Zombies in History
The Christian West
Western Europe contains the world’s only truly Christian states; France and Navarra. It also contains a great deal of conflict, as England rules parts of northern France, which is also home to several pseudo-independent baronies and marquissates. France is the largest power in the region, though a united Iberia would immediately overtake it. That, however, will not happen any time soon, as the five states on the peninsula are hard-pressed to simply maintain a strategic alliance against Carthage. Because of former Roman occupation, educated peoples will speak Latin as a second language. In English France and France proper, the common language is French. In the baronies to the northeast, most speak French or German, though Dutch and Flemish are common in certain regions. In the Iberian peninsula, most educated people speak Latin as a second language. Castilians speak Spanish, and refuse to learn languages other than Latin. Spanish is also spoken in Granada. Navarra and Aragon speak Aragonese, and Portugal speaks Portuguese, though these countries are less arrogant about learning other languages.
France is composed of three major regions.
Southern France; consisting of all the land between the Alps and the Atlantic, south of Orleans to the Pyrenees; is a militant Christian kingdom. The Palais des Papes located in Avignon is the center of the Christian world and it is from this city that the Pope makes his decrees effecting all of Christendom. The recently completed Pont d’Avignon has greatly increased the traffic flow through the city and is now a major crossing point at the southern end of the Rhone River.
Roughly 500 years ago Charles Martel led an army which conquered the western half of the kingdom. It is likely that had he not passed away his conquests would have continued north to into Brittany and Normandy as well as south across the Pyrenees. Without his dynamic leadership the kingdom largely stopped its expansion and instead focused on internal restructuring, mainly the assimilation of conquered peoples. The Kingdom of France’s military has remained very active however as the kingdom is nearly constantly engaged in border squabbles with the Holy Roman Empire and the Britons in Brittany.
In the Kingdom of France two things are held above all else. Military might and piety. As a result the Kingdom of France is famous for its fighters and its clerics. Wizards are not persecuted, but it is believed that those with magical talents would do better by serving the priesthood than through wizardry. As a result there are fewer wizards than one would expect in such a civilized region. Rangers and druids are not especially common, though they thrive in the more mountainous and forested parts of the kingdom. Being a highly lawful and very pious society crime is not tolerated. As a result the only thieves and assassins which can survive in this area are those which are the best.
Northwestern France; consisting of Brittany and Normandy; is an English domain. Or to be somewhat more accurate England is a domain of northwestern France. In 1066 William the Conqueror of Normandy led his army to victory in the Battle of Hastings and thus secured the title of Lord of England for himself. Since that time northwestern France and England have been linked in rule. Brittany and Normandy are the personal fief of the King of England and are administered directly by the crown prince from the city of Calais.
Northeastern France; consisting of the land from the Seine River to the Rhine; is a collection of minor governments who exist largely at the will of the Teutonic Empire. Spotted with earldoms, baronies, and the occasional princedom which often quarrel with each other, life in this region is hard. All governments in this region pay tribute to the Teutonic Empire, and in exchange are allowed to tax as they see fit. Should a region fail to pay sufficient tribute it would be declared to no longer be a protectorate of the Teutons, and thus open to be conquered by any of its neighbors. Due to this fact subterfuge is a major business in this region. No two governments can openly attack each other without angering the Teutons. However should one government fail to pay its tribute for some reason… well then they are open game.
A land full of avarice, deception, and malice; rogues thrive here. Every government employs one or more “policy agencies” in order to conduct their foreign affairs. These “policy agencies” serve as agents of either subterfuge or counter-subterfuge. This method of “diplomacy” has had somewhat of a trickle down effect as well. As above, so below. Successful businesses in this region employ their own “policy agents” in order to “handle” their competitors. In truth any class can do well here so long as they are smart and are willing to “bend” the truth to get ahead.
The Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian peninsula is not a cohesive place. After the disintegration of the Roman occupation, five distinct states emerged; Portugal, Navarra, Castile, Aragon and Granada. The country is mountainous, but has ample land for grazing and pastures, though much of it is in Granada. The mountains provide ample mineral resources. The states of the Iberian peninsula are bordered by the Carthaginian Empire to the south and east, and France to the north. In order to combat these threats, the five states, who are ordinarily antagonistic, have formed a tenuous alliance. Common languages are Portuguese, Aragonese and Spanish.
