All water flows to the courses and marshes and plains of the river Sin’, or so say the people of the region known as Ha-Sin’nana. And thus, also, they believe it is their birthright to control the world. Although they have not yet been able to do so, they seek ever to impose their law and their way on all that will not sufficiently resist their attempts. Thus far, only the marshes of the south and the Golden Plains to the west have fallen to their ways, but it seems as though, like the river territory and these provinces, the world may yet feel the weight of their boots. As they are born of giant blood, so it seems their destiny shows that their kingdom is meant to become a giant like unto the ancient and forgotten empires.
Formal Name: Qdrna Ha-Sin’nana
Ruling Body: There is an uneasy but rigid balance between the ruling elite nobility and high priests of the principal and only recognized religion of the land. The nobility are believed to be descended from the gods and thus their placeholders in the world, but the priests claim direct connection to the celestial beings themselves. Thus, these two bodies share control of the nation.
Common Races: Humans, Mec’ giants, half-giants, rhonian, rhoode, some 1/2-elves, centaur, decataur, halflings, dwarves and assorted others. Though the Kingdom has not stretched very far, yet, people from all over the world come here to live and trade.
Capital: Mec’ar, the pearl of the world and the heart of the central lands
Major Cities: Mec’ar, Abiran, Lunkul, Maz-Ran, Ap’rad, Javen’, Sin’Ren
Population Centers: Most of the central river basin area along the shores of the rivers and streams is lightly to heavily populated, with towns and cities built up along the twists and turns of the watercourses. The southern swamp province, now considered an extension of the settled territory, is only lightly populated, mostly by small groups of boat- or island-dwelling humans and the like.
Territory: From the dry reaches of the Opar Hatalu on the east to the Golden Plains and the plains of Lox-Beyada on the west. To the north is the vile empire of Yan-Tek and to the south is the sea.
Provinces: The central watershed is referred to as the Mec’ar, though this is technically only the name of the capital city set amongst its canals and bayous. The locals more properly call this the Canal District. The outer areas of the central kingdom are referred to as River Districts (Anara-Het, Anara-Dis, Upper Darsha, Upper Numi). The swamp region is referred to as Triple Mouths. The area west of the swamp, bordering on Lox-Beyada is referred to as the Low Country. The hilly grasslands to the east, along the border with the Opar Hatalu, is called the Verdant Plains. The Golden Plains to the east are not yet considered a full province of Ha-Sin’nana, but more like a protectorate, described later.
Terrain: The vast majority of the territory controlled by Ha-Sin’nana is low flatlands with gently rolling hills dotting the area. Occasional stands of short, thick trees dot the landscape, as do farms and orchards. The central watershed is cut by numerous canals and flood ponds. The swamp is dotted with little bayou hillocks and small rocky crags. The eastern territory is a series of ranges of low rolling hills of brilliant green grass.
Environment: Warm, sub-tropical to bordering on tropical, grasslands. The territory sees much rain and plenty of groundwater collects during the short rainy season, though most of the year sees little rainfall except in the south and eastern hills, which are more wet. Hot seasons make natural brick of the clay that is found in the region and the high river berms control the future flow of water in the area. Seasonal flooding is common and utilized by inhabitants. Winter is known for wind and rainstorms and muddy ground, followed by massive floods in the spring (the Mec’ar is known to occasionally become completely covered in water) and long, hot, dry summers. Autumn is the strongest growing season and the kingdom is almost never at war during this time. The soil is either arid or muddy and largely made up of clay and humus. There is little in the way of rocks and minerals, and plants rarely grow large enough to provide timber.
Growth Style: Though aggressively expansionist, the folk of Ha-Sin’nana have encountered unexpected resistance from halfling tribes when attempting to expand to the east, a difficult time carving the plains away from the elephant-man to the west, and the goblins to the north. Although they have a strong riparine navy, they have not been able to tackle the seas enough to expand into Pelenia and Faerie. They have recently won an accord of protection from the Centaurs and other folk of the Golden Plains, mostly because of their policy of colonizing and protecting colonies. Because this is one of the first great pushes into new territory, the central kingdom has become more heavily populated and the outer regions act more like colonial satellites.
