Hoblings The Hoblings found within the Maelstrom were descended from the crew of a trade galleon out of the nation of Home and displaced in time by a fey. Today Hoblings are likely to be found either in the hobling Kingdom of Newhome or living within the Empire because they were unwilling (either for financial or personal reasons) to follow Newhome into rebellion against the Empire. Additionally some Hoblings also live amongst the Pearl Island pirates. Physical Traits Hoblings resemble humans with noticeable sideburns and large, tough feet. Some prefer to eschew footwear, preferring to go barefoot but this is not universal. Their hair and eye color is within the normal human range, and they are often considered quite nimble. While not particularly hardy, they do have a resistance to poison. History Approximately 415 years ago (which would have been the year 595 in the Fifth Era by the Imperial Calendar) the galleon, Profit Margin, sailed from the hobling nation of Home on a diplomatic mission to stave off hostilities between Galanthia and Icenia. In addition to the crew of hobings and sarr laborers and warriors on board, they were escorting the Icenian ambassador, Dame Isabella Ryatt, to Galanthia. The Profit Margin was commanded by her owner, Lord Allister Throttlebottom, who was also a member of the House of Lords and had been named as an Ambassador to Home for the mission to Icenia. During the naval journey Allister was approached in his cabin by a Fey named Silva. This Fey promised to give an opportunity for unmatched wealth to the crew and make the Throttlebottoms kings of Home for nearly 1300 years beyond Allister’s death. Already dreaming of his coronation, Allister immediately accepted and was told that in the morning the deal would be complete. That night the Profit Margin was transported hundreds of miles north to the Ostenwasser Sea, well within the Maelstrom. While the crew determined from the stars that they’d been sent hundreds (possibly thousands) of miles north, Silva appeared on deck to inform them that they now found themselves within the Maelstrom and that none could escape it, and that they’d been thrown back 873 years in time (to the year 1743, Fourth Era by the Imperial Calendar). Silva then pointedly told Allister, in front of everyone on deck, that their bargain was complete and that his ancestor was about to be crowned as the first Throttolebottom king, but that no one on the Profit Margin would ever see Home again. The fey then promptly teleported away. The enraged crew, led by Allister’s first mate, Brollo Goldpipe, angrily mutinied on the spot. In spite of the best efforts of Dame Isabella to calm things down, Allister and those that stayed loyal to him were killed. The Founding of Newhome Taking command of the Profit Margin, Brollo sailed to the edge of the Maelstrom and sent test dinghies out to try to escape. Each one was destroyed and the rowers died permanently. Brollo promptly ended the experiment and set sail to find a place to land. It was not long before they landed on the site of what once had been a sizeable port town, but had clearly been burned and abandoned long ago. Using the foundations and surviving structures the Hoblings founded the town of Newhome. They hired a number of the wylderkin tribes found to the west of Newhome to help with construction and to supplement their own sarr laborers and soldiers that had come with them and began a small trade based settlement. Ten years after Newhome was founded, envoys from the Cloud Empire arrived and laid claim on Newhome for the Empire, stating the foundation it was built on was a town called Edgeport that they had constructed many years ago to fight the pirates of the Stormedge Islands. Brollo Goldpipe, who was still acting as the de-facto leader of the Hoblings, realized they could not militarily defeat the Empire, but that it would be logistically inconvenient for the Empire to go to war with Newhome. As a result, he was able to open negotiations with the Empire over the matter. To further strengthen their bargaining position he let slip rumors that Newhome was considering an alliance with the elves of Quyah'scenthaal or some of the pirate groups from the Strormedge Islands. In 1759 of Fourth Era (by the Imperial Calendar), after six years of exhaustive contract negotiations, Newhome was officially joined to the Empire until the end of the next era. Brollo Goldpipe was named the Overlord of the newly formed House Goldpipe. House Goldpipe would maintain rulership of Newhome and the surrounding land and share oversight of trade with House Stratos and a limited portion of maritime trade (though eventually House Goldpipe took over nearly all trade in the Empire.) In return Newhome was obliged to keep only a token military force reporting to House Goldpipe and rely on the Empire for all military needs. One of the provisos was that enslavement of the sarr members of House Goldpipe would not be allowed by House Geifer or any other Imperial institution. Later, as the sarr began interbreeding with the wylderkin, this rule was extended to any wylderkin of House Goldpipe’s territory. Naturally this made Newhome a popular place for escaped wylderkin slaves from other provinces, though for a fee paid by the proper owner House Goldpipe would return their property. Over the years the Hoblings’ economic skills proved to make them one of the richest (and most profitable) houses in the Empire. Eventually all trading was performed via the powerful Merchant’s Guild, which was directly owned by House Goldpipe. Even exclusive markets owned by other houses (such as ore and smithing controlled by House Mithril) were required to be licensed by the Merchant’s