The Thalassocracy of Ashur is a maritime island nation that has its roots in the Baalite Hegemony. It’s predominantly aligned with Good and is entirely composed of humans. It’s most well known for its navy which is said to have more war ships than the rest of Calernia put together.
Before the arrival of the Miezans, the island of Ashur was colonized by the Baalite Hegemony - a powerful nation from across the Tyrian Sea. This would date it back to around fifteen or sixteen hundred years before the current events, making it the oldest human polity on Calernia still in existence.
Despite being engaged in the four Samite Wars against the Niceans in order to control the trade in the Samite Gulf, Ashuran rule has been very stable and peaceful. It’s mostly characterized by their conflict with Nicae, though they’ve won all of the big engagements and likely all of the smaller skirmishes too. They’ve gone so far as to ensure other Free Cities have a navy so they can compete with Nicae.
Due to their naval supremacy, it’s possible that they haven’t been conquered apart from that instance. They are the only power in Calernia that focuses on the navy - so much so they dwarf the Proceran fleet ten to one - and they make a significant effort to making sure this state of affairs continues. From the three times Praes tried to build a navy, Ashurans made sure to burn it all down twice.
Though they are a Good nation, their geographical position means they tend to focus on preserving the balance of power within the other Good nations surrounding them. Their alliance with Procer when Dread Empress Maleficent II took over half of the Free Cities is a notable exception to this trend. Despite this, they are traders to the bone and didn’t have any qualms about trading with the Dread Empire for the majority of their history.
The Ashurans have supported Levant’s war for independence, whether as a way to create a check against the expansionist Procer or as a way to protect a different Baalite colony is unknown. They’ve also tried invading the Titanomachy, though the Gigantes easily destroyed their ships with sorcery.
Dread Empress Malicia has been trying to build an alliance with them for twenty years following the Conquest; however, this was unmade in a couple of months of diplomacy with Cordelia Hasenbach. Her influence on the Thalassocracy has been shown to be significant, possibly due to her good relationship with Magon Hadast. She managed to get an agreement that Ashur would not interfere in the case Procer attacked Levant if the borders remained the same, lifted sanctions on Nicae to help them defend against the Tyrant and Ashur itself joined the Grand Alliance.
As part of their contribution to the Tenth Crusade they sent a fleet of ships numbering at least three hundred to sack and harass Praesi cities. They took the Tideless Isles with little casualties and managed to sack Nok, one of the biggest cities in the Wasteland.
Their assault on Thalassina resulted in most of their fleet - three hundred ships - being destroyed. Not all of Ashur’s might was destroyed though, as they kept a smaller defensive fleet at home and more ships were raiding Praesi coasts. The Speakers were part of the conclave that declared Catherine Foundling to be the Arch-Heretic of the East.
Their current position in the crusade is unknown but since they’ve suffered heavy losses, they might retreat back to their homeland.
Ashur is based on the island of the same name. We know two of its major cities:
- Smyrna, the capital. Bigger than both Delos and Arwad.
- Arwad, a port city of some significance, where Hanno the White Knight was born.
Government & Society
Unsurprisingly, the government of the Thalassocracy draws heavily on their Baalite ancestry. Each person born in Ashur is assigned a Citizenship Tier sometime around their thirteenth birthday, which determines the direction their life will take from then on. This occurs after a series of yearly tests conducted by Seekers, the result of which, along with one’s parentage, determine the assigned tier. These are represented by inked notches tattooed to an arm with the number corresponding to the tier.
It’s highly unusual for an individual to gain or lose tiers and most of the population dies the tier they were assigned to. Although it’s tempting to believe that their strict, inflexible system is set up for the benefit of the rich, Amadeus reflects it’s a genuine belief and that they think each higher-ranked citizen if fully deserving of their position.
The citizens of similar tiers are organised in committees, such as the Committee of War, which govern over an area assigned to them.
Ashur has over twenty citizenship tiers which determine one’s occupation, what districts they can access, their wealth and status in society. The tiers are distributed in such a way that the higher one goes, the less competition there is, leading to a large number of people working as manual laborers.
