|Capital:||Jahanabad (or Sumati)|
Jahani Common |
|Ethnic Groups:||Human, Rashnaditz, Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves and Halflings|
|Current Ruler:||Sahraswati Kalimshata|
Taj Jahan is a disputed client state of the Berjeron Empire located between Najjir and The Silver Sea to the west and the Road of the World to the east. It’s a diverse nation of outlander kings; mind-boggling caste systems; paleolithic poverty and unprecedented technological advances side by side.
There are four major caste groupings in Taj Jahan: the ruler-priests, the warriors, the commoners and the foreigners.
The early Jahani people were all little separate kingdoms, each of which had its own class system. Several elven rulers helped systematize the often contradictory caste system even though the kingdoms continued being separate. Some of them traded with Mwayambi, others with Aslar, Najjir and Rashnad and cultural diffusion bled in from all four sides.
Even though the Jahani were behind many in developing cities, they bizarrely figured out some very complicated enchantment magic, the secret to watered steel and some advanced mathematics and star-measuring mechanisms from their superstitious little villages. To date, few have been able to replicate some Jahani technology made in this fashion.
The Berjeron eventually took over the entire area through a series of strategic strikes and alliances, deposing a king at a time. The Berjeron imposed military control and even sold some locals into slavery but they weren’t too heavy-handed culturally. Each of the kingdoms became a province, led by a female Maharani and her attendant Zamindars. The post of chief of the Maharani who reported to the Berjeron empress called the Sahraswati was created and they had ruled ever since.
Najj Menxists tried to convert people to the North and West of Taj Jahan, leading to some clashes against the Berjeron who found the stirred-up converts more volatile than the tranquil caste-holders. This inspired the most recent ruler to take steps and crack down on locals. This increased animosity and fights broke out this time among the non-Menxist Jahani and their rulers. Several elven princes in collusion with each other forcibly put down rebellions and the Sahraswati did nothing to stop them. This embittered a rebel faction, which retreated to the mountains and began to plot again from there.
The Jahani use Nitara: a caste system that only looks straightforward until one is familiarized with its intricacies. The sheer number of subcastes, special rules and exceptions governing their behavior is beyond many Ferangs, with the exception of elves and other equally long-lived species.
The ramifications of caste are easier to understand. Most people stay locked into one socioeconomic status for life and are traditionally excluded from various activities based on what they’re supposed to do. Defying the caste system isn’t just a matter of going behind the back of authority: it’s going against millennia of village tradition and facing ostracism from superstitious friends and family. The ruling classes use this intransigence to maintain control.
In recent years, a growing number of Jahani have been displeased with what they see as a profaning of the sacred Nitara by outlander clerics who don’t understand the wisdom of homegrown traditions. But this number has not yet reached critical mass.
Broadly, the four major caste groups are as follows:
Nitaram: The priests, holy people and aristocrats.
Rowzinders: Warriors and military leaders.
Jahansha: Commoners and everyone else.
Ferangs: Outlanders have their own set of rules.
This grouping went through the most changes over the era of Berjeron conquest. The Nitaram ideal is a contemplative philosopher-king (or queen) whose insight into the many connections of existence grant them unparalleled ruling ability. In early Taj Jahan, spiritual growth and mental acuity were seen as synonymous, which is why all the rulers and figureheads were various holy people. Most doctors also come from these castes.
Berjeron aristocrats, many of whom were also priests, infiltrated the Nitaram, creating several new subcastes for their leaders on Veth. One noteworthy example is the caste of Maharani, female provincial administrators of the Suzerain, the Berjeron hereditary Empress. The main Berj ruler in Taj Jahan is called the Sahraswati, another all-female position. Berjeron Saints of Jomeil and Ley Savants can also be found in this grouping.
Those Nitaram who aren’t involved with government tend to maintain shrines, temples and sacred gardens and lead heavily-subsidized lives of intellectual and spiritual contemplation. Because of their wealth of free time and resources, the Nitaram produce most of the society’s art and technological advances, cementing their reputation as Taj Jahan’s intellectual heavyweights. Still, many of them are complete wastrels who never do anything useful.
