The Known World
The Known World
“The Ylari are more honourable than the other humans, you can also expect them to be reasonable to some extent too. Now, if they could only avoid wasting your time in endless bartering, I could even like doing business with them…” - Dvalur of Clan Syrklist, weapon dealer in Deeran, Emirate of Alasiya
A desert nestled between the peaks of the Altan Tepes, the Emirates suffer from the harshest climate of the Known World. The Ust-Urt river, starting somewhere in the mountains of Rockhome, blesses only the Emirate of Makistan with water, disappearing under the sands beyond the town of Parsa. Here and there an oasis large enough to support a village becomes the basis for the little agriculture of the Emirates of Alasiya and Abbashan, while great works, partly of dwarven making, provide water from the deep reserves to the larger towns and cities. To the north, the Emirate of Nithia sports higher, but only slightly less arid, terrain, rich in minerals and in natural and supernatural hazards as well. Bandits and pirates plague the coastal area near the Emirate’s capitol, Surra-Man-Raa. To the south, along the Thyatian border, the Emirates of Dythestenia and Nicostenia sport the best fields of the nation, and Tameronikas, the capitol of Nicostenia produces fine wine and other luxury goods.
The desert of Alasiya is the ancestral home to fierce desert nomads. For a long time, they have been forced to retreat deeper and deeper within it, away from the more prized coastal territories, which fell to the hands of Thyatian and Alphatian colonists. A century ago a great leader appeared among the nomads, uniting them to fight the invaders. Taking advantage of the light cavalry and mounted archer tactics of the desert warriors, this man, Suleiman al-Kalim, was able to beat the Alphatian armies, and later the Thyatians as well, even enlisting the help of the Makistani tribes and dwarven mercenaries.
al-Kalim established a new religion, the Eternal Truth, preaching his Dream of Justice and Honour, which spoke of a respect to be showed to the fellow believer, and later the Dream of the Garden in the Desert, asking the Ylari to cooperate in transforming their desert into a true garden. al-Kalim was named Caliph of the Emirates, and in turn he appointed Amirs to rule over the tribes, and recognised the ancestral rights of the Maliks, Sheiks, and Qadis. He named an adopted heir to rule after his retirement, and this line of adoptive descendants still rules the Emirates today.
The Alasiyans are a honourable, if harsh, people. They value loyalty, piety, respect for the traditions and wisdom above all. They are shrewd merchants, great caravaneers and masters of oration, but above all they are courageous warriors and great horsemen. A substantial minority of the Emirates’ people are of Alphatian or Thyatian descent, but they have completely integrated in the Ylari society. A much smaller minority in the northern Emirate belongs to the Nithian people, a race of short, red-skinned, red-haired savages.
Every Ylari town has a dwarven quarter, and dwarves are the most common foreigners in the Emirates. They are not considered friends by the Ylari, but the people of the Emirates do respect many of the dwarves qualities. Other foreigners are uncommon, and Glantrians are attacked on sight, while elves are mistrusted and suspected of practicing dark magics.
The Emirates are ruled by a Caliph, advised by a Council of Preceptors. The local rulers, Amirs and lesser nobles, swear fealty to the Caliph, and receive their power from him. Each ruler keeps a large bureaucracy, supervised by viziers, who act as ministers. The central bureaucracy in a gigantic machine, whose efficiency is surprisingly high, considered the great deal of corruption among the bureaucrats.
Most Ylaris are followers of the Eternal Truth, the faith created by al-Kalim, based upon the traditions of the dervishes of the Alasiyan desert. To these, al-Kalim added his Dreams, which constantly push the followers to part from the worst habits of their ancestors, like banditry and raiding, and to work for the betterment of the nation.
The followers of the Eternal Truth are often intolerant towards non-believers, and the Kin faction, based in the Emirate of Abbashan, openly asks for foreign trade to be interrupted, fighting the ruling Preceptors faction, and supporting the claim to the throne of the blood heirs of al-Kalim against the adopted heirs named by the Council.
(from the Mystara Newbie Guide)