Well, I had my first ‘Ethics of Wealth and Poverty’ class today, which was actually really good. One of the cool things is that we have to put together a project for one of the grades in the class, and I got permission to write a short story dealing the the comparison of the redistribution of wealth with the redistribution of opportunity (something I’ve written about here before). So, needless to say, I’m excited about this, and I thought it might be a good idea to use some of my posts to 1) plan out parts of my world and story, and 2) show all of you some of the techniques I use when planning something. So, first things first, this story is going to be between 2000 and 2500 words (I have to be able to present it within fifteen minutes). I’m going to set it in the world of Kalagrosh (again, I’ve written about this before), in the nation of Mathal. I’d been planning on making Merethal a mercantile nation anyway, and now I’m leaning towards making it a mercantile oligarchy. The Mediere are a small group of powerful merchant families that rule the nation, but the term ‘Mediere’ can be equally used either of the ruling body or, more generally, of the upper class (which is entirely made up of merchants and is based on wealth, not power, honor, etc).

Mathal sits on a large lake (I haven’t named it yet… perhaps Kath, or Suina… or Krana… not sure) that serves as a border between the nations of Merethal, Azan, and Fa’ar. the cities of Sa’a (in Fa’ar) and Hazim (in Azan). Fa’ar is a beneficent theocracy ruled by a powerful priest-king, however the fact that it is bordered by the Eight Cities of Hag (…not friendly people), the Mountains of Mourning (in which exist the Twilight Gates to Ezgarl… really not a nice place), and by wildlands, Fa’ar is also a heavily militarized society. Azan is a place that I need to work on more, hoever, much of Azan has recently been conquered by the nation of Agnasci, and so it is a nation in flux with a large number of refugees and needy individuals.

Merethal is a nation that has only two real classes: the merchants (who are extremely wealthy and powerful), and everyone else. Poverty is rampant in the nation, and there is little opportunity for those who aren’t in a favored group. The Mediere does provide certain positions, but there is a large population of extreme poor who are have no real opportunity to improve themselves. The Mediere do have many charity projects, but these generally give limited amounts of money and property (food, etc) to the poor, rather than creating opportunities for them to improve themselves.

Further, the city of Mathal is inundated with two further issues: 1) refugees fleeing the warfare in Azan, and aid (in the form of food, clothing, etc) from Fa’ar. Again, most of this aid is in the form of gifts, not in the form of opportunities, and many people of Fa’ar consider the poor of Merethal and Azan to be ‘beneath them’ or ‘unclean’. So, here’s a little data on the city of Mathal:

Name: Mathal

Population: 35,000 (mostly human)

Mediere: under 500

Military: 2300

Highly Ranked Servants: around 1000

Craftsmen, Laborers, Farmers (etc): around 15000

Refugees: around 7000

Poor: Everyone else

Primary Exports: Fish, Flax

Primary Imports: Food, Basic Building Material (i.e. wood, stone, etc), Clothing

Ok, that’s what I’ve got thus far off the top of my head. If anyone has ideas, I’m open to them :).

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4 thoughts on “The Kingdom of Merethal

  1. I’d be interested to know if the merchants in this society specifically know, understand, and intentionally give out handout based charity rather than opportunity providing as means of oppression or it they are genuine in their intentions and merely misguided in the execution?

    1. Nathanael, that’s actually one of the things I’ve been thinking about. At the moment, I’m leaning towards a mixture of both. I think that the actual Mediere families operate on hand-out based charity as a means of controlling opportunity, and thus oppressing the lower classes, but this makes up a relatively small portion of the population. The general (lower level) Mediere generally mix opportunistic giving (i.e. reputation building, tax credit, etc kind of ideas – I haven’t worked these out yet) with genuine concern for the poor, but because of the central Mediere the concept of handout-based charity dominates the culture.
      The people of Fa’ar are genuinely concerned about the poor and refugees of Merethal, but they don’t really have any conception of the problems surrounding hand-out based charity, and so they don’t see the harm that they are actually causing through their charity. These are my thoughts thus far. What do you think?

      1. Yeah, I agree that even a small set of characters with fairly malevolent reasons to support the system would be very interesting to explore.

        Might add an even further wrinkle if there was an element of faux democracy involved where building loyalty of the underclasses by giving more, thus codifying a cycle they cannot escape of supporting the group that gives them the most while never being able to advance themselves would be interesting as well.

        1. Nathanael, I’d thought about that, but I don’t want this nation to be an allegory for the US. It needs to be it’s own place. I’d honestly wanted to explore some of the possible issues in an Oligarchic government as well. It’s always been the political model I favor most, but some of Plato’s arguments concerning the Oligarchic person and the Oligarchic society caught my interest.

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