make use of drugs manufactured from monolith spires for ritual purposes, brewing strange tisanes from the spires' flesh. Stormweep from Blue Aestus grows no-where else in the world, and often finds its way to Drakkath markets. Various strains of hearthpaint are grown in fields in Huron and the Central and Eastern Drakkath; most hearthpaint plants are grown for the yellow, orange and red dyes and spices made from their petals and pollen, but skypaint is a rare breed that can be turned into an ochre or pale blue powder (depending on processes used) and which, when rubbed into the eyelids or the lips, serves as a powerful stimulant; it is widely used by Drakkath bureaucrats and scribes.

In the western reaches of the Drakkath, amethyst bile is sometimes collected from the winds and sky by kite-catchers and wind bastions. The purple fluid seems to shift and flow as if it has a life of its own, and its nature is debated; many scholars assume it is a physical component to the winds and weather. Amethyst bile can be used for alchemical and arcane purposes, but is also often bought to create vibrant dyes and inks. Bile-silk is perhaps the rarest and most expensive silk in the world, created by treating silks with amethyst bile in such a way that they become utterly irridescent with strange, swirling patterns of indigo and violet; a single garment of bile-silk can fetch a small fortune.

Blue minister papyrus is largely produced in the central regions of the Drakkath Basin, paper made from marsh-plants and then treated with particular waters and minerals from local springs. Blue minister papyrus holds ink particularly well and is quite resilient, weathering the passing years with very little fading or damage; it is valued by scribes and bureaucrats across the world for its high quality. A bounty of papyrus is created during years in which the sun enters a phase of elemental water, even if only for a day - such an event causes rampant growth amongst the papyrus plants. A rarer form, red minister papyrus, comes from rarely-blooming plants that only open their flowers when the sun is in a phase of elemental fire; red minister papyrus is generally reserved only for the most significant pronouncements or recordings, or for sacred inscriptions.

A less talked-about trade good in the Drakkath is that of faces. A very rare species of servitor known as the face-weaver exists in numbers close to extinction; face-weavers keep their presence as hidden as possible, and their trade as quiet as possible. Face-weavers appear monstrous, but these highly intelligent biomechanical beings do not hide for that reason; rather, they are generally anti-social artists who care only for interaction that furthers their art, and they have come to fear being hunted by flesh-twisters and arcanists who seek to unravel the mysteries of how face-weavers do what they do. A face-weaver can transplant the face of one person onto another; a donor may even be a recently dead body. Generally, face-weaving is only sought by infiltrators, criminals seeking to evade justice or the rich and powerful seeking to swap faces with a stand-in when danger is feared. As such, face-weavers often have dangerous patrons who are highly protective of their servitor ally. Rarely, preserved faces attached to masks as a base are traded in black markets, their skin and muscle kept intact enough that a face-weaver can use them for a transplant.

GM's Note: There will undoubtedly be other odd materials, craftworks, drugs etc, these are just what I've got in mind atm and which are relevant enough to include here.

Languages of the Drakkath[edit]

Drak: The most widely spoken group of languages in the lands of the old Drakkath Empire, Drak is generally considered a common tongue amongst the peoples of the region. Originally stemming from the Drak tribes from whom Rangkun Yun emerged, Drak is a ritually significant language; it was apparently constructed by Ephras in the earliest days of the Dawn, when the Divine Creative Urge still reigned over the Elder Gods. There have long been assertions that Drak holds hidden messages from the Great Elementals within its structure and symbolism, or that it is particularly potent when used in elemental magic. In the modern day, a great number of variants and local accents across such a wide region mean that Drak is more correctly a collection of related languages than a single unified one; however, the most common form, called Sky Drak, serves well enough in most of the Drakkath regardless of local customs.

Crimson Drak: A very specific and antiquated form of Drak, Crimson Drak is associated with the Imperial and aristocratic families and government of the Drakkath Empire. In the modern day, its use is largely limited to Sukhumvarang; however, various old sites, tombs and texts are Crimson Drak and hence its study is important for scholars and scribes. Old laws and precendents may be taken from tomes that were written in Crimson; some old heirlooms are inscribed with Crimson glyphs. Only a very few loan-words from Crimson survive today in common use in the Sky Drak tongue; however, the written use of Crimson is sometimes used in ceremonies or for important symbolic matters. An even rarer variant of Crimson Drak, Vermillion Drak, is supposedly only to ever be written under certain elemental phases of the sun, and has great meaning and import when done in this way.

