Serpent bone contains pain. The most agonizing, and the oldest. All of it is centered in the Reave. A pain so deep that it has infected the land and oceans around it. So, one of the truths of this world, is that all life is defined by pain and by death. To survive, every living thing must inflict suffering on another. When it became time for the Mother to slumber, a piece of her came to rest in the most natural place."

Sevlion Thibault?

Larassa

History

Larassa has a long history. It began six hundred years ago, when Larassus Sarno began the process of conquering and absorbing the petty kingdoms surrounding his. Binding the subjugated kings to him as dukes, counts, and other nobles, Tibertus was able to expand his dominion. The fact that in exchange for fealty, the lords were allowed to maintain hold of their land while also enjoying the protection and friendship of the most powerful warlord on the continent did much to ensure the loyalty of the early nobility.

It was Larassus’ great-grandson, Tibertus Sarno who finished expanding his family’s dominion to cover much of the continent. He named the newly finished kingdom after his great-grandfather. Shortly afterwards, Tibertus was visited in his dreams by the Child-Gods, who revealed the true faith of the Twelve to him. After this revelation, the Gods appeared in Kuthven and presented themselves to Tibertus who knelt before them. The Child-Gods performed miracles to prove their divinity and named Tibertus and all who held the throne after him to be their most favored servant. From there the Twelve recruited their first priests and established the Temple of the Twelve, which stands to this day as the official faith of Larassa.

From that early point, the Sarno family continued to expand and strengthen their kingdom. Tibertus Sarno’s granddaughter Merenia Sarno, one of the most talented wizards of her time, established the strong magical tradition, pouring mountains of gold to found the Seven Towers, the first school of wizardry in the known world. She also spearheaded an artistic Renaissance in Larassa, encouraging the nobility to support and honor artists. And it was Merenia who first combined art and magic, developing the Merenian philosophy of magic, which continues to dominate magical study in not just Larassa, but most of the world.

Her son, Tibertus III took the wealth, power, and national pride his mother had fostered and turned it to the further expansion of Larassa. Tibertus III expanded and strengthened the Larassan navy, turning it into a force through which Larassa was able to make contact with nations across the oceans. First contact with Vassalor was made, which rapidly grew into a powerful alliance, becoming the only foreign power to be recognized as something other than part of the Beyond, a concept the King himself invented.

The establishment of colonies on other continents and the taking of tribute from Beyonder nations brought riches beyond anyone’s imaginings into the Royal Treasury. Contact with other cultures also brought new influences into Larassan society, and while they were largely ignored by the commoners, the nobility devoured every novelty they could get their hands on. Larassa’s dominance was almost uncontested. Larassa’s sister nation of Heild was strong enough militarily to maintain their independence from Larassa, but not enough to truly threaten it, and despite the best efforts of Larassa’s generals, the savage Gurmites continued to prove almost impossible to bring to heel. But beyond these minor concerns, Larassa was an unstoppable force, the greatest nation that had or ever would be.

The monarchs following Tibertus III were not particularly notable in and of themselves. They continued the work of expanding Larassa’s influence in other lands, explored further outward, and continued to rake in ever increasing amounts of wealth. The nobility threw themselves into the spirit of the Golden Age, devoting themselves more and more to the pursuit of art, magic, and pleasure. The endless search for fresh and exciting ideas and experience became more and more an obsession amongst the increasingly jaded nobility.

Despite what most historians say, the decline began before the Gurmite Deicide, or even the Reaverkin. It began with a series of weak kings and queens who were more interested in luxury and court intrigues than in the expansion or even maintenance of the empire. They encouraged the lavish spending and decadence of the aristocracy, who were growing ever more distanced from the common folk. The coin that should have gone to the military or navy was diverted to fund pet projects or orgiastic celebrations. Funding into magical research, and thus Larassa’s status as the most mystically learned nation was only maintained because it was directly linked to the study of art.

Then came the Reaverkin uprising. The deteriorating navy was no match for the spine-ships, who were able to cripple Larassa’s ability to exercise its control overseas. Likewise, the flood of wealth began to trickle away as ship after ship of tribute was lost to Reaverkin pirates. The decline in wealth did not go unnoticed, but the royals of the time were ill-equipped to deal with it. Their response to the problem was to throw money into the navy, and installing new officers in command. The new funding was not nearly enough to make up for the damage already done, and the replacement of seasoned naval commanders with royal toadies and yes men only further added to the problem.

