Kingdom Name: Astel
Population with racial breakdown by percentages: 423,470 (Hareans 78%, Phen-Urkantig 15%, Hourugaens 7%)
Primary Religions in kingdom: Kaelis, Junpolipi, Orgamugnop.
Imports: Metals, wood.
Exports: Dried fish, exotic seashells.
Society Alignment: N.
Astel was once a colony of Nalloch, but it broke away during the Age of Rebellion, taking the opportunity to do so while Nalloch was busy trying to stop the rebellions of Gault and Kolos. Made up of eight islands, Astel is a kingdom built upon its fishing industry. The common people are hard-working, fair, but a little suspicious of newcomers, as they’ve had their share of intrigue and strife in recent times. Adventurers here are usually looking for underwater ruins and artifacts, or involved in the political machinations of the Burghals.
Life and Society:
Astel society is dominated by 2 things: fishing and exploration, more specifically, underwater exploration. Those who are adventurous and brave enough to do so go on the many expeditions which are routinely led to underwater sites where, by employing magic, groups dive into the depths in search of lost cities and treasure.
While a few expeditions are successful, most expeditions turn up little, and more than one expedition has failed to return alive, or at all. There are reports by some who return that they were attacked by trident-wielding fish-like humanoids which have come to be called “Hahtacols”.
For the rest of Astel society, fishing is king, so to speak. Almost everyone who is not going on expeditions is working in some fashion to support Astel’s fishing industry. Fishermen, net menders, sailors, and dockhands all promote this industry, and the people are proud of this profession, taking offense to any who speak badly of it.
If fishing is king in Astel, then the Burghals are the princes of Astel. In Harean, burghal means “city or town”, but it has come to be the title of the leaders of each of the settlements in Astel. The Burghals meet monthly in the Fisher’s Hall in Arien, usually to discuss the results of the latest expeditions, pirate attacks, or the status of the fishing industry. The Burghals continually have conflict with each other, forming alliances with each other, only to break them when a better opportunity presents itself. Those who live in Astel have become used to such political maneuvering, and pay it little mind unless it begins to interfere with their livelihoods.
Major Geographical Features:
Astel is made up of eight islands, five of which have settlements on them. The three islands which don’t have settlements are Nurment (South of Chean), Destrin (South of Balinia), and Zilan (North of Edrina). All three islands are home to fishermen who prefer to live outside of the settlements of Astel. The three islands also serve as havens for the pirates who operate in Astel.
Sites of Importance:
Arien (metropolis, pop. 354,130) – The capital of Astel, this is the center of all activity in Astel. Most underwater expeditions leave from this city, and the Astellan Armada is based out of Arien. The Fisher’s Hall, a grand palace and the seat of government in Astel, is located in the northern ward of the city, towering over the city. It is said that on clear nights, the lights on the spires of the Fisher’s Hall can be seen from as far away as Afian.
Rient’s Corridor – 10 to 20 miles wide, this stretch of water between Arien and the rest of Astel is the site of many underwater expeditions. Given the temperate climate in the region, expeditions take place here year-round, and many ship-to-ship battles are fought over rights to dive at certain locations. The Burghals do not regulate these battles, saying that the sea is open fair game, so long as the fishing industry is not disturbed. Many of the sightings of the “Hahtacols” come from this area.
First discovered in 372 A.S., Astel was discovered by the explorer Rient Manaris, a former commander in the Nalloch military who left the military due to an unknown dispute. Funded by the newly formed Observer’s Guild, he led his crew onto the island later called Arien. There he found very little, other than open land, but the land was suitable for settling, and so he returned to the guild with what he had found. The guild, seeing an opportunity, moved their headquarters out of Gienna to Arien, naming the island and settlement they established there.
Nalloch got word of the guild’s move, and threatened them with the destruction of the guild unless the islands were handed over to Nalloch. The guild, not having any choice, agreed and in 383 A.S., the islands of Astel came to be part of the kingdom of Nalloch. Nalloch allowed the guild to retain its headquarters at Arien, so long as Nalloch received its taxes from Astel.
Over the next 40 years, four other settlements were formed on the islands of Astel: Thira, Balinia, Edrina, and Chean. As the settlements were founded, an advisory council, made up of representatives from each settlement was created. The members of this council were called “Burghals”, and they were responsible for dealing with the day to day issues in Astel.
