Capital: Mount Basilisk
National Alignment: CG
Population: 1.8 million
Size: 250 thousand square miles
Ruler: King Feldspar Graniteshoulders
Law: Priest/Knight Code
Coin: Dukat (molded quartz)
Rakoran Images: Picture examples of Rakoran terrain
Rakore is a small but stubborn kingdom on the western end of the continent of Halganath. The population of this nation is perhaps the most varied of any on Gaeleth, with desert elves, Amaran emigrants, Sholin islanders, tomanths in the interior, orcs from the Choranil Desert, ogres, kobolds, and dozens of different human nationalities all under the wise rule of King Feldspar Graniteshoulders. King Graniteshoulders is the second to bear the name, carrying on the intentions of his father Chief Ulrich Graniteshoulders to protect all mortal lives, no matter their race. Rakore maintains a tentative truce and 'cold war' against its neighbors Kur Maeth and the Ogre Nations. It is on very friendly terms with the Sholin tribes of the open seas, and enjoys a tentative trade alliance with the Banoc elves. Rakore is considered a hotbed of controversy because of her laws about equality among the races and her tolerance of mages. Her armies and navies might be small, but their fiercesome power makes invading her a sobering proposition. It is generally known and accepted that Rakoran mages can sacrifice themselves to destroy entire cities and huge armies; no military wishes to invade.
The flag of Rakore is that of a cypress tree before a mountain, silhouetted such that the crown of the tree is just shy of the crown of the mountain. Floating over both is an image of the crown of Rakore – made of gold and looking as though it were aflame.
Throughout history, a number of nations have stood in modern-day Rakore. Some of the kingdoms have been elven, some dwarven, and no small number have been human, and even ogran.
The dwarven nation of Gil Hala dominated the mountains around the Tikranor Plateau, some six millennia previously. The Gil Halan mountain dwarves mined copper, tin, and iron – selling bronze to the humans, and using the iron, themselves, in great mountain-side furnaces that channeled and focused the power of the wind to make tremendously hot fires for steel. The Gil Halan dwarves wore themselves down against the Dharveil in the Choranil Desert, before fading into obscurity. Some of their ruins can still be found.
The Itieleta'ivan elves had a small kingdom that dominated the forests of Rakore. Their stewardship of the lands made the forests quite strong, and it was their druidic power that shaped the modern timber industry of Rakore. The Itieleta'ivan faded into obscurity some two millennia ago, probably due to the constant ogran incursions from the Choranil Desert.
In more recent times, Duke Stomalin ruled the western forests of Rakore from Stomalin Keep – located on the southwest portion of the peninsula. Duke Stomalin controlled the forests and towns of the region for several decades, slowly building up his power, until its peak in 1004 Avard. An attack by the Warkore clan of dwarves ended the duke's claims to the forests east of the Galanus River, and a grippli infestation finished off the duchy.
The modern nation of Rakore was founded in 1316 Avard, by then Chief and later King, Ulrich Graniteshoulders. Chief Graniteshoulders was forced to unite the peninsula, despite the usual dwarven intransigence. Graniteshoulders was chief of the Warkore Clan of dwarves, who had taken over and named the Warkore Mountains just after the Storm Wars. The Warkore Clan had emerged when a number of dwarven veterans of the Storm Wars became disgusted with the Inquisition, and its antimagic policies spearheaded by predominantly human churches, such as Yatindar's. Tegrin Graniteshoulders united the veterans and let them on an arduous trip to the far west, to settle what would become the Warkore Mountains, in an attempt to get away from human-dominated politics. Tegrin and his brethren were able leaders and well-decorated veterans, and so rallied a great many other dwarves to their cause. Close to 10,000 hill dwarves, 40,000 mountain dwarves, and 3,000 deep dwarves made the long journey west, through the lands of the Toomaran Tribes, the Laekenala Jungles, the Avris Mountains, the Choranil Desert, and finally into the lands they would call 'home'. Because of the militaristic nature of the journey, and Tegrin's leadership and foreplanning, only 5,000 dwarves died on the journey. When Tegrin arrived in the then unnamed mountains, he and his began the long task of hollowing out their new home, which they named Mount Basilisk. Tegrin himself slew the foul creature that had hung around since the Storm Wars, apparently summoned by a Nathelian wizard to terrorize the locals for one reason or another.
Another group of dwarves in the Granite Mountains, primarily priests, left their ancestral home for the western peninsula, following the path of Tegrin. The priests, led by Arch Bishop Thanos Rubynose, hoped to fulfill an ancient prophecy about a dwarf with a flaming fist. Rubynose's sect of Galgiran, the Light Forgers, numbered some 15,000 hill and mountain dwarf priests. Hoping to join with Tegrin, they met with a harsh welcome from the dispirited Warkore Clan, particularly since the Light Forgers had been instrumental in aiding in the Inquisition in the western lands. Forced to move on, the Light Forger sect traveled a bit further west, and discovered the ancient tunnels and mines that had once been carved by the Gil Halan dwarves. Arch Bishop Rubynose and his priests refurbished the tunnels, and moved in, hoping to one day rejoin with the Warkore Clan. Renaming themselves into the Rakanus Clan, the Light Forgers prepared to fulfill their prophecy, maintaining a link with Galgiran through a holy relic – a tuft of hair from Galgiran's beard, locked inside an iron anvil within their holy forge.
