Matan was founded by Lemasa in the year 136LE [33SA]. For the next 100 years the colonists traded with, and subjugated, the local tribes. At the end of this period of growth the city of Hele was founded (232LE [129SA]) to block an important pass.
Until the Great War (446-458LE [343 - 355SA]) with Fomorian, Matan was a Lemasan kingdom. It came under heavy attack in this war, losing its islands, its fleet and sizable enclaves around its capital. After these losses Leman the Rebel (434-453LE [331 - 350]) betrayed Lemasa (449LE [346SA]) and joined Fomoria's side in the Great War. As part of this change the name of the nation became Ma'Helas and the Lemasans left in the land were turned over to the Fomorians (450LE [347SA]).
For the next 350 years Ma'Helas stagnated under the "advisory" rule of Vahear and great wealth was bled from the land. In the year 807LE [704SA] the people tried to better their lot through military action and met defeat at every turn. When Xagh the Great took the throne (1094LE [991SA]) the nation was bankrupt and on the verge of collapse. During his reign (1094-1150LE [991 - 1047SA]) Ma'Helas turned on the Fomorians. In a lightning coup (1116LE [1013SE]) Xagh shattered Fomorian power in the land. After this victory he expanded the army, improved its training level and stabilized the economy. On his death, Ma'Helas was on the road to recovery.
Xagh the Great was succeeded by Xagh the Builder (1150-1193LE [1047 - 1090SA]). This ruler began an extensive fortification program, urban renewal projects and fostered massive economic growth. When he died, Ma'Helas, economically, was nearly the equal of Vahear.
The current ruler of the land is the daughter of Xagh the Builder, Mata the Beautiful (1193LE [1090SA]- present). Her rule has brought increased prosperity to the land. As she is 30 years old, and unwed, her councilors worry about the future. They feel that, even if she is a talented mage, she must be wed soon.
NOTE - For the last four years, a yearly contest has been held in Matan. The winner of this contest, if there is one, will marry Mata and become the King of Ma'Helas. So far 43 men have tried and failed. Only great warriors, with experience and learning, can hope to survive "Mata's Challenge" (the name of the contest).
The capital of Ma'Helas is Matan (31,000). Its other city is Hele (23,000). The nation's total population is 300,000. The Royal Army has 400 elite footmen in platemail, 6,000 common footmen, 1,200 cavalry and 6,400 militia. Its total strength is 14,000 men. The fleet has 25 warships, 5 trireme size or larger.
The economy is based on craftsmanship, mining and herding. The mines produce fine metal and gems. Matan's craft goods are prized for their beauty and durability. The majority of the nation is hilly and steep. Ma'Helas lacks arable land and must import certain types of food. They are a major producer of wool and have large sheep herds.
Ma'Helans worship Tehuti. They are tolerant of other faiths, as long as the practitioners of those faiths do not upset public decorum.
Ma'Helans are dependable, kind, generous and fair. When they have just cause, they are unforgiving to enemies. Few things are more sacred than friendship in this culture. When a Ma'Helan calls someone "friend," he is calling him brother. They are equally powerful relationships. Friendship is never given quickly. Once it is, it is viewed as a familial attachment.
Ma'Helas is a hereditary monarchy. The monarch rules lightly. Individual citizens have a great deal of personal freedom. The punishment for all crimes in Ma'Helas is imprisonment. No death penalty, corporal punishment or torture is allowed. Where a crime is particularly heinous, the case is tried by the ruler of the nation. If the suspect is found guilty, he is sentenced to Oblivion for up to 400 years followed by a 2-20 year prison term when he returns. (This penalty is also possible if the felon is important or greatly feared.)
NOTE - The worst sentence in Ma'Helan history was given to Vahear's Resident in the year 1116LE [1013SA]. He was sentenced to 380 years in Oblivion followed by 18 years at hard labor. He will not be free until the year 1514LE [1411SA].
Ma'Helas has good relations with the Robari tribes. They consider the Robari to be allies.
Ma'Helas is hated by Vahear. She returns the favor. Fomorians must be careful in this realm. This nation is raided by Shurikal. They dislike the Shurani because of their perverse cruelty.
Javelins, Short Sword, Daggers
The Lemasan family are small and dexterous people with a good deal of stamina. They tend to have light complexions, oriental eyes and light brown or black hair. The Ma'Helans, due to centuries of inbreeding with local barbarians, are 5% larger and 10% heavier than other members of this group.
