The World Of Twilight

World Building => Clans of the Empire => Topic started by: Koya on July 14, 2010, 08:38:27 am

Title: Brenka WIP
Post by: Koya on July 14, 2010, 08:38:27 am
This is still a WIP and it probably already needs some major pruning, but I figured I'd at least expose it to public ridicule first. I've just put together random words for all the names so those will probably have to be revised later. On that note I've also been reluctant to name the lake as it's such a big feature of Anyaral and I'm not sure if it already has a name or whether someone else could come up with a better one than me, so i've just called it [lake]. :P

I'm still working out how to use my old copy of campaign cartographer 2 to draw up a more detailed map, but as it is here's the area I was thinking of on Brandlin's map. The purple bits are Brenka territories. I was thinking Embar is the city in the middle, and the town on the far side of the lake is Anke. Boran wouldn't really fit on a map of this scale.


The territory of clan Brenka lies far to the south of the Central Empire and its great cities, covering the delta and river basin of the river Poma and the southern coast of lake [lake]. The land is low-lying, being mostly composed of freshwater mushroom swamps and much of the ecosystem revolves around kilometer-wide fungal colonies housed deep in the mud. These megafungi, fed by rich alluvial minerals and decaying algae, sprout massive, tree-sized mushrooms. Though the resulting 'mushroom trees' are only active during the autumn flowering season, during which they clog the air with a thick orange haze of spores, the waxy outer 'bark' surrounding the bloom itself remains intact year round, creating a winding forest of towering stalks which prospective travellers must negotiate. Though the soil here is naturally suited for growing edible fungi, actually finding land suitable for farming can be a challenge, as existing fungal colonies must be cleared and the ground carefully drained of excess water. For this reason, the fubarnii of clan Brenka have learned to rely on trade to supplement what the swamp environment cannot provide.

Notable Holdings:
The seat of clan Brenka is the city of Embar. Built originally on a patch of higher ground rising from the delta (where the oldest buildings and richest families still reside), the boundaries of the city have long since expanded out into the swamp itself, necessitating a great maze of bridges running between the buildings, which themselves rise above a network of waterways and canals. As well as being the clan's capital, Embar is also a major trading hub within the Empire as a whole. Its sprawling merchant district bustles night and day, shaded by brightly coloured canopies and lit at night by strings of fungus-oil lamps. Each of the local trading groups of note maintains a permanent guild house within Embar from which they can administer their wealth, keep an eye on local prices and meet with visiting dignitaries and other traders from across the empire. The local guilds will often compete to maintain the most lavish and prestigious guild house, and some of the most prosperous would not look out of place in the wealthier parts of Gar Loren itself.

Like most Brenka towns and dwellings in general, very little of Embar is built underground due to the difficulty in building strong foundations in muddy swampland. To compensate, the locals have evolved a unique style of architecture, focusing on thin, winding corridors running the length of buildings which help to give something of the feel of tunnels. Still, visitors from other parts of the Empire often find it hard to get used to the lack of real burrows.

To the northwest of Embar, across the lake lies the port town of Anke, shared in an uneasy truce by both Brenka and a neighbouring clan occupying the plains to the north. Though the locals have developed a degree of cultural homogeneity which makes them seem a little strange to visitors of either clan, they do still maintain their own cultural customs and citizens of each clan generally prefer to dwell in separate quarters of the town, though both help to administer and maintain the harbour upon which most of the town's population depend for their livelihoods. Sailing ships dock at Anke daily, having carried their goods downriver from the docks at Embar and across the lake itself. The citizens of Anke work hard to unload these ships and to transfer the goods to the sturdy backs of Baruk ready for the overland journey north.

For those who prefer to keep their hooves on dry land, the quickest route to the central empire runs along a winding pass south, leading towards and ultimately through the mountain passes which form the boundary of the Poma basin and of Brenka territory. Although, at the behest of the trade guilds, the roads close to Embar are lined with fortified coaching inns from which local militia can watch for Devanu and other dangers, the climate means that the roads themselves often degenerate into muddy tracks after a rain, and the twisting fungus trees provide ample opportunities for ambush by predators or feral bandits. For this reason, the sight of the thick palisade walls of Boran at the foot of the mountains are cause for many traders to breathe a sigh of relief. Marking the southern boundaries of Brenka territory, Boran is a small town of little note save as a market for local farmers seeking caravans to take their goods further afield, and as a safe stopping point where traders and their guards can enjoy a much needed respite from the perils of the road. With so many travellers passing through and needing to let of steam, the town can be a boistrous place. Fortunately, the local populace tends to be sharp enough to thrive even amidst the chaos. Caravaneers love to gamble, eat and drink, and more than a few locals has made good money out of supplying such needs.