The Warkore and Rakanus clans skirmished on occasion, but kept mainly to themselves for five centuries. The reasons for their animosity towards one another were lost in the obscurities of time, and they rarely interacted with one another. In 1311 Avard, undead began rising up out of the forests between the two clans. At the same time, the orcs of the Ogre Nations began trying to invade from the eastern Choranil Desert, attacking both clans in prearranged attacks. The Rakanus Clan, composed mainly of priests, easily repelled the attacks of the undead – however, they were undermanned and under trained to fight the hordes of orcs from the deep Choranil. At the same time, the Warkore Clan easily repelled the attacks of the orcs, but had significant difficulties fighting off the undead. Envoys from both clans met quickly, and agreed to set aside their centuries' old differences. Chief Ulrich Graniteshoulders, grandson of Tegrin, began the slow process of uniting the two feuding clans against the greater difficulties. Coordinated counter-attacks helped drive off some of the orcs, and Chief Ulrich became aware that the western peninsula was not solely composed of dwarves. Human villages and tomanth hatcheries were equal targets of the undead, and the orcs.
Horrified by anti-human tales from his grandfather before his passing, and perhaps motivated by the recent joining with the Rakanus Clan, Ulrich sat about to integrating the other races together. As the battles with the undead began to heat up into a full-fledged war, and as the Ogre Nations organized under their Supreme Ruler Itzak, integration seemed Ulrich's only hope of preserving all life on the western end of the continent. The situation became even grimmer in Chief Ulrich's eyes when the last of the grippli on the peninsula were wiped out by a swarm of wraiths. Faced with certain extinction unless he acted quickly, Chief Ulrich organized the prevailing leaders of all the races and peoples, and declared himself King of Rakore in 1316 Avard.
Barely a year after taking the entire peninsula under his care, King Ulrich Graniteshoulders was assassinated by an elite undead task force sent by Demik Coruth. The Rakanus Clan, acting quickly, moved to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Galgiran, and made his son Feldspar king. One of the Rakanus clan's bishops, cross-trained as a warrior, helped save King Feldspar Graniteshoulders several times, and went on to lead Rakoran special operatives in defeating the necromancer Demik Coruth, and ending the War of the Undead with the aid of the Chosen of Arpelos. The tumultuous times of the War of the Undead catapulted Rakore into the fore of wizardly and priestly advancement. Backed by a strong economy, vast natural resources, wise leadership, shrewd politics, and competent men from all races and backgrounds, Rakore expanded in power and strength. Influxes of refugees from the War of the Undead added to her diversity, and influenced the course of events in Rakore as had never been done in any other nation before.
Tensions with Inquisitor nations, and with the Ogre Nations, continued on after the War of the Undead. The cross-trained warrior-bishop of the Rakanus Clans, Bishop Nodrom “Dwarfendale” Fistforger, oversaw vast construction projects employing thousands of dwarves and Mikindim-led humans, rebuilding whole cities and creating impregnable fortresses. Rakore continued to grow, preparing for conflict with her many enemies.
For more details about the founding of Rakore, and its early years, consult Campaign I: The War of the Undead.
In the summer of 1329, Rakore was simultaneously invaded by the Ogre Nations, Kur Maeth, armies from the theocracy of Nabrol, and even undead minions. Despite the near defeat of Rakore, the nation survived using secretive weapons that wiped out hundreds of thousands of invaders at once. The invasion is called the War of the Four Winds, as well as the Ogran Wars.
In the midst of invasion, in which things looked bleak, many Kur Maens defected to Rakore, and a large flotilla of Maotosh Sholin washed up on the western flank of Rakore. The Kur Maens and the Maotosh Sholin both helped push back the Kur Maens from around Teras and at sea.
Since the defeat of the ograns, Rakore has opened its gates to orcs, ogres, kobolds, and many other peoples. The nation is currently in a state of rebuilding, using the considerable wealth taken from the Ogran Nations, the ruins of Daggoneth, and more. Manpower is plentiful in the aftermath of the failed invasion.
Additional histories are available in the Campaigns.
Land: Rakore is roughly half mountainous terrain, and half rolling, hilly forest. The forests are old growth, with massive cedars and huge oaks. The northern range of mountains is basaltic and volcanic, while the eastern range of mountains are more metamorphic and felsic. In the northern mountain ranges, a high plateau holds a permanent glacier of immense proportions. Along the southern coast on the east, a line of desert hills with rocky outcroppings dominates.
Use: The soil is fertile when cleared, with thick top soil that goes down almost to the water table. The rich granite mountains and old limestone hills are a mix of ancient epochs, with valuable minerals and metals found throughout. The farming is further aided by these reserves because of the natural fertilizers found, including bat dung excavated from old caves throughout the interior.
Water: The Galanus River (named for the god Galanus) is the major navigable river, running through the midst of the forests down to the Gulf of Teras. Various navigable tributaries feed it along its way, and a few lakes (mostly oxbow lakes) also provide fresh water. Glacial runoff in the spring and summer, as well as after the Freeze or during the Burn, can swell the deep-running river and its tributaries.
