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The Baklunish Lands:

Ruler: His Illustrious Glory, Zoltan; The Beygraf of Ket and Shield of the True Faith
Capital: Lopolla (pop. 23,400)
Population: 85,000
Major Cities: Molvar (pop. 14,500)
As of CY 576

Ket is the Baklunish frontier land, the edge between the culture of the old Baklunish empire and that of the Flanaess at large. Ket is a major center of commerce, trading with many of the nations surrounding it, including the Baklunish states and neighboring eastern lands such as Bissel, Veluna, and Perrenland.

Ket is mostly surrounded by mountains, and the exact borders along those mountains between Ket and other nations is unclear. Ket's Beygrafs have rarely given them much attention, though, mining silver, gems, and copper as far as possible without any incidents.

People

The Ketite people are of a unique mix of racial stocks, blending Suel and Oeridian blood with the Baklunish to give the people a distinct appearance, having skin ranging from pale yellow to tan.

Even though Ket's people are a mix of races, the Baklunish culture is doubtless dominant. Trade from the Flanaess tempers the cultural difference, so it is not as pronounced as in Tusmit, Ekbir, or Zeif, but it is Baklunish nonetheless.

The common people of Ket are Lawful Neutral or Neutral in alignment, with an undercurrent of Evil strong in some areas. This outlook places the individual in dead last, with the Lawful Neutrals seeing society as more important and the Lawful Evils seeing themselves as more important. This leads to a mix of fatalism and moral apathy, and the people generally follow the laws (Evil twisting them) without caring much about the morals the laws are meant to enforce. "Right" and "wrong" don't amount to much, if anything, in Ket.

Society

Ket, as has been noted, is very strongly mercantile, shown by the fact that a large proportion of its populace lives in the cities. (Of course, Ket has a considerable transient population, and the figures given should be considered estimates, usually around the average population.) The society reflects this, and various benefits are given to merchants, who function as a sort of sub-nobility.

Below the Beygraf in the social stratus of Ket are the Pashas, who are four in number and hold considerable influence. The Bashaws have authority as the law-enforcers of the Beygraf in the areas around Lopolla, Northern Ket (including Molvar), the western Bramblewood and the foothills of the Lortmils, and the eastern Bramblewood and the border with Bissel. There is an Emir in each of the major cities; the Emir of Molvar reports to the local Pasha, whereas the Emir of Lopolla is directly responsible to the Beygraf.

As has been mentioned, merchants (at least the richer ones) are directly below nobility in the ranks of Ket. Since they are the driving force of the economy that makes Ket rich, the well-to-do merchants hold considerable influence in the Beygraf's court. Lesser merchants (defined by their considerably smaller fortunes) do not hold this kind of influence, and indeed are often strong-armed by the more affluent as a means of weakening or eliminating competition.

Commoners are not given many rights or priveleges in Ket. Those who are involved in farming are slightly better-off than the people who toil in the silver, copper, and gem mines.

Culture

As has been noted, Ket's culture is mostly Baklunish with some outside influence. It is also noteworthy that Ketite culture is more "rough" than the rest of the civilized Baklunish states, necessitated by its status as a frontier state. The aforementioned fatalism gives many of the people a slightly dark outlook, with life and death being less meaningful than in many areas of the Flanaess.

That said, Ket should be seen as a place of rough, somewhat diluted, but still strange, exoticism. The dress is in the form of gowns and robes so often favored by northern Bakluni, but the colors are somewhat less gaudy and more dark, reflecting the outlook and status of Ket. This comes as a sharp contrast to the strongly Oeridian traders who hail from Veluna and Perrenland. Despite claims to the contrary, complex, puffy dress is not worn often in Ket.

Language

The language of Ket is worth mentioning. Officially, Baklunish is the Ketite tongue, but trade with easter lands has become so prevalent as to make Common a necessity, and it is sometimes spoken in public by the more cosmopolitan. In Molvar, Common is almost the official language, as so many people speak it. Baklunish is far more common in Lopolla. One must speak Baklunish to have a truly in-depth conversation in Ket, as most Ketites do not speak more than enough Common to get along, and commoners may only know a few random words.

Politics

In both internal and external affairs, Ket is a hotbed of political intrigues. There are regular border clashes with Tusmit and Bissel, and the Beygraf is always wary of those two realms. Zoltan has his eyes on Bissel in particular, as he wants a foothold on the Barrier Peaks and a route to the riches which lay in them. He is thus also interested in manipulating the Paynims near the northern Barrier Peaks.

There are, of course, many Paynim tribes directly west of Ket, and they have wildly varying views of Ket. Some are aligned with the nation, while more make war on Ket's western border, which is disturbing for the Beygraf, since it is bad for trade.

