Teo Teara [Tee-oh Tee-Ar-Ah] is a proud human nation located in the Dalred Badlands.
Teo Teara is located in the Dalred Badlands, an expansive arid scrubland. The cities of Teo Teara are gathered wherever there is water, namely along the Heosi River and Pearl Lake. Though there is no official boundary, the kingdom stretches west to the outskirts of the Greenmer Highlands and north into the steppes of the Hightower Mountains. Teo Teara is bounded by the desolace of the Dalred Badlands to the east and south, keeping it isolated from most other advanced civilizations.
Cities and Architecture
The capital city of Teo Teara is Sao Teara, located on Pearl Lake. Other cities of note include Brandoon (a trading gateway with the kingdoms to the east), Ashcliff (a strategic stronghold to the north), Einmar (a cultural center on the southern Heosi River), and Sao Haeron (a western mining city in the Greenmer Highlands).
The majority of buildings in Teo Teara are domed structures made from clay and sandstone. Larger and more modern buildings are constructed from brick, but maintain a domed or circular shape. All buildings are coated with white clay or tile to cool the interior as much as possible. Because of the heat, homes rarely have fire pits. Instead, communal cooking areas are arranged in city squares, usually near wells.
All cities are surrounded by sandstone walls for defense against the persistent threat of kobolds, gnolls, and giants. Older cities often have several rings of walls, having continuously outgrown the existing walls. Bridges are nearly nonexistent (the materials do not exist to construct them), so the rivers that most cities are built along act as natural defensive terrain.
Each city is built around a Central Square. The Central Square is a gathering place for festivals, weddings, competitions, and other celebrations. The squares are usually recessed several meters into the ground with tiered stairways, creating a four-sided amphitheater. The local matronage, temple, city hall, and market square generally adjoin the Central Square.
The cuisine of Teoans consists primarily of nuts, beans, greens, and berries that are grown in farms along any available waterway. Hunters bring in a consistent supply of buffalo and ivory-skinned deer for meat. The exotic fruits of the Greenmer Highlands and the fish caught from Pearl Lake are considered delicacies, but common enough to be available at every market. The Teoans raise very few domesticated animals, as chickens, goats, and cows are not native to the region.
Cotton, tobacco, and grumbleweed are increasingly grown in most cities to be used as valuable trade goods.
Though copper ore is plentiful in the Dalren Badlands, iron ore is rare enough that it is not normally used for arms, armor, and tools like in most other kingdoms. Instead, the people of Teo Teara have developed a very strong and workable metal known as Teoan Bronze. Teoan Bronze ranges from deep orange to light yellow in color. It weighs approximately the same as iron and has similar strength properties to steel, but is resistant to rusting and easily worked once alloyed. Dalred Teoan Bronze is made by combining sixteen parts copper ore, three parts bauxite ore, one part iron ore, one part zinc ore, and one-ninth parts ages powder. This process is done in three steps.
First, the iron, copper, and zinc are melted together by a traditional smelting process.
Second, the bauxite ore is broken down into a lightweight blue-silver metal (often called “aluminum”) in a thundersmelt. Thundersmelting, a process with arcane origins, involves summoning controlled bursts of lightning to create high energies and temperatures to refine the bauxite ore. This is a dangerous and noisy procedure, and as a result, thundersmelts are generally located outside of the villages and cities of Teo Teara.
Third, all four metals are alloyed together with the ages powder to create ingots of Teoan Bronze. These ingots can then be worked by skilled craftsmen into armor, weapons, and tools.
Trade routes between the villages and cities of Teo Teara are very active. However, trade between other kingdoms is much less frequent, due mostly to the great distance and the inherent danger of the Dalred Badlands.
The main exports of Teo Teara are copper ore, Teoan Bronze, nuts, dried berries, cotton, tobacco, grumbleweed, sunstone dye, bronze jewelry, ivory, and gemstones. Common imports into Teo Teara are steel tools and weapons, silks, domestic animals, lumber, silver, gold, and wine.
The “night-skinned” people of Teo Teara are tolerant of outsiders and welcome visitors, but strongly resist integrating outside ideas, people, or traditions into their culture. Perhaps because of their isolation, the Teoans are very homogenous and loyal. Children are raised communally in matronages, so the standard family structure does not exist. Instead, all Teoans consider themselves part of the same family. Similarly, the Teoan religion worships ancestors and the stars (believed to be the souls of the deceased) instead of any specific deities.