Weather: Situated as it is on a peninsula, and covered in mountains, Rakore receives a fair amount of storms and rain. Muggy in the summer, and covered in snow in the winter, Rakore's weather can change from day to day, and even mark to mark. 'Unpredictable' is the normal prediction for the next day's weather.
Animals: Deep in the forests and mountains of Rakore lurk dangerous creatures that limited the expansion of civilization for centuries. Enormous rhinoceros beetles weighing close to five tons each clear trails through the forests, consuming whole trees above ground, and digging deep tunnel systems below ground. Large ankhegs prey upon them, and the wild hippotauns that wander through both the forests and the mountains. Huge alotheres – enormous boar that root about in the underbrush – travel in small herds that threaten farmers and hunters alike. And wherever the snapper-saw trees are found, stirges are found making their nests high atop them. Rumors from much deeper within the forests tell of a massive beast with bony plates and a spiked tail, the stegasoraus, whose herds dominate Hallis Island and parts of the western Rakoran Forest. Higher in the mountains dwell minotaur lizards and cave bears. In the eastern Warkore Mountains dwell several families of rocs. Higher on the Tikranor Plateau are primative yeti clans that feed upon orcs and humanoids with cunning maliciousness. Worse are the snow scrats and the les boern, creatures that can kill a normal man in a heartbeat (see creature entries). Species introduced by the many races of Rakore are constantly in flux with the native species. Many strange plants, such as choke-creepers, continue to wind their way into the land from along the Galanus, where they were introduced. Elgannet beetles have taken up residence in the waterways, presumably brought to Rakore as eggs aboard merchant ships. Scrags may or may not be native, but have also been seen throughout the Rakoran river systems.
Keynotes: Of the two islands to the north, the westernmost is Hallis, dominated by the Savis Forest. Maddog (or Mad Dog, depending on ethnicity) Island lies three hundred miles to the east of Hallis Island, and is dominated by the Kavik Forest. Both island forests are similar to the Rakoran Forest, with old-growth trees and relatively little underbrush. There are also some smaller islands just south of Teras, and only a day's sail to the south.
Backbone: The heart of the Rakoran military is an integrated approach to warfare, using bows, infantry, cavalry, and artillery together in concerted battle. Because of the strong dwarven heritage, however, the backbone of the Rakoran army is the dwarven fighter. Armed with a battle-axe and a buckler, and armored in plate mail, they are fearsome warriors that are difficult to kill and fear nothing on the battlefield.
Cavalry: Backing the dwarven fighters is dwarven cavalry – hippotauns girded in chain mail, with spear-throwing dwarven axe-men mounted astride them. The hippotauns can carry five warriors in addition to the driver, and act as an effective carrier over long distances. Both the cavalry and the infantry carry light crossbows and several dozen quarrels, making them formidable at ranged distances, as well. Their tabard colors may vary, depending on the baron they serve, but all bear the recognizable symbol of Rakore – the cypress tree backed by a mountain with a crown.
Irregulars: Backing the dwarven warriors is an array of irregular army units, ranging from Amaran rangers to elven bowmen. The intense training these men and women undergo is a reflection of the old dwarven wars with the orcs. Because of their various backgrounds, their skill in guerrilla tactics is unmatched, even though their mass tactics might be lacking. Their abilities to surprise enemies, harass supply lines, and confuse the front lines make them invaluable in combat, both as support to the regular dwarven army, and as support and reserves against enemy flanks and rear.
Artillery: The siege engines of Rakore are primarily massive ballistae that can easily be broken down and reassembled anywhere. Smaller ballistae have even been found in mounted versions, such as upon anklosaurs imported from the landmass of Baroneth. Cleverly designed, one-man ballistae are a hallmark of Rakoran artillery, and are found both on land, and at sea.
Navy: Rakore's navy can arguably be considered the best in the world. A small but significant fraction of the navy consists of modified Nabrolian triremes, but the vast majority of the fleet are heavy galleons. The Rakoran shipyards produce a variety of vessels – some built for oceanic speed, others built for heavy merchanting, and almost all built by knowledgeable individuals. The tomanths make the Rakoran navy that much more fearsome, native as those water lizards are to Rakore.
Elite: The military elite of Rakore is a special group known as Firestorm, who act as both an overseas undercover operatives group and as a counter-Inquisition team. Consisting primarily of mages trained in the arts of combat, they are often called battlemages, though a significant part of Firestorm consists of assassins, spies, and brute-force fighters of unequaled power. Sporting the signet rings that give them unlimited access to Rakoran stores, Firestorm is a word used to frighten children in foreign nations, and to inspire awe in Rakorans.
Air Force: A surprising number of orc rangers defected to Rakore after the defeat of Itzak during the War of the Four Winds. The orc rangers were more faithful to their great roc hawkes than to Itzak, and welcomed the attentions of Rakoran priests and their healing abilities. Though still racially predjudiced against humans, dwarves, and especially elves, they are surprisingly tolerant of the tomanths, and have begun teaching tomanths to aid them in attending the fierce and powerful roc hawkes. Rakore has two dozen of the enormous birds in service, and expects those numbers to increase with each passing decade.