Without a strong navy, Larassa lost its ability to control the Beyond. The tribute ended as vassal after vassal cut ties with the Empire. Despite the growing lack of gold in the Treasury, the revelry of the aristocracy continued without pause. The difference was taken out of the commoners through rising taxes and draconian fines connected to even the most minor of crimes.

The Gurmites spelled the final end of Larassa’s power. The power of the Joining decimated the Larassan military, leaving it a weakened shell that has never recovered. Larassa itself began to shrink as an ascendant Heild began absorbing the more distant parts of the nation. It is the nation of the Weeping God that now dominates Tulvus, while Larassa has become a shadow of its old self, smaller, weaker, and poorer than it has ever been.

Regardless of the decay, the nobility continue to live as they have for centuries. Those who cannot afford to keep up with the constant spending go into debt to save face. Those who can afford it do so through ludicrous taxes and whatever other means presents themselves. The nobility does its best to ignore what has happened to their kingdom, diverting themselves with art, and parties, and politics that mean little but cost lives. What power is left in Larassa comes from its magical tradition, which continues to both draw in much needed wealth and act as one of a few, small points of pride the former empire can console itself with.

Recent years have brought new troubles to an already deeply troubled land. The tensions continue to rise between the impoverished and ill-treated common folk and their lordly masters. Rumors of revolution have begun to take root everywhere, whispers that have begun to be picked up by the aristocracy, who respond with new taxes and whatever punishments they can conjure up. One way or another, something is going to give, and soon.

Culture

For Larassans both common and noble, life is art. It is the most basic concept of their worldview. Everything can and should be done with a thought towards aesthetics and expression, to the art of it. This is true of religion, magic, love, hatred, and even politics. Everything is art.

The national preoccupation with all things artistic means that almost everyone in Larassa is at least conversant about art. In fact, your average country farmer is likely to know more about art than any of his counterparts in other nations. Similarly, just as everyone knows a little about art, so too does everyone have something artistic they do. Whether it is music, woodcarving, dancing, a Larassan’s life is generally held to be lacking if it does not have some form of direct artistic expression.

This tendency is universal to Larassans, but changes in how it exhibits depending on whether you are noble or common. For the nobility, art is very strictly regulated. There are set forms, procedures and pageantry that must go into anything for it to be art. Similarly, there are established authorities who can dictate what is or is not “true” art. This obsession with form and ritual is actually a recent development, a trend that began only about seventy years ago.

For the common folk, art is simpler. While they may argue over whether one piece is better than another, the common folk hold to a general attitude of “you know it when you see it.” They tend to less formal and more fluid with their art, though they also tend to be less comfortable with the avant-garde.

Passion itself also holds a special focus in the culture of Larassans. Both love and hatred hold a powerful grip on their worldview, and are held onto for a lifetime and sometimes even generations. Blood feuds are matters of art, but also deeply personal. If one’s family was wronged by another family, then one is obligated to seek retribution. Similarly, friendships often transcend a single lifetime; it’s not uncommon for a friendship between two families, common or noble, to maintain so close a friendship that they might as well be one family. For Larassans, passion is eternal. What a Larassan feels, he feels passionately and often his emotion will outlive him.

This belief in continuity pervades Larassa. The Temple of the Twelve includes a strong focus on the veneration of one’s ancestors, particularly one’s parents. A man is expected to live up to and honor the memory of his father, and likewise a woman her mother. The work of one’s ancestors must be kept alive, as do the passions that drove them. And an insult to one’s parentage cannot, and will not stand.

This has led to the development of certain families having traditions such as a piece of art that each member of the family adds a piece to, until the work itself becomes a sort of family tree. These “blood works,” have created some of the most powerful, complex and enduring pieces of Larassan art.

Despite this focus on living up to the past, Larassans also believe in living life for its own sake. Again, life is art. There is a culture wide belief that inactivity is tantamount to death. Work and play must be both attacked with the same amount of energy. This does a little to explain the nobility, who often lack much in the way of work and must compensate with play. The common folk have been forced by economic burden placed upon them to work most of the time, with little time for pleasure.