Azure Drak: Azure Drak is another Empire-era form of the Drak language; however, unlike Crimson, Azure remains in relatively common (albeit specialised) use today. Azure Drak is a rather limited language for communication, but is tailored instead for the rapid transmission of orders, governmental information and the calculation of mathematics and commerce; it evolved from Sky Drak during the Drakkath Empire initially amongst merchants for business purposes, then spread to the lower echelons of the Imperial bureaucracy before it was recognised and classified as a language in its own right. Today, Azure Drak remains a form of short-hand and aide to merchants and traders.

Viridian Drak: Viridian Drak is an odd variant of Sky Drak that is purely a written language; it is commonly used by playwrights and songwrights as an underpinning and framework when creating artist texts and music. Trying to speak Viridian Drak aloud sounds like poorly chopped-up Sky Drak with a nonsense rhythm.

Huronese: While there are some differences between West and East Huronese, the languages are similar enough that they are mutually intelligible. Huronese is widely spoken in the lands of Huron alongside Drak, although there are certain regions within Huron where Drak is actually the more dominant tongue. Unlike Drak, Huronese is proudly considered as a truly 'human' tongue, surviving several attempts by Elder servitors to purge it from the Huronese people during the Dawn Age.

Naserian: All the languages of the Drakkath region evolve and change over time, picking up loan words from foreign tongues, but Naserian is a particularly mongrel language even by such standards. The underlying foundation of Naserian is a mixture of Sky and Crimson Drak, but with extensive influence from the many and varied origins of Naskha's original priesthood. Naserians proudly consider it a particularly good language for the discussion of aesthetics, higher philosophies and magic.

Carthagian: Carthagian shares no roots with any of the local languages, although it has acquired certain similarities and shared certain words as the centuries have passed. It possesses surprising levels of subtlety and complexity; there are various forms and tones for different levels of politeness and formality, and an extensive vocabulary for descriptives in particular. Carthagian also places a certain amount of emphasis on body language and other non-verbal cues to add finesse to what is being spoken.

Kyrosi: Another truly foreign language, Kyrosi is even stranger than Carthagian. It uses very different sentence structures to Drak, different forms of writing, and is a highly symbolic language filled with hidden meaning and significance that can be hard for a non-Kyrosi to learn. However, it has famously been said that a master of Kyrosi can communicate the depths of emotion, joy and despair while wearing a mask and speaking in a monotone; the language is a deep and powerful tongue that relies entirely on the verbal.

Ascarian: The Ascarian tongue shares a long history with Drak as a neighbour, and has exchanged various words and underlying elements with Sky Drak over the centuries. What can confuse foreigners is that a lot of Ascarian meaning and symbolism comes from putting the present in context with the past; even a common conversation on the street of a trade-town may make references to ages past and lessons learned by distant ancestors. There are a myriad of variants of Ascarian across the steppes and tundra, to the point where distant blood-clans may find it very hard to communicate with one another.

Servitor Languages: The languages of various servitor species are wide and varied in nature, depending on the purpose of the servitor in question; some are deeply talented linguists, others speak simple, blunt tongues that can deliver the straightfoward information that they need. The most famous is probably Draconic; the dragons possess a remarkably complex and subtle tongue, and the language has been used by artists and writers upon occasion.

Other Languages: Non-human species possess their own languages; the watery tongue of the sahuagin septs, the croaking languages of the lizardmen, and so forth. Of particular note are trolls; for such ferocious creatures, they retain a high level of linguistic understanding and a language that seems far too complex and deep for the species' needs. This is commonly considered as further evidence that trolls are a fallen, tainted form of an older species.

Umbral: The mysterious Umbrals remain a focus of study for many Drakkath scholars, and understanding their language is an important part of that. It has no resemblance to any known human tongue, but certain translations have been managed; unfortunately, not enough Umbral text has been recovered to really piece together any answers about the vanished civilisation as yet.

Elder: The Elder Gods communicated with their servitors through an intermediary language that they crafted; many servitor species possess a seemingly innate understanding of Elder glyphs that must have been engineered into them. Whether carved hundreds of metres high into a mountainside or etched in tiny patterns around an arcane object, these glyphs possess fixed meanings that seem somehow embedded in reality; there was never any lingual drift or change or evolution, and the meaning of a glyph to one who knows the language is evident even if the glyph is partly damaged or eroded. There are few scholars who have learned any Elder glyphs, and they only have access to some few hundred from what was an original library of thousands woven by Ephras or stamped by Gilam.

GM's Note: Again, I may be missing some stuff here, but can always add more later.

Back to main page