Castabon, being in a sparsely woodland area with mountains to the south and east, is home for all races and creeds. While the main race is outlander, many a barbarian and elf have been seen, and even a noble dwarven house has developed since the country’s founding hundreds of years ago.
The main difference that sets Castabon apart from Orm is that the noble houses govern the teaching of elemental magic or alchemy, while nemetite and zenethist magic – due to the reverence of both nature’s and the god’s power – is open to all. Lower class citizens may learn elemental magic, however it is only through appealing to a noble, who has the right of refusal at any point, and they are forbidden to teach it to others. While some of the ruling houses may act snobbish and covet the knowledge, several of the other noble houses have been known to take on many apprentices in an effort to increase the spread of such knowledge.
Zenethist and Nemetite magic is freely taught to all social standings that have the capacity to learn it, however while not officially looked down upon, members of ruling or noble classes that learn such magic are few and far between, as it is seen as perhaps wasting the gift they are offered.
It is to be noted that some houses abhor the use of elemental or alchemical magic altogether, seeing it as knowledge to protect, and in some cases not to be used at all. House Berrick and House Molnar are houses formed purely of skilled fighters, and the dwarven House Caldan refuses to give out the knowledge of Alchemy to anyone outside their house.
Each of the noble houses has a family crest that identifies them, and each member of the house is required to wear it in some fashion to help recognise them in their lands and others. This can take the form of ornate rings or decorated armour; even as grand as a family tabard or flag/banner standard to present when journeying.
One of the most important laws of Castabon is that if any house member comes across a problem befalling their land, or a problem that could be seen as encroaching their lands, is honour bound to assist in some way, even if it means merely informing the other houses and requesting council. This is a rule set about from the very beginning of this countries founding, and has ensured that the noble houses have always cared for their land and subjects intently, which has allowed their country to prosper, and kept the nobles in good standing with their countrymen.
A major problem for Castabon is that due to its location it is prone to either flooding or drought depending on the season. While this may only occur in pocket areas, it is known to spread during particularly wet springs or hot summers. Due to this, several houses make use of a ‘house ritualist’ who will have both hydromancers and aeromancers aid in solving the problem.
The country has major ties with its neighbouring country to the east, Sovia. Several trade routes between them have been developed, and have kept both countries in good standing with one another for a long time. As proof of this there is a treaty between them that states that either country must grant aid to the other during times of war; an alliance that has benefited both sides throughout the years.
The country is run by several various ruling families, known as ‘Houses’
Order of rule: -
- House Rastern – Ruling house, head of this house is effectively ‘king’.
- House Veil, House Marden, House Cantis – Advising houses, effectively treated as counsel to the ruling house.
- House Heathcliff, House Molnar, House Berrick, House Sallesh, House Deakin, House Caldan, House Foress, House Kildent, House Khybair, House Portis, House Morcain, etc– Other Noble houses, lord/lady standings.
- Merchant Families – While not under the same ‘house’ terms, they are effectively the middle class of the lands.
- Non-named houses – Commoners. Last names still used but have no house associated.
As the ruling House at present, members of House Rastern make the decisions on how the country is ran overall, dictating what lands are controlled by which Houses, where to send the House ritualists to keep the climate in check, and is also in charge of diffusing conflicts between the Houses. They are one of the more relaxed Houses in terms of teaching elemental magic to lower class citizens, however they only do so after a long and arduous examination and background check, for fear of losing standing within the Houses by having the knowledge ‘stolen’ from them. Their mages are mainly pyromancers, with some dabbling in Earth magic as well.
Noted as one of the wealthiest Houses of Castabon, House Veil has made substantial profits by being experts in the property market, buying and selling at a phenomenal rate and expanding their lands through shrewd business dealings and expert negotiations. Their strong connections to House Rastern have made sure that they are always the first to know of any potential expansion attempts, and allow them a sense of leniency when tempers flare within other Houses. Their earth mages are some of the finest in the country, specializing in magical empowerment and protection of this Houses forces.
