Kingdoms of Frandum - Sulmak
Talking about Sulmak as a kingdom is at best inaccurate, since it should rather be called a world within Frandum, with its concurrent rulers and its restless history.
The north-eastern mountains of the world have never really interested its main civilizations, since they only opened onto frozen plains and plateaus, in ruthless, poor environments. Yet their mining resources have drawn people, and numerous small kingdoms have flourished along the ages of the world on the edge, and sometimes rather deep into the mountains.
Yet the mountains themselves have always sheltered a vast community of orcish tribes, whose influence has grown and recessed with the general history of the world.
Strong during the Third Age, these communities hid during Aemir's blood-soaked wars before regaining some of their strength during the Fourth Age.
Nowadays, the general swing of the pendulum of power towards the evil kingdoms
of the south have both weakened and strengthened Sulmak:
Climate and geography
As a northern kingdom dominated by mountains, Sulmak is a land of rocks and snow, of harsh Airseasons and blazing Fireseasons, subject to storms of all kinds.
Only in the southenrmost mountains, harshly conquered from the druids of Dostenia and the dwarves of Kraegor, is the weather mild, allowing the development of the orcish central point of power.
In terms of geography, three major features make up the kingdom of Sulmak: the frozen plains of Lakh-Nar, the high windy plateau of Damok, and the high Howling Mountains which is the spine of Sulmak.
Raw materials and resources
Obviously, Sulmak has got more than its share of building stone and metals. The mines of gold, silver, and lesser metals are not as productive as their dwarven neighbours, yet they are the main source of income for the archaic orcish economy.
Wood is not rare either, as the mountaineous valleys are filled with conifers, as is part of the Damok plateau.
Sulmak has access to the North sea, which is unfortunately a secluded sea and only thickens the bound with neighbouring Carleny and the provisioning of sea products.
What Sulmak lacks is mild, flat areas for the cultivation of cereals, and the development of a large-scale agriculture which is required for the country to evolve.
Breeding is of course the first source of food, which is not to the unliking of the mostly carnivorous orcs but cannot scale up to the needs of a growing population.
People of Sulmak
Shelter to outcast and outlaws, Sulmak has never had a central government, and its map is as scattered as the inhabitable valleys in the midst of its mountains, leading to a patchwork of small communities, a vast majority of which are orcish.
Orcs are rarely open to the other people's cultures, even though they know how to appreciate the useful parts of them, thus leading to the non-orcs communities being either isolated or segregated.
The census of the population of Sulmak is also an unsolvable problem, given the remoteness of most settlements and the bad knowledge of the distant borders of the kingdom, so that estimations range from a meagre million inhabitants to 10 million pullulating orcs.
Cities and countryside
Given to the split up organization of Sulmak and the difficulties of communication between the valleys, there is no great city in the kingdom, and only a few orcish settlements have managed to attract the surrounding tribes to them.
One of Sulmak's challenges nowadays is to disenclose its pastoral population and try of to create living economical and political centers.
Politics and laws
Sulmak has no central government, and even the tribes themselves are not well organized, the power often falling into the hands of the strongest in battle, or into those of shamans controlling weak-minded chiefs.
The law is developed only when regarding the basics of surviving and sharing the land, and orcs can enter endless debates when it comes to the boundaries of their property.
The most interesting fact though is the recent movement of panorcism which strives to give the orcs a common spirit, common laws, trade agreements, and on a more general plane a common culture, the sense of being part of a larger body than their small tribes.
This movement has had its successes, mainly in the recent building of the new orcish capital of Chok-Ter, and the gathering of the leaders in regular councils, as well as the tracing of new bridges and tunnels between the spots of civilization which weave the fabric of Sulmak.
Of course, the road is still long, and there seems to be no way the orcs will manage to have a central leader (on a short term perspective), yet the orcish union is a vivid dream in construction.
Wars and armies
Orcs are a violent people, and most of their rites are based on physical strength and its scaling: orcs fight for the best parts of a meal, for finding a mate (and in this instance women are often more violent than men), they fight for land and, generally-speaking, for predominance.
This is one of the main reasons why they often only meet hatred from the neighbouring kingdoms, since they don't hesitate to pass their nerves on rich dwarves or humans.
There is no safe frontier with the orcs, unless one tolerates their regular incursions, and that's why Sulmak's border is a rather wild world of skirmishes and shifting powers, safe on the south-westernmost borders where heavy treaties have been signed to guarantee safe routes for travellers.
Yet on a larger scales, the orcs have never really managed to fight united, sometimes fighting one another more than the invaders or the invaded, and there has never been something like a Sulmakish army.
Trade and craftsmanship
The orcs being a rather rough people have no outstanding skills for craftsmanship, and most of the products they export are the raw materials of the mountain: building stone and ore. Their tendancy towards fighting have helped them develop fair enough smithing skills, but they can't compare to their neighbours, and thus are closed to export.
On the other hand, the crudeness of orcish ways make them impervious to the need for elaborate goods which would need to be imported for outside kingdoms: the trade is thus rather balanced between imports and exports, even though the volumes are small.
Science and education
Orcish science is non-existent and has ever been so. There are a few shamans and chieftains who have tried to develop better ways of raiding, attempting some kind of tactical thinking. They have not been very successful though.
As for education, there is no will either to be educated or to educate in Sulmak. What orcs learn, they learn because they are forced to in order to survive. For example, mining or forging or fighting. To call that "education" would be a grave exaggeration.
Religion and magic
Even though orcs are counted among the ranks of Shezael, and have been used in the armies of Drago at some occassions, their behaviour and belief would be better called "orcish" than "evil", since this is something that lies in the orcish culture more than in an evil philosophy. The orcs are, in truth, afraid of what Shezael might do to them if they don't obey whenever she commands something.
Magic is limited to, more or less, only the shamans. There are a few of them that are actually quite skilled, but most cannot cast a single spell.
Arts and culture
Sulmak lacks artists for the most part, which is not that great a loss for the world. At best, the most aesthetic orcs might create an ornamental weapon to be used in ceremonies performed by the shaman, if "ornamental" may be applied even to an ugly and crude blade that would be better described as a club.
Orcs have been known to create music, though. Mostly this music makes use of a couple of drums and improvised bashing, mainly used to boost moral in battles.
The orcish culture is mostly based upon "power to the strongest", and this is applied in every part of their society. This contributes to giving the orcs their bad reputation.
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