Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Emirate of Ylasia
The nation of Ylasia is unique in the world in that it is the only nation to completely ban religion. While it may sound like a strange doctrine, the secular ways of the Kingdom of Man have provided centuries of peace and stability and few other nations can claim the same. Life in Ylasia is not without turmoil—plagues, pirates, famine, giant beetles, and an ever-expanding desert present the Ylasians with plenty of problems, but without any gods to pray to, the onus of dealing with them falls squarely on the shoulders of man.
The country’s fine cloth, exotic produce and gemstones are sought after by foreign merchants. Other exports include salt, dates, tropical fruit, base metals, tools and herbal remedies.
Although once a great Emirate Kingdoms long ago (the name Emirate is now only used by non Ylasians), the Kingdom of Man (as Ylasians call themselves) is ruled by a council of elders comprised of representatives from every major settlement. Overseeing the council, the Keeper of the First Law is elected from within the council and serves for a five-year term. Keepers are rarely re-elected and the resulting lack of institutional memory leads other nations to see Ylasia as somewhat fickle, often waiting out the terms of a Keeper they find difficult to deal with. The seat of government is Jaboor, the nation’s largest city. The rulers and citizens of Ylasia follow the Laws of Man, written by Kalim Onaku over 2000 years ago, which strictly prohibit religion of any kind within the borders of the land. The government’s primary military and peacekeeping force, especially with respect to the quelling of religious cults, speech and paraphernalia, is the Pure Legion.
Though few nations enter into dealings with the Kingdom of Man, always wary of such an adamantly atheistic society, Ylasia has few open enemies. There are certainly tensions with nations in which religion holds influence, such as the Phthyan Empire or the The Abbashan Emirate, where cults of Sarenrae hold sway. Other nations, like Aegyptus, take a more pragmatic approach, appreciating the stable government and safe ports Ylasia offers and trading for the fine textiles, gems and exotic produce.
The An Dynasty sent fleets to conquer Al’Baid after Pharaoh An-Hepsu II established the port of what is now Alexandretta in Aegyptus nearly 5,000 years ago. During much of the Age of Destiny and Age of Enthronement, Ylasia was part of the expansive kingdom of Aegyptus, but when the Land of Pharaohs fell to Phthyan occupation, the peace that had been known for millennia quickly dissipated. Zealous missionaries of the faith of [[Ja’Ilam]] spread their faith westward from Malaki Emirate in the third millennium of the Age of Enthronement, encountering strong resistance from the established faiths of The Old Religion who had large cults in the city-states of present-day Ylasia. The religious war that followed between the devout of the old gods came to be known as the Oath Wars and they wracked the region for more than sixty years. The Oath Wars were ended by the militia of Jaboor led by the philosopher Kalim Onaku, who put the city’s temples to the torch and demanded that all citizens, both of Jaboor and neighboring city-states, swear off their faiths and follow the new Laws of Man, the first of which is “Let no man be beholden to a god.” Over the course of five years, the Laws spread across the region, and the Nation of Man was born.
The primary tenet of rule in Ylasia is the First Law, which prohibits religion in any form. All faiths have a presence in the nation, but to date, no religion has managed to become powerful enough to pull the nation from its strict avoidance of the divine, and all worship is done in secret. Current whispers speak of a growing cult of Ja’Ilam in Damma Ra’Ima but the Pure Legion has been unable to locate or dissipate any such congregation. But despite its strict forbiddance of worshiping any deity, many representatives of warring religious sects use Jaboor as a neutral ground for negotiations.
Most inhabitants of Ylasia are human, with the most common ethnicities being Al’Badian, Al’ Farisi and Aegyptian. Given the nation’s strictures against religion, it is rare to find clerics from or living in the Kingdom of Man. The nation’s prestigious wizarding colleges (such as the Occularium in Jiddah) teach a pragmatic form of magic devoid of overt spirituality and arcanists and engineers are always in demand to help fight the encroaching desert with walls, canals, and wind-diverting magic.
The place in society normally occupied by religion is instead filled with a deep respect for rhetoric and philosophy and most Ylasians are well educated and active civic participants. Since no religious tenets define morality or acceptable behaviors, Ylasia place high value on self-discipline and family loyalty. Centuries of facing their own destinies without the guarantee of a favorable welcome of an afterlife has left many in the Kingdom of Man darkly optimistic, possessing faith in themselves since they have no one else to depend on but each other, believing that they must make the most of their mortal lives despite all the hardships.
Foreigners must submit to a thorough search by the Pure Legion upon arrival in Ylasia, either by ship or overland. Possession of contraband items such as holy symbols or religious artifacts carries heavy fines and potential exile, while preaching religious doctrine garners much harsher punishments, including imprisonment or worse.