Friday, 6 September 2013

Kuhrisch influences

From the very start of planning Bane of Souls I wanted Highford to sit at the meeting point of three countries. Whilst inside Felaria’s border, it’s also very close to Kuhrisch and Dennish territory. This meant that, although the story is largely confined within Highford’s walls, I could elaborate a little upon the peoples beyond and hopefully make the world more immersive.

The Dennish and Felarians are (magic aside) fairly typical medieval fare, with a monarch at the top, nobility and clergy below and peasants at the bottom. There’s more to it than that, particularly regarding how magic is integrated into the world, but as a shorthand summary that’s fairly accurate.

However, when writing up the background work for the two kingdoms I decided I wanted the third to be substantially different, and so the Kuhrisch came about. The Felarians/Dennish have a strong sense of hierarchy, and whilst social elevation is possible the vast majority start and end life wherever they happen to be born on the social ladder.

By contrast, the Kuhrisch have almost no hierarchy whatsoever. Men and women are born into different clans, but none has a legal advantage over the other. There are Godi (men who handle matters of laws, akin to a magistrate) and elders (men who handle matters of tradition), but neither role is a paid position. Those who are considered to abuse what power they have as a Godi or elder tend not to last very long.

Instead of laws (of which there are few), most Kuhrisch behaviour is dictated by tradition. Indeed, the lack of kings and nobles means that the Kuhrland is less like a medieval kingdom and more like the Hellenistic world of ancient Greece (albeit usually more co-operative and less prone to internal warfare). It is not fealty to the crown that defines the Kuhrisch, but belief in the same gods and practice of the same customs.

This means that the Kuhrisch are far freer than the Dennish and Felarians. There are almost no taxes at all to pay (and most of those that exist are not really taxes but donations to the God of Plenty).

Magic is reasonably widespread in the kingdoms, but in the Kuhrland it is almost completely absent. Because of this, the Kuhrisch (whilst being considered heathens by Denland and Felaria) see those who possess magical gifts as afflicted with a curse. The Church of the Divine teaches that those with magic are touched by the gods, whereas the Kuhrisch consider arcane ability to be black magic, the work of demons. After all, if it were the work of gods then many Kuhrisch would possess it. On the very rare occasions a Kuhrisch does have such power it is attributed to a non-Kuhrisch parent or ancestor, and at the minimum causes the individual to become outcast. A Kuhrisch with magical abilities may be killed outright without it being considered a crime, though this is not mandatory.

The personal names are typically taken from German and Gothic history (though I might use some Icelandic ones in the future, in the same way I bastardised the Godi for the Kuhrland). Fritigern, Athanaric, and Winguric are all Gothic names. Place names are all German.

Incidentally, the new background for the blog is a map of part of the Kuhrland. A full size (warning: it's pretty big) version can be found here. Geldfels is more or less north of Highford.


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