Noteworthy Places in the Known World
The year is 1072. The known world is yet a wild and dangerous place. Even within the borders of established nations, there are many uncharted lands where savage and mysterious beasts prowl. Underground caverns, long-forgotten catecombs, and deep forests hide secrets that only the bravest adventurer can hope to unearth.
The Known World is a peninsula that makes up the southeastern portion of a larger and unexplored landmass. Its maritime borders are made up of the Sea of Dread to the south, and the Sea of Dawn to the east. It extends up through the Heldann Freeholds to the north, the Principalities of Glantri to the northwest, the Republic of Darokin to the west, and the Atruaghin Clans to the southwest.
The major political entities of the Known World are as follows:
◾ The Atruaghin Clans
◾ The Broken Lands
◾ The Republic of Darokin
◾ The Ethengar Khanate
◾ The Five Shires
◾ The Principalities of Glantri
◾ The Heldann Freeholds
◾ The Kingdom of Ierendi
◾ The Kingdom of Karameikos
◾ The Minrothad Guilds
◾ The Kingdom of Ostland
◾ Rock Home
◾ The Soderfjord Jarldoms
◾ The Empire of Thyatis
◾ The Kingdom of Vestland
◾ The Emirate of Ylaruam
The Known World lies mainly in the temperate climate zones, being subjected to prevailing westerlies.
The gold piece is the most common form of money used in the Known World. While the various nations mint their own coins, their value is equivalent, and gold pieces are accepted in every nation, regardless of the source. Other denominations in use include the platinum piece (=10 gp), the silver piece (=1/10 gp), and the copper piece (=1/100 gp), although some nations also accept the electrum piece (=1/5 gp).
In order to maintain stability in the system, every country has a national banking system that guarantees to interconvert the various denominations of coin at the proper rate of exchange. These banks also offer secure storage for money or goods for a fee (typically 1% of the value of the goods per week). Money lending is still a nascent and as yet uncommon practice. Credit is available to citizens who wish to purchase high-priced weapons, armor, equipment, or services. Interest is in the range of 2-5% per year. All loans require collateral, and have a maximum limit on amount based on the borrower’s personal net worth (favoring the rich), the borrower’s credit worthiness (favoring guild members and shop owners), the borrower’s residency (favoring lifelong residents), and the borrower’s class (favoring the nobility). Bank branches may be found in every major city, as well as in forts.
Throughout the past century, the Known World has seen remarkable economic growth. The establishment of mainland trading routes has made possible the development of major commercial centers in nearly every nation. Most cities have a guild system that controls the practice of a craft in that city and the surrounding towns. These guilds depend on the local authority to enforce the flow of trade to their self-employed members, and to retain ownership of tools and the supply of materials. Each guild maintains a guildhall for use as a meeting place and training facility. Artisans and craftsmen who attempt to ply their trade without the approval of the local guild risk being ostracized, harassed, or worse.
Society in the Known World is dominated by the two upper echelons of the social structure: the nobility and the clergy.
The nobility possesses acknowledged privileges and eminence that other classes lack. These privileges are regulated by the monarchy; thus noble perogatives and entitlements differ by country. Nobles often posess hereditary titles, such as ‘Count’ or ‘Baron.’ Nobles do not own lands outright, but have the legal rights to the income from a manor or estate. These estates typically include a castle, as well as pasture, timberland, hunting grounds, mills, etc. Nobles are expected to live ‘nobly,’ that is, from the proceeds of their estate; manual labor is forbidden by law and frowned upon socially. Nobility is a prerequisite for holding offices of trust in the realm, such as military officers, judges, or government. Note that not all nobles are wealthy or influential; travellers may well encounter a ‘poor nobleman’ of an aristocratic lineage that has lost its fortunes in some way. Membership in a noble class is hereditary, however acquisition of sufficient power, wealth, military prowess or royal favor may enable commoners to ascend into the nobility.
The clergy consist of secular clergy (those who live in the world) and the regular clergy (those who lived under a religious rule). Most of the clergy come from the nobility, although local parish priests are often from the peasantry. Most religions restrict certain rites and rituals to the clergy alone, thus distancing the secular laity from the clergy. The laity take part in pilgrimages, veneration of relics, and public communal worship.
Main article: Common Religions
The primary source of culture in the Known World comes from the influences of the various religions. Through monasteries and cathedral schools, religions are responsible for most of the formal education in the land.
All religions have some belief in a supernatural entity that personifies evil (e.g. the Devil). Belief in witches and witchcraft are widespread, and many religions condemn witches and publish handbooks for witch-hunters.
Because of the variety and density of religions in the Known World, most major religions espouse theories of religious toleration and, in some cases, ecumenicism. Some see tolerance as a means of reconciling with the faithful who are separated over theological issues. Others see it as a means of promoting peaceful coexistence. Churches have been known to partner in charitable projects, or participate in nondenominational spiritual gatherings. Most religious persons in the Known World would agree that, despite theological differences, they can join together to be an element of great change in the world. Thus, it is not uncommon to see clerics from one religion offering healing or raising services to those from other religions in need, or to see clerics from different faiths participating in the same adventuring party.