One of the more nautically minded of the houses, House Deakin has one of the largest collection of naval ships of all the noble houses. This stems from their previous standing of a merchant house, in which they mainly worked as a fishing fleet, and had large ties to Sovia, being one of the main houses that traded with them. House Deakin did not begin as a noble house, but was granted noble status by assisting the Soviets in their war against the outlanders by supplying them during the war effort, forcing Castabon to follow suit. Due to their odd standing, they guard their elemental magic far more than most houses (they will use any excuse to prohibit its teachings, even within their own house), and have a stand offish relationship to the other noble houses. The main element used by this House is water, with air following.
As one of the oldest noble Houses, House Forres is a very influential and highly politically minded, and has repeatedly attempted to gain status as an advising house, all unsuccessful attempts thus far. As to the use of magic, while mages from House Foress are generally less potent then other Houses, this House is well known for keeping a balance of each element of mage within their House, ‘strongly advising’ their members to train in certain elements as needed. House Foress has had rumours of its potentially questionable dealings with somewhat unscrupulous organisations; however none of these rumours have been substantiated.
Notably social in comparison to the other noble Houses, House Heathcliff is one of the main Houses to teach elemental magic to lower class citizens. This is one of the main problems standing between House Heathcliff and its progression to advising house status, as many of the Noble Houses disagree with this course of action. Regardless of its choices, this House is still one of the most respected, as it was the figurehead for the ritualist circles used to help combat the adverse weather patterns that the country regularly endures. This House also has the largest concentration of aeromancers out of all the noble houses, and regularly assists other houses in their rituals.
House Molnar is a House built on the idea that elemental magic is too dangerous for any man, woman or child to possess, be they a pauper or prince. This house is filled with warriors of every shape and size, trained specifically to combat mages of all variety. The head of this house is decided by a yearly rite of succession, anyone feeling they are a better leader may choose to challenge the head of the house to a fight to first blood, the victor claiming the role of leading the house for that year. This house is also responsible for capturing and dealing with anyone thought to be stealing elemental knowledge from the other houses, imprisoning them within specially designed holding cells until their trials and judgment have occurred. If found guilty they are subjected to what is known as ‘the iron brand’ in which thin veins of molten metal are imprinted somewhere onto the offender (usually around the shoulder and trailing down the arms) so that they are permanently incapable of casting spells again without doing themselves harm.
This House is noted for its trade of luxury goods, performers and craftsmen who produce some of most beautifully crafted goods known to come from Castabon. Viewed by most outside of their house as decadent and self indulgent because of the hedonistic view towards life; the members of this house do nothing to detract from this persona, even taking advantage of it by fooling others into thinking they are less intelligent then they actually are. Very few are foolish enough to upset members of this house though, as they take any threat very seriously and eliminate it with cold calculated thoroughness. The magic’s taught in this house are predominantly Water and Air, although rarely mastered as efforts are usually directed into a craft of some form.
Known out of the courts as ‘The Lone House’, House Caldan is a house comprising entirely of dwarves, and is known for its almost xenophobic stance towards outsiders. They were the last House to grant aid to Sovia during their war against the Arunians, and this was only due to pressure put on by the other noble Houses. They are respected for their incredible skills with Alchemy and blacksmithing, however past that they are not paid much heed. This disdain furthers House Caldan’s distanced stance with the rest of the noble Houses, and has ensured that they are the least public of the Houses, keeping to themselves and very rarely making appearances at any of the gatherings or events held by the other Houses. There are a few dwarves from House Caldan who are attempting to change this image for the better; however their efforts have so far been in vain.
One of the more industrious of the noble Houses, House Khybair are the leading mineral traders in Castabon, having laid claim to many rich mining veins throughout the land. Due to these profitable mines they have been known as one of the more generous Houses when it comes to paying their workforce, and have gained a very respectable reputation amongst the lower classes. Their interest in magic is tempered due to the amount of effort they put towards maintaining this good reputation, but what mages they do have tend to mainly be earth mages, and are known to supervise the mining operations in case of collapse.