Aragon lacks the fields of other parts of Spain. While it does contain agriculturally rich valleys, its mountainous terrain cannot support the same agricultural exploitation possible in richer, flatter regions. The mountains, however, make for grand defensive barriers against attack. The Aragonese thus have always been a martial people, and, while they worship the old deities of Rome, they focus on the martial aspects. Minerva and Mars hold especially high places in Aragonese religion, and war gods of other faiths are popular as well. Aragon’s wealth comes from extensive mineral holdings and mining projects. Alone among nations, Aragon does not officially discriminate against dwarves, noting, correctly, that their fighting skills and mining acumen make them valuable members of society. Despite this stance, the people themselves still view dwarves with suspicion and will only tolerate them if they stay well apart. Aragon, as a militarized society, is ruled by a Paladin-General of Mars. Despite the name, the ruler is very rarely an actual paladin, though he is always chosen from among the available high-ranking officers. The capital is Zaragoza, though the largest city is Barcelona. The main language is Aragonese, though the educated speak Latin and a significant minority speak Spanish as well.
The Aragonese are quick to anger and slow to forgive. They believe in strength and physical prowess. While they produce average numbers of clerics and wizards, their casters are more likely to focus on war and destructive magics. Aragonese fighters and paladins are held in high esteem, and they are skilled with spears. Due to the terrain, however, most people are unfamiliar with horses and are unused to riding.
Portugal is a warm and sunny country with rich fields and silver deposits. Its agricultural and mineral power help compensate for its lack of size. Portuguese traders, taking advantage of the uneasy détente with Granada, have begun to open trading relationships in the Mediterranean, especially with the city-states on the Italian Peninsula. The Portuguese are religiously tolerant and worship a mixture of natural spirits and Greco-Roman deities, without an official state religion. Their government is quite advanced for its time and consists of a king whose powers are limited by a state charter. The king is elected by the leaders of various craft guilds. The capital city is Lisbon. The main language is Portuguese, though most will speak Latin or other languages as well.
The Portuguese are practical and pragmatic. They believe in justice but are also willing to bend the rules when necessary. Their wizards tend to focus on non-damaging magics, especially divinations and transmutation. Portuguese marines are quite skilled, but the Portuguese prefer to fight their battles with money and words.
Navarra occupies an important strategic position on the northern Pyrenees mountains, controlling the northern passes. Similar to Aragon in many respects, the terrain is mountainous and thus not suitable for agriculture in most respects. However, the Ebro river valley hosts a rich agricultural area, and Navarra can produce enough food supplies to feed its people from its production alone. Iron is plentiful in the Pyrenees, and Navarra hosts a number of smithies. Unlike their neighbors in Aragon, they are not tolerant of dwarves. The Navarrese are highly Christian, and churches are quite common. Because of this, they have stronger relations with France than other Iberian countries. The king is selected by the Bishop of Pamplona and governs in the name of the Holy God. The capital is Pamplona. The main language is Aragonese, though most educated people will speak Latin or Spanish as well.
Navarrese are hard-working, methodical and pious. Many of them work as blacksmiths, refining and crafting the plentiful iron ore in the northern Pyrenees. They tend towards goodness, and produce many paladins and clerics as a result. Druids and barbarians are nearly unheard-of, and evil classes, especially evil wizards, are vigorously persecuted. Their soldiers are highly skilled with javelins and slings.
Castile is the largest of the five states. It controls the center of Iberia and is the breadbasket of the country. It also possesses several silver mines, and this potent combination makes it an economic force. This monetary potency is crucial, as it depends on Aragon, Navarra and Granada for defense. While Castile has a large army, they must defend their borders, which are both extensive and lacking in natural barriers. They have a traditionally feudal system with a hereditary monarchy. While the government is ostensibly Christian, the people are rather indifferent towards religion, and pay lip service both to Christian and old Roman figures. The capital is Madrid. The main language is Spanish, and the educated speak Latin, though learning Aragonese or Portuguese is rare.
Castilians are trustworthy and impulsive. This is a dangerous combination, as they often swear oaths they do not truly mean. They have a range of professions, though their skepticism with regard to religion tends to restrict them from clerical pursuits.
Granada was an African monarchy that threw its lot in with the Iberian alliance rather than be absorbed by an aggressive Carthaginian empire. The country is ruled by a despotic ruler, but his power is actually rather decentralized as the nation primarily consists of piratical clans. The de facto ruler of the country is simply the ruler of the largest clan. Their strategic position is quite strong, as they control the straight of Gibraltar, but the clans on mainland Africa waver in their loyalty and frequently cooperate with the Carthaginians for protection. The patriarch of the largest clan is installed in the palace in Sevilla, the capital and largest city. The people speak Spanish, for lack of a more common language. They are irreverent towards religion, but observe nautical superstitions.
Granadans are rough and hot-tempered. They are more comfortable on ship than on land, and their piratical and roguish ways make them unwelcome visitors, in any case. Most of their people are swashbucklers or pirates, and they are generally unsuited for other professions, though they have sorcerers and mystics of a naval bent.