Until the year 842TH [309SA], Thaliba ruled an empire that stretched from the river Zara to the badlands of modern S'ph'nth. In the reign of Timas the Enlightened (842 - 895TH [309-362SA]), feudalism was instituted and the construction of Fortress Thalib began. By the time of his death, the Thalibans had nearly divorced themselves from their empire. They, in their view, were no longer interested in "civilizing barbarians." With the completion of Fortress Thalib (1016TH [483SA]) and the defeat of their battle fleet by Clima (1020TH [487SA]), they withdrew into isolation and, with the issuing of the Edict of Daranian the Blinding, what was once an empire became a patchwork of 319 noble domains.
Since this edict, Thaliba has concentrated on the mystic sciences and isolated itself from the world. In the year 1226TH [693SA], they closed their land to all foreigners, except for the Thaliban Road and the city of Porta. What invasions they have faced, they have bought off or broken on the walls of Thalib.
They have faced siege by the Don Host, assault by Nilgeranthrib and attack by Marentia. They pay yearly tributes to the Thaliban tribes and Marentia, the first to serve as a buffer and the second to assuage that nation's ambition for conquest. The Thalibans view themselves as a superior race. With their invulnerable fortress and mystical power, the actions of barbarians are unworthy of notice.
The capital of the nation is Thalib (34,000). Its suburbs (city margins) have 59,000 citizens. The total Thaliban population is 93,000. The southern part of the Thaliban Peninsula is occupied by the city of Porta (14,000). It is a wide - open city whose citizens come from many places. In Porta, survival is the only law. Another 13,000 citizens dwell in the margins outside the city. The total population of this area is 27,000. The total population of the Thaliban Peninsula is 120,000.
The KNOWN army of Thaliba is the Golden Guard (600 footmen and 200 crossbowmen with arbalests) which garrisons the Thaliban Road. In addition to this force, but unknown to the world at large, Thaliba has three other units. The Society of Light contains 400 elite agents who are trained assassins and magic - users. The Silver Guard contains 1,600 footmen and 3,200 trained militia who guard the fortress. The White Riders are a 400 - man cavalry force who patrol the land to keep out barbarians. The nation also fields 4,800 untrained militia. Of these forces, some or all of the Golden Guard, the Society of Light and the White Riders are magic - users.
Porta is ruled by ten gang bosses. Their total strength is 650 gang soldiers and 1,300 gang militia. Porta's fleet, owned by two of the city's gangs, has 4 warships. Thirteen other ships, controlled by pirates, also based out of the city. The Porta - controlled area outside of the city is run by 3 bosses.
Their total strength is 150 soldiers and 700 militia.
Thaliba's economy is based on road tariffs and fine goods that they release to the world through selected merchants in Porta.
Porta's economy is based on its status as a free port and a criminal haven. It is a center for piracy and a clearing house for stolen goods. If something of great value is stolen in the western nations, it is likely to surface in Porta.
Thaliba's religion is unknown to the world at large (they have a law - oriented faith that concentrates on the worship of Light). Religion is of little importance in Porta. There are few areas in Porta where religious authorities have the power to force their beliefs on others. A man's faith is his own in Porta, especially if he has the wisdom to keep it to himself.
The Golden Guard is the only group of Thalibans that the world has experience with. This being the case, Thalibans are viewed as haughty, conniving and greedy people who are infuriatingly condescending. They always try to collect as much money as they can get. If faced with a physical threat, or shown that a person is unable to pay, they back down. If attacked, they fight implacably until the "barbarian" who had the effrontery to lay his hands on a Thaliban is dead.
Portans are a cold, calculating people with a criminal mentality. They value profit and power above all else. As a situation warrants, they are violent, helpful, treacherous, flattering, etc. At all times, they have the potential to be ruthless killers. Their leaders tend to be textbook examples of amoral pragmatism in action.