In the year 447 A.S., a fishing boat pulled up 2 cubes from their nets that they had never seen before. The cubes, about 7 inches long to a side, were made of an unknown black metal and glowed eerily. The fishermen who found the cubes took them to the Observer’s Guild in Arien, where guild mages tried to find out what the cubes were. While they were able to determine that they were magical, they could not unlock the secret of the cubes. To this day, the cubes sit in the guildhall of the Observer’s Guild in Arien, where everyday, mages and scholars work to unlock the mystery of the cubes.
The guild, wanting to learn more, paid the fishermen who found the cubes a large sum of gold to take them to the spot they had found the cubes. Once they got to the location, the guild used magic to go underwater to see what they could find. They discovered what appeared to be a sunken city, and found 5 more cubes, similar to the ones the fishermen had found.
The discovery of the underwater city set off fervor in Astel and Nalloch, and many young adventurers flocked to Astel, hoping to be the ones to find the next big discovery. Sadly, many were ill-prepared for such an undertaking, and most of the people who came to Astel looking for lost treasure either ended up dead, destitute, or had to go back to Nalloch.
Things remained in this state until the year 507 A.S., when Kolos and Gault began their bid for independence. This event intrigued the Burghals, and they began talking about breaking away from Nalloch. As the war between Nalloch and Kolos/Gault waged on, the Burghals felt like the opportunity to break away was coming. Finally, in the year 531 A.S. the Burghals saw their opportunity and took it. They (along with Motron) declared themselves independent of Nalloch, forming the kingdom of Astel. Nalloch, already entrenched in a war with Kolos and Gault, could do little but protest.
Now that they had their independence, the Burghals of Astel decided they needed a proper seat of government. Thus, they commissioned the church of Junpolipi to construct a great palace in Arien. After 22 years, the Fisher’s Hall was completed. A towering palace with five great spires, it was (and still is) the pride and joy of Astel,
Now that they had their seat of power, the Burghals began dealing with what had become the primary industry in Astel: Fishing. They drafted a document called “The Grenial Doctrine”, named after its creator, Grenial Nuharnin. The document laid down all regulations regarding the fishing industry in Astel, including limits on various types of fish, rights of competing fishing fleets, and pricing regulations. The Grenial Doctrine is considered the highest law in Astel to this day.
In 568 A.S., Astel formed the Astellan Armada, to protect shipping lanes and fishing boats from pirate attacks. The Armada does not get involved in matters regarding underwater expeditions, as the Grenial Doctrine states that such expeditions, while permitted in Astel, operate independently of Astel, so long as they do not interfere with Astel’s fishing industry.
Today, Astel thrives upon its fishing industry, as the myriad of rare fish found only in this area guarantee Astel’s dominance in the fish market. Adventurers still flock to Astel in hopes of making the next great underwater discovery. More recently, the Burghals have begun to employ adventurers in political intrigues against each other, with each Burghal trying to strengthen his or her position in Astel.
1.) Kelliani Mrista, the Burghal representing Thira, is reportedly looking for “help” regarding a matter involving the council of Burghals. Speculation abounds as to what the issue is, but if it involves the other Burghals, they would surely have something to say on the matter. Rumors include a move to grab control of Astel, wanting to “eliminate” one of the other Burghals, or wanting a group to go on a private underwater expedition for the council.
2.) An expedition recently returned from a dive that took place southeast of Arien. Only 3 of the 14 that went on the dive returned, but the three returned with several bags filled with gold and other treasures. One of the items found was a 4 foot tall statuette made of sapphire, which looks like a dragon-like creature. The statuette has been handed over to the Observer’s Guild, and they are currently studying it.
Kelliani Mrista – Burghal of Thira, she is regarded as a cool, distant, and brilliant merchant, who prefers to use subtlety and deception to achieve her goals. Fairly well-regarded in Thira, the rest of Astel distrusts her, as she got her position after her predecessor, Nortil Mihrk, died of a sudden “illness”. She recently has shown interest in the expeditions that take place in Astel, and rumor has it she may be looking for something in particular.
Jorle Arhern – Burghal of Arien, he is considered to have the most power on the council, since he leads the largest city in Astel. A fair man, his primary concern is the well being of Arien, and then Astel. He often finds Kelliani’s tactics and schemes distasteful, but does find her acumen as a merchant useful, and often lets some of her “plans” slide, so long as they don’t threaten Arien or Astel.
Kegrin Deris – Seer of the Observer’s Guild, he has been the leader of the guild for 12 years. A kind man in his late fifties, he arranges many of the expeditions that take place around Astel. Fond of adventurers, as he was one once himself, he often employs adventurers on particularly challenging expeditions, particularly ones taking place in areas where sightings of the “Hahtacols” have been reported.