The Second Tier is the highest position one can gain in a Baalite colony and each colony can only have one. Currently Ashur’s Second Tier citizen is Magon Hadast and his power over the Thalassocracy is absolute. Many polities agree that he’s essentially a king in all but name, from Penthesian diplomats to Cordelia Hasenbach or Catherine Foundling. He’s a man in his seventies whose ancestor had been the captain of the initial ship of settlers to populate the island. A Second Tier citizen has seemingly unlimited power, although Magon Hadast is remarked to be fairly hands off. Nonetheless, he’s able to dictate international policy such as joining the Grand Alliance.
Citizens of Third Tier run the nation on a day-to-day basis. One of them is Magon Hadast’s son.
Three of the Fourth Tier citizens were sent to agree to join the Tenth Crusade. The ones that were a part of the War Committee have been in charge of the fleets.
We’re told that all the citizens above and including the Eighteenth Tier are eligible for civil service. This usually ranges from working in the Outer Tribunal (such as being a judicial scribe, Fourteenth Tier) to being an archivist, possible for a citizen of Eighteenth Tier.
Below the Eighteenth tier, citizens perform manual labor. The lower the tier, the harder and more grueling the work, to the point where Hanno’s father - tier twenty - was forced to work an entire day in the mines. There do exist tierless citizens - usually people who have commited a crime. They have no rights and cannot keep property, at best driven to ruins and empty hovels.
Immigrants living in Ashur cannot receive citizenship even when they’re married to a native. This carries with itself several disadvantages. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to find work and they have to give way to the citizens on the streets. While citizens are confined to their rank, they can still advance within it. Hanno started off as a scribe but could eventually become an archivist, a position of not insignificant clout.
Their judicial system has a High Tribunal, restricted for upper tiers, and an Outer Tribunal which deals with trade disputes, minor altercations and smaller matters. Each trial has two tribunes resolving disputes and should they disagree, a third adjudicator, known as the ‘absent’ would make a final choice one way or another.
Ashur’s religion and faith are also derived from their Baalite origins. Some of the temples on the island date back to the nation’s founding and all seem to have the same structure. Inside, they have eight pillars, each adorned with a mask. One of them is dedicated to the Gods Below and its mask is never moved. The other seven are representations (known as Faces) of the Gods Above and the priests, called Speakers, put them on occasionally in order to give advice.
The method of becoming a Speaker is unknown; however, it’s a very serious commitment. A person has to renounce all they are: name, gender and their past. When they wear the face, their words are treated as those of the Gods. It’s said that if a Speaker lies while wearing a mask they will burn. There might be some truth to this as a Speaker directed Hanno into becoming a White Knight and as a group, they managed to summon a featureless mask during their assault on Thalassina, so clearly they have a connection to either Gods Above or the Heavens.
Four of the seven Faces have been mentioned so far:
Outside of Ashur, the Speakers are referred to as sage-priests and it’s been mentioned a couple of times that Ashurans worship in cults, perhaps each one based on the corresponding mask. Their faith seems separate from the one based on the teachings of the House of Light.
See also: Sabrathan Sorcery
The sorcery practiced by the Ashuran mages is still based on the outdated theory used by the Baalites, known as Sabrathan Sorcery - spell formulas entirely different from what’s used in Praes.. It’s particularly well suited for sailing, allowing them to manipulate water and wind as well as to create mirages, and it’s also extremely good at healing. Outside of those areas it’s not effective and Warlock remarks it’s not a flexible theory, mostly restricted to those areas.
- Hanno of Arwad, the White Knight.
- Magon Hadast, the Second Tier Citizen and the ruler of Ashur.
- Almorava of Smyrna, a face of the Wandering Bard.
- Ahirom Seneqart, a diplomat of sixth tier, sent as a delegate to Cordelia Hasenbach.
- Adonia, sent with Ahirom. Representing the Ashuran fleet in the Grand Alliance.
- Anabas the Ashuran, the writer of ‘Horrors and Wonders’.
- Lergo, the Red Mage, part of Iason’s heroic band, was from an upper tier citizen from Ashur.
- Wakeleaf is only grown in Ashur.
- They export tea to the rest of the continent.
- Baalites have brought ostriches with them; however, they might now be extinct since they were killed for food during a famine.
- Their flag is a masked sun on a field of traditional Baalite colours.
- Their official seal is a “ship with a crown for a sail, seven coins forming a half-circle above it”.
- WOG: https://www.reddit.com/r/PracticalGuideToEvil/comments/9prz3i/pgte_timeline/