From Tapestries MUCK
Chehon, officially the Confederation of Chehon and West Osnarelda, is a loosely bound city-state comprised of the area between the western coast and the western-most mountain range of the continent of Osnarelda on the planet of Curuoskar. As of 91 A.L. Chehon has three provinces — the Free City of Chehon, the Northern Protectorate, and the Southern Territories. Despite Chehon's claim over a significant amount of land, the majority of the population is located in the area around the Otter River Valley and Chehon Bay. Most of the claimed territory is uninhabited, though a multitude of small communities are scattered throughout the area.
The area was settled in 0 A.L. by immigrants from Layleaux and was formally incorporated as an aristocratic republic in 40 A.L.
Chehon is the second most populous region of Curuoskar and has both the most active economy and the largest volume of off-world trade on the planet. The overall economy of Chehon is dominated by the transshipment and brokerage industries, with the domestic manufacturing, import/export, service, and tourism industries holding a lesser — but still quite significant — role.
The territory of Chehon is a relatively narrow strip of land running along the western shore of the single, unnamed continent of Curuoskar, bordered on the west by ocean and on the east by a mountain range. Chehon's territorial claims encompass an area roughly 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) north to south and 200 kilometers (125 miles) east to west . The majority of the inland area is dominated by untouched temperate forest to the north and subtropical forest to the south. As one moves inland the terrain shifts from beach to plains, foothills, and then mountains for nearly the entire stretch of the country, with periodic, relatively flat river valleys breaking up that pattern.
There is more land to the south which Chehon does not claim; Chehon only claims the land between the western shore and mountains north of the equator. The southern tropics, temperate regions, and sub-antarctic reaches of the Osnarelda are currently unclaimed.
The Northern Protectorate consists of the territory north of Chehon City. It has a temperate climate and is dominated by broadleaf forest in the lowlands and lower hills, with the highlands and mountains seeing more in the way of evergreen forest and snow pack. The further south in the province one travels, the more the balance shifts towards deciduous forest, with the southern edge of the province seeing a bit more in the way of Mediterranean foliage.
Chehon City and the Otter River Valley sit between the Northern Protectorate and the Southern Territories. This area is relatively flat and enjoys a warm, wet, mild climate for most of the year. Most of the river valley has been deforested for agriculture or construction, and what woods remain are generally second generation forest with quite a lot of shrubby undergrowth.
The Southern Territories are somewhat mixed. Research has shown that a catastrophic magical event is most likely responsible for scouring the region sometime in the past; the area is now dry in summer and muddy in winter. Despite occasional attempt to revitalize the area, the land's lack of existing plant life allows the wind to strip the topsoil, which has impeded those efforts. Once past the wastelands, however, the Southern Territories are warm, wet, and heavy with rapidly growing Mediterranean and subtropical flora.
Immediately after the founding of Layleaux, some of the immigrants coming through the Tapestries from other worlds found -- for whatever reason -- the new city not to their liking. However, migration routes out of Layleaux are fairly limited: its location in the middle of a mountain range means that only two real directions are available: east, leading to the desert; or west; along the Otter River. The river leads all the way to the Wineldatir Ocean, emptying into a bay. Those pioneering souls who followed the river to its end founded Chehon at the river's outlet.
In what Layleaux would call the Years of Trade (0 A.L. to 20 A.L.), Chehon remained a fairly small haven for those whose outlook on life made them a poor fit for the Portal City. The town began to develop into a typical magical township, with wealthy (or dangerous) immigrants claiming generous plots of land on the northern side of the valley and setting themselves up as a fledgling nobility while the town itself began to grow into a center for fishing, simple cottage industry, and a marketplace for those farming the fertile river valley further inland. The primarily medieval, magical nature of immigrants during this period mean that even today, the area known as Oldtown is still a center of magical teaching and craftsmanship.
Later in this period, as the Tapestries connected less magically-inclined worlds, many of those individuals immigrated to Chehon. With them came some concepts strongly associated with the Silicon Age, such as city services, utilities, organized schooling, and a shift from feudalism to capitalism. Most of these ideas did not penetrate the society of Oldtown significantly but still tend to dominate the middle of current-day Chehon City.
