Pecsmuth is one of the important realms of Gard, as it was one of the most important provinces of Gideon of old. Sadly, the years have not been kind to Pecsmuth, which is now something of a wasteland. It is mostly ruled by greedy corporate guilds, which enjoy a supply of cheap labor because neighboring Gideon City banishes its poorer criminals to this realm.
When the Empire of Gideon first started to expand from ancient Gideon City, Pecsmuth was the first province it conquered. Pecsmuth was a fertile country. Grassy and river-fed, the land sustained manors and large farm estates, much as Chester, Eustace, and other realms do today. But the ancients put little stock in the warnings of druids that such a fertile country could be overfarmed. As the years passed, the soil became barren.
The manors were torched by rioters and rebels when the old Empire fell. But any hope for a recovery for the land was dashed soon afterwards, when a local warlord trying to besiege Gideon City salted the fields of Pecsmuth as he retreated in failure.
Other wars were fought over Pecsmuth in later years. The land became useless for farming, but veins of gold and copper were discovered beneath the earth. So Pecsmuth was soon torn open by mines. Boom towns dotted the countryside in the waning days of the Age of Conflict and the early years of the new Empire of Gard. But the mineral wealth started to peter out. Miners dove to dangerous depths to continue their work, but most people moved away, leaving ghost towns behind them.
In the early fifth century Occidental Calendar, Pecsmuth experienced a revival of sorts. Land was cheap and old mining equipment was free. A number of wealthy Gideoner investors, led by a brass dragon in disguise, seized the opportunity. They plowed even deeper into the ground, and build awesome manufactories to improve efficiency. This required a lot of manual labor. Fortunately, Gideon City to the south had (and still has) a tradition of banishing criminals to Pecsmuth with little more than the clothes on their backs, providing a constant stream of cheap workers.
Pecsmuth was devastated again during the Human’s Revolution, where it became a battleground into which conflicts from other realms poured over. Fragile towns were burned, mines were collapsed, manufactories abandoned. Now the investors have re-organized into corporate guilds to once again try to make some sort of use out of Pecsmuth. But the guilds themselves have come under attack, first by rebels during the secession crisis, and then by the people of Castrum, the capital city that was all but burnt to the ground when the dragons retook it. A few other cities still stand amidst the wastes, and the Army of the Empire’s headquarters gives the realm some economic activity. But the realm is still a wasteland.
Most of Pecsmuth has no government at all. The wasteland between settlements is unusable and uncivilized. Some areas are the domain of monsters – kobolds and ogres, mostly.
The realm’s ruler is Marquis Svenerar, one of the oldest living brass dragons. His realm saw heavy fighting in the Human’s Revolution, and he fought in several battles on the dragons’ side. He survived, though not unscathed – he lost his right eye. His popularity suffered even more. Ever since the Revolution, his ability to enforce his will outside Castrum, the capital, has been negligible.
Svenerar went missing during the secession crisis, but was later found and restored to power. Ironically, his brief absence actually increased his authority over the realm. Since he has come back, he has decided to focus on rebuilding Castrum and other parts of the realm that were damaged in the recent fighting. Finally, something the humans support him on. Meanwhile, the human warpriest of Lotheria who ruled in his absence, Ralcon Brisk, has been forced to flee to Claysaw.
Despite these power shifts at the upper levels of society, life remains the same for most people in Pecsmuth. The powerful corporate guilds rule the lives of almost everyone not in Castrum or the War Academy. These guilds can own mines, manufactories, or entire towns. They also enforce their own rules, with their own guards. Visitors are usually treated very courteously, but guild members are often subject to brutal working hours and difficult conditions (unless they are in the guild’s elite).
Unfortunately, there is very little redress for lesser guildlings. They cannot be prevented from leaving the guild, because that would be considered a form of slavery. But they can be prevented from living in a guild town, shopping at guild stores, or using guild roads if they are not guild members. Covering the distance from one guild settlement to another without using guild roads means crossing the dry plains wasteland, an extremely dangerous thing to try. Some do make it. But most people consider themselves “chained” to their guild employment.
