Telsa is a humid temperate country, loacted on the western coast of Fogarty’s Ocean. It is considered by many to be the gateway between the human dominated southwest peninsula of Haltenlanz, and its more multiracial centre.
Melcem – Capital of Telsa, former undead fortress
Khorem – Industrial capital in the foothills
Tivonnis – Trading centre in an enchanted forest
Oberon’s Reach – A former faerie fort in an alpine valley
Grast – A military base in the southern plains
Telsa was founded approximately 2200 years ago. Elvish magic users settled in the largely empty area surrounding the Heart Swamp and Arterial rivers, as it allowed them to practice magic more freely than in the heart of the Elvish Empire. However, this freedom also left them far from the empire’s safety.
1731 years BC, Malceon the Necromancer raised massive armies of the undead, rapidly conquering the Heart Swamp and surrounding lands. At the time, regulating and defending elvish citizens in the Telsa region was not part of Elvish Imperial policy. However, they were focred into conflict when, 1599 years BC, Malceon declared war on the Elvish Empire. Although better trained than Malceon’s undead legions, the Imperial Army lacked their opponents’ numbers and undying endurance. The war led to the eventual destruction of Banit 1442 years BC. However, this would prove to be the furthest that Malceon’s armies ever reached. After centuries of warfare, the Malceon was killed 1238 years BC, during the siege of Melcem.
It was after the siege and sebusequant razing of Melcem that humans and elves made first contact. Humans, fleeing from the Catastrophe of Karo had already encountered undead elves, fleeing from the empire’s armies. However, upon realizing that living elves had no desire to fight them, they immediately began settling the areas once controlled by Malceon. As the point of first contact between the southwestern peninsula and central Haltenlanz, Telsa rapidly grew in infrastructure, population, and significance. The reconstruction of Melcem was completed in 904 BC, the first multiracial city with humans. When the Elvish Empire reformed as the the Kingdom of Lanzer, Melcem was made the regional capital of the western kingdom.
However, it was all too good to last. After five hundred years of dormancy, Malceon rose from the dead as a lich. His undead armies, unceremoniously buried in the Heart Swamp, were summoned once more. With a new