Failure of the Tapestries
The collapse of the Tapestries was not as big of a concern in Chehon as it was in Layleaux due to the separation between Chehon and the Castle; indeed, sudden increased demand for manufactured goods and domestically produced foodstuffs were a benefit to Chehon's economy. A new wave of immigration, this time from Layleaux itself, followed, as did the expansion of the local manufacturing industry. As alternate forms of cross-world transportation began to relieve the pressure on Layleaux and its monopoly on off-world trade, immigration from Layleaux tapered off; however, some people stayed in their new homes and brought their attitudes and cultural norms with them.
Space Travel and Incorporation
With the discovery of Curuoskar by space-faring societies, the promise of the planet as a trade hub — particularly for illicit goods, given its out-of-the-way placement — was immediately identified. A number of shipping interests from several different realities combined their resources and decided to put a space port on the planet to support that trade. Several sites were considered, but ultimately Chehon was chosen because its proximity to the ocean gives a safe place for ships experiencing difficulties to splash down, because there's a nearby local population to provide workers, the waterway connection with Layleaux, and because of the large settlements on the planet, it's the one closest to the equator...which helps reduce the energy needs for a ship to get back into orbit.
Representatives of the shipping cartel met with representatives from the local nobility, local trade guilds, several elected representatives, and an envoy of the Lutrai, and a charter was drafted which all the groups ultimately agreed upon. This was the Chehon Charter of 40 A.L. and united all of Chehon under a council government made up of representatives from the major interests within the city-state.
Cultural Upheaval and Organizational Politics
The influx of trade and travel served to accelerate the trends started by the migration of Layleauxians and silicon-age creatures into the area, leading the overall society of the region towards social and economic liberalism (See: Classical Liberalism).
The resulting tension between the feudal, reserved nature of the early settler population, the capitalistic, free-wheeling nature of post-incorporation settlers, and the fairly accepting settlers of the intermediate period have led each group to seek out others with a similar mindset. Early settlers have tended to organize into Houses of nobility and their associates. Intermediate-period settlers have formed much more tolerate and accepting Clans. The most recent additions to Chehon society, however, have an outlook that prioritizes occupation over identity, and tend to associate themselves with Guilds.
These organizations tend to form alliances and rivalries which prevent any one group from establishing a stranglehold on the politics of Chehon. They also serve to promote stability in the region: crimes against one member of an organization can lead to reprisals which are more trouble than they're worth; such groups tend to be self-policing as a result.
Recently, Chehon's small domestic market has had difficulty meeting the demands of its industry; while the recent acquisition of The Aviary -- a pre-fabricated space station -- helped reduce the cost and volume of transshipped cargo flowing into and out of the Spaceport Isle, trade volumes show no signs of slowing down. In addition to the labor shortage, an excess of speculative import activity has resulted in a large excess of supply of foreign goods. The overflow does eventually get sold -- either via re-export or shipment to the Layleaux market -- but the alternatives are time-consuming and relatively expensive.
To prevent a loss of market share, the Upper Council has attempted to resolve the situation by completely eliminating the immigration tax: a long-standing one-time tax against individuals who move to the area. Popular support for the tax has always been low; however, until the current labor crisis, the established industries and trade groups represented on the Upper Council had blocked any attempt to eliminate it. With the Council's recent vote, the primary barrier to immigration by Layleauxians and foreigners has been removed, opening the area up to an influx of individuals looking for a new beginning.
Chehon is governed by a two-tier council. The lower tier represents the various communities within the confederation, whereas the upper tier represents the major established interests of the capitol city:
- Upper Council
- Representative of the City's Citizens (Chair)
- Representative of the North's Citizens
- Representative of the South's Citizens
- Representative of the Nobility
- Representative of the Trade Cartel
- Representative of the Guilds
- Representative of the Corporations
- Representative of the Clan Houses
- Lower Council
- Representative of Oldtown
- Representative of Midtown
- Representative of Newtown
- Representative of South Chehon
- Representative of the Port
- Other representatives of outlying towns, villages, and communities.
