Six PCs Walk into a Bar...
Almana L’Strom is a small archipelago nation consisting of five major island provinces and a few dozen smaller islands peppering the surrounding waters. Heavily populated by genasi, Almana L’Strom prides itself on its rich history and distinctively elemental heritage.
Who Lives Here?
As previously stated, Almana L’Strom’s main populaton is genasi- roughly 65 percent of all inhabitants. Humans make up the next-largest population chunk, at around 20 percent. Halflings, most commonly found farming on the island of Shas, are about ten percent of the population; the remaining five percent are of other races- notably, an enclave of wildens in the deep jungles of Argol and the diverse students of the Monastery of Akadi’s Breath in Lahara. The total population of this island chain hovers around two million in the cooler months; an influx of trade, noble tourism and even interplanar relations in the summertime raises the effective population to almost three million. The seasonal difference is so dramatic, and such emphasis placed on welcoming travelers in this nation, that even the smallest jungle thorp boasts at least one inn and tavern, and shops of all stripes abound.
The economy of Almana L’Strom centers on tourism; magical items and study; fishing and whaling; and tropical foods such as mangoes, saffron and even rare meats like giant snake, howler monkey, and even more monstrous fare such as displacer beast and girallon. Magical items and study often focus on the primal and elemental facets of power.
The monetary system of Almana L’Strom uses nacre buttons, ivory pieces, and unio shells. One nacre button (nb) is generally equivalent to 2 copper pieces (cp). An ivory piece (ip) is effectively half a silver (sp). An unio shell (us) is considered as five sp. This means that five nb = two ip, and ten ip = one us. The ratios to gold, silver and copper as mentioned above are typical. Of course, upheavals and trade agreements throughout the Continent may change this conversion factor for better or worse.
In general, certain types of shells are often easily sold for their full value in this country, since they are commonly used in cameo work, prized by collectors, and considered currency in their own right. The native genasi jokingly refer to beachcombing as “playing the Purple Star Cowrie lottery.” In truth, a day of beachcombing almost always yields enough empty oyster shells to fashion a nacre button or two, but most people find such activity far too time-consuming to be truly cost-effective. Those few who can quickly fashion nacre buttons are often employed by large-scale mussel gatherers for the extra revenue they can generate by literally making money. Though a nacre button is not considered legitimate until given the official minter’s mark of the government, unmarked buttons may be sold to the mint at half value, so large-scale operations generally profit from employing button-makers.
The island of Shas is a traveler’s paradise. Beaches line the northeastern shore, and the southern half of the island is a bounty of richly arable land and pasture. Sailors throng around the many beautiful ports of call, trading wares and telling raucous tales of monsters and magic to anyone who will listen. Halflings tend orchards and grow everything from yams to sugar cane; the wealthiest of halflings tend herds of elephants and harvest the ivory from aged bulls, selling it in bulk to the government, or to merchants as a sort of trade bar, for tremendous profit.
The government of Almana L’Strom endorses slavery of any non-genasi race; criminals are often sentenced to indentured servitude or sold as slaves. Illegal slavers from other nations also kidnap and sell hapless civilians to owners of large plantations (and the occasional wealthy household seeking loyal help, but the majority of slaves are held by large-scale sugar cane operations in particular).
All in all, the citizens of Shas are wealthy people, with a burgeoning middle class. Of all the major islands of this nation, Shas is the least genasi-populated as a proportion of its citizenry, yet also the most integrated when it comes to the mixing of genasi types. Even in the deep jungles, most villagers feel no sharp financial stings.
Due east of Shas lies the highly volcanic, verdant and stony island of Ximra. Largely considered the “Isle of the Firesouls,” Ximra boasts a great wealth of primal power; those who wish to discover greater primal transcendence, or pay homage to Imix, the Eternal Flame, often make spiritual pilgrimages to this land. Tribes of goliaths wander its deepest jungles; shamans and druids are as common, and as revered, in Ximran cities as clerics are in cities throughout the rest of the world.
Ximra’s landscape is dotted with volcanoes, both active and dormant. While much of the islands enjoys incredible agrarian fertility due to the volcanic soil which pervades it, large swaths of ash-scorched land bear witness to the destructive power of fire. Young Ximran firesouls learn from an early age that rebirth comes in the wake of oblivion, and that power is only so good or so evil as one who wields it.
Of all the Almani Isles, Ximra lies closest to the greater Damaran continent; the nation of Sidano is only a few days’ sail away from its eastern shore.
More later. There are three and a half more major islands to cover, not even getting into the aquatic community.