Thaliba's legal system is unknown. No one has ever, to their knowledge, seen the face of a Thaliban. No one who has entered their land, except on the road, since the year 1226TH [693SA] has ever been seen again.
NOTE - Thaliba's emperor is an absolute monarch. It has a strict caste system. Each caste has a precisely defined task in life. By performing this task well, its members earn a place in heaven. It is a disciplined and orderly society. (Foreigners who are found off the road in Thaliban lands are hunted by the White Riders and enslaved for life. There are no exceptions to this rule.)
Porta is ruled by its bosses. Each boss is a despot in his own area. Unless a person's actions interfere with the local gang, he can do what he wants. If he interferes, the threat is met with violence. Porta is a closed and hostile environment for foreigners until they make connections in the city, or show themselves to be so strong that others try to make connections with them. (Taking the second course can be dangerous. Bosses are often paranoid about up - and - coming competition. They have a tendency to "swat a cub before it can become a bear.")
Thaliba has a treaty with Marentia and an understanding with the Confederacy. Neither is of any importance to the Thalibans. Thaliba pays the Thaliban tribes to close the forest passes to all outsiders, especially the Zen'da.
Porta has no allies. Its people have close ties with criminal organizations in nations on the Sea of Tears. They also have ties with pirate captains from as far away as Dechat.
The major enemy of Thaliba is Nilgeranthrib. The Great Lich is dedicated to their destruction and plans to use Porta as a pawn in his master plan. Beyond this, Clima would like to conquer Thaliba but believes it to be impossible. The Confederacy wants to clean out the pirates and criminals in Porta but fears Thaliba's reaction to such an attack.
NOTE - For more information on Thaliba, Porta and Nilgeranthrib, see Tower of the Dead, an adventure module for Powers and Perils.
NOTE - The values in parentheses are used by natives of Porta.
Thaliba - Swords, Polearms, Heavy Crossbows and Arbalests
Porta - Daggers, Clubs, Swords
The Thalibans are an ancient people who entered the area more than 2000 years ago as barbarian invaders. Their appearance is very close to that listed for the Thaliban tribes, though their fine clothing, coiffures and cosmetics make them appear much handsomer. The Portans are the "mutts" of the Sea of Tears. They have citizens from all of the nations washed by its shores. Porta is a melting pot for this area.
The Thaliban calendar is used in Thaliba, Porta, Marentia, Zarun and Ba'rual. By its reckoning, it is the year 1633. The calendar dates from the foundation of the Thaliban empire, specifically the reign of Kiros the Mighty - Thaliba's most successful conqueror. The cyclical events that are featured in the full calendar, which is only used in Thaliba, are based on the Thaliban Mysteries of Light which are only known to the Society of Light and the Emperor.
Thaliba is a mystery to the world. No one has been known to enter Thaliban lands, except on the road, and return alive for over 500 years. They have isolated themselves from the mortal world and suffer no foreigner to walk their lands. The fate of those who have entered the land in defiance of the bans is unknown.
NOTE - They are enslaved for life. As a law - oriented society, the Thalibans cannot see their way clear to kill trespassers. They restrain them forever instead.
Thaliba operates under a caste system. The elite castes, and the few slaves that they have, dwell in Thalib, the capital. The highest caste, after the Imperial family, is the Society of Light. The society is a militant brotherhood of noble magicians who serve the Emperor fanatically. Its members are selected from the noble castes at birth, trained for fifty years and tested for admission into the light.
Noble Thalibans have extreme longevity, due to the magic and power that the culture has gained over the millennia. the average lifespan of a noble is 150 years. The current ruler is an ancient man, 287 years old, who was young when the Don Host besieged the city on their way west.
Thalibans prize their isolation and exclusivity. They will not leave their land or have anything to do with the barbarians who dwell outside of it. Only members of the Society of Light and the Golden Guard have regular dealings with foreigners. Others, without the training and stability of this elite, would commit suicide rather than accept an order to live among the barbarians. Their pride could not bear the shame of it.