The upper council's decisions must be made with a two-thirds majority vote; the upper council governs on military affairs, extends membership to new states and provinces, breaks ties in the lower council, and sets all tax rates. The lower council makes decisions by simple majority vote and governs on all other matters.
A citizen has two votes. If they're a part of one of the other groups, they may cast one vote for their Citizen's Representative, and one for their other representative. Citizens not represented by any of the other categories may cast two votes for Citizen's Representative. Citzenship is defined as either 1) any person living within the bounds of any province of Chehon for a span of one or more years or 2) all Chehon landholders, regardless of place of residence. A citizen also has one vote for their representative on the lower council.
The council serves both as executive and legislature. The judiciary is simply a department within the government in service to the council.
There are a host of departments, mostly concerned with the day to day operation of the city and the maintenance of its infrastructure (the Departments of Roads, Water, Power, etc.). The most well-known departments are the Department of Customs, the Department of Revenue, and the Department of Justice.
The Department of Customs governs travel to and from Spaceport Isle, as well as what goods may enter and leave it (goods warehoused on the Isle for transshipment are exempt from Customs inspection). Most immigrants and tourists will encounter Customs Officers upon arriving from offworld, and their first experience with Customs will almost inevitably take the form of a bored-looking creature in a blue shirt and black slacks either inspecting crates with a clipboard or sitting in a booth by the space port gates. Official policy is that prohibited goods are not allowed to pass under any circumstances; however, corruption is common, and the unofficial stance of the city seems to be that bribes are acceptable so long as the city coffers get their cut.
The Department of Revenue is concerned with the collection of taxes. The energy tax -- the "tax" which inhibits heavy weaponry from functioning within Chehon City and a good portion of the bay -- is automatic, so Revenue mostly concerns itself with import and export duties while ensuring that "tax-exempt" (un-inhibited) weapons don't leave the space port while in transshipment. The Department of Revenue was also responsible for collection of the immigration tax; the repeal of that tax has resulted in a significant cut in Revenue headcount.
The Department of Justice serves as the Chehon justice system. When a crime is committed, the victim can file a report and evidence, which is reviewed by a panel of Justice Officers. If the officers determine the petition to be valid — that the offense caused the victim permanent harm or significant monetary loss — they will dictate the punishment and authorize a bounty to be placed for the apprehension and punishment of the individual that committed the crime. As a consequence, there is no police department or prison system in Chehon: justice is auctioned off and delivered by the terms of a contract.
The Chehon Port Authority is the military service of the Chehon Confederation; member communities do not usually maintain their own military for external defense (though internal conflict and the troops that come with it are more common in the South). This organization acts as a secondary line of defense for Chehon, and -- in practice -- is rarely employed on Curuoskar, due to the protection provided by the planet's guardian spirits and the near-impossibility of engaging in large-scale warfare anywhere on or near the planet. The majority of Chehonian military personnel instead serve in the CPA Expeditionary Corps, which functions as an offworld and cross-dimensional mercenary company whose contracts are guaranteed by the Confederation government and its coffers.
The CPA Internal Security Corps is the other branch of the Port Authority and is kept within Chehon as an insurance policy in case of an emergency which -- for some reason -- does not cause the guardian spirits of Curuoskar to act. As such, it's only useful for countering threats that stand upon the knife-edge of being big enough that they threaten the equilibrium of power, but not quite big enough to rouse a guardian. To date, they have not been deployed.
Chehon's economy is dominated by trade and brokerage: the city itself is considered one of the best places in known space to make connections and to find even the rarest of goods. Most of the foreign traders found in Chehon are either brokers who arrange buy/sell orders, or transshipment specialists who connect incoming shipments with people seeking cargo to transport to their next destination.
The import-export market is a smaller, but more diverse, portion of the overall economy. Chehon imports complex manufactured goods, luxury goods, exotic foodstuffs, and other low-volume, high-value items. In turn, it exports grey goods — slaves and drugs — as well as locally-produced armaments.
