Writing the Lightning

July 2010



“Building a better universe today to merchandise tomorrow!”


Why, yes, it is July 2010 already, isn’t it? About time for an update on worldbuilding. This little chapter is all about local alliances and conflicts, since your fantasy country is unlikely to exist in a vacuum. This is a fairly simple arrangement (go look up the Holy Roman Empire or read Flint’s 1632 et al for the complicated ones).


By the way, Flint and the whole Grantville Gang are this month’s worldbuilders. Though they are using historical data, they are using it in a comprehensive and less watered down fashion than most other authors do when ripping—er, researching, yeah, researching actual Earth history. (see Harry Turtledove and how he managed to turn a doctorate in Byzantine history into solid fantasy series). Besides, I’m a serious Richelieu fan, and he’s used extremely well in the 1632 series.


So, here’s the information on the Manasti League among the severed provinces of Talisgran, and a foreign country that once attempted to conquer various parts of Talisgran (but is feeling much better now, and swears never to try it again, honest!).


            Manasti League provisos

                        Signatory cities

                        General provisions

                        Trade provisions

                        Political alliances


            Signatory Cities: The Manastic League is a voluntary association of major cities, mostly in the south and west, who have agreed to act together in several different manners and otherwise avoid trashing each other.

            Member cities/provinces:

                        Duchy of Argnon


                        Catarona of Cuda




            General Provisions: These cities/provinces have sworn not to invade each other and to offer trade to each other on fair terms. Representatives from each city/province meet together once each year in a rotating location (it was Argnon last year, and will be Catarona this year) to discuss mutual problems and concerns. Note that Lemgol is NOT a member, and usually forms the battleground on which problems not resolvable through negotiation are worked out. What is left of local administration is neither strong or organized enough to either repel any invaders or become cohesive enough to function as a full member--and this is mostly their own fault, since the many different factions or Great Houses tend to spend all their time going after each other rather than unifying. Brettan and Kuseltin don't really trust Cuda all much, but generally depend on Argnon to keep an eye on things. Argnon would like Horbdin to become a member to guard Argnon's eastern flank because they don't trust Mayellin, but so far in vain (mostly because Argnon is clearly the dominant member and Horbdin doesn't like bowing to anyone. Horbdin has formed a modest association of its own, but mostly with the smaller states around it which are pretty much wholly-owned subsidiaries anyway). Rabrus, as one of the less influential members, has an understanding with Chelde just in case Kuseltin forgets their alliance.

            Provisions include ways to negotiate, ways to include the Church as an arbitrator for various disputes, fines for border incursions, extradition of criminals, mutual famine/disaster relief, assurance of access to the Hernsrun and the Brysa, protocol for dealing with dragons, mutual defense against foreign invasion (whether by other provinces not a signatory or by foreign countries such as Ramius, Issanac, Grand Marq, or Allante--Azdab's not very aggressive except in self-defense), and marriage alliances (or why Lady Elian got stuck with the Baron of Mayellin).

            Trade Provisions: Trade among signatory countries is usually without any special tariffs like those levies on other countries. In a way, it's a bit of self-protection against the massive tolls levied on goods coming down from the north. It also allows for toll free transportation of goods from the south all the way to the Brysa through Kuseltin (though caravans must provide their own protection when approaching the borders of Peyer--they make no guarantees!). Extra toll free shipping is also available on the Talis for these countries to the northernmost port of Kuseltin. It allows for generally free trade in goods between all the provinces etc., which gives Cuda a major advantage at the port of Argnon over Allante (one of the main reasons it joined). Mayellin has a secret agreement with Allante, though, to harass Argnon from time to time and to allow both Allante and Mayellin to expand eastward into Azdab until such time as the government there wakes up and smells the coffee.

            The Manasti League cities also have a standard contract for the hiring of mercenaries for caravans which is being adopted as a peacetime standard by the Guild, though of course anything goes should general war break out.

            The Manasti League is currently considering adopting a common coinage to follow standards in Argnon, Allante and Cuda, though the other provinces are resisting this, and would rather see the southern three downgrade their coinage rather than be forced to upgrade theirs. And since they have little trade outside of Talisgran, they don't see any reason to adopt foreign standards. The best they've been able to do is to adopt a common standard of exchange (the Argnon taler is exchanged at 4 A-talers for 5 standard talers, in each metal class, and since it's based mainly on weight and purity, there shouldn't have been any argument about it in the first place, but that certainly didn't stop anybody from trying).

            The Manasti League is also trying to work out commonalities in legal systems, extradition of wanted criminals, noninterference in internal affairs such as provincial succession, and various other matters. The association headed by Horbdin already has such elements, but the Manasti League is having more trouble with enforcement since it deals with de facto independent states. Also, the legal codes worked out by the Institute of Rhetoric in Horbdin tend to favor the original large landmasters (who still control most affairs in Horbdin) and leave little room for peasant entrepeneurs, who are demanding at least some protection from their former masters. Also, the Institute doesn't quite know what to do about dragons, whereas most of the Manasti League states find them rather a strong influence.

            It's a mess.

            Political Alliances: Kuseltin is trying to line up Chelde, Rabrus and Brettan in favor of occupying Lemgol while Kuseltin deals with Peyer. Mayellin has a secret agreement with Allante and it is rumored the Baron has had dealings with Mintar. Chelde, Rabrus and Brettan agree that Kuseltin is getting too ambitious, and occasionally send supplies to Peyer to keep Kuseltin occupied and out of their hair. Argnon wants to pacify Lemgol, but doesn't trust Mayellin to keep off its rear while doing so (one reason for that marriage between the Baron and Elian. Now it's dissolved, the problem is twice as bad). Argnon suspects the Mayellin/Allante alliance but has no proof. Cuda would just as soon move into Lemgol itself, since it's feeling the pinch of both Grand Marq and Mintar. Issanac has trade access to Catarona, but may want more if it loses its seaport (Gortyn) to the west. Missionaries from Ramius occasionally make it through the dragon-held passes (but only if they come in peace--dragons are pretty good at spotting armies and spies), but are occasionally assassinated by infiltrators from Issanac. Brettan and Cuda, especially, are worried about being the next battlefield for Ramius, Issanac, and Grand Marq. Argnon must trade with everyone for its own survival, but doesn't trust Allante or Mintar, and has sent feelers to Azdab for a possible alliance. Argnon pretends all is fine with Kuseltin, but knows better.


All clear now? Ready for the model UN after this?


Anyway, hope you enjoy the update!




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