The Teoan culture values honor, loyalty, and sacrifice for the greater good. The people have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and individual achievement is respected and desired. The feudal structure of the kingdom is arranged in such a way that any person, be they war hero or merchant or scholar, has the opportunity to become a leader.
The Teoans have a strong military tradition that is older than the kingdom itself. Endless wars with the kobolds, gnolls, and giants have forced Teo Teara to have strong warriors and superior tactics. Soldiers are trained to fight with heavy armor and shields, favoring swords and spears. Soldiers who become Honored act as commanders and may ride copper or bronze dragons into battle. The military units are primarily martial in nature, but occasionally are joined by divine clerics (clergy of the ancestors) or arcane spellcasters (sorcerers of the stars).
The clothing of the Teoans is made from simple, light cotton fabric. Work clothing loose and white to protect against the sun, but ceremonial clothing is dyed with yellows, oranges, and reds to match the surrounding sandstone landscape. White hoods are commonly worn amongst women, while men are often seen with woven grass hats. Jewelry and piercings are worn by women and men alike, usually fashioned from copper, simple bronze, or aluminum and inlaid with gemstones from the Greenmer Highlands.
Children are raised communally from birth in matronages. Each city has a matronage that houses and teaches each child until the age of sixteen. The matronages employ many matrons, midwives, and instructors to give each child the most positive upbringing possible.
Expectant mothers give birth at the matronage, immediately parting with their child. This act seems unnatural and cruel to outsiders, but is accepted and honored within Teo Teara. Children rarely know who their parents are, instead relying on their matrons, brothers, and sisters for support. As a result, all people of Teo Teara consider one another brothers and sisters. Bloodline is unknown, so is unimportant in determining the social structure.
At age thirteen, each child chooses a profession to apprentice with for one year. This is repeated with two different professions until the age of sixteen when the child is expected to choose a trade for life. Each child is also required to spend one of the three apprenticeships in military, clerical, or arcane training. At age sixteen, the child is set free of the matronage to work and live on their own, and is considered an adult.
Adults are allowed to marry whom they please, and generally marry for life. Any children are given to the matronage to be raised.
Teoans worship their ancestors. The name of every king, queen, and Champion of Teo Teara is inscribed in each temple, and they are honored as heroes. They are not worshiped or equated to deities, instead their memories provide inspiration and pride to the people. The clergy of the ancestors are given the task to uphold the ancestral records of the Teoan people, maintain the written and oral legends of the heroes, and pass this information and tradition along to all citizens. Divine power is drawn from the ancestors.
The Teoans also worship the stars, which they believe contain the souls of the heroes of Teo Teara. Open-air observatories are located near or inside of the temples and provide viewing of the night skies. Arcane powers are drawn from the stars, including the creation of ages powder.
Teo Teara is ruled by a king or queen. Succession is chosen by the council of Champions. Though the position is appointed for life, the kings and queens traditionally step down from the throne at age fifty, ensuring a peaceful transition to new regime. The king or queen gives direct orders to the Champions of each city (often with their advice and council). The Champions, in turn, give orders to the local leadership of the cities, known as the Honored.
The Honored are chosen from the great people of each village and city. They are identified and appointed by the Champion of the city. The honored can come from any background, including traders, craftsmen, soldiers, scholars, and clergy. There is generally one Honored person for every one hundred inhabitants of a particular city.
One Champion is chosen for each city and village. The Champion is chosen from amongst the Honored, and is appointed by the sitting king or queen.
A Writ of Laws, engraved into stone tablets in the capital, governs the law of Teo Teara. These laws can only be changed by a simple majority vote of the Champions and the approval of the king or queen. The laws are enforced by the military under the direction of the local Champion.
Taxes are collected by the Honored. One third of the taxes goes to the Honored who collected it, one third to the city’s Champion, and one third to the king or queen. Each individual in that chain is responsible for spending the taxed money as they see fit to further the might of Teo Teara. Some invest in arms and armor, some in roads and buildings, some in agriculture or industry, some in trade negotiations and land. Most also keep a share for themselves, which is an expected perk of the noble position.