Ma'Helas, as defined, has two cities (populations 31000 and 23000) and 4 forts (presumed to be towns) and a total population of 300000. I have added two additional forts on the hexes bordering the Desert of Sighs, upping the number of fortress towns to 6.
Matan is supported by 7 towns. Two are within the same hex -- Na'hal (pop 2,090) and Orsas (pop 2,750). Five more lie scattered about the local area: De'sis [Matan-3] (pop 1670); Mesal at the crossroads [Matan-11] (pop 3,180); Ca'sor [Matan-55] (pop 2,350); Ya'las [Matan-222] (pop 2,680); Mo'non [Matan-6] (pop 2,810).
Hele is supported by 6 towns. Two are in the same hex -- La'lel (pop 2,820) and Resas (pop 1,940). Four more lie scattered about: Le'mis on the river [Hele-334] (pop 3,060); Ne'pas at the crossroads [Hele-44] (pop 2,190); Foso [Hele-122] (pop 2,850) and Ro'mas [Hele-55] (pop 3,400).
The 6 forts are Fort Me'hes [Matan-555] (pop 3,330); Fort Yere [08-0717] (pop 2,310); Fort Ha'hos [08-0816] (pop 2,000); Fort Ku'las [04-3214] (pop 2,340); Fort So'mon [04-3316] (pop 3,100) and Fort He'sa [04-3117] (pop 2,970).
There are about 540 villages scattered about the entire country, mostly clustered about the roads and river. Average population of each village is 370.
- Fort Yere and Fort Ha'hos are strongly fortified against Chaos incursions from the Desert of Sighs. All "easy" routes into and out of the desert have been fortified, warded and otherwise blocked. To pick your way through these barriers is a DIFFICULT Hill survival task, failure indicating the triggering of some trap or ward. Partial failure indicates that you are stopped and do not cross over.
- Fort Me'hes contains the primary shipyards of Ma'Helas due to the proximity of the fine hardwoods in the surrounding hills.
- The town of Ca'sor is primarily a mining town due to the rich minerals in the mountains to the north. The quality of the metals has been dropping in the past decade, indicating that the veins are nearly tapped out. This has started a wave of prospecting in the largely untouched mountain ridge known as "Se'hal's Finger" north of Matan.
- GM ONLY: The mountains in the area of [08-0519] are extremely rich in minerals and the area is unihabited, though technically owned by the crown. Villages areas south of this are primarily concerned with raising goats.
- The "Rift of Matan" [08-0215] is a 7x2 mile valley deep in this mountainous area. Due to underlying geothermals, there is never snow in the valley and it never gets colder than 50 degrees even in deep winter (although the lone road in is snowbound from early November to late April). It is within this valley that the "Challenge of Matan" is held every year starting on the Fall Equinox. The Valley has a small forest at its far end and a lake close to where the road leads in. The lake is continually fed by mountain runoff and is drained by a small underwater tunnel in a section of the lake known as the "Judging Currents". In past years, part of the challenge has been to swim across the currents and thus be judged by Matan...those who are not perceptive enough to spot the under currents or strong enough to fight them if caught will be sucked down to their doom.
- De'sis is primarily agricultural, and the villages around here raise 25% of the country's crops. On the southern side of De'sis, in the croplands between the town and the coast, was one of the fiercest battles of the war with Lemas, resulting in horrendous casualties. On certain nights the spirits of the fallen can be seen in battle over the croplands.
- North of Fort Mossal [08-0915] on the coast overlooking the straight is a hidden fortress that has been slowly filled with non-perishable supplies, weapons and ship parts for an eventual invasion of Ma'Helas by Vahear.
- [Map 8; The Ullan-332] A small mountainous citadel of dwarves are here (about 13,000). Their home is pretty isolated, and finding it is no easy task ASSUMING you knew it existed. There is minimal trade with Ft. Dwakza, primarily metal goods (the Dwarves do not sell their best).
- [Map 8; The Ullan-333] A clan of Robari, about 50 strong, are slowly being pushed north by Vaheari exapansion to the south. Soon the Clan goats will be overrunning what little outside plants the Dwarves grow as well as fouling their mountains. There has been little communication with the Dwarves, who are starting to get frustrated by the lack of "cooperation" (the dwarves do not know any Robari, communication is minimal and pretty much waving weapons and pointing in directions).