The Chehon credit is a currency backed by energy and redeemable for its energy value in fuel or in supply from the city power grid. The "change" denominations — anything 10 credits and under — are coin-shaped, high-density batteries which can be used both with the appropriate pocket-sized converter and by most mages for use in spells and enchantments. In general, a single credit is worth about the same amount of energy as one liter of gasoline (1/4 of a gallon of gasoline). However, goods are priced at what people will pay and what they think something is worth, not at how much energy it costs to make the good; as a result, it's not uncommon to see a medieval smithy price his wares at the same level as a merchant selling energy-based tools of a similar purpose, based on the quality and hand-made nature of his goods.
Purely domestic economic activity is dominated by two categories of goods: high-priced, low-volume, hand-crafted luxury items and high-volume necessities. Chehon attracts both artisans seeking a diverse clientele and tourist-consumers looking for high quality (and sometimes ethically questionable) specialty items. However, its limited industrial base is the primary supplier of common household goods that everyone needs, such as fur shampoo, disposable containers and utensils, basic first-aid supplies, non-luxury refined foods (soda, beer, candies, flour, sugar, etc), and fuels; the high demand, low cost, and relative bulk of these commodities gives their local manufacturers a comparative advantage over competing importers.
Demographics and Culture
The demographics of Chehon are constantly changing, making precise measurements difficult, but a rough estimate shows that they more or less mirror those of Layleaux: the population comes from an incredibly diverse array of backgrounds (though twenty-first century Earth is over-represented) and the species mix is dominated by furred mammals with a smattering of hominids, scale-bearers, aquatic mammals, and avians.
The culture of Chehon City is quite different from that of Layleaux, despite the demographic similarities. Chehonian citizens are more likely to be focused on mercantile, political, and military matters than Layleauxians, and while Layleauxian is intensely egalitarian, Chehon has more stratification in income and its people give more thought to social status. Sexuality, while still a significant and commonly accepted aspect of Chehon's culture, isn't prioritized as it is in Layleaux; some minority subcultures go so far as to oppose its open expression.
Compared to Layleaux, Chehon's citizenry is much more fractured and prone to fragmentation into factions and cliques due to the diverse and conflicting goals of its people. For this reason, native-born Layleauxians usually hold a similarly polarized view of the region and its people: some may deem Chehon's people to be senselessly confrontational and chronically undersexed, while others may find them refreshingly passionate and varied in their interests.
The culture of the southern portions of the Northern Protectorate borrows heavily from the original Lutrai settlers; creatures inhabiting the area tend to form small, cooperative communities with a relative minimum of polarization and strife. Many denizens are naturalists, farmers, druids, and fae-touched who seek a life with more meaning than is common to the east, but without the chaos of the city proper.
The far Northern mountain areas play host to a culture which is much more clannish, isolationist, and less accepting of outsiders. Inhabitants of the area tend to be of cold-weather species which either form family-based social groups or tend towards more solitary behavior. As a result, the mountains of the North has very little in the way of permanent large population centers.
The Southern Territories are a harder place than the north, and a more dangerous place than the city. Chehon's charter does not mandate that it police and protect the south, and the position of the government is that while it lays claim to the area and its natural resources, it has no immediate plans to impose order or project power into the South; so long as the people living there pay duties on what they import and export, the government doesn't really care what they do.
As a result, the south tends to attract those with a more primal nature: the predators, the warlords, the dragons, the explorers. Those who want to own something, to conquer something, to hunt, or to revel in sheer anarchy make their homes in the wastes and tropics. The more adventurous may even establish small city-states south of Chehon's territorial claims, but those settlements are rarely heard from and the density of the jungle in the equatorial latitudes makes transportation to such settlements difficult...particularly since Chehon is quick to blacklist starships and traders who try to its near-monopoly on space-based Curuoskarian trade. For these reasons, the south is by far the region of the planet where the on-world employment of the mercenaries is most likely, and where the risk/reward equation of true smuggling might actually pay off.