Roun

Roun.

Flag Nine interlocking rings on a dark blue background
Capital New Roun (Also known as Novara)
Government Absolute Monarchy

Roun spans from the southern two thirds of the eastern island of Pharae to the borders with Lycia, making up the entirity of the north half of central Pharae. Sanctioning worship of the Archdevils of the Nine Hells, the militarised nation was long the major threat to peace in Pharae before the rise of Murvoth. Roun is certainly a nation of two peoples. To the north and on the island are the full Rounmen, red and blonde haired people who adhere to the old way of ROun where might makes right. In the south are the new Rounmen, showing a mixture of traits from all four nations of central Pharae, having mixed with the occupiedToldeo, Fliuvan and Aethlian blood. The people of south Roun are still ruthless, but they are not barbaric, preferring a more civilised form of advancement, perhaps more preferable to their diabolic patrons.

History

The nation of Roun has its origins in the island to the east from whence it gets its name. A race of men came to prominence on the forested and hilly island, most similar to the Aethlains of Albion with their pale skin and long blonde or red hair. To make up for their lack of natural resources, the Rounmen became masters of raiding warfare and ship building, launching many raids on the coastline of the old Novaran Empire. Throughout, the national deity of Roun remained Kord, with worship of Heironeus and Hextor remaining widespread, the Rounmen were an annoyance to the nations of continental Pharae, but little more. All the while, their shipwrights and blacksmiths remained integral for trade between the continent and the island.

And then, about 120 years after the fall of the Novaran Empire (only a few after Arthrus united Albion), the Muercians of the north eastern region of Pharae, a technologically advanced people from the desert who worship an abstract embodiment of Good, launched an invasion of Roun. Citing a prophecy of the rise of the Ahriman (the Muecian religion’s embodiment of evil) in the hearts of the Rounmen, the army of Muercia wiped out the berserkers of Roun, more suited to hit and runs than to pitched battles. The entirety of Roun was conquered, and every shrine and Temple, no matter who to, was razed to the ground.

The Rounmen struggled under Muercian rule for decadess, forbidden from worship of any deity and slowly converted to the Muercian faith, until, just over a century ago, a cabal of Rounman sorcerers began a fell ritual, sacrificing their lives and those of an entire village to bind the essences of the Nine Hells to nine rings, which were then scattered throughout the island. Over the next few years, adventurers from around the island found the rings, which brought the nine of them together. Infused with the power of the Archdevils, the Knights of the Nine led a localised rebellion against Muercian rule, reclaiming the south of Roun for the natives.

Many Rounmen from the North subsequently fled to the new Duchy in the south, led by the mighty Bohemund, Knight of the Ninth, who had also acquired the legendary Phoenix Helm from the leader of the Muercians, giving him endless life as long as his helm remained on his head. Overpopulation quickly became a major problem, and the Rounmen returned to their old raiding ways, mounting co-ordinated cavalry assaults on Northern Albion and Fliuva. But it was clear that these minor assaults weren’t enough, and the rounmen needed a new, fertile homeland away from their island.

The next raiding party was not like the rest, a great army lead by all nine of Roun’s Knights spearheaded through Albion, breaking through the Huskarls of the then-King Aethelred. They continued through the centre of Pharae, pushing aside the mercenary soldiers of Fliuva and whatever soldiers the Three Kings of Toldeon sent to help. A month after they had landed on Pharae, the Rounmen reached their goal, the old city of Novara on the banks of the River Prima. The Fliuvans immediately retreated from the battle, and Novara became New Roun, the new homeland of the Rounmen.

Over the next few years, the Rounmen consolidated their hold over the entire Northern coast of Pharae, consolidating the Duchy’s rule over the barbarians of the north east, and the Toldeos and Fliuvans of the north. Ten years ago, the Rounmen launched a second great assault, annexing Eastern Fliuva, Northern Toldeon and Northern Albion, while the Toldeos and Fliuvans grudgingly accepted the rule of Roun, the subjugated men of Albion rebelled, causing the entire region to be razed to the ground, with none left alive in a two month long campaign remembered by history as the Harrowing. An uneasy peace then led over central Pharae, Albion, Fliuva and Toldeon hoping the Rounmen have enough leibusraum now that they control the entire old Novaran heartland and Roun hoping to eventually establish the legitimacy of its rule as it plans campaigns into Muercia and the Dwarven lands.