Royal Guard: The king's personal guard are a formidable force, as well. Wearing Rakanus-style full plate covered in spikes, and armed with two-handed battle-axes, they are so intensely loyal to their king that they are impervious to enchantments and charms while near him. They wear the cream-colored capes and mantles of their office with great pride, and are all veterans of some of the nastiest fighting in Rakore in the last fifty years.
Mercs: Mercenaries have been tolerated primarily because of the shortage of man-power. Acting as caravan guards and escorts, they protect the richer merchants and land-owners. The many riches in Rakore, from natural gold and silver deposits, to the lucrative trading of Gideon Enterprises, ensures the loyalty of most mercenaries in Rakore.
Citizenry: The battles between the Ogre Nations and Rakore, as well as the War of the Undead and several aborted invasions by Nabrol, have left the Rakoran people battle-hardened. The vast metal resources have been made available to the general public, and good chain mail and weapons can be found in most homes. The average peasant can be expected to be armed, armored, trained, and experienced with his choice weapon. Experienced in the arts of guerilla war against the orcs, and well-trained en masse against the hordes of undead, the general population of Rakore is its most valuable military asset.
Assignments: The majority of the Rakoran military consists of dwarven foot soldiers and non-dwarven irregulars. As such, they can be found in almost every city or town. Hippotaun cavalry units are usually only found in large cities. The border with the Ogre Nations is closely watched by forts and patrols, and though not openly attacked, the hostilities often boil over into small battles. Regular patrols through the sparsely inhabited forests also routinely encounter difficulties, such as illegal ogran infestations, Nabrolians in hiding, Inquisitors, and the natural dangers of dense and hilly woods and high mountains. With a strong navy, many assignments often take sailors into the waters near Rakore, and abroad, to protect the shipping lanes of the west and other vital routes.
Fortresses: The single largest fortress in Rakore is Loregard, situated between all four mountain ranges, such that it is the only non-mountainous route into Rakore from the Choranil Desert. Built to hold off the Ogre Nations, Loregard is a massive military city funded by the Rakoran government. It has built up several aiding industries, such as glassworks and other sand-related works, but the city is devoted to war. Surrounded by a massive, fifty-foot thick wall that is nearly fifty-feet high, with towers at regular intervals, Loregard is considered second only to Mount Basilisk in its military defense (though Loregard was breached during the War of the Four Winds and has since been rebuilt). Ballistae, trebuchets, and catapults bestride its towers, and regular patrols race around its walls watching for danger. Massive numbers of camel and horse cavalry are kept at the ready, and government warships can ferry in troops to the headwaters of the Galanus River whenever trouble arises.
Philosophy: Though wealth stands out as a prominent motivator in Rakoran life, many of its citizens long for war and battle. With so many enemies so close to Rakore – the Ogre Nations, the Inquisitor nation of Kur Maeth, and even the giant centaur ants, as well as pirates and Nabrolian threats… Many of Rakore's people are itching for war while longing for peace. Veterans one and all, most Rakorans do hope for peace, but in the meantime, they will acquire wealth, work hard, and prepare for war. Racial tensions abide, and sometimes the itch for war spills blood in limited civil wars.
Dwarven Names: One can tell where a dwarf is from, by his name. Dwarves born outside of wedlock choose their own names, and never know who their parents are, as per dwarven custom. Common names from the Rakanus Clan include Fistforger, Stonehand, Stoneknee, Wirebeard, and Rubynose. Common names from the Warkore Clan include Orcbane, Graniteshoulders, Ironwill, Stoneknuckles, Stormblade, and Whitegold. Several clans migrated to Rakore after the War of the Undead and the failures of the Fourth Crusades, with names like: Fellhammer, Warstoker, and Spurbreaker. The four most respected dwarven names in all Rakore are the Graniteshoulders (those of the king's and his immediate family), the Orcbanes (the longest-term warriors of the Warkore), the Stonegrudges (the most powerful and well-respected priests in both the Rakanus and Warkore clans), and the Stonehelms (the most powerful warriors in all Rakore – who held off the ograns long enough for many to escape, but took heavy losses). The Stonehelm clan adopted the entire Bandylegs clan from the northeast, in the aftermath of the war. It is often easy to tell the dwarven clans apart: the Rakanus Clan dwarves tend to braid and part their beards, the better to see amulets about their necks. The Warkore Clan dwarves tend to let their bears become more wild, sometimes literally with nests in them.
Languages: With so many backgrounds and ethnicities in one nations, the language barrier was targeted for destruction by King Graniteshoulders. The Common tongue is the official language of trade and law, and extensive education efforts have been undertaken to teach both young and old a bit of all the other languages, from Amaran, Sholin, Toomaran, Al Fahimic, Elven, Dwarven, Ogran, and even a bit of Vridaran. The unique melange of languages means that most Rakorans can be assumed to speak at least two languages – even the farmers in distant and outlying baronies.
Taboos: Because of the large mix of peoples and races, there are a great many individual taboos, but most are fading in the larger mix of things. While insults usually turn into games, it is generally agreed that cutting off a dwarf's beard is suicide. Eating eggs in front of tomanths is considered offensive, and they may bite the egg-eater.