Additionally, various trade families maintain warehouses and estates within distant cities like Gar Loren, meaning small enclaves and families of Brenka clan descendants can be found throughout much of the Empire. The difficulty of travel often makes these groups semi-autonomous and many have assimilated culturally into other clans. However, this network also provides vital support for travelling Brenka traders, as they can generally depend on the generosity and assistance of their distant cousins should they find themselves in trouble far from home. Brenka citizens are raised on tales of the perils of the road and river trades and understand their vital importance to the prosperity of the clan and the Empire. It would be considered fairly heartless for even members of rival trade families to refuse each other hospitality in times of need.

Culture and Politics
Those who spend a lot of time amongst the Brenka often remark that they are fixated on trade, and there is a certain degree of truth in this. The clan's waterlogged territory is too harsh to be autonomous, and many basic goods simply would not be available without the trading network the clan has built up. Even Brenka citizens not hatched into trading families are raised with an intimate connection to the flow of commerce. In Embar, young Jenta play in the spice market while their parents hawk and haggle, and even the most rustic swamp dwelling farmer keeps a finger on the price of Prahr flowers and other goods when choosing what to grow each season. Rival clans often characterize the Brenka as greedy and self-interested profiteers always looking for the bottom line, but the truth is most of Brenka's citizens do effectively balance self-interest and communal spirit. Even the most ruthless traders know that their success hinges to some extent on their reputation, and most (though sadly not all) choose to forgo profiteering in order to avoid making enemies among their clanmates. Outsiders and visitors are quite another matter, however.

Most of the population of the delta can trace their ancestry to groups of refugees who fled south from the central Empire to escape the violence of Dimor's rebellion, ultimately settling and interbreeding with the villages and tribes of semi-feral fubarnii who already lived there. Local legends speak of a great migration across the lake in hastily constructed rafts, during which many perils were braved and obstacles overcome (generally growing larger and more perilous depending on the speaker) though no evidence has ever turned up to confirm this story. As with most trade oriented societies, however, clan Brenka is quite cosmopolitan, playing host to immigrants from all across the Empire. While most of these immigrant groups have assimilated seamlessly into the clan structure, a few Casani families still maintain their own separate enclave within Embar, preserving their own language, religious beliefs and customs. These Casani immigrants occupy a strange niche in Brenka society, on one hand they are considered more trustworthy by the traders for employment in sensitive positions, due to their lack of involvement in the political jockeying between powerful trade cartels which worms its way into so much of daily life in Brenka territory. On the other hand they are occasionally suspected of immoral or illegal practices, particularly of involvement in the trade of narcotic plants and fungi, and occasionally even allegations of poisoning and assassination are bandied around. Little ever comes of these suspicions, but it serves to reinforce the mutual wariness between the local Casani and other ethnic groups.

Each prefecture within Brenka territory is administered by a council of influential kopa, with the council of Embar generally speaking on behalf of the entire clan. Each council itself is chaired by one of its most respected members, and the selection of candidates for these councils generally follows a baffling number of laws and stipulations, most of which have been carefully laid down over the years by powerful trade families in an attempt to prevent anyone but themselves and their offspring gaining access to council positions. While they haven't totally succeeded, it is rare for any fubarnii without strong ties to one of the merchant consortiums to sit on one of the ruling councils. This custom also ensures that the councils themselves are usually politically fragmented and preoccupied with discussing economic minutiae, leaving other more pressing issues to the administration of selected civil servants and representatives, most of whom tend to have a more balanced and less self-interested perspective than the squabbling merchant princes they theoretically serve. Smart and politically active Brenka citizens quickly learn to avoid council politics and instead appeal directly to the civil servants, who can find themselves in very comfortable positions as a result.

Despite the difficulty of farming, the Brenka lands do give rise to a variety of valuable exports. First and foremost is the Prahr flower, a freshwater plant which is famously hard to grow elsewhere due to a not well understood symbiotic relationship with the fungal species of the Poma basin. The brightly coloured stamen of the Prahr flower are harvested by Fubarnii and ground into a fine powder which is used as a spice and food additive across the empire. Because of its taste, but also the difficulty of acquiring it, Prahr is something of a status symbol in the central Empire and trading it remains the primary source of wealth for many of Brenka's merchant families. It also features heavily in local cuisine, often being used to flavour the otherwise unappetizing boiled algae broths which are the staple food of poorer families.

As well as Prahr, however, Brenka traders have siezed on almost anything the local enviornment can produce as a source of income. The lack of trees and firewood means that most Brenka territories rely on oils and pitch extracted from the flesh of the fungal trees, and the surplus often fetches a good price, especially when mixed with scented herbs and flowers purchased from other parts of the Empire. The relatively thick fibres of certain underground fungal colonies can also be dried, cured and woven into textiles and cloth, though the muddy soil can make collecting these fibres arduous and messy. Brenka traders have a reputation for trying to hawk anything they can get their hands on, and generally do so quite successfuly when the opportunity arises.