Magic, like art, insinuates itself into all of this. Magic is common in Larassa, though strongly controlled by the nobility. By law, a commoner can only gain magical training with the permission of their lord, who will pay for their education in exchange for the services of the soon-to-be wizard. Similarly, entering into the priesthood is something that is open to the common folk, but it is a rare thing for a commoner to become a priest. Thus magic is generally restricted to the nobility, with the few commoners who gain it often being drawn into the aristocracy in some fashion or another. Magic is in fact, one of a very few forms of upward mobility in Larassan culture.

But despite this, magic is pervasive in Larassa. Most of the domesticated animals in the nation have been replaced by magically bred and perfected subspecies. The cows are healthy, resistant to disease, and produce beef and milk that are both healthy and tasty. The military itself is now almost entirely reliant upon its magic users. And while few commoners are wizards, there are many who can cast a cantrip or two.

Days of the Week

Die Manibus Die Lancus Die Mona Die Stridi Die Cassi Die Luma Die Culmus Die Sudar
Hand's Day Spear's Day Glove's Day Scream's Day Helm's Day Bright's Day Blade's Day Shroud's Day

Months (32 days per month)

Hora Caminus Hora Mona Hora Moneta Hora Culmnus Hora Cassi Hora Stridi Hora Iudex Hora Silenda Hora Lancus Hora Luma Hora Manibus Hora Sudar
Month of the Forge Month of the Glove Month of the Coin Month of the Blade Month of the Helm Month of the Scream Month of the Scale Month of the Whisper Month of the Spear Month of the Bright Month of the Hand Month of the Shroud

Fashion

Amongst the aristocracy, fashion is a language and a contest. The combination of colors, accessories and perfumes are used to nonverbally express emotions and intentions. But it is also a never-ending game of one-upmanship. The more over the top and opulent the outfit, the more honored the wearer. Larassans favor color and ostentatiousness. Hair is powdered or dyed into a variety of shades, or wigs are worn in a plethora of colors. Magic is woven into the fabric of clothes, so that a gentleman’s cape appears to be made from starlight, or a lady’s shawl from fire. Innovation in fashion continues unabated in Larassa, no matter how poor the kingdom has become.

Colors

As stated above, amongst the nobility fashion is a language all of its own. The most important components of this language are color and flowers, either worn or as perfume. Colors are the primary tool of expression, with every color having a specific message behind it. Failure to observe or read the color of another nobles clothing is a sure path towards social disgrace, or at the very least to embarrassment. The language of colors exists amongst the common folk as well, but it is not as strictly observed and usually manifests as superstition, with different colors being considered lucky or unlucky based on different circumstances. For example, red and yellow are generally universally lucky, while it is unlucky to wear anything but white at a funeral. Another example would be an apprentice wearing a silver ring to bring them luck in their studies. Below is a list of the most important colors and their meanings.

Flowers

While colors express very specific messages, flowers or their scents are used to provide subtext or context. The language of flowers is the more subtle, more difficult aspect of the language of fashion, and as a result has largely bypassed the common folk. The most important flowers and their meanings are described below. Please not that there is also a certain amount of importance to placement of flowers, or the difference between wearing a flower or merely the perfume, but for the sake of preserving some brevity, this will not be dealt with here. Also note that while some of these flowers may not have a distinct smell, there will be perfumes or scents that are associated with them, and within the language of flowers no difference between the flower and perfume is made.

Politics

Larassa is a monarchy, an absolute monarchy in decline. The monarch has power to do generally whatever they desire; their word is law. Every noble has power based on their title, which is theirs only on the monarch’s sufferance. Of course, the nobles themselves can exercise power, but generally as a group. Thus it has long been a proven tactic for the royalty to play the nobles off one another, manipulating them into playing the games of favor and factionalism that keep them from uniting. Unfortunately, the current generation of royals have been dragged into the game themselves. The king is by most accounts a weak one, though the first king in generations to have a decent military mind. But in matters of court he is a three way pawn between the Queen, and his siblings, not to mention a rotating gallery of favored aristocrats.

