|Ruler||Splendid Emperor Poak Fan|
Inhabitants of Seu Kal
Locations in Seu Kal
Organizations in Seu Kal
Settlements in Seu Kal
Seu Kal is a large country at the north end of the western continent. It has a long history of being isolated from the rest of the civilized world, due to the long sea voyage necessary to reach it and the imposing mountains and jungles between Seu Kal and Saldonia. It has developed technologies not seen elsewhere in the world, such as robotics and electricity.
Seu Kal is ruled by a vast beurocracy, with the Splendid Emperor ruling from his palace in Wux Ngad. Vassals known as Kopags hold inherited lands (often wrested from native ethnic groups) and provide military service and homage to their lords. Feudal power is split between the Emperor in Wux Ngad and provincial domains throughout Seu Kal. Provinces have a degree of sovereignty and are allowed an independent administration of the in exchange for loyalty to the Emperor, who is responsible for foreign relations and national security. The Kopags are all feudal lords with their own bureaucracies, policies, and territories. Each level of government administers its own system of taxation. Each Kopag also maintains a small standing army and a guard of samurai; the wealthiest Kopags often have elite ninjas and a battalion of military robots as well.
Life in Seu Kal is strictly hierarchical with the population divided among four distinct classes: Jeu Sahi, farmers, craftspeople, and traders. In the past there was some movement among these classes, but the Kopags, intent upon maintaining their power and privilege, have restricted this movement. In particular they have tried to protect the Jeu Sahi, making upward mobility from the farming class to the samurai impossible. The Emperor has decreed that only Jeu Sahi would be allowed to carry the long sword, which would later define them as a class.
The Jeu Sahi are the warrior class. At the top is the Emperor himself. Beneath him are the Kopags, local lords who controlled large amounts of land. The Kopags have their own collection of Jeu Sahi, who serve them in various ways. Some are advisors, some guards for their castles, and some comprise their private armies. In addition, Jeu Sahi in the large cities such as Wux Ngad might fulfill a variety of functions--as officials in the Emperor's government or as policemen, for example. Finally, there are the Gdakar, who are "masterless" Jeu Sahi, without a lord to answer to, but also without any definite means of support. The Gdakar might settle down in a particular location to teach or perform other duties, though many of them wander the countryside, looking for gainful employment. Some sell their services as hired warriors to the highest Kopag bidder.
The glue that bonds the social hierarchy is rice, produced of course by the farmers. The standard of measurement for rice is the tiha, equivalent to approximately 5 bushels. One tiha can feed one person for a year. The Emperor is responsible for the distribution of this national crop. He takes 20% off the top for himself. In addition, he distributes significant amounts to the Kopags.
What is left for the farmers depends on the weather. Often farmers give up over half of their rice crop to the system. In bad years the Emperor and the Kopags do not reduce their demands, so the farmers are forced to live on even less. Famine in the countryside is not uncommon during these periods. Thus, though farmers hold a privileged position in society--just below the status of the Jeu Sahi--their lives are often hard. In difficult times, farmers are often tempted to defy the prohibition of the Emperor and move to the cities to engage in trade. Many younger sons do just that when their father's land is inherited by the eldest son.
The dividing line separating craftspeople from merchants is difficult to determine because their economic activities often overlap. An artificer of robotics, for example, would likely engage in the selling of his products and the enterprise might also extend in other directions, to moneylending perhaps. Those crafts that are most in demand by the Jeu Sahi, such as swordmaking, are highly prized in Seu Kali society, so sword makers have a great deal of status. Common crafts in Seu Kal include carpentry, stonemasonry, brewing, and lacquering. Less common crafts include robotics, electronics, machinery, and metalworking.
Merchants, especially those in the cities, are in a position to become wealthy, but they are also at the bottom of the social hierarchy. This is due to the belief that merchants do not produce anything, like farmers or craftspeople did. Instead they make their money off the productive labor of others. Nevertheless, there is money to be made, and those in the other class positions--even the lower ranking Jeu Sahi--are sometimes tempted to accept this lower status.
Several other groups of people exist outside this class system, including actors and entertainers, priests, and ethnic minorities. In some respects, this outsider status allows members of these groups a relative degree of freedom. However, living outside the system also brings its disadvantages because the system also affords protection of life and livelihood.
Ethnic minorities are often outcasts, forced to live in their own communities and avoided by other members of society. This is especially the case for minority groups that have only recently been conquered. Groups that have been part of the empire for longer periods are more accepted and welcomed into the class system.
Seu Kal is very mountainous throughout, but the highest mountains are found along its western edges. Most ranges run east to west across the landmass. Deserts abound in the northern parts of Seu Kal, while jungles predominate in the south. The largest groupings of people lie along the eastern coasts and in the long linear valleys of the central part of the country.