Commonlaws: At its core is a bedrock of dwarven law, codes, and honesty, backed by priests with as much intolerance for the Inquisition and Seekers as the mages. The laws do not discriminate between humans, dwarves, elves, tomanths, or ograns, and applies to all ethnic backgrounds as well. The local knights, and the barons in particular, are charged with enforcing the majority of the codes and laws, though only the barons can administer punishments in excess of a year, and only dukes can administer executions. Most of the laws are common sense laws against theft and murder, though each local baron reserves the right to enforce his own laws. Much of the time, the accused reserves the right to choose in favor of either barristers (lawyers and judges) or trial-by-combat. In the case of barristers, the accusing authority must prove guilt; in the case of trial-by-combat, the accused must prove innocence. Trial-by-combat is only to the death if the accused has committed murder, and must be administered by a duke or equivalent authority.
Mannerisms: With so many peoples and customs, its possible to find elves with dwarven attitudes, humans with tomanth gestures, and everything else under the sun. For the most part, the Rakorans are guardedly polite and cautious.
Robert Heinlein is oft-quoted as having written, “An armed society is a polite society.”
Holidays: (For full holiday listings, please consult the calendar table in the main Gaeleth entry section.) Dakal the 16th is a dwarven celebrated holiday, with gifts of steel; however, Rakorans have attached greater significance to that day, and that entire week. All Rakorans give one another gifts of weapons, from custom, imaginative daggers, to new shields. For that entire week, all smiths work for free as artisans supported by the local communities, their work being done in the name of Galgiran. (Customers must supply the raw materials, however, including coke for the forges.)
Appearance: Utilitarianism is the rule, in Rakore. While wealth might be able to purchase more comfortable clothing, extravagance is rare, and many foreigners can spot a Rakoran because of his simple-yet-elegant clothing. Oppulence is unfashionable.
Foods: The food is so varied that a single meal might contain Amaran-style tubers, Sholin-style fish, dwarven-style bread, and elven-style wine. The numbers and types of beers is legendary, with dwarven leadgutt being the most frightening. Non-dwarves typically pass out from leadgutt within a single stein.
Classes: Rakore is based only loosely on the feudal system. 'Respect' is the Rakoran watchword among its peoples, and its various races and peoples get along because they've had to, to survive.
There are eight primary feudal ranks within the Rakoran structure, essentially equating to fluid castes with rapid upward mobility. No one outranks the King, although his underlings can assume a great deal of power.
There are also several titles that can be awarded to individuals, regardless of class-equivalent. 'Reeve' is a title often given to the senior law enforcer and keeper of the peace of a village, town, or city, and the reeve reports directly to the nobleman in charge of that area. 'Marquis' is a title often given to an individual that has earned a special place outside of normal nobility or feudal titles. It can be a hollow title in terms of land or wealth, but carries considerable influence, none-the-less.
Artisans, guildsmen, and other experts in their trades are allowed ranks and titles awarded within their particular areas of expertise, but Rakore only recognizes the four primary classes, by law. Most such experts may technically be only 'peasants' under the eyes of the law, no matter the wealth or power they wield. Many join the militias, and are often given military titles under such conditions. Others gain actual feudal titles, up to and including 'thane'. Such is the militant nature of Rakore that, in order for a guildsman or artisan to advance in the aristocracy, they must prove themselves worthy of battle. Some, no matter how they try, are poor squires or would-be knights, and are often given the title 'esquire', to indicate they have rank, but not the ability to defend it.
Among the nobility, only those of Thane or higher may knight someone. Knights may choose their own squires. A knight may be recognized by a silvered shield in miniature, with a pin that looks like a sword. The miniature shield displays in bas relief the heraldry of the noble that knighted them, and does not change. The back of the miniature shield often contains information, such as the name of the knight, the date, or other information.
Dukes, Cardinals, Generals, and ArchMages may execute whom they please, when they please, although there is always an accounting. All citizens may defend themselves, but cold-blooded executions require higher ranks. The ranks of Barons, Vicars, Captains, and Arcanists may consign people to prison or Hallis Island for long periods of time. Most often, however, such deeds are left to the noble ranks and the military, with the church and the mages attempting to stay out of many such domestic matters.
Rakore's strongest ally is also its worst enemy is Kur Maeth. Founded by the Fourth Crusaders and led by a Yatindaran paladin, Kur Maeth was a powerful ally in the War of the Undead. The trading and political alliances forged in those difficult times are still honored. However, Kur Maeth is under intense pressure from the east to attack the wizard-protecting kingdom of Rakore, and send in Inquisitors and Seekers to end the threat of magic. Rumors of a dragon still existing in Rakore have not helped the situation, and nor has construction of two fortresses dedicated to the study of magic. Much of this tension was both eased and doubled during the War of the Four Winds.
Rakore, with its strong sailing fleet and close ties to the Sholin peoples, has opened up trade and peace with a number of its other neighbors. Sholin contacts remain strong, and the Sholin city of Tulish actually was a Rakoran shipyard and citadel for trading purposes with the continent of Baroneth. In 1328, a rogue band of Quitzara – the specialty priests of Lul – obtained a super-weapon that allowed them to destroy Tulish in a single day. Rakore managed to wrestle the super-weapon away from the Quitzara, and secreted them away until the War of the Four Winds.
