Rica

Culture

Owing to the bustling trade that passes through their ports, the people of Rica have a flair for the exotic. Strangers are welcomed with open arms and offered all manner of entertainment and earthly delights, so long as they have the coin for it. Combined with ocean currents that bring warm waters and pleasant weather north over Varalon, Rica is famed as a paradise without rival.

Beyond the ports, however, the festive veneer of Rica gives way to a land of deep class division. Sultans, kings, and wealthy traders govern from luxurious estates while crime and poverty fester in the streets. Even where the rule of law is strong, it only exists as a means of exploiting the poor.

Language

The primary language of Rica is Cirth, a language that has become the de facto trade tongue around the world due to the success of Rican trade routes. Many Ricans also speak Gor’ek as a second language due to the history of angori slavery in the region. On the mainland, the smallfolk are fluent in Durnamn, the language of the dwarves. In the ports, of course, it’s common to hear languages from across the world, and the most successful traders make a point of learning multiple tongues as a result.

Demographics

Humans are the most common race in Rica, with a sparse but visible population of sea-faring angori. Tyre is more diverse, featuring a number of outlanders and uordeq. Smallfolk are abundantly concentrated in and around Trinketshire. Sylphs and undines are a common sight on vessels sailing through the region. Simulacra are as rare as they are anywhere else, with the exception of homunculi, who are a common sight on Poulo. Fae, ferals, and sylvan are rare, but no race is unheard of due to Rica’s inherent diversity.

Politics

Most of the western islands of Rica, as well as Tyre and its neighbor Caicos in the east, are populated and civilized. Individual islands are largely self-ruled, while regional matters are handled by a loose alliance of five independent city-states known as the Cirtheen Accord. Exima, Tyre, and Trinketshire form the voting powers of this alliance. Poulo and Talaud, though members, hold no sway within the group as a result of past wars and treaties.

Immortals

Much like the people, a diverse group of immortals hold sway within Rica. Ivelis is most common in the west and Syflare in the east, though both have strong followings throughout the region. Mynra was once favored as well, but most of her temples stand empty since the Shattering. The smallfolk of the mainland hold to their own immortals, especially Brodix, Drelani, Imphalios, and Espidrel. Pirates, slavers, and the corrupt politicians who support them hold to the teachings of Hexadus, Tenaebrus, and Thirsife, but never before the eyes of the public.

Areas

  • Alaquad Isle - During the Age of Wonders, Rica was a single landmass extending off of Rastemier. The grand civilization of Alaquad thrived there, developing magic and technology far beyond the capabilities of the age, some even more advanced than the present day. Then a great cataclysm tore their kingdom into the islands we know today. Alaquad ruins remain scattered throughout Rica to this day, but none more so than on the northern isles, between which the capital is said to have sunken into the sea.
  • Ambon Isles - Most sailors steer clear of the Ambon Isles, not only for fear of the rocky reefs surrounding them, but of the harpies who dwell there. The bird people are infamous for breeding wyverns and preying upon passing ships. They have a special fondness for attacking experimental flying and sailing vessels bound from Trinketshire, which has earned them no small amount of enmity from the gnomes.
  • Exima - The island of Exima and the neighboring Luzon Isles fall under the rule of the Sultan of Quito. A wealthy and prosperous city-state, Exima exports fresh produce, particularly bananas, but derives the bulk of its income from the taxation of vital trade routes. As one of the major powers in the region, it exerts a great deal of influence in the Cirtheen Accord and is chiefly responsible for enforcing the rule of law on the open sea. Because of this, it often finds itself in conflict, both politically and militarily, with the city-state of Tyre.
  • Makasar - The island of Makasar is a dangerous, untamed wilderness dominated by the largest volcano on Orn. The island is populated by tribes of ogres known to be especially strong and primitive, supposedly due to their consumption of fiendseed, a spiny fruit that is native to the island. Sailors avoid the island for fear of being captured by the ogres and sacrificed to their volcano-god "Makatuna."
  • Poulo - City-state known for producing spices, particularly dryft, a rare spice that only grows there. Once processed, dryft has many uses in alchemy and is known to produce visions of the future when used in incense or tea, but cultivating it causes madness. The ruling family of Poulo is said to be crazed for this reason.
  • Sulu Arch - Many trade routes pass by the Sulu Arch, but none ever stop there. The waters are infested by schools of piranha, and the islands are overrun by cannibalistic pygmies who attack and overwhelm anyone foolish enough to come ashore. They are fond of putting the bones of their victims on display as a warning to others.
  • Sumba Isles - Throughout the Vedrischtal and much of the Twilight, the Sumba Isles were used by pirate groups as a base for smuggling and slave-trading operations. Countless angori slaves from Varalon were trafficked there, with many dying en route or being drowned as examples to keep others in line. To this day, there is an indelible stain on the place, where the angry spirits of drowned angori continue to haunt the forgotten treasure of their captors. This is to say nothing of the living pirates who still operate there, capitalizing on Sumba’s grim reputation to conceal their operations.
  • Talaud Isles - Talaud was once a proud city-state that boasted the largest shipping yard in all of Orn. Several decades ago, it vied for control of the choicest shipping lanes against Exima and lost. It managed to retain its independence through shrewd diplomacy but lost its voting rights within the Cirtheen Accord, along with most of its clout in the region. Its people have since fallen on hard times, being forced to pay heavy tariffs to Exima on their fishing and whaling business.
  • Trinketshire - The gnomes say that Brodix himself founded Trinketshire, though any factual account of its origins have been lost to disasters through the ages. It is a marvelous sight to behold, however, and the undisputed homeland of the gnome race. Vast networks of machine-dug tunnels stretch deep beneath the surface, populated by the largest population of gnomes in existence. Every few decades, the seated king of Trinketshire gets an inkling to institute a better method of organization for the city, but the net effect has been the creation of the world’s largest labyrinth. Some sections collapse or get cut off and fall into disuse, creating areas that resemble dungeons more than a sprawling city. All the while, the gnomes continue tinkering, too busy to be bothered with the next catastrophe their habits are creating.
  • Tyre - The Isle of Tyre and the neighboring Caicos Isle are both ruled by the King of Merth. Like its counterpart Exima, Tyre is powerful and wealthy. And while Merth deals in some legitimate exports, especially sugar and molasses, it is better known for its lax laws. Many accuse the government of Merth of being corrupt, and the city-state is well known for allowing gambling, prostitution, piracy, and similarly illicit activities to go on within its borders.