Behind this legitimate trade, certain Brenka trade families are rumoured to have derived some of their wealth from supplying various less wholesome demands. It is no secret that certain local fungi and plant species in the basin have potent narcotic or hallucinogenic effects, especially when mixed together in the right quantities. Since many of these substances are also poisonous or otherwise present a danger to the imbiber, none of the trade guilds will admit involvement in such a business. Still, there is very little to stop individual traders from trafficking in such goods save the risk of being discovered, and even then the punishments administered by the guilds themselves often ammount to little more than a slap on the wrist for the offending party. In the eyes of the authorities, the wealth gained more than eclipses any social problems which this trade might cause, and while other clans sometimes grumble, few can afford to prohibit Brenka traders from doing business altogether.

The Brenka clan militia closely resembles those found across the Central Empire to the north. In general, there is a split between militia raised in urban and town environments whose equipment is funded by the local council and the enlisted farmers from the rural areas who often have to supply whatever equipment they can muster (usually a sturdy sling, as farmers often have to drive off herbivorous and fungivorous pests). This leads to a healthy mix of armoured spear wielding fubarnii supported by small contingents of lightly armoured slingers. Apart from the local contingent of knights, cavalry are rare. The Poma basin is not good enuk grazing land, and of those who can afford to keep riding beasts most are traders who would rather hire militia to defend them than take up arms themselves.

The real unique point of Brenka's military is the widespread use of mercenaries. While mercenaries crop up across the Empire, the flow of wealth and constant demand for caravan guards have ensured that Embar and it's surroundings have a reputation far and wide as a haven for hired swords and spears. Generally, as long as mercenaries behave themselves and keep on good terms with the local trade guilds, clan Brenka is prepared to welcome them with open arms and can generally offer more than enough work to keep them busy.

Though it can sometimes vary in the case of troops assigned to specific merchant houses or duties, the 'standard' uniform colour for Brenka troops is purple. The reasons for this are practical, as purple dye can be easily pressed from a particularly common algal bloom which appears all over the delta in summer. Different regions, garrisons, caravans and mercenary companies will often distinguish themselves by using trims and flourishes in different colours and materials, but such systems are informal at best and actively confusing at worse.

Fubarnii of Note
Patriach Sarma – For years now, Sarma has headed the clan council in Embar with something of an iron fist. As the head of the Koreth trading consortium and a political animal ever since his second change, Sarma's influence and political savvy has been enough to keep even the famously fragmented council in line. However, as Sarma approaches his 24th birthday, this golden age finally seems to be drawing to a close and the old patriach is increasingly distracted from the political stage. This has caused a flurry of political jostling amongst the other trade guilds as each struggles to be in the best position when Sarma finally retires, and the council itself is growing increasingly distant from the affairs of the common people. Few are very optimistic about any of Sarma's potential successors.

Unit Idea: Caravan Guard
Once in a while, a group of experienced militia will see room to better themselves further and decide to ply their trade on the open market as professional caravan guards. Brenka clan traders will often hire these career mercenaries for journeys along dangerous routes, knowing their skills tend to be more dependable than the average fubarnii, even if their sense of civic duty is sometimes a little more lacking. In desperate times, even the ruling councils have been known to hire mercenaries to keep order or fend off particularly stubborn predators like Devanu.

Movement: 6, Fight: 2, Support: 1, Tough: 5+, Stamina: 0, Size: Small, Command: 6”
Veteran (C): Recast up to 1 failed combat stone. Can be used once per combat.

^ These are just a thought on my part. Since I haven't played the game yet I have no idea how to stat or cost things like this, I just wanted to throw the idea out there.

Title: Re: Brenka WIP
Post by: Carcharoth on July 14, 2010, 09:10:31 am
That was a really interesting read! Lots of very good ideas there, and they are all tied together well  :)

Title: Re: Brenka WIP
Post by: Emberbreeze on July 14, 2010, 02:24:26 pm
That is really good, very creative and fits very well IMO. 

I don't think a single re-roll would unbalance the guards too much. would have to play them and see how they faired against opponents as a result.

Title: Re: Brenka WIP
Post by: Rick on July 16, 2010, 06:00:56 am
I really do like this. Very good work.

Title: Re: Brenka WIP
Post by: Koya on July 21, 2010, 01:26:04 am
I'm really glad you all like it.. still working on it and trying to add more. I'm also open to having just about anything changed if it doesn't fit.

In general, the image forming in my head was something like a carribean pirate town with wooden huts and pontoons, crossed with a bit of venetian style stone architecture and canal work and a tiny smidge of arabian nights exoticism. Once I get home I might have a try at sketching some typical examples and scenes, but my drawing is pretty lousy.

Title: Re: Brenka WIP
Post by: Emberbreeze on July 21, 2010, 08:52:32 am
Sounds great, interesting mix of styles!