As mentioned above, Pecsmuth is largely wasteland. It isn’t quite a desert like Lestecha to the west, but there is still not much rainfall, and the earth is barren anyway. There used to be some usable land in the northwest along the border with Claysaw, but it was set ablaze during the Human’s Revolution and is now worthless. There is farmland to the northeast of Pecsmuth, but it all belongs to Casogard, and the Casogardish villages along the Pecsmuthian border do not take kindly to trespassers. Chester to the east is much the same, although there the border is bisected by the Emperor’s Highway.
The Emperor’s Highway is maintained by Pecsmuth’s army. The guilds would love to take it over, but the dragons refuse to allow it to become a toll road, and the guilds will not protect and maintain the Highway otherwise. The Emperor’s Highway runs east to Chester, Casogard, and Rushtide, and south through Pecsmuth to Gideon City. The only land routes to Gideon City are through Pecsmuth, but most travelers do not leave the Emperor’s Highway or the guild-owned roads, and so never have to deal with the harsh terrain of Pecsmuth.
To the north of Pecsmuth is the Almond Sea. The Brassica River runs south through Pecsmuth from the Almond Sea to Gideon City and the southern coast of Occident. These bodies of water are good sources of fish. Castrum, the capital, is at the mouth of the Brassica River, and is not a bad place to live. The Brassica Point War Academy is also along the river, in southern Pecsmuth.
Pecsmuth’s culture is influenced in many ways by the culture of Gideon City’s underclass. In Gideon City, crimes other than capital crimes are punishable by a fine. In many cases, this fine is more than a poor criminal can afford. In that case, all of the convict’s property is confiscated, and the convict is banished to Pecsmuth. A wagon train takes them to central Pecsmuth, dumps them, and returns to Gideon City. There is no legal requirement forcing the banished criminals to stay in Pecsmuth, but they cannot return to Gideon City, and with no money, the journey to any other realm is nearly impossible. The guilds eagerly induct these convicts as “apprentices”, promising them jobs that turn out to be brutal, near-slave-labor posts that pay only enough to stay alive.
For those banished from Gideon City and native Pecsmuthians alike, life in Pecsmuth is a constant struggle. They have the unforgiving terrain and the ruthless guilds to contend with, and unless they live in Castrum or Brassica Point, they get very little help from the distant government. Without shrewdness and self-reliance, a Pecsmuthian has little hope. Therefore, these are the traits most Pecsmuthians value above all others.
The guilds do observe a very large number of holidays, as is traditional in Gard, and they pay to import musicians and actors from other realms in an attempt to distract their laborers from their terrible lives. There is not much native Pecsmuthian high culture, though.
Life in the Brassica Point War Academy in southern Pecsmuth is also rough, but in a very different way. This War Academy trains all officers in the Army of the Empire, and many officers in the armies of the various realms. Strict discipline is expected of all cadets at all times, and punishments for infractions are swift and severe. But the rewards of attending are great – in addition to an army commission, graduates come away with some of the best tactical and strategic training available anywhere in Occident.
The mining guilds from Gideon City are Pecsmuth’s largest and richest employers. However, the people of Castrum have started making it a political cause to get the guilds out of power. Marquis Svenerar is encouraging this, and has even asked the Emperor for help reducing the power of the guilds. But the Emperor is also the sovereign of Gideon City himself, and he has so far done no such thing.
There is very little pattern to religious worship in Pecsmuth. The worship of evil gods is banned, but some guild leaders secretly revere Saralek or Ilumot. The people tend to favor Lotheria, but Hylaeos is also quite popular. Curiously, the Triune Religion is also gaining in popularity in Pecsmuth – the only realm to have a significant proportion of Triunites.
Given the harsh conditions in Pecsmuth, only hardy folk can survive there. Elves and half-elves are extremely rare; dwarves and gnomes are fairly common. But the great majority of Pecsmuthians, outside Castrum and the Brassica Point War Academy, are humans.