Mysteries

On any given night, a traveler can overhear the sailors of Rica telling grand stories of moving islands, lost riches, and monsters lurking beneath the waves. Whether these tales are fact, fancy, or embellishment is unclear.

  • Bird of Paradise - A magical bird lives on the eastern islands, so beautiful that it is painful to behold. Anyone who manages to capture this bird can barter a single wish from it in return for its release. The first Sultan of Quito established his rule this way.
  • Gold Graveyard - The Lucky Dice, flag ship of the dread pirate Atrius Bloodbrand, went down amidst a tide of blood and treachery somewhere near the Sumba Isles. Close to a dozen other Gold Coast Corsairs ships also sank during the conflict, creating a graveyard of untold riches at the ocean’s bottom. The treasure is cursed, however; disturbing even a single coin rouses the ghosts of the fallen pirates, forcing them to reenact their final hours and drag the foolish treasure hunters down with them.
  • Isle of Shadows - There exists an island that only appears once every century during a lunar eclipse. Those who become trapped on the island leap forward in time just as the island does, returning to the sea to discover the world changed and everyone they knew or loved long dead.
  • Merfolk - A hidden society of aquatic humanoids dwells in the dark of the ocean’s depths. Mermen, merrows, selkies, grindylows, and a dozen other breeds make up this dominion, all ruled by the powerful tritons. The tritons maintain strict order, preventing their kind from mingling with the air breathers above. Some believe they are remnants of the Alaqua people who vanished ages ago.
  • Sea Monsters - Every port has its favorite sea monster. In Talaud, whalers warn against the wrath of krakens. In Exima, sailors tell stories about leviathans. The pirates of Tyre whisper of giant hydras in the deep. Even the smallfolk of Trinketshire have legends about zaratans, turtles the size of small islands. Though the nature of the sea monsters changes from one version to the next, they all share certain traits in common: Impossible size, infrequent appearance, and a penchant for capsizing ships.

Parlance

  • “Fair seas and full sails.” - Used in parting.
  • “First drop in the coming storm.” - Often used as a curse before spitting at someone. May also be used to describe an ominous occurrence.
  • “Flotsam” - Colloquialism for someone who’s gone mad from using dryft.
  • "Sea of Ashes" - Colloquial name given to the seas surrounding Rica. Most ascribe the name to the volcanoes in the region, though historians suspect it may have originated from fiery naval battles in ages past.