The nobility is currently a mess of factions and conspiracies, all scheming towards goals that are variously pragmatic, esoteric, or power-hungry. The most powerful factions are generally geared towards some scheme to return Larassa to glory, by manipulating the King down one path or another. There is little talk of removing the King, given that the monarch is relatively easy to manipulate, and his siblings are generally of a more willful disposition. Generally the focus of most the scheming is to try and permanently take the monarch’s ear, and insulate him from any dissenting viewpoints. Of course, given that everyone has the same goal, the end result is a constant game of political tug of war, with a bewildered monarch at the center.

Suffice to say, very little of actual substance gets done in Larassan politics currently.

The main factions amongst the nobility are as follows:

Noble Ranks (From Highest to Lowest)

The Royal Family (The Sarno Line)

Note: Thus far the king and queen have two daughters, the oldest of whom is six years old. Because of their age, both children are kept generally in the custody of nurses, but receive regular visits from their parents, who despite their faults are actually surprisingly good, if busy parents. While everyone keeps an eye on the princesses, their father and mother are both young and healthy enough that they have yet to be the immediate focus of any plotting. At least as far as anyone knows.

Noble Families

Organizations

Religion

As noted previously, the official religion of Larassa is the Temple of the Twelve. The Temple is almost as old as Larassa itself, and is almost universally the practiced faith, with only a few holdouts who are involved in Ancient Faith cults or the worship of the Heildish Weeping God. The Twelve is highly organized, very civically focused faith. The Temple worships the Twelve child-gods, who first appeared to Tibertus Sarno I, and named him their most beloved servant in the world. Ever since then, and despite the efforts of some in the priesthood, the child-gods have had a close relationship with the monarchy, supporting every decision made and quietly, but decisively condemning any threats to it.

The Temples tenets hold that the social order of Larassa is a holy one, the ideal system gifted to the kings and queens of Larassa from the Twelve. All are born into the role they are suited to. Commoners are meant to work, nobles to lead and see to matters beyond the spiritual constitution of commoners, and the monarch to rule over all. To attempt to move beyond one’s station or to revolt against the divinely inspired order is one of the gravest sins in the Temple. Beyond this, the Temple also preaches the holiness of Larassa itself, the virtues of obedience, humility, patience, piety, good works, and of course art.

In regards to an afterlife, the Temple proclaims that those who serve the Twelve in life will upon death join with and enjoy a blissful eternity in unity with the spirit of the child-gods. Those who do not find their souls banished to the darkness beyond the Veil, to spend eternity as prey and playthings for the horrors that dwell there.

As for the priesthood of the Temple, it is really twelve priesthoods that work together in a rough fashion. Generally comprised of the bastards and younger children of the nobility, the priesthood exists in what amounts to a middle-class in Larassa, with the most powerful or favored priests able to live lives comparable to those of nobles. Because of this, the priesthood is even more of a cesspool of intrigue and ladder climbing than the nobility, being one of the few places in Larassan society where upward social mobility is realistically attainable. Due to the child-gods general lack of involvement in…well anything, the priesthood can safely be treated as a separate entity with its own desires, namely the expansion of its power.

The Child-Gods as noted just above, do not interact much with the outside world. Generally they spend almost all of their time in their temple-palaces in Kuthven meditating silently for months on end. The only time they ever leave, or otherwise go active is on holy days or when asked by either the monarch or sufficiently important clergy. The masked, and eternally youthful deities are enigmas, providing no insight into their personalities, and only distinguishable based on their masks and regalia.

Dueling and Hatred

For Larassans, hatred is one of the highest emotions, when done properly it can create some of the poignant and tragic art. A beautiful hatred is one wherein the individuals involved hate each other more than they love their own lives, but also find enough mutual respect and common ground that there is something almost comradely in their hatred. Hatred strong enough to dominate and define both lives. Such hatred is carried out through politics, duels, and through the odd tradition of letter correspondence between sworn enemies.

As with most things, Larassans look for art and ritual in dueling. When a duel is declared, the two parties or their intermediaries arrange for the type of duel, as well as the time and place. Each factor has significance, and helps tell the story behind why the duel is being fought. For example, a duel at dawn is usually a matter concerning a lover, while a duel being fought on the land of the liege of one of the combatants suggests that the duel is actually being fought at the liege’s request. But the most important matter is the type of duel, which speaks to how severe the matter, the hatred involved. The four common types of duels fought in Larassa are outlined below from least to most serious.

Page last modified on November 01, 2016, at 11:57 PM