Relations with Al Fahim have led to a general trading and peace treaty, and an influx of Al Fahimic goods and people. Rakore evacuated a number of Amaran tribes during the War of the Undead, and their influence on the peninsula has been profound. Relations with the Amarans has been fair, with a trading outpost established at the headwaters of the Mirimba River, through the Laekenala Jungle. Piracy in the Laekenala Jungle and bandits in the Avris Mountains have limited trade significantly, but relations with the Amaran Tribes continue peaceably.
The Vridarans and the Toomarans have given Rakore considerable resistance, primarily because of the Inquisition and a general fear of magic and magic-users. Despite assurances otherwise, Rakoran goods are assumed to be magically enchanted with evil runes and the like, and rarely travel inland.
Since the War of the Four Winds, the might of the Ogre Nations was nearly wiped out. Rakore still deals equally with the ograns of the desert, but does so from a pedestal of strength and with a fire of righteousness that galls the ograns and their leader Itzak.
Coinage: The coin of choice in Rakore is the 'ducat', made of recast quartz. Harder than glass and pure gold, but softer than other currencies, the ducat is a long-lasting, six-sided coin with the symbol of Rakore on one side, and its denomination on the other side. The coins are redeemable for gold from the stores of each temple of Lul and many nobles, and their use is carefully controlled by a council of experts on monies and wealth. Dukats come in single copper, silver, and gold denominations, and for merchants and barons, also come in ten gold-piece denominations.
Barter: Larger transactions require gold bullion, certified by the Church of Lul and the ducal crest each ingot bears.
Exports: Rakore exports finely worked metals (including armor), well-crafted carpentry work, sailing vessels, salts, raw lumber, excellent marbles, furs and leathers, fish, and a great deal of unique luxury items.
Imports: The nation imports raw cotton, dyes, wax, and small luxury goods, as well as lead and pitch. Rakoran tariffs are fairly light, though well-enforced, and many foreign merchants are happy to do business with the Rakorans. With moderate taxes that are also well enforced, the Rakoran treasury grows slowly but surely, even though much of its monies go right back out into the economy. Very little of the king's money is spent on the military, because of the fierce loyalty of the dwarves, and the amazing harvests of the farms and hunters.
Customs: Customs officers at the various docks leading into Rakore, and at Loreguard, are unbelievably thorough, patient, implacable, and impervious to bribery. They are also quite fair, and work as quickly as possible, hoping not to slow trade down.
Contraband: Poisons, drugs, unmarked-for-tariff items, and spies are the primary targets of the customs officers. Of particular concern are rubies – specifically ogran-cut rubies that often contain the souls of individuals. The rubies are relics from the Third Crusades, and infiltrated Rakore during the War of the Four Winds.
Noteable: The heart of all Rakoran wealth is undeniably Gideon Enterprises. 'GE' as it is more commonly known, has an armada of trading vessels to ply the seas with, bringing diverse imports in, and sending out exports such as Rakore has. GE founded several towns along the Galanus River to act as way-stops between the mouth of the river, and tributaries that reach towards Mount Lavanor and Mount Basilisk. Those towns grew into cities quickly, and GE imported farmers and artisans to aid in the growth of the cities, from displaced Amaran tribesmen to Sholin fishermen. GE is led by Dwarfendale, baron and bishop of Galgiran and Rakore, Malkir, archer and baron, and Rial Mhenace, manager of Gideon Enterprises.
Capital: The nation is ruled from Mount Basilisk, in the eastern mountain ranges that border the Ogre Nations. Heavily guarded, unseen runes set to go off against anyone with evil intent protect the corridors and hallways. The dwarven craftsmanship has been augmented by many of the other races living within the capital, and the carved caves of the king and his capital within Mount Basilisk are referred to as The Zone.
Lok Magius: Perhaps the only center of magic studies in all the world is Lok Magius, located on the eastern side of Mount Rilan. Heavily defended, heavily defensible, and heavily guarded, the one bastion of the arcane against the Inquisition does not tolerate intruders very well.
Loregard: The most heavily fortified single city in Rakore is Loregard, where several mountain ranges meet in a single valley.
Duchies: There are a dozen duchies within Rakore, each with a duke or duke-equivalent nobleman in charge of the duchies. These duchies report directly to the king, and the titular head of each is often referred to by the name of the duchy. Some of the so-called 'duchies' are complexes of lesser political entities, such as the Mount Rilan, Lok Magius, Rilan, and Lok Giran individual regions that are ruled by the Baron-and-the-Bishop Dwarfendale, treated as a single duchy for purposes of feudal leadership.
Counties and Baronies: There are a number of counties and baronies that are isolated or have special status as nearly independent entities. These city-states within Rakore are overseen by an appointed 'Hearth Shield Duke' officially based out of Mount Basilisk, but who spends much of his time traveling between his various lands. Places such as the Stars End Monastery, Spider Werkz, and other such entities fall within the Hearth Shield duke's realm, as well. All of the following are Hearth Shield:
Cities: The largest city in Rakore is Kashin, at the foot of Mount Lavanor. The capital is Mount Basilisk. The center of trade is Teras. Other villages and hamlets may often be known as 'cities', despite their meager size.
