Tales from the Inner Sea
The Bountiful and Just Kingdom of Bassur is to many people in the Inner Seas a strong southern kingdom that has a firm hold on the Churghan Straits (one of only 2 maritime exits from the Inner Sea) and a rich culture and history (both materially and socially). To others they are oppressors of the Cletian Archipelago and a hotbed of cut throat merchants and godless sorcerors. The truth is a little of both and something between.
A former protectorate rather than conquered subject state of the Armavine Empire, Bassur is culturally and racially distinct from most Inner Seas peoples. Dark skinned and dark eyed, the only thing the Bassuri have lost culturally through the years has been the widespread use of their original language, now used by merchants, academics and scholars only whilst the common masses speak Armanian, though with some dialectic differences. Bassur has long been a tolerant society regarding religion and magic, and whilst many peoples are wary of their openly embracing and tolerating sorcerors to the extent they have done, many more are appalled by the freedom granted to followers of Neraka the Night Goddess, and Ba’ath the Moon Goddess. Mowta and Yesan are still too much even for the accepting Bassuri.
The King of Bassur is Nurradine the second, an indulgent and mercurial man of legendary tastes and legendary passions. His rule is absolute but by custom the kingdoms priests and priestesses have some degree of influence, though the true influence upon the current king is the College of Sorcery that has openly operated in the nation for 150 years. This makes it the only organised body of sorcerors in the Inner Sea outside of the isolationist Valheeni sorcerors; enough to cause concern for those of a religious disposition.
The population numbers two and half million people, with 250,000 being Cletian citizens living scattered amongst the isles of the Cletian Archipelago. There has been an influx of Bassuri settlers into the islands, something that has caused much unrest and disorder.
100 years in the past the independent country of Cletia was conquered by its long term ally Bassur in a surprise attack that quickly subjugated the peoples of the Cletian Archipelago. The Bassuri still to this day have to spend a large amount of resources both financial and military on maintaining their hold on the free spirited Cletians who refuse to adapt to Bassuri cultural mores and a seething undercurrent of resentment and resistance still exists, characterised by guerilla attacks, pirate raids and civil disobedience carried out by Cletian rebels. Indeed, Cletians for the most part refuse to learn Armanian and stick with their native tongue, one of the few peoples in the region who hold to their original language. Despite the military expenditure Bassur continues to occupy and control the Cletian islands as they have excellent lumber, iron, copper and tin reserves and the quality of the farmland is exceptional as is the stocks of fish in their waters.
Despite these issues, Bassur has much to offer people, being accepting of other religions and ways of life (one of the reasons that until recently the Cletian rebels indulging in civil disobedience have not been ruthlessly suppressed). Free citizens can advance high in office and merit counts more (especially in the military arms and civil service) than birth for many areas of society. Bassur also has access to outer cultures goods and peoples that the rest of the Inner Seas don’t thanks to the control of the Churghan Straits. Law is upheld vigorously, and the legal system is fast and at times ruthless, with corporal punishment used diligently for lesser offences and capital punishment and slavery used for more serious offences. Some have suggested that as Bassur society is so tolerant any who break the laws that they do have are incorrigible and deserve no further tolerance. Certainly, there are no long term prisons, with the only ones that exist used to hold prisoners awaiting trial and subsequent punishment.
The status of slavers within Bassur is high, as it is a society much given to using slaves as part of the labour force and also for trading purposes. Culturally the Bassuri have always been more comfortable with using foreign slaves, though they will trade with any nationailty if it brings profit. The Bassuri Slave Markets are legendary as slaves of any stripe and background can be procured for great prices, and the lot of a slave in Bassur can vary hugely, from well trained and respected tutors to rich families, all the way down to downtrodden mine workers and lumber workers within the Samsumar Jungles. Given that slaves have only the rights and protections their own masters choose to give them, it is a very uncertain life for any who wear a Bassuri Slave Circlet.
Bassur military numbers 80,000 full time troops, with 25,000 being their well regarded cavalry formations (who are adept at fighting on foot as bow armed medium infantry), 30,000 medium infantry, 10,000 light infantry who police Cletia and a further 5,000 who serve in the City Watch forces and 10,000 sailors and marines in the navy, which has a mix of dhows, biremes and monoremes (the latter used in the shallow waters of the Cletian Archipelago). The navy is large but varies in quality.
Modern Bassur is stable on the mainland but turbulent at best in the Archipelago, and many people of the Inner Sea view Bassur and it’s people with suspicion that rarely turns into anything more tangible than funny looks and wariness of ones wallet. The Valheeni delegation in the capital are polite but withhold any aid in domestic matters (unless Bassuri wealth is thrown at the problem). They regard the local College of Sorcery as “nice”.