Economic Base: The basis of the economy of this area lies in three main facets. First, the waterways and plains provide a strong amount of foodstuffs for consumption and trade. Secondly, tradesmen in the central kingdom are able to provide excellent quality products that are also traded or used by locals in their endeavors. The third basis of the economy is raiding. The troops of Ha-Sin’nana harry the communities on their borders almost incessantly, which provides them with plenty of loot and plunder. Trade is usually done on the barter system, with coinage taking a direct item equivalency value related to a certain measure of barley. The tradesmen are almost all organized into guilds, which control production and pricing of standard items and handle the collection and paying of taxes, tribute, and homage to the king and priests.
Coinage: Mec’ari standard coins on a ten-base scale. Also, the use of iron-clay tablet or parchment notes issued by exchange houses to stand in place of larger sums.
Languages: Common, High Mec’ari, Giantese, Rhonian, Rhoode, High Hadansi, Halfling, Aquan
Alignments: LN, LE, NE, some LG, NG, CG
Worship: Most of the folk of Ha-Sin’nana worship foremost the ancestor of the humans and giants that settled the Mec’ar. Scondly, they worship the gods of the elements, especially water, and of the heavens. Since religious freedom is generally allowed but discouraged, it is possible for a person in the region to follow almost any god.
Allies: The Golden Plains is a protectorate and Triple Mouths delta is now a full district. Other than that, there are tenuous relations with the halflings of Opar Hatalu. Ha-Sin’nana has no true allies, as they seek domination over all peoples and territories.
Enemies: They are ancient enemies of Yan-Tek, have made no friends among the Loxho through their expansion into their area, have only a tenuous peace with the Opar Hatalu barbarians, and have begun to make fast enemies of the people of Greenfolk and the barbaric Urturi.
The gods have demanded that their people seek perfection in the flesh and return the power acquired in mortality to them upon dying. The ancestors require more power and souls be brought to them in their prescribed way. So, the giants, man-giants, and the men of the water country rise up in arms, year after year, to take more and more territory and people into their fold. Thus far, they have conquered all of the Mec’ar, the river districts, the swamp, and now even have their hands on the Golden Plains. They will not be stopped. They will continue to spread the light of their ways to all the world, so that it may all return to the gods, as planned. While those pursuits are made, life flows like a river ever tot he destiny of the great Mec’ari and Ha-Sin’nana glory!
Life and Society
Life for the river folk revolves around acquisition in a way that is not always immediately apparent because it is so pervasive and often long-term. They all seek more and better belongings and power. This struggle is more keen and apparent in some and less urgent and obvious in others, but it is a central part of their identity. This is what leads to the intrigue in their courts, the strong work ethic that they have, and their penchant for trying to take over the world. They honestly believe that their hand should control all that it can reach and that it should always reach for more. It is what led the first giants to the Mec’ar and what drove the humans that settled here to try to bring themselves to equality with the huge humanoids. It will continue to shape them and even their exiles for as long as the tenet of “Seek ye always unto perfect mastery” is a part of their religious and social norms.
Clothing: The folk of Ha-Sin’nana tend to wear light clothing that either covers little or is loose and flowing. This helps combat the heat while allowing for breathing in the high humidity of the river country. The style, material and cut of the material is meant to be very practical, though individual pieces of clothing are often highly decorated. Most clothing is made of hemp, cotton, leather and sheepskin, with occasional fur of various kinds, kelp or reed cloth, and linen. Typical dress will be a skirt, kilt, or loincloth (often quite elaborate) on the bottom and a tunic, wrap or vest on the top. Sandals are usually the preferred foot covering and turbans, often complete with veils, cover their heads. Sometimes, more commonly in the coldest weather, robes or cloaks will cover the body and a floppy hat is occasionally used in rainy weather to keep dry. Ceremonial dress is often more covering and far more elaborate or decorative.
Adornment: Jewelry is very popular among the river folk, especially in the Canal District, and people are known to wear earrings, coronets, head-chains, nose rings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, chokers, decorative gorgets, belly chains, decorative belts, anklets, armlets, toe rings, etc. Some wear all of these things simultaneously. Locally made items are usually crafted from copper, gold, bronze, or brass and embellished with polished stones, gems, ivory, horn, and glass beads. Imported jewelry is also quite common and comes from all around the world. Make-up is common among women and rich men, tattoos are common among men (especially users of magic and soldiers), ritual scar coloration is rampant among the fighters and warriors, and all slaves are required to wear a brand.
