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Republic of Darokinby Christopher Richard Davies
GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin is a mess. Frankly, it's this product that should have the wonky reputation rather than GAZ4. The author seems to have paid attention to only a few of the historical details in other products in the line, resulting in massive chronological contradictions, along with some really odd ideas.
For example -- according to GAZ3, the year 920 AC saw an "economic agreement signed between Glantri and Darokin". But per GAZ11, in 920 there wouldn't have been any central authority in Darokin with which such an agreement could have been made -- the Great Merger wouldn't occur until 927. The same is true of the idea, in GAZ1, that "Darokin" considered conquering Traladara, only to see Thyatis do it before they could. (Indeed, if they were so disunited during the reign of Gabronius the Conqueror, one wonders why they weren't conquered themselves.)
Furthermore, GAZ5 placed the last great war between Darokin and Alfheim around 550 AC, stating that it occurred when Darokin's "greedy rulers" decided to take advantage of the perceived weakness of the elves, who were in the midst of their war with Illodious. This is completely and utterly contradicted by the account of the Elf War in GAZ11, right down to its dating in the first years of the 500s. And the idea that after the Elf War and subsequent orc-siege of Corunglain, "military cooperation, and diplomacy with the elves were practically non-existent" is a direct contradiction of the idea that Darokin assisted Alfheim in the war with the shadow-elves in 560 AC!
But wait, there's more. According to GAZ11, Darokin became famous for its professional diplomats when one of them helped to negotiate an end to a dispute between the Atruaghin Clans and Glantri, which eventually inspired the formation of the DDC (Darokin Diplomatic Corps.) Setting aside my annoyance at yet another acronymic organisation being introduced, one is left to wonder what the Atruaghin Clans, who (per X10) basically ignore the rest of the world and hope it will do the same to them, could possibly have in dispute with Glantri? They don't even share a border! A suspicious mind might conclude that the author just looked at the map and picked the names of two nations on either side of Darokin, without actually knowing anything about them.
Okay. So what really happened?
[*] Essentially, the history of Darokin as presented in the Gazetteer is accurate up to around 500 AC. The events that it depicts as taking place around then -- the reigns of Mithras IV, Mithras V, and Corwyn XIII -- actually took place fifty years later. (The exception is the orcish destruction of Corunglain in 523 AC; it occurred when both GAZ10 and GAZ11 say it did, but had no direct role in the war with the elves.) Corwyn XIII's ending of the war wasn't a "mission accomplished" farce, but rather a genuine peace treaty, signed and sealed in what was the first building constructed in Alfheim Town. Trade with the elves was established for the first time, and diplomacy and military cooperation against a mutual threat -- or what the elves were able to persuade Corwyn was a mutual threat -- soon followed.
Unfortunately, Corwyn XIII's generally wise rule was a brief interruption in the series of inept and corrupt Kings of Darokin. This had the results described in the Gazetteer. "Individual towns and villages became more and more independent and, by 650, the position of King of Darokin was ceremonial in nature, and completely powerless." But Santhral II, the last of the line, died without an heir in 673 AC, fifty years earlier than the account in that volume states. A little more than two hundred years after his death, the merchant princes of Darokin got their act together and bound the various cities and towns of their nation together in a Great Merger. The result was a strong nation that could certainly have conquered neighbouring Traladara, but preferred to absorb the refugees from that conquest instead.
[*] Sasheme Vickers is honoured as the father of Darokin's tradition of diplomacy for defusing a war that most people would be surprised to even learn about. A trade factor for Umbarth house in distant Jaibul, he managed to persuade the Black Rajah to not begin a war on Glantri, which nation the mysterious ruler perceived as having insulted him and the "magical" tradition of his people. Since the war could conceivably have had disastrous consequences for Akesoli, Vickers was hailed as a hero when he returned -- particularly since he had also gotten some of the best trade concessions from Jaibul in the history of Darokinian involvement in the region.
Unfortunately, neither Vickers nor his followers were aware that this diplomacy had some consequences that they didn't realise, and still don't to this day. The Darokinians might not have wanted that war, but someone else, further to the west, very much did. As it stood, that individual would have to make an alliance with Jaibul, rather than swooping in to destroy the kingdom after it was already weakened. Darokin had always been a target of the Master of Hule ... but now it had interfered with his plans, and that was something he would never forgive ...
[*] As with the merchant princes of the Minrothad Guilds, some merchants of Darokin employ ritual magic in their pursuits. Reports of them casting spells that charm or otherwise control people's actions, however, are generally best understood as the complaints of people who didn't get nearly as good a deal as they thought they would.
[*] Of the characters described in GAZ11, Maggie Tremontaine is a cleric of Halav. (The other "cleric" described in the book, Millington Vonaday, is not a cleric, or even a consecrated priest.)
[*] The future of Darokin is, as other articles in this series have indicated, grim. The Desert Nomads, driven by the will of the Master of Hule, will invade in a few years, annihilating most of the armies sent against them. Worse, their invasion will come at a time when most of Darokin's allies are concerned with other matters. Eventually, enough aid will come from various sources to check the Nomads' advance, but it seems fairly likely that the Master will acquire that which he came to acquire -- and, having done so, become one of the Lords of Entropy.
In the short term, this saves Darokin. But so much damage has been done by the Desert Nomads that the nation is crippled for years to come. The Empire of Thyatis is not blind to this, and begins to offer "assistance" which binds the Republic fairly close to it. This starts with the wars against Thar, which wreck what remains of Darokin's military strength, leaving it dependent on the Thyatian cohorts for defence. By mid-century, Darokin is a subject nation of Thyatis, its republican institutions all but powerless.