Caligari

Jack Shear’s post on Caligari is here. This is one of the country descriptions for my upcoming book on the World Between. This is a draft.

Basic Description

Caligari is a trade empire in the heart of the World Between. Surrounded by strong nations, it has traditionally resorted to using diplomacy and wealth to keep the peace and its autonomy. It is the focal point for a philosophical movement to turn away from supernatural alliances for safety, and look instead to gunpowder and human ingenuity. It is the only nation in the World Between with a real middle class. Those outside the aristocracy have access to wealth, education, property rights, and business. The division between rich and poor does not automatically mirror the line between aristocrats and peasants.

 Stylistic Feel

Not-Germany. An oppressed underdog nation has had an influx of both power and wealth. They have rocketed to prosperity as the nation that brought gunpowder into the World Between as a practical weapon. Meanwhile, the soul of the country rots away; they gave up tremendous wealth and power, and suffered terribly in a civil war to drive demon worship from their lands. But now it is back, worse than ever, and the moral and lawful elements of the country are exhausted. Combine moral despair with unsteady new-found wealth and violence, and you have a country rife with crime, drug use, corruption, and marginalized religious institutions.

The Lands of the Lady (Midian and Scarabae) have tried to claim Caligari. They are resisted by people who do not want to be ruled by gods (as they were when occupied by Ulverland) and who envy the power and apparent freedom of their neighbors (Harrowfaust and Frostreave). The only elements of the Church that can get a foothold are corrupt clergy cashing in and living well, and roving friars preaching revolution to desperate peasants. The religious monuments and cathedrals built by the reformers who opposed demon worship loom on the skylines, but decay as they stand more or less empty.

 Ruling Structure

Caligari is ruled by Empress Christiana the Scarlet. The capitol city is Thronberg. She is supported by the Cabinet of Commerce, with the ten wealthiest aristocrat trader princes represented.

 Stereotypes

They are tall, with dark hair and eyes, square features, and a smarmy smile. All of them have a gift for trading. Bargains are either shrewd or cunning. They solve problems with money, using other people’s blood and sweat. They have a love/hate relationship with aristocracy. They are hypocrites. With demons, Caligarians talk against them, but secretly embrace what they offer. With the church, Caligarians verbally embrace what they offer, but work against them. Betrayal comes naturally to them.

 Famous For:

Finest firearms in the World Between. Wonderful sausage and beer. Tall, dark forests. Diplomacy and trade. Strong middle class, pressure towards independent cities and marginalized aristocracy.

 Major Cities

Thronberg. The capitol is nestled in the shadow of Bloodtatter Mountain, a dwarven forge. It is famous for fantastic architecture, drug dens, and cabarets. Cursed aristocratic families with demon blood running through their family trees dominate the legal and illegal trade empire of Caligari.

Spionhause. This trade city on Glasslake is notorious for its cavernous sewers backing into natural caves in the mountain. The entire aristocracy of the city was cursed once by a Saint of the Lady, all turned into rat-things. The port is famous for its drug dens, spy games, and Chiaroscuro District of professional illusionists.

Dextali. This trade city focuses on Harrowfaustian trade and the free city of Pacisurb, as well as communication to Trivium. It is generally accepted fact that supernatural forces rule the city from the shadows, though stories as to what those forces are vary.

 Notable Locations

Bloodtatter Mountain. This formidable peak houses a dwarven forge. The dwarves are traditionally allies of the emperor’s house. They built much of the fantastic architecture of Caligari, including its churches and sewers. They make deals, trades for their services. Not all the terms of these deals are available to the public.

Shadow Cities. Caligari has cities in the shadow of Trivium, Pacisurbs, and Chantiernaval. The cities across the water have the glory and the wealth, and the Caligarian cities serve as entry points to those glittering worlds. No wonder smuggling and crime are widespread.

Seafort. The Sea Road across the northern coast terminates in a fortress. The line is in place to stop Northron raids into Caligarian territory. The most ferocious veterans Caligari can produce come from Seafort and the Sea Road.

 Supernatural Elements

Angels and Demons. Caligari has traditionally been the battleground of the tug-of-war between the Lands of the Lady and the unapologetically demon-ruled eastern lands. Armies from the World Above have landed in Midian and swept across Caligari towards their objectives to the east.

The Civil War. In resisting the demonic rule that was threatening to overtake Caligari, reformers organized and passed laws to force those who publically acknowledged worshiping demons out of Caligari. A brutal civil war followed, ending with Caligari shrunk to half its former size and the demoniacs creating the Iron Principalities to the south. Ironically, the reformers only won because of help from Slithian Vor cults, and after the war demon worship is rife on both sides of the bloody border.

The Secret War. Mind flayers (creatures that suck themselves onto a person’s head and control the person until they eat the brain) and dopplegangers (shape-shifting spies) vie for control of the trade routes and the access to the rest of the world that they represent. And possibly something else, too.

Thin Blood. When demonic traits wear thin in an aristocratic family, or when curses are flung too thick and fast, or when mutation in the newborn gets out of hand, lots of strange monsters are released into the woods. Experimenting wizards and summoning cults alike claim no responsibility in cleaning up after themselves. The results are thick, dark forests where agents of law shoot to kill and twisted creatures roam in search of fresh blood.

Aboreal Guard. Mystic yetis scour the woods hunting and slaying abominations. No one knows why, or what they plan to do with demon-tainted humans.

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