Flora and Fauna: Animals common to the area are sheep, goats, cows, castrated bulls, water buffaloes, donkeys, dogs, waterfowl in a dazzling array of species, fish of various kinds, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, otters, cats, rats, mice, mudfish, lungfish, salamander, rain-lizard (water-based creatures that roam above water only during the rainy season, where they lay eggs and hatch their young), hawk, buzzard, dragonflies, flameflies, bees, wasps, mowz, ash rats, and drill-snakes. Plants native to the river country include hemp, cotton, indigo, cinnabar, kol, barley, grapes, olives, dates, sesame, roses, sun-roses, lilies, rain-roses, hops, wheat, grapes, olives, dates, carrots, onions, watercress, reeds, celery, cilantro, parsley, hot peppers, chick peas, lentils, rice, and a multitude of small fruit, nut, and berry bushes.
Food: Meals in the river country are usually made up of a soup or stew of some kind, a bread or grain, and drink. Though there are a million variations on this basic pattern, it still stands to this day as the basis for Ha-Sin’nana cuisine. It is so ingrained, in fact, that a common invitation to enjoy one’s hospitality is, “Come, break bread with me, share my stew, and drink freely of my wine.” Stews are made from river water and various additions, such as meat, vegetables, fruit, and grains. They are usually spiced and savory, but are sometimes made bland to go with spicy bread. Common ingredients used in these stews include carrots, onions, watercress, celery, cilantro, parsley, hot peppers, chick peas, lentils, nuts, fruit, mutton, goat, beef, veal, buffalo, various kinds of bird or fish, snake, lizard, rat, and grain. Bread (leavened or unleavened, baked or raw) made from wheat or barley is common, and often mixed with other ingredients to make a hearty meal. Wine, beer, juice, roasted barley, various teas, and mead are common. Honey, fruit and watercress are used to sweeten food.
Education: The majority of education in Ha-Sin’nana is performed in the temples through scripture reading and storytelling, as they have been done since the first giants entered the Mec’ar. The scriptures are written in the traditional form, using a small wooden knife to cut iron-clay that can be reworked if need be or sun-baked to become permanent canon. Little paper is used for this sort of thing, though it is used often in government, as writing is reserved for the priesthood and nobility and their chosen servants. Their mathematics is principally a 60-base system, but they have learned to use the 10-base system from other lands and have begun to adopt that as their principal format, going so far as to rewrite ancient texts around the new system. Once a child has been taught to a certain point, he is expected to go to work as an apprentice for reduced pay in exchange for learning his trade. Children selected for the ruling classes by birth, circumstance, or election by one in power are enrolled in an exclusive university. An extensive code of laws has been established and codified for use by the priesthood.
Trades: Armorer, weaponsmith, bowyer, fletcher, builder, jeweler, metalsmith, rock collector (miner), glassmaker, farmer, weaver, dyer, tanner, herdsman, tattooist, chemist, slaver, slave, baker, cook, brewer, fisherman, net maker, apiary, scribe, priest, warrior, watchman, engineer, trader, healer.
Exports: Carts, chariots, capstans, waterwheels, pottery, pots, pans, weapons, armor, glass beads, glass vessels, mirrors, small windows, lamps, pottery wheels, textiles, foodstuffs, wire, batteries, light bulbs, reed boats, rafts, iron-clay mud cement boats, cups, bowls, plates, jewelry, mosaic, clay, iron-clay, bitumen, ivory, copper, bronze, tin, gold, silver, door pivots, wheels, horses, donkeys, snakes, exotic fish, waterfowl, and feathers.
Entertainment: Ha-Sin’nana common folk enjoy a simple life without much need of entertainment. They do, however, love a good story and a test of skill and power. In fact, many arguments are settled over some mutually determined competition. The most common kinds of competition among these folk are wrestling, lifting, races, archery or spear-throwing, strategy games, tests of magical skill, and gambling. Favored gambling is on races, knuckle dice, and reed lots.
