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Patera Project: Myoshimaby Andrew Theisen
MYOSHIMA (Empire of)
Location: Patera, Near Side. East of Malacayog.
Area: Approximately 140,000 sq. mi.
Population: About 3,000,000 Rakasta, mostly concentrated in the cities. The capital city has about 500,000 Rakasta inhabitants.
Technology Level: Iron age, steel forged.
Government Type: Semiautonomous provinces owing fealty to a central Emperor.
Industries: Fishing, agriculture, crafts (ironworking).
Description: The Empire of Myoshima consists mainly of three rocky, jungle covered islands. Fertile soil is only found around coastal areas; inland areas do not support any great degree of agricultural production. The buildings are elaborate, pagoda structures, similar to Ochalean architecture on Mystara. The population consists almost entirely of a single breed of Rakasta- a short, brown furred species (RW equivalent- Iriomote cat). Some members of other species are present, slaves from other lands and their descendants, but these invariably are afforded a lower status among Myoshiman society (Note: the grey furred Myojo Katamura would fit into this category).
History: Myoshimans have a long and unusual history on Patera. For most of their prehistory, they remained primitive hunters, relying even less on gathering to supplement their lifestyle than their Rakastan cousins elsewhere on the moon. Isolated as they were, they didn't benefit from the Pachydermions sharing of domestication of plants, and they relied on very few tools, their natural weaponry and hunting abilities making them the most efficient predators on the Myoshiman islands. This, coupled with their relatively fast reproductive rates, led the Myoshiman Rakasta quickly to a state of overpopulation. Indeed, they might have overrun their islands and expanded into other portions of Patera had not a few curious incidents arisen in their history.
The moon of Patera is known for its often torrentially stormy weather; monsoons are a common sight. One curious side effect of this is the generation of strange vortexes, seeming tornadoes, in the air. Many hundreds of years ago, a Myoshiman Rakasta wokani attempted to explore one of these vortexes, known as Kamikaze ('Divine Wind') among Myoshimans. Mounted on his flying sabretooth tiger, he was quickly catapulted through the atmosphere, and beyond the skyshield of Patera. Fortunately, the quick thinking wokan managed to cast a Create Air spell and saved he and his mount from death. He returned to the surface of Patera and related his account. Over the following centuries, more Rakastan explorers ventured beyond the skyshield. (Note: This phenomenon has been documented on Mystara by Alphatian wizards, and is known there as a Vortigern's Vortex).
During the time of massive overpopulation of the Myoshiman islands, there was a sudden uprising in the number and size of these Kamikaze, and many unsuspecting Rakasta were swept away, never to be heard of again. One brave leader, suspecting the Immortals of sending a sign, ordered his tribe to mount their sabretooths and fly off into the void. Many hundreds of Rakasta did so, and flew off beyond the skyshield. Once there, they followed their leader to a large sphere that lay immediately beyond Patera; the planet of Mystara. There they landed on the island of Ochalea, c.800 BC (Mystaran calendar). (Note: It is suspected by Alphatian sages who documented this expedition at a later date that the increase of Vortigern's Vortexes on Patera was caused by massive changes in the climate of the Known World around the same time- notably the raising of the Atruaghin Plateau and the creation of the Canolbarth forest, both events which created massive disruptions in the climate of the region of the Known World that Patera happened to be in orbit above during this time.)
The Rakasta eventually became assimilated into the Ochalean culture, and picked up many of their customs, not the least of which were agricultural techniques (primarily rice farming) and steel production.
Over the centuries, the aggressive and fast reproducing Rakasta (compared to the Ochalean humans) began to war with the Ochaleans, and eventually dominated them, enslaving the human population. Within a few decades, the Rakasta ruled the island of Ochalea.
Around 600 BC, Ochalean humans entered into an alliance with the nearby Alphatian humans, who were beginning to venture further afield in their own attempt to create an empire. The Ochaleans, with their Alphatian allies, drove out the Rakastan upstarts, scattering them. Many Rakasta fled to various regions of the Known World; a small but powerful group returned back the way their ancestors had come- to the moon of Patera.
