Kingdom of Kirupilov
A single dynasty has ruled Kirupilov for over 1500 years. At its founding, fourteen noblemen led settlers from their homelands, the dark forests beyond Arbor, east along the coast of the Viridian Sea. They fought back the savages that lived in what is now the settled Kirupilov, gaining a foothold on the long Aportov Peninsula before gradually expanding northward in the following centuries. Each of these noblemen founded families that went on to become the long-lived dynasties of the Kingdom. Today, King Pyotr Starkova, a dour and severe man in his mid 60s, maintains a grip on the crown that few think is likely to loosen any time soon.
In Kirupilov, the crown is not passed down between generations. Rather, whenever the monarch dies, the Elector Counts – the heads of the eleven remaining noble families – gather to elect one of themselves the new King: a lifetime and irrevocable appointment. Thus, these high nobles wield tremendous influence, and it has been their way for over a thousand years to vie and struggle for power… but despite this, outright wars between them have been relatively rare. True, both the Rakov and the Briansky lines have been destroyed; the Rakovs due to a foul betrayal and ensuing war that saw every heir of Fedor Rakov ferreted out and killed; and the Brianskys due to a strange, dark interlude, the family seemingly cursed by a series of suicides, unsolved murders, and outright disappearances. Their high council seats are now filled by two lesser families, ruling over their former domains; but lacking the privilege of voting for (or becoming) the monarch. In recent centuries, the people of Kirupilov have enjoyed relative peace and prosperity, well-established personal security and freedom, and a proud tradition of multiculturalism and inclusion.
Twelve years ago, the slavers of Zimbruk intensified the frequency and severity of their raids on Kirupilov communities, particularly of the Isles of Ostrovot, and King Pyotr Starkova’s demands for cessation were ignored. Within months, hostilities had risen to the level of outright war. Allies were found in Ephesia and Norturland, both being peoples that had suffered deprivations and wars with Zimbruk for centuries; but neither were able to provide any great aid to Kirupilov.
The war has not gone well. Zimbruk has a seemingly unending supply of manpower, despite the (relatively) sparse population density of their sprawling empire. Critically, its navies dominate the Viridian Sea, hundreds of slaves toiling in the bellies of each of countless warships, as well as thousands of merchant slave-ships and armed traders. Kirupilov has ready access to forests, and its two main shipyards, at Nizhniy and the capital of Stadislav churn out a score or more of warships every month, but they are so badly outnumbered that it is rare indeed for Kirupilov’s admirals to win any but the smallest and most carefully planned engagements.
In recent years, the Kirupilov shipyards have focused on small, fast blockade-runners, over the previously-favored heavy warships. Stadislav’s harbor is a fortress; many other towns along the coast have been strengthened against raiders, while a few others, and many of the once-thriving fishing villages unable to protect themselves, have been all but abandoned. The war has settled into a simmering stalemate; Zimbruk slavers seem content to pick off warships, make shows of force from time to time against the less-protected towns, and humiliate any attempt by Kirupilov to mass a fleet capable of winning battles. Kirupilov, after a food crisis brought on by the loss of the fishing fleets, has settled into a wartime economy, relying on its inland farms and overland trade for most supplies. The merchant mariners slip small fast ships past Zimbruk patrols to bring in goods impossible to import by land, making a lucrative – but dangerous – trade with Kirupilov’s allies. Meanwhile, naval sorties occasionally spring on isolated Zimbruk slaveships, occasionally winning small victories at a continuous cost in ships and blood.
Culture and Ethnicities
The majority of Kirupilovians are humans, with a shared ethnicity originating from (but now distinctly different than) tribes beyond Arbor. The racial breakdown of Kirupolov’s population, in order by size, are:
- Ethnically-Kirupolovian humans
*Eladrin, mostly of Arborean origin
*Norturland and Sulterland dwarves (in roughly equal numbers)
*Halflings of a variety of origins
*Ephesian elves (and their half-elf offspring)
*Zimbruk and Arborean shifters
*Tieflings from The Weeping Isle
*Ephesian and Arborean gnomes
There are also very small minorities of Dragonborn from Salthor Eb, Sulterlander Goliaths, ethnically-Zimbruk humans, and members of many strange races from nations far enough away that most folk know little about them. Devas and Half-orcs are surpassingly rare.
The dominant Kirupilov culture originates with immigrants beginning about 1500 years ago; first a few pioneers who established the first settlements, followed by a flood of refugees fleeing from wars and famines in lands far to the northwest of Arbor. Since then, these humans have developed a distinct ethnic identity and culture, while those who were left behind in the old countries were assimilated into nations that conquered their former territory.
In Kirupilovian custom, the eldest son inherits, and males are almost always considered the heads of families; however, in most other aspects of daily life, women have the same legal rights as men. The military is dominated by men; fifteen years ago, it was at least 85% male, although as the war has dragged on, acceptance of women serving in the army and navy has grown, and today the balance is closer to 70%.
Geography and Economy
The Kingdom’s economy is primarily agrarian; to the north, temperate rolling hills and valleys produce wheat, cattle, and sheep. Along the Aportov Peninsula, the slightly warmer and much wetter climate supports temperate rainforests on the high slopes of the mountains, with lower altitudes supporting in particular the production of a variety of fruit and nut trees, especially apples. Major ports at Stadislav and Aportov Point, and minor ports at Nizhniy and (up a relatively easily navigated waterway) Yurutsk, are the only dense population centers. Between them and to their north are countless smaller towns and villages which serve as local hubs for trade, politics, industry, and learning. Among these is Svitansk, a small but quite old town built around a prestigious architectural college, the site of a mysterious oracle and shrine to the goddess Melora, and an important source of both raw and cut architectural marble.
The Isles of Ostrovot are also part of the Kingdom; there, isolated communities that relied more on fishing than agriculture have suffered severely from Zimbruk raiding and the interruption of trade with the mainland. Ostrovot is also the only area of Kirupilov where a few surviving communities of humans can trace their ancestry back well before the establishment of the Kingdom over 1500 years ago. While they are identifiable by ethnic markers and a strong accent, virtually none still speak the old language that scholars say was once the dominant human tongue all around the Viridian Sea.
The Kirupilov border with Sulterland is dotted with mostly-abandoned keeps and towers, some of them in such disrepair that they are hardly recognizable as artificial structures any more. These are remnants of wars with the dwarves, the last of which occurred around 900 years ago; while the dwarves still remember those conflicts, most Kirupilovites view them as ancient history, holding no enmity towards Sulterlanders and viewing the idea of conflict with them as foolish nonsense.
The border with Arbor is completely open; the city-states of Arbor have never warred with Kirupilov, although there have been a few rare conflicts over the exact placement of that border over the centuries. Virtually all overland trade from Kirupilov goes to or through Arbor; the isolationist dwarves of Sulterland want for little, and offer less.