Health: The first line of defense against bad health among the folk of the kingdom is a cool bath with abrasive materials and herbal soaps. Following that, keeping things cool through evaporative cooling is a key part of keeping people healthy. Should they become ill, advanced methods of controlling body temperature have been developed, as well as sweat-lodging, sulfur baths, incense and aromatherapy, rare-bit remedies, lancing, and stitching are all available. To keep the world clean, elaborate water flow systems to provide running water, drainage, and water treatment ponds are all regularly created in settlements larger than a village. Simple screw systems raise water into elevated tanks that are then used to flush water through a structure and into septic ponds away from main waterways.
Architecture: The cities of Ha-Sin’nana are almost built by waterways, usually on a natural hill or levee. Large cities and towns have iron-clay brick walls of large size and homes of mud brick. Roofs are typically arched and/or made of timber-twig-thatch layering system. Iron-clay mud plaster is a commonly used material for sealing walls and decoration, as it is easy to use and to color when wet but form a very sturdy surface once dried. Religious buildings in the districts are usually stepped pyramids or ziggurats that function as chapels, public forums, and monasteries. These structures and the important parts of a community are aligned with celestial entities and phenomena, which shows their immense amount of forethought and planning when constructing large communities. A heavy use of canals (for travel and to provide water to communities and farms is prevalent. Communal granaries collects food from the farms surrounding a city and feed the working populace from central posts. Very large cities will have many of these. The most interesting facet of Ha-Sin’nana architecture is the recurring use of doors and valves that work on a central pivot axis.
Transportation: There are two principal ways to travel in Ha-Sin’nana: by land or on water. On water, travel is mostly done by reed boats, rafts of various kinds, iron-clay cement canoes, and swimming. Water chariots are rare, but enough of them exist that most grown Mec’ari have seen them and children ache to ride in one. On land, the ground can tend to be treacherous from season to season, so public-use roads are raised and then coated in iron-clay mud cement to keep them hard and mostly smooth. This allows for fast travel on public roads, regardless of the weather (with the exception of particularly strong winds). On these roads and elsewhere, the people walk, ride on donkeys or horses, or trail behind such animals in carts, carriages, or chariots. It is rare but not uncommon for a particularly wealthy person to have a palanquin.
Arms and Armor: Weapons among water-folk are typically made from copper, bronze, iron, gold, brass, leather, hide, bone, scale, shell, rope and iron-clay. Common tools of war include khopesh, fork, composite shortbow, hand-axe, hook, dagger, scimitar, mace, spear (often with a socketed or interchangeable head), light lance, sling, broad dagger, bill-hook, shortsword, punch dagger, javelin, mace, sickle, arrows with iron-clay tips, chain, whip, blowgun, sharpened throwing discs, sharpened throwing crescents, armor spikes, caltrops, melee spikes, throwing spikes, and staves. Armor typically used by the military includes a disc-shaped breast and back plate supported by hide or leather straps, bracers and greaves, lamellar armored skirts, flared helms and round spiked shields. Other commoon items include leather scale armor, gorgets, skullcaps, bucklers, leather masks, and metal rings attached to armor to reinforce it.
Government: The king and his royal house and the body of the priesthood that rule the land are supported by the canon of the state religion in a form of divine investiture. These people interpret divine will through oracular divination and private discussion. After the oracles have been consulted and the matter debated behind closed doors, the word of the gods is delivered to the people. Once the word has been delivered, a vote is made by a representative voting board comprised of representatives elected by the guilds, neighborhoods, leading families, war units, and head priests. This vote may be overturned by the combined voice of the priests and the ruling noble in charge of the issue at hand. There is a central code of laws that drives the decisions of judges, priests, and nobles in their decisions, including acquisition and re-portioning of goods, marital contracts, settling disputes, and fitness for higher education and ruler-ship.
Land and Water: All land is controlled by the nobility and priesthood on behalf of the gods, with parcels rented in a share-cropping system to the people. Rarely, parcels may be granted outright to an individual or group, in perpetuity. When this does happen, it is almost always within the confines or immediate vicinity of a long-established community. Fertile levee or elevated land is farmed, while wetlands are used for specialized crops, fishing, and hunting. This sort of territory will always be considered on loan from the gods. Water is very common in the area and, while it is held in great reverence and esteem, it is not considered as supremely valuable, except in the driest parts of the year. Only the water in one’s immediate control is considered to have ownership. Most settlements are built near or on the water, typically on bayous, riverbanks, or natural levees. Flood control has been brought to a science in the kingdom, as are canals, dikes, dams, water storage and drainage, cisterns and reservoirs, irrigation, and plumbing. The Archimedes screw system is used to raise water from a lower to a higher level and pipes and gutters typically control its flow.