Guild and so House Goldpipe got a piece of every sale. Even still, the Hoblings sometimes chafed under the restrictions that the Empire placed on trade. Brollo Goldpipe died of natural causes surrounded in incredible wealth and luxury. Brollo is looked upon as something of a hero to Hoblings of Newhome and the Empire and as such there are many Brollos, Brollas, Brolls and other namesakes to the first head of the house. House Goldpipe, consisted of Hoblings, wylderkin (who had intermarried with the sarr over the years) and a few other Imperial races. They expanded past Newhome to found smaller towns and villages further west within the land granted to House Goldpipe. These towns engaged in agriculture and other pastoral trades. Their trade fleet also grew prodigiously and Newhome built several ships for ferrying trade goods back and forth. An Independent Newhome Nineteen years ago, Emperor Ernst Stratos declared the end of the Fifth Era, which contractually allowed the Hoblings of Newhome to end their inclusion with the Empire. Citing this, Overlady Signa Goldpipe, a direct descendant of Brollo, declared that after centuries, House Goldpipe was ending their contract with the Cloud Empire. She crowned herself Queen Proprietor of an independent Kingdom of Newhome. Queen Signa shrewdly opened diplomatic talks with the elves of Quyah'scenthaal right away, which is thought to be the only thing that prevented the Empire from invading Newhome to force them back into the fold and/or punish them for leaving. The last nineteen years have seen major change within Newhome, as the nation has begun operating on a more mercantile basis without the edicts of the Empire dictating the flow of businesses and trade. The kingdom has been reformed into something of a combination of an Oligarchy and Constitutional Monarchy. Terms as sovereign last for 10 years, but only those with a set minimum of wealth (gold and property combined) are eligible to vote for a new monarch. The Monarch gets a percentage of all trade performed within the Kingdom. Avoiding paying upwards to the Crown leads to fines and possibly even the loss of trade privileges. So far Queen Signa has won the last two elections, in part by buying votes but also because she is fairly popular. The election in 21, 5E next year is hotly anticipated however as some argue it is time for a new monarch. Today Newhome is experiencing something of an economic boom. Without the restrictions imposed by the Empire they are free to trade with the Quyah'scenthaal, and (previously) the kin nation of Wyndael as much or little as they want. Though many fled Newhome and the surrounding lands to remain loyal to the Empire, and many Wylderkin left to join the nation of Wyndael, much of the population stayed. After Wyndael fell to the Trolls, Newhome gained an influx of Wylderkin refugees from the failed nation which gave vast access to cheap labor for Newhome. Some poorer citizens resent the influx of cheap labor saying that it takes away jobs that their lower classes were doing. Though this meant that those performing the labor worked hard to keep the jobs they had and were not paid especially well, profits for the rich were quite high. Newhome retains their heraldic colors from their time as House Goldpipe of the Cloud Empire: Green and Gold with a golden pipe as their sigil. The capital of Newhome, called Newhome City, is a thriving city with several storefronts, markets and a major port. Queen Signa is housed within the Platinum Palace, a beautiful and well fortified structure at the center of Newhome City. The rich live in well adorned wooden and stone homes, the nearer to the Platinum Palace the better (as that is the most expensive real estate.) Extending farther from the Palace is found the lower cost (and lower quality) housing, with outright slums where poor Wylderkin and Hoblings live. The villages outside the city are smaller microcosms of this, with the rich living in the best houses and the poor living in smaller and more poorly constructed homes. As with the rest of hobling society, those who have wealth to put into their homes have beautiful buildings to show their status, those without live in poverty. The Founding of the Pearl Island Pirate Nation After Allister Throttlebottom and his supporters were murdered by the crew of the Profit Margin, their spirits resurrected at the nearest friendly circle. This circle turned out to be that of a band of pirates on one of the Stormedge Islands. Allister examined the operation of the pirates and saw that they were poorly organized and subject to frequent raids from other pirate clans. He attempted to convince the pirate leader, a human named Javeed Dones, that steps could be taken to improve things, but Dones was not interested. Even still, Allister, through intelligence and gumption, was able to finagle the command of a ship out of Dones in return for Allister and his followers joining the pirate band. Given command of a small ship that Allister renamed the Venture Capital, Allister and his loyal sarr and Hoblings were able to deliver a number of incredibly wealthy hauls to Dones. This allowed Dones to accept that Allister’s plans might have some merit and he began to take notice of the hobling’s advice. One of Allister’s first suggestions was to move their headquarters as they were frequently attacked by rival pirate gangs. Allister had discovered a series of well hidden caves while commanding the Venture Capital. Additionally the caves were difficult to access unless one knew the correct route. Though reluctant, Dones was convinced and the band moved to the concealed caves on Pearl Island. After defeating the monsters who had taken up residence, they