Their next campaign, however, was against Albion again when the new King Morcar the Red decided to once again attempt to reclaim Holshire, burned to the ground in the Harrowing and Hyldshire. After the Huskarls of Albion managed to retake Hyldshire and the citadel of Horn (now named Thorn), Morcar got overconfident, and was slain during a battle in Holshire by Archduke Bohemund himself after taking an arrow to the eye. The next fifteen years were consumed by battle between Roun and Albion on the southern border, with Edwin the Blue also being slain when dark magic caused Excalibur to abandon him. The war only ended after Roun had been pushed back by the encromancy of Albion’s new Lich King, Murvoth. A peace was negotiated with the help of Quintus, the Fifth Heirophant of Tir Tinagria. Albion and Roun would cease all conflict, and put their military efforts towards the eradication of the cults of the Demon Princes, particularly Baphomet.

Roun now turns its sights once again to the east, with the Archduke’s current plans being to retake the entirity of their island homeland from Muercia. However, for some reason word is spreading that Quintus is inciting many of the Dukes to war with Albion again…

Government

Roun is a feudal society, with all land technically being owned by its King and Archduke, Bohemund. This land is divided into Duchies, granted to men in the King’s service who rule it themselves, and also give out parts of their land to Counts and Barons. All land is heavily taxed, and the money goes directly to the crown to aid in their war efforts and also in the crown’s philanthropy and sacrifices the the Nine Archdevils.

Each Duke holds his own court in his Duchy, and is in full control of the law there (unless he cedes contorl to his Counts and Barons in their own holdings), though the Archduke reserves the right to take over any judgement himself. Justice is entirely in the hands of the Duke, though he will beseech the courts of the Nine Hells and Primus, and trial by battle is somewhat common, the decision remains entirely his.

There is no conscription on Roun, but due to the militaristic nature of the society it is often the best way for people to advance, so most villages will have many of their sons (and some daughters) join the armies of Roun. The army is put to use both in Roun’s military campaigns, and also simply in monster control. While adventurers in Roun are subsidised by the crown, the barbarians of the north east and the various monsters of the far north often need military intervention to pacify.

The army itself has lost its original heavy focus on cavalry. Cavalry still play a large part, but most of the army is now highly trained infantry, lead by specialist and exceptional commanders. Due to the low population density of the nation, while the army is quite large it has many small regiments, all captained by the best soldiers, tacticians and otherwise distinguished in the military.

Worship of the Archdevils is the only condoned worship in Roun, with every town having a Temple or Shrine to one of the Nine. While worship of other deities is officially banned, other Gods of war and also those who emphasise the role of order and self-improvement are allowed the stay. Other gods worshipped in Roun hence include Dome, Heironeous, Kord, Hextor, Boccob, St. Cuthbert and Primus.

While government is entirely in the hands of the immortal Archduke Bohemund, he is also advised closely by the other Knights of the Nine, many of whom also hold Duchies. While he decides all law officially, he generally allows the Dukes who have proved themselves free reign in their own duchies, as long as they recognise his supremacy.

Society

The key value in Rouen culture is that the exceptional will be rewarded, and eveyrone else should work to uphold their ability. If anyone is in your way and you have the aiblity to remove them, you should, but don’t expect them to go quietly. The Duke’s, and even the Archduke’s, favour is always available for exceptional warriors, great adventurers, inspiring clerics or prodigious artists (as long as they tow the party line and glorify the Archdevils and the value of order) and anyone who can rise high will. There is no pity in Roun for the weak, or even the defeaten. If a person has to ask for help too much, or are publicly shamed by a rival in their field, they will be socially ostracised for weakening the community, and hence the nation.

The culture of Roun manifests differently in the North and South. In the North and on the eastern island, the full Rounmen are still very much entrenched in the raiding ways of their ancestors. Villages in the same Duchy will compete with each other for the sparse resources of their lands, slaying their own people if they are too weak to resist. However, the Rounmen do not see this is slaughter, but as improving their society – if the weak are killed, only the strong will survive. Dukes keep control through shows of strength and through their control of justice and patronage of the great, who then enter their own service.

This is especially true in North Roun, a cold, almost arctic land with more monsters and barbarians than civilised people. New settlements are established all the time, and are destroyed jsut as quickly by monster attacks or by rival villages. When the army manages to push back the lands of the monsters or barbarians, the settlers jsut push ever further into dangerous territory.

However, in south Roun the mongrel Rounmen are just as ruthless, just in a different way. Haivng taken lands rich in resources from Old Novara and their neighbouring nations, the people of south Roun no longer adhere to a might makes right philosophy. There is still constant conflcit though, as individual families seek to constantly heighten their status, gain more favour from those in power and reduce the power of other families in their town or village. It is very common for a town to have less than ten actual families there, as those whose leaders were weaker, or simply had a poorer family spirit, were brought low and destroyed by the other families in the community. Again, there is no malice, the Rounmen believe this ruthless behaviour makes them stornger as a people. They may even be right, the underpopulation and high aspiration means even villagers in Roun have quite a high quality of life – as long as they can survive the intrigue of Rounman village life.

Duchies

Roun

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