Religion: The state religion of Ha-Sin’nana is polytheistic, with each deity controlling some territory or aspect o the world. For example, each of the heavenly bodies is a god, including the suns and the thirteen moons. Gods are said to live on the tops of hills and mountains if they are not in the sky. The god of a city or region would then live on the top of a mountain-like stepped ziggurat temple located in his area. The will of the gods and the state of the cosmos is central to their understanding of the world, and thus oracles and visions are important to the priesthood, whose dreamlike tattoos are readily recognizable at a great distance. Their view of the afterlife is considerably different from the rest of Taran religions, though, as they believe that their soul or life-spark is temporary and is reabsorbed by the gods after life, leading to a fatalistic and nihilistic approach to the world. They believe that there are elemental spirits, demons, and angels. For many centuries, each of these entities had its own name. After the time of the star-people, they all became known as Qur, or spirits. Some of these Qur can rival gods in their power. Thus, Qur-pa’ is an important part of their religious education, as well.
Spheres: Life (healing, growth), Water (river, flood, irrigation), Earth (farming, strength, metal, gems), Air (wind, rain, storms, birds), Sun (light, heat, dry, resolute), Travel (boat, wheel, donkey, foot), Good (helping, positive energy, community), Law (law, order, systems)
Symbology: To the people of the Ha-Sin’nana, the following symbols are of particular import: Cranes (water, air, crescents, life), Disks (wheels, sun, world), Reed (spear, staff, arrow, writing, paper), Ziggurat (earth, hill, mountain, god, ruling might), Bowl (horizon, hospitality, food, water), and Globe (all things combined).
Major Geographical Features: The very south is a swamp of twisting waterways spilled out across the delta known as Triple Mouths. West of that and along the eastern border is grassland. The eastern grassland is very hilly. The central and northern region is a series of waterways interspersed with levees and hills, usually inhabited by locals. In Mec’ar, the territory is criss-crossed by hundreds of canals, all surrounding the Mountain of Mec’ar, a huge iron-clay mud cement city to which all of Ha-Sin’nana looks for direction.
Important Sites: The Mec’ar is the single most important site in the kingdom. It is a massive man-made ziggurat, a stepped pyramid simulating a holy mountain and the dwelling place of the chief gods. It is also the site of the first settlement of giants and men in the region. From this point, the kingdom spreads out along the sacred three rivers and all their tributaries. Important to the Rhonians is Kerap’t, a floating city at the center of the delta. Less than one hundred years ago, a crystal spire rose from the verdant hills like a living thing twisted in with the hard earth of the region. This place, called the Palace of the Sun, now houses the personal estate of the king. His eye turns ever more toward the nearby desert because of its proximity.
Regional History: In forgotten days, a clan of highly intelligent giants related to hill giants began to spend more of their time contemplating and less time squabbling. The result was a small group of intelligent and civilized hill giants that called themselves the Mec’. They came to odds with their brethren in the north country and so came down out of the hills and mountains northward in search of a new land. They came to a great river and followed it until they found a great mound of clay that had been pushed up from the muddy earth. This they began to build and shape into a great mountain. When they had finished, the gods came to them and taught them the ways of civilization and dwelt on the top of their mountain. The men of the river heard of this new mountain and went to see it. There, they found people like them, but of great size and knowledge. They moved their entire tribe to the vicinity and helped the giants carve out a great kingdom along the rivers. Seeking ever to please the gods and to prove themselves worthy of their own name and identity, they have seeked to expand their kingdom since the very beginning. This has led them to take over the Verdant Plains, the Triple Mouths, the upper river territory, and now the Golden Plains.
Plots and Rumors: It is said that the Qur have been seeking to create an army of Jovians from the four corners of the world to destroy the Mec’ar and plunge the upstart Mec’ and their people into darkness. The empire of Yan-Tek has been fighting with Ha-Sin’nana for a long time, but there is rumor that they are both preparing for a massive war in the near future.