The warrior-castes specialize in mayhem and, with some exceptions, are the only group of people allowed to inflict violence. Rowzinder castes include everyone from common city guards, all the way up to warlords and battlemasters. There is limited skill-based mobility between the rankings, though there are many hard limits on how far an individual warrior can rise.
There is a great deal of stratification based on what sort of weapon training one gets to the types of action they’re likely to see. Rowzinders are usually divided into footmen, archers, horse lancers, heavy knights, siege engineers and elephantry, in ascending order of prestige. Above them, strategists and warlords often get their title by heredity but many have to earn the respect and loyalty of their followers to be effective leaders.
Despite the Nitaram standing above Rowzinders in society, Rowzinders are necessary to enforce Nitaram power. Many warlords are in powerful bargaining positions as a result, being able to exert significant influence on society.
The biggest grouping contains over half the population and three quarters of all its sub-castes. Artisans and enchanters are the undisputed heads of the heap, having almost but not quite the prestige of the aristocrats, if they’re good. Behind them are merchants, farmers, laborers, fakirs and other commoners. Some of the merchants are wealthier than all the other commoners but are restricted in how they spend their money and unable to change jobs.
Even though violence belongs to the Rowzinders, some of the Jahansha castes are empowered to commit violence in order to be used as deniable or covert assets. These people have two accepted caste identities: a public and a secret one. Many of them are in service to one aristocrat or another on a temporary or permanent basis.
Being in the lower castes can pose a severe disadvantage when dealing with a Nitaram. Social inferiors’ words carry less weight. Some castes are considered so lowly that they have no instituted protection from violence and may be freely killed if they overstep specific social boundaries. Declaring someone an outlaw usually means relegating them to the ‘bandit caste,’ one such unprotected grouping. It’s hard for such outlaws to obtain weapons and tools to defend themselves since most artisans and even farmers will refuse to deal with them unless threatened with violence.
Ironically, foreigners have the greatest range of social mobility in Jahani society, occupying rungs from lowliest fakir to warrior-prince.
All foreigners were considered casteless once but now have their own hierarchy. The Berjeron aggressively promoted the idea of their own superiority and it stuck: as foreigners, they were considered “special” and similar enough to the Jahani to fit into their system at the top. Everyone non-Berj or Jahani is a Ferang. Absent family ties and tradition, the Ferang falls back on merit: their worth in society is determined by how useful they can make themselves to the local maharani.
Stranded foreigners are often given an “intelligence test” wherein a set of weapons is placed before them before they are attacked. If they pick up the weapons and use them halfway effectively, they’re drafted into the local army. As foreigners, they face no loss of prestige and using ferang fighters and advisors is considered preferable to using native commoner conscripts.
Some foreigners, who have done an exceptional service or pleased the Sahraswati in some outstanding way, may even earn the right of temporary rulership over a province. They are given reign anywhere from one to five years in a province of the ruler's choosing. If their reigns please her, they are spared; otherwise, in fine Aslari tradition, they are beheaded. Often, the foreign princes are given ostentatious titles like Bringer of Thunder, (a dwarven powder salesman and war criminal), or Arbiter of the Deathless, (a necromancer whose zombie troops claimed twice as many victims in peacetime.)
Foreigner influence is often a function of their longevity. Most foreigners in positions of power are elves, making the humans resentful. The elves had violently put down a major rebellion with tacit approval from the Berjeron and began a major industrialization effort, angering the locals even more.
The Atithipati are essentially a group of female entertainers trained in the arts of conversation, etiquette, dance and various musical instruments. They are selected between the ages of 6 and 10 from amongst the streets and orphanages of the city, and chosen primarily on their appearance and promise of beauty. From the moment they are taken into the fold, they are trained in their arts until they are of an age to decide if they should like to be married or to remain with the troupe.
Each branch of Atithipati is run by a group of women, generally older women, that make all of the decisions for the whole group. They're referred to collectively as the Ambi, or the Mothers or the Matrons, regardless of their age. Each Mother is ranked by seniority, the eldest of the Drache branch of Atithipati is Jia Li, a fading beauty in her mid forties to early fifties, and her younger sisters all defer to her.
The girls under the care of the Mothers are separated into three groups, the Caracam, or cranes, the Amucam, or swans, and the Puravu, or doves, dependant upon age and ability.