GeoPolitical and Road Maps are available.
The Guard: The professional military and police of Rakore are the Guard. They sometimes possess feudal titles, but the senior leaders of the Guard are explicitly free of such dividing loyalties. Their oaths are given to the towns and cities in which they work on temporary bases, and members of the Guard without families are often rotated throughout Rakore. Their ultimate oath is to the King of Rakore, and so they answer to the King's Quarrel's and the king when not assigned to individual duchies, counties, or baronies. The purpose of the Guard is to have a standing army with loyalties only to the king, whose peace-time function is to enforce the rule of the king and his designated deputies. The Guard also serves to keep dukes or upstarts from thinking that their ducal armies could be used against the king or neighboring dukes. The funds of the Guard are drawn from local sources, but the Guard are instructed to send runners the capitol the moment any local leader withholds pay from the Guard, for the king has promised swift justice to any leader unable to perform his duties.
The primary gods in Rakore are Galgiran and Habrem, with smithing, mining, mathematics, and music taking on considerable importance in the eyes of many. Arpelos is also making considerable headway, being imported from Kur Maeth. Many of the peoples that moved to Rakore also brought their varied gods, who are all allowed considerable freedom of worship. Olorin, Rahne, Elinthar, Barith, Lul, Galanus, and Mikindim are worshipped by a great many citizens, as well. The ograns tend to worship Ktath, a god of vengeance, with some still worshipping Mazripos as penance for their invasion of Rakore. Some are taking their destruction quite heavily, and have turned to Curiss and Xynos.
Temples: The largest single temple is the Cathedral of Rock in Mount Lavanor. The Rakanus dwarves had close to five centuries to carve it out of the granite heart of the mountains and the ancient dwarven caves that had existed there. In the nearby city of Kashin lies the largest temple of Lul in Rakore, known as the Eagle's Feather church, with a massive library imported from the far east and Rhythis Keep before its fall. Tikira, at the base of Mount Basilisk, has a large temple to Rahne known as the Fist of Defiance. The largest temple to Olorin is at the mouth of the Galanus River, in the city of Teras, and it is known as the Shelongelae. The Temple of the Trees in Takanal is well known as a home to Barith and Whalin, as the fruits of the garden have been known to heal diseases and cure miseries.
Mount Rilan is a single large mountain found in the heart of the Rakoran Forest, nearly one-hundred miles from the next mountain or hill. Mount Rilan has slowly become the religious heart of Rakore, with large temples and congregations devoted to Mikindim, Barith, and Elinthar. Mount Rilan is a barony under the control of the bishop and the baron Nodrom Fistforger, a specialty priest of Galgiran and warrior extraordinaire. The Bishop and the Baron has constructed Lok Giran, or 'Fortress of the Soul', half-way up one side of the mountain, and constructed Lok Magius, or 'Fortress of the Mage', near the top on the other side. Followers of Galanus consider the entire mountain holy, for beneath it in dimply lit tunnels once lay the Book of the Dead – the powerful artifact of Galanus that allowed Demik Coruth to come to power. The mountain itself is protect by the Baron and the Bishop's forces, as well as the loyal priests of Galanus.
Because of the laws, the priests of varying faiths meet at Mount Lavanor once each year to work out differences in faiths and interpretations of the various holy books. A monastery of Samis exists in the highlands near Firland on the western coast, and their insights into language and interpretation has been welcomed by the other churches – though the more neutral monks of Samis are continually watched for signs of their more evil brethren.
In the Johnathon Hills, the kobolds have constructed a monastery to Curiss, and they call it (in the Common Tongue) 'the Boneyard'. Many of the bones and bodies of Rakorans killed during the war were burned with their ashes interred in the earth – but the Boneyard collects as many bones as it can, protecting them from the undead and offering their souls eternal rest.
Legends abound about the 'dancing lights' of the Tikranor Plateau. According to myth, anyone who can find the source of the dancing, aurora-like lights at ground level, will find a treasure of considerable wealth.
Though no priest will confirm or deny it, the legendary Book of the Dead was rumored to have been stored in a vault beneath Mount Rilan. If true, it would make Mount Rilan doubly holy, for Lok Giran was built there by the Baron and Bishop Dwarfendale.
In keeping with Rakore's anti-Inquisition sentiment, a green dragon and a druidess of a companion reportedly guard the lands between Mount Rilan and Mount Basilisk. The only establishment in that areas is Baron Sadic Brevit's fortress. The baron claims that his wild mage friend, Jandor Firelight, is responsible for the sightings through his wild magic.
Deep within the forests of Rakore lies the ruins of an ancient elven city, though where it is, no one can say. The wealth of that whole city is supposedly buried beneath stone or water or trees, depending on where it is supposedly located. Historically, the elven city of Shivastaenel did reside somewhere within the forests. The city was wiped out by a grippli infection, and with the disease running rampant, the city was soon lost to the wilds – its populace unplundered because of the wildly growing rose vines that overtook it.