This group, landing once more on the islands that would become known as Myoshima, quickly dominated the more primitive Rakasta living there, with their superior knowledge and weapons. They brought with them many Ochalean customs, and the development of Myoshima's first cities began. The first permanent capital, Mara, was built in 428 BC (Mystaran calendar).
A hereditary aristocracy was created. Emperor Myoshima (from where the islands get their name) became the first ruler of the land in 344 BC. Among the aggressive Myoshimans, a new class began to rise to prominence- a warrior class; katana wielding Rakasta who travelled the land and fought for a living.
The rise of the warriors proved a problem for the aristocracy, which soon lost its power as wars began to ravage the land. The warriors took on more power for themselves; the Kamaukura Shogunate, the first military government of Myoshima, was established in 42 AC, but would soon be followed by many others. The farmers and fishercats lived in fear; these were lawless times, when a Rakasta owned only that which he could hold by force.
Two massive barbarian invasions from the nearby islands of Malacayog, in 136 and 143 AC, caused large numbers of casualties among the Myoshimans, and led some to question whether a more central authority might be able to better protect the islanders, but their voices were small, and the warriors continued to dominate the land.
Finally, in 329 AC, the voices of unity grew much louder, and a civil war rocked the islands of Myoshima. It would last for nearly a century, and would eventually result in the rise of a new class of warrior; the Daimyo. These Daimyo were powerful military leaders, and managed to bring great unity to the islands over time. Eventually, the unification process came to a head in 442 AC. Myoshima became an Empire once more.
In 455 AC, Ieyasu Kitahara was crowned Emperor of Myoshima. A new class system was instituted among the islands, a four class system: at the top were the samurai; below them, the peasants, then artisans, then the despised merchant class. Convicts and slaves formed an unofficial fifth class. In 491 AC, the Kitahara family instituted a period of total isolationism from the rest of Patera, in order to consolidate their power, and re-establish the Empire from within.
This isolationism lasted for centuries, until the Emperor of Myoshima, in 903 AC declared an end to it. An almost complete turnabout then came, as Myoshimans entered into a policy of expansion into Patera. This brought them into conflict with most of the other nations of the moon.
In 961 AC, a group of Heldannic Knights, increasingly curious about Bellaynish activity, explored beyond the Skyshield of Mystara and discover the moon of Patera. They landed in Myoshima, where they encountered the xenophobic Myoshimans. The two peoples reacted badly to one another, and the Heldanners were quickly branded as undesirables and criminals within Myoshima, and were driven offworld. A few years later, an encounter with Prince Haldemar of Haaken led to a more congenial response by the Myoshimans. The Empire entered into diplomatic relations with the Mystaran Empire of Alphatia. Myojo Katamura joined the crew of the Princess Ark.
Important Figures: Lord Katayama (Daimyo of Ichiyoda Province).
Flora and Fauna: The islands of Myoshima are virtually devoid of intelligent monsters, though beasts roam the innermost areas of the land. A notable exception is the presence of a number of dragons, of various colours, that live within the Empire's borders. Generally, these creatures are well regarded and feared by the Myoshimans. The southernmost island in the Myoshiman chain is also known to host a large population of Dragonnes.
I'm sure the migrations to Mystara may be controversial, but here's my reasoning: The similarities with Ochalea and Myoshiman culture. That's essentially it. :)
I figured the Vortigern's Vortex idea would be a good way of tying in the migrations beyond the skyshield, especially when I saw how neatly it paralleled the concept of Kamikaze ('Divine Winds'). I also tied it in with the oft tossed about idea of a native Ochalean culture (pre-Alphatian); we'll see what the M-China people want to do with that, if anything.
On another note- it helps explain why Lord Katayama spoke Alphatian when he met with Prince Haldemar.