The Caracam are older girls and women who, for whatever reason, have decided not to marry and to remain with the Atithipati until such time they decide to leave. Some of the Caracam are trained by the Mothers to join the Ambi at a later date. Others remain until they have made enough money to support themselves outside of the Ambi's care. Most of the Caracam make their decisions to remain with the Atithipati early on in their careers.
The Amucam are the older girls and young women, fifteen years of age and older who would like to be wed out of the Atithipati. They are allowed to perform and to go out with customers to private fetes, functions, celebrations, parties or any other type of outings. They are all considered of marriageable age.
The final group, the Puravu, are the youngest of the Atithipati, the young girls that are not of a marriageable age. These girls are generally between the ages of 6 and 14. They are allowed to perform in public with the other Atithipati, and to serve at banquets hosted by the Atithipati but they cannot accompany customers on private functions without an Amucam or Caracam present. Generally speaking, when a patron or customer pays for the company of the Atithipati, it's to see the accomplishments of the older members.
The big freshwater lake that almost makes a macro-lagoon of northeastern Taj Jahan. This is the land’s most populated area, with plenty of rainfall and desirable land. It's normally sweltering but kept a few degrees cooler than it ought to be by Berjeron weather magic. Most of the big gleaming cities, including the capital Jahanabad (or Sumati if you’re a rebel) and their architectural wonders are here.
Plains of Suresh
Dotted with settlements and several fortresses, the area is still strongly enough within the Sahraswati's domain that it’s mostly peaceful. Major grain grower.
Habitation of Dust
Desertified area with a single parched fort-city sitting in the middle. The Maharani wants it staffed but morale is low as is funding and it’s constantly being overrun with rebel attacks. Water is scarce and most residents are hardy, paranoid and individualistic. Most of the shrines in the area were defiled by the most recent Maharani when she ordered that sacred animals be slaughtered inside and their blood splashed everywhere. Since then, Rowzinders have used the local idols for target practice.
The Southern woods are impassable and choked with fanged apes and other jungle monsters and yet people somehow live and thrive here. The Sarahswati had put in major improvements in recent years, making it easier for people to protect against beasts.
Tall and majestic, with foothills that leave easily-defended passes, with plenty of mineral resources to go around. This has become the territory of the rebels who seek to overthrow the Sarahswati and upend the Berjeron control over their society. They are firmly entrenched and hard to dislodge but they can’t go too far out of their turf either. On the high cliffs above, many monasteries and statues had been carved into the rock, where disciples have come to learn to contemplate the universe or perfect their unarmed fighting. The best-known monastery is called Haran Ki’ir.
A prosperous land northeast of the Uruswati, of rolling hills, plains, groves and ideal rainfall. It is some of the most disputed land in the region. The government, the rebels and Najjira settlers all vie for the fertile territory, with no end in sight to the clashes and bloodshed.
The Jahani worship an invisible system of the world, which knows how everything is supposed to be and regulates intuitively. The system doesn’t have to think about what’s best for everyone: it’s already grasped it and is sensitive to all fluctuations. All living beings are the system and the system is all beings and more. To a believer, all living things move forward on an infinite evolutionary progression.
They also worship various gods whose work enables the system. Few Jahani gods are known but their roles have been suggested to explain basic phenomena: the two moons are said to be the castrated testicles of a formerly male god, for example. The Berjeron, with their thousand gods, are paternalistic and tolerant of the mainstream faith, though lately, the recent Sahraswati had cracked down on certain interpretations of the teachings.
Menxism has crept into Thalaa from Najjir and taken small but permanent root in some of the communities.
Taj Jahan produces everything, from raw materials, to exquisite manufactured goods. However, what they are best known for is their ability to enchant, enhance and improve weapons, armor and items.
Jahani craftsmen don’t make the finest weapons in the world; that honor goes to the Nipangui, Ruthmarnan dwarves and the Qarsythians. But Jahani enchanters have developed proprietary mystic forges that fold magic and mundane addons to objects with unrivaled efficiency. The proliferation of Ankenah linguism from Najjir also allowed them to reinforce their enchantments with superb runework.
Many Far Eastern swords go through the ports at Damayanti to get enchanted before proceeding to Kazamki and the Occident.