Internally, the Pashas frequently squabble over pieces of land, though often they are controlled by the Beygraf. More commonly, the richer merchants work intrigues against each other. The nobility turns its back on this, since it encourages creative and crafty ways of trade, benefitting the already flourishing economy.

Religion

The major religions of Ket are Baklunish, with Istus worshipped as a general result and partial cause of the fatalism of the Ketites. Geshtai is also comonly worshipped. Among merchants, a tremendous following of Kestal (detailed hereafter), a Baklunish god not worshipped in the Flanaess proper, exists. Zilchus also has a following, though not as large as Kestal's. A handful of shrines exist to some gods listed as "Common", and there is a known group of monks dedicated to Xan Yae in Lopolla. Thieves are also said to venerate Xan Yae, and her worship in general is frowned upon by merchants.

Kestal (Lesser God)
Origin:Baklunish
Alignment:N
Worshipper's Alignment:Any
Priests' Alignment:Any
Portfolio:Merchants, Trade, Intrigue
Gender:Male

Kestal is the Baklunish god of Merchants, Trade, and Intrigue. His following is very strong in Ket and Ekbir, weaker in other Baklunish lands. He is not known outside the Baklunish territories, thus he has not been included in any compilation of nown gods of the Flanaess.

Kestal's church is a powerful entity in Ket. Priests wield great influence among the merchants, and thus among the entirety of the Beygraf's court. The priests themselves are usually merchants, and the precise ways of the faith are never revealed to non-believers, so little is known about the Kestalite church.

Lopolla

The capital of Ket is not a particularly large or flourishing city, and it is not noted for its exquisite architecture or centers of learning. Lopolla is, quite simply, a mercantile city. The population, which averages around 23,400, will sometimes swell to half again that number as Paynim tribes, Baklunish caravans, and sometimes even Eastern merchants converge. This is especially true in Richfest, which is celebrated by a tremendous bazaar. Some estimates say that as many as 40,000 people may have been in Lopolla on Midsummer's Day, CY 569.

In Lopolla, it is possible to find almost anything one wants (within reason) if one looks. Prices are average, somewhat above that if the buyer is not skilled at haggling prices down, a practice generally known and accepted in Lopolla. The citizenry is generally Neutral or Lawful Neutral, though a considerable number of merchants and thieves are Lawful Evil. However, the trading nature of the city does tend to attract some unsavory types--brutish mercenaries, uncivilized Paynims, and worse--and these may be trouble for anyone who stands out from a crowd, particularly foreign adventurers.

Away from the poorer sections of the city and the tremendous market are the houses of the Beygraf's court and the Beygraf's palace itself, as well as the houses of richer merchants. Unlike the rest of Lopolla, which is mostly utilitarian with a Baklunish twist, this area is truly Baklunish--from the domes on down. The houses and palace are lavishly decorated, at much expense, a necessity of keeping up face among the nobles. Many of the titled nobility live in Lopolla, serving as members of the Beygraf's court or administrators of the city.

Molvar

Though smaller in size and in trade than Lopolla, Molvar does not lack in comparison to its cousin in wealth. The trade route to Perrenland north of Molvar is significant --indeed, when border skirmishes or invasions block off one or more ways into Ket proper, it becomes critical.

Molvar is rich for another reason, though. It is here that the mining houses live. These are extraordinarily rich merchants or minor nobles who handle the mining of silver, copper, and various gems in the mountains north of the city. Fittingly enough, Molvar is also the site of the only mint in Ket, where silver and copper are made into coins. (Note:gold, platinum, and electrum pieces are never made in Ket.) The silver coins, stamped with Ket's heraldic symbol on one side and the face of the Beygraf on the other, are called (fittingly) "scimitars," whereas those of copper have a shield and are named "shields."

Molvar's citizenry is often mercantile, but the markets are not as flooded with goods as Lopolla's. Trade with Perrenland is profitable, though, and as the mine workers live outside of the city, it is largely prosperous.

Afterword

I considered putting a "People of Ket" NPC section in here, but that would be FAR too massive, and this work is long enough as it is. After some other projects are finished, I may create a good number of NPCs for Ket and the other lands, but that is after other projects.

The people of Lopolla and the merchant houses themselves deserve an entire article on them, and there is always the possibility of that as an addendum to this work.

Well, that's all for now. It's an overview of Ket, perhaps changing the angle it is viewed at somewhat. I hope to do another article, the People of the Flanaess:The Baklunish, shortly that will put all of the lands into a somewhat different perspective.

For ideas and creative support, I would like to especially thank Erik Mona (Iquander), and thanks as well to Roger E. Moore, LoupRouge@aol.com, and Rasgon@aol.com for their suggestions. The Greyhawk community is great, and I wouldn't be doing this without said community.

-Wayne S. Rossi
Ashtar


To the throne room...