King Feldspar Graniteshoulders: Short even for a hill dwarf, the king of Rakore used to know more jokes than any dwarf alive. He used his jokes to diffuse tense situations, as well as teach lessons; since the War of the Four Winds, his jokes have stopped, but not his mind. Shrewd and gruff, the king is quite willing to listen to all advice, though his ruthless questions can often cut to the heart of any problem. The king is a veteran of plenty of battles against orcs, the undead, and many assassination attempts. He is also a miner and stone-mason of fair quality.
Duke Canneth Dwarfkiller: Duke of the Tikranor Plateau and obstensibly overlord of the remaining orcs in Rakore, Duke Dwarfkiller is (at best) tolerated by the rest of the king's council. Only King Graniteshoulders seems able to reign in the towering orc fighter, and yet Canneth is surprisingly forthwright about everything, including his hatred of the dwarves. The duke does a fair job of keeping the orcs in the plateau from causing trouble elsewhere in Rakore. A tough leader among tough orcs, the duke is nearly impossible to kill with conventional military means. The insignia of the General is that of a roc-hawke with its wings spread and tiny figures clutched in its claws, in solid black on a dark tan field.
Father Bryan Stonegrudge: Head of the Church of Galgiran in Rakore, he is the ArchBishop of Galgiran, though his common title is 'Father'. A kind and amiable mountain dwarf, his fiery red beard often precedes him around corners. When the situation calls for it, he can be more militant than any general, organizing his priests and followers as no one else can. He is a veteran of the orc wars, and the War of the Undead, and has called up the wrath of Galgiran on many occasions to smite his foes.
Duchess Genea Anahliest: Duchess of the forests north of Tikira and south of Loreguard, Genea is the last remaining princess of the Drow city of Tyven. She pledged her house jewels to the crown of Rakore in exchange for a safe-haven for the dark elves. King Graniteshoulders keeps her house jewels safe within his vaults, and plans to return the jewels to the duchess when she marries, if ever. The duchess has rallied many dark elves to her from all over Gaeleth, and she uses their combined wealth to build inns run by dark elves, with the inns serving as local focuses for mercenaries, peace keepers, and weapons' training – and the monies that funnel in going to finance the search for more dark elves.
Rial Mhenace: The head manager of Gideon Enterprises, he is probably the wealthiest man in all of the west. A master of information and information gathering, he single-handedly catapulted Gideon Enterprises a position of dominance in Rakore.
Duke Mrek Betheld'aa: Ruler of the Johnathon Hills, Duke Mrek has a deep hatred of the ogres. Some of his kobolds had relative friendships with the Stonehelm dwarves before the War of the Four Winds, and his duchy has contributed much to the remaining Stonehelm dwarves – and in return, the Stonehelms have adopted their former foes. Duke Mrek is a veteran scout, thief, and insurgent against his former ogran masters – having lost a horn and several hunks of flesh to an ogre that was 'teaching him a lesson'.
Duke Travandale Orcbane: Ruler of Hallis Island after the passing of Duke Henrik Kamus, the king obstensibly moved Duke Orcbane to Hallis Island to forcibly retire the aging dwarf, and hopefully remove him from active combat operations. Duke Orcbane served as the king's military advisor from the inception of Rakore, and led numerous assaults during the War of the Four Winds. Prior to that, he served as a war-band leader for many assaults against the undead, ograns, and even the elves in his youth. He lost a hand sometime after the War of the Undead, and had it replaced with a functional mithral hand. Duke Orcbane is perhaps the most decorated military and combat veteran in all Rakore. He is an experienced, tough, wise, charismatic, and gruff war vet that takes no duff from anyone, even the king.
Duke Talon Bhramord: Once the archprelate of all Kur Maeth, Duke Talon led a rebellion against Kur Maeth in the midst of that nation's invasion of Rakore during the War of the Four Winds. For bringing over close to 35,000 Kur Maens to his side and aiding Rakore in its hour of darkest need, the former archprelate was given control over the bread-basket of Rakore – the Janis Plains. Many of the defecting Kur Maens moved there, and Chasadan has become an enormous city in Rakore, second only to Kashin in size. The coat of arms for the lone duke's house is an eagle's talon wrapped around twin longswords, solid blue with white lines denoting the edges of the claws and the longswords, on a white background.
Duke Grimshire: Baron, then Count, and now Duke of Kashin, Grimshire is a wiley and shrewd ruler. He tends to have a perpetual smile of one form or another on his face, no matter the circumstances, enjoying his 'retirement' of watching over Kashin. The count is tall, at six feet and three inches, and is a formidable maceman, often wearing chain under his surcoat of office. He speaks Common, Dwarven, and Amaran quite fluently, and has a smattering of Elven, as well. He is perhaps best-known for always wearing a heavy gauntlet on his left hand, to hide heavy fire scarring and to protect the fire-vulnerable flesh. He is considered just as formidable with his gauntlet, in a fight, as he is with the large mace he keeps hanging from his belt. The coat of arms of the House of Grimshire is a white hart on a black background.
Because of the vast industrial base that encompasses all races and backgrounds in Rakore, most of its citizens have productive hobbies of some sort that can bring in additional monies or serve as a second profession. Few Rakorans cannot pick up a weapon and use it effectively, and they are vicious combatants in a fight, with an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to battle.