The Broken Kingdoms are a collection of islands south of the Ceraxan continent. They once were an entire land bridge before a mysterious event known only as "The Cataclysm" fractured the region and turned it into a "dead-magic zone," in which magic is rendered inoperable. It's inhabitants are a hard people, known as "The Grey" and eek out lives in their ever-warring islands.
Society and Culture Edit
The Broken Kingdoms are a series of clan-based islands with a strict class system (though there are a few people who have moved upwards socially). Any given island will have a few minor clans ruled by a head clan, and each head clan is ruled by a lord, or "daimyo." While there is an overall shared culture, each island has it's own unique twists on that culture.
The people of the Broken Kingdoms, known as The Grey, tend to live their lives in two grand phases: peace and war. During seasons of peace, the serfs will focus on farming or fishing for food. The warrior nobles of the head clan will work on establishing their shaky alliances and enforcing their laws; some of the wealthier ones may even go ahead and travel to parts of Ceraxis. Merchant artisans hop between friendly islands to hawk whatever trinkets they can. Those few people who make up the scholar class continue their research into science, philosophy, and history, especially the history of the Last King.
During war, every person and resource of the islands at war are dedicated to obtaining victory. Those few people who did rise through the social ranks almost always did so through their "heroic" actions during war. These wars tend to be attempts at conquering a neighboring island, only for the invaders to often be attacked and invaded themselves by other neighbors. Most of the time, these wars lead to either a bloody stalemate or one side "winning" by receiving a ransom of silver and resources from the other side.
Several natural resources -- especially iron and gold -- are very scarce within the Broken Kingdoms. Blacksmiths can only earn an income solely on metalworking during times of war, when steel weapons are in high demand. Otherwise, they spend their nights crafting silver coins by their daimyo's orders and their days farming their family's fields. As a result, the Grey rely on the few bountiful resources they do have. The best example of this is the Grey's use of bamboo, used for architecture, weapons, and everything in between. Similarly, their staple foods are fish, rice or wheat (depending on the island), and seaweed, the most common food sources in the Broken Kingdoms.
The Grey do not worship the gods, blaming them for the Cataclysm that befell their ancient land. However, they are not necessarily Forsaken, which espouses amorality and vice. Their moral code instead comes from a series of philosophies based upon The Last King (see below).
Because magic does not work, there is a strong interest in the sciences in the Broken Kingdoms. Weapon and armor design, medicine, and meteorology are all superior to what is found elsewhere. However, it is hard to tell whether magic or Grey ingenuity is superior to the other. The arts of philosophy and logic are also areas in which Grey scholarship tends to excel.
The Last King Edit
Long ago, the Broken Kingdoms were one united kingdom of magic, peace, and prosperity. When the Cataclysm befell them, the then-current king of the nation was among the survivors. Whereas the rest of the nobility immediately gave into the violence and chaos of the time -- resource-based genocide, rapine, enslavement -- for the sake of power, the Last King sacrificed what little he had left to protect the people on his new island. He spent himself into poverty to buy truces. He and his family rode into battle themselves so that no one else had to die in war. He learned to fish in order to help feed his people, and only ate the fish he caught himself when the serfs begged him to do so. In the end, he died without a penny or heir to his name.
Nonetheless, the Last King's selfless actions created a pocket of peace and stability during the darkest period of Broken Kingdom history. The ten years of safety he bought his people allowed the daimyo that replaced him to defend against his neighbors, who were tired from ten years of slaughter. To this day, the more western islands (where the Last King died) tend to be more peaceful and prosperous than the other islands. For a place where no one can be trusted, the Last King was the selfless hero they needed.
The Grey celebrate the Last King as Nod would celebrate Frit or Sherry would celebrate Vino. The universal celebration is that no one other than the Last King is referred to as being a "king." Though the islands truly are kingdoms and the children of a daimyo are occasionally called "princes," a daimyo brazen enough to call himself "king" would not survive long enough to enjoy that title. Broken Kingdom history is littered with examples of rebellion, patricide, and assassination caused by the victim daimyo saying he was king.
The veneration the people have for the Last King has led to the creation of moral philosophies that the Grey use instead of religion. Scholars spend their whole lives studying him and trying to apply his actions to modern day governance. The theories agree that doing the right thing will lead to healing the Broken Kingdoms, but disagree on what the "right thing" is. The most common philosophies are:
- Unity of the King: The Last King was only as successful as his respect for others let him be. Clans following this philosophy offer their own serfs the most freedom, but will wage the most violent invasions in the name of unification.
- Selflessness of the King: The Last King did what he thought was right without concern for his social standing. Clans following this philosophy will enforce gracious welfare programs and draconian laws simultaneously.
- Knowledge of the King: The Last King had to learn new things, like fishing and living without magic, in order to save his people. Clans following this philosophy tend to blend the scholar and noble classes, but pay little heed to the needs of their serfs.
Known Islands Edit
- Kuronekoshima: The northwestern-most island in the Kingdoms, Kuronekoshima is run by an independent order of warrior-scholars. The neutral services this isle provides makes it immune to the political machinations of their neighbors. Grey who wish to learn the intricacies of martial arts come here to learn for anywhere between three years to the rest of their lives. It also serves as a customs port, where the few imports the Broken Kingdoms receive are inspected.
- Kinkeshi: Three islands southeast of Kuronekoshima, this large island is ruled by the Raven Clan (Clan Karasu). The Raven family business has made this the most cosmopolitan of the islands, with Aeron and Noddish spoken by 12% of the population. The castle of Clan Raven, a sizable merchant's quarters, and various farms compose the island's infrastructure.
- Chaoren: This small farming island is directly northeast of Kinkeshi and is ruled by Clan Raven. Shirtless Bill's family lives here, tending to their rice farm.
- Bihaeng Jwi: This small, central island is one large fortress, a small wall along the coastline, and the open field in between. It's master is allied with Clan Raven and serves as the first line of defense against eastern invasions.
- Shucai: A sizable farming island that used to rely on slave labor. It now serves as the base of power for Eulji Huang Nobunaga and is the first of the northeast islands to formally outlaw slavery.
Let's Play Appearances Edit
Threshold: Auk's Chosen Edit
Both Stormraven and Shirtless Bill are Grey. Stormraven, Bill, and Bill's brothers left the islands in order to learn the martial and civil cultures of the other known lands. Stormraven's goal is to open a dojo that teaches these old ways to his fellow Grey, as expanded knowledge is one of the tenets of the Last King.
Threshold: Moonlight Edit
Nitere's disappearance was due to her being kidnapped by Grey and held captive in the Broken Kingdoms. The people who held her there left her unharmed, but the separation from Cres and lack of magic was like torture to her. Her desperation to escape led to her making a deal with the Mother.