established their base. From there Allister and Dones essentially began working together on the logistics of a number of raids and attacks that maximized profit and minimized risk and bloodshed. If the pirates captured a ship they would, whenever possible, ransom the crew (and possibly the ship) back for a sizeable “reward.” Time was not wasted stealing cargo of minimal value, information was purchased from sailors of hostile powers to learn cargos and shipping routes so the pirates could devise superior plans of attacks. Within the span of a few years Allister had turned the struggling and unremarkable pirate band into a viable and profitable economic power. Dones, jealous that Allister was a more capable pirate king than himself, turned on him, attempting to ambush and oust him. Allister had learned a little something about mutinies, however, and had secretly bought the loyalty of Dones’ key followers. Betrayed and without significant support, it was Dones who was killed and exiled. Taking full control of the pirate gang, and now calling them the Pearl Island Privateers, Allister continued to build his economic empire. Though Allister has long since passed away, his economic genius is still felt and the system he set up is serving the Pearl Islanders well. Today the tiny pirate nation is made up primarily of humans, Wylderkin (largely descended from sarr and local wylderkin) and a smattering of Hoblings descended from Allister and his followers. They still focus primarily on the profit driven ventures of piracy, eschewing bloodshed, violence and “scorched earth” policies whenever possible and favoring ransoms and straight up plunder as they are the most profitable. Prisoners are treated reasonably well and some even willingly join the generally jovial pirates. The Pearl Islanders get along somewhat well with the Coral Reef pirates, though they are rivals so their amiability only goes so far. The Stormborn and the Pearl Islanders detest one another. The Stormborn view the Pearl Islanders as weak and the pirates are well aware that if the Stormborn knew the location of their hidden coves on Pearl Island that they’d probably be wiped out by the savages. Most of the Pearl Islanders live within hidden coves. Access to the surface through a network of tunnel allows them to go atop Pearl Island to gather food and grow crops, but they take pains to avoid being spotted. Within the coves are a number of caves, made comfortable for everyday living and some wooden structures built into the caves. Within the Empire Many Hoblings live within the Empire as well. Some were former members of House Goldpipe and refused to abandon the Empire (either for personal or financial reasons), while others had long been members of other houses or populations and hadn’t lived in Newhome in the first place. Hoblings can live anywhere in the Empire and ply their trades wherever they like, and as such can be found in nearly every part of the Empire. These Hoblings, while still generally shrewd businessmen, are often quite loyal to the Empire and believe in its cause, or are at least willing to say that so they can get through their day and maximize profits. Culture Hobling culture is an example of vast dichotomies. Hobings in general favor luxuries and those with wealth live as lavishly as possible, surrounding themselves in whatever luxuries they can afford. The general belief is “if you have it, you flaunt it.” The more ostentatiously you can display your wealth, the better. As a result of their love of art and entertainment many artists and performers can find wealthy patrons in Newhome, making their population of artists somewhat higher than most other comparable nations. Those without wealth (or only middling wealth) tend to be hardworking and scrappy and striving to earn their fortune, either by honest hard work, superior ability, or theft and swindling, depending on their skills and personality. The means of acquiring wealth is far less important than actually having it. This system leaves many without, as they are exploited by those with more money, power and influence. Even the poor dream that they, perhaps someday, may rise to be as wealthy and powerful as the rest of the rich (no matter how unlikely) which seems to be a common motivation in hobling society. Queen Signa likes to say that Newhome is a land of opportunity, and to some extent this is true. Anyone, regardless of race or family ties, can make their fortune and rise high and be respected as a result. However the truth is that breaking into the wealthy elite is incredibly difficult as those with money have the funds to invest it and make more, while those without must earn whatever they can to survive and rarely have concrete opportunities to become wealthy. Even still, the occasional rags to riches story proves, in theory anyway, that Queen Signa’s claims have merit. Life Cycle Hoblings who have romantic feelings for one another will sometimes enter into a contracted marriage. Both parties must sign willingly, of course, and it is often for a fixed period. These contracts are often quite detailed in nature and allow for divorce, annulment and extensions as well as a distribution of wealth in case of contract violation. Once the two parties agree and it is on paper and properly notarized, the newlyweds will typically hold a party to celebrate their merger. It is generally expected that attendees will offer a gift to the new couple, and so the parties are often as lavish and extensive as possible to entice as many gift giving guests as possible to attend. Hobling children are usually raised by both parents unless the marriage contract stipulates otherwise. The children are generally educated either by their parents or, for Hoblings with means, by a professional tutor. Hoblings are taught to follow all the rules laid out, but to always be aware of all the rules. Parents will often draw up starter contracts with their small children to teach them both how set down and follow rules and also encourage them to exploit them for their own purposes. Though technically binding, these contracts are almost never enforced and it is done to teach a child about life. When a child exploits a flaw in the contract they are often praised (though the parent will often revise the contract if it results in unacceptable behavior.) Hoblings will often be required to begin working to earn their own money around the age of 10-12. Though they still live at home and have many of their needs cared for, it allows them to learn about contract negotiations and money in the real world. A Hobling is usually considered an adult around age 17 and are expected move out of their parents homes and start supporting themselves within a few years of this age. Hoblings live about 100 years or so. Hoblings will often leave notarized wills upon their death, meticulously dictating where they wish their wealth and property to go. It is considered incredibly poor planning and a bit scandalous to die without a will, but it does happen. On those occasions the goods of the deceased are often auctioned by the immediate family, who divide the proceeds amongst themselves. Holidays Brollo Day: Most Hoblings in Newhome and the Empire celebrate Brollo day on June 18th, Brollo Goldpipe’s birthday. On this day most towns will have a town wide celebration for feasting and drinking. It’s generally accepted that Newhome always has the best Brollo Day celebration. Hoblings from the Pearl Island do not celebrate Brollo day. Winter Day: The first day of winter, usually marked by the first snow, will cause a Winter Day celebration. Hoblings will gather and give one another gifts and children will play in the snow during the day. At night the Hoblings will retreat to a warm fire and have a lavish feast. Day of the Arts: Once a year, usually the third week of Spring, all hobling settlements will foster a Day of the Arts. Artists, performers and craftsmen of all races from all around will come to a weeklong festival to show off (and hopefully sell) their wares and services. The occasions are always marked by a great deal of feasting, singing, shows and revelry. General Views on Other Races Dryads: The Hoblings have had very limited interaction with Dryads. The few who have are likely from Newhome and it would have been on a dimplomatic mission to Quyah'scenthaal. They are seen as a mystery but their awakening in a new world opens many potential businesses opportunities. Wylderkin: Hoblings have a strong relationship with Kin, stemming both from the cat kin (sarr) that came with them from outside of the Maelstrom and locals that were the first allies hired by the Hoblings who landed. Hoblings view them as excellent employees, customers and/or businesses partners. Stone Elves: Hoblings are not overly fond of Stone Elves. They are very firm negotiators and their attention to contracts is meticulous, which frustrates Hoblings. Additionally they have a tendency to live austere lives, which the Hoblings do not understand and it limits the ability to sell them luxury goods. Dark Elves: There are rumors of Dark Elves who live in the caves of the Wahnsinn Cliffs, but very few have been encountered. There are rumors of dark elves raiding small rural villages near the Wahnsinn Cliffs but those are unsubstantiated. Mystic Wood Elves: Hoblings tend to like the Mystic Wood Elves. They are excellent craftsmen, fun partiers and one of the few peoples who immediately recognized the value of Wylderkin. Biata: Since Biata are inexorably tied to the Empire many Hoblings from Pearl Island are not fond of them, and the Hoblings of Newhome view them as oppressive bureaucrats and are glad to be out from their chafing and manipulative control. Dwarves: Hoblings view Dwarves as good customers and kindred spirits in regards to having fun and loving treasure, though they are a bit dour and overly serious. Elves: Hoblings have a great deal of respect for elves and love trading with them. They are viewed as a little odd and overly connected to nature, but overall they find them pleasant. Humans: Arguably the race Hoblings feel closest to, as they tend to be of generally similar temperament. They acknowledge the humans are a bit more fast paced and sometimes take things too seriously though. Selunari: The Hoblings find the Selunari to be good customers and fantastically fun. Many of the best entertainers and storytellers are Selunari. However their wandering and transitory nature make them frustrating as return businesses is difficult. They also do not understand why they wouldn’t want to settle and enjoy the finer things in life. Oathsworn: Hoblings have a great dislike of the Stormborn, who frequently attack their homes to pillage. They have had very little interaction with the Azarka, whom they find less baselessly violent than the Stormborn, but their preference for barter rather than coin payment makes them terribly frustrating customers. High Orcs: Traditionally, most Hoblings had little to do with the high orcs, as they were too far away and not on good terms with the Empire. They are violent and aggressive but very good warriors. Rumors abound that Queen Signa is looking to open trade talks with the High Orc nation of Orentis. High Ogres: Very few Ogres have been encountered, but the few that have are viewed as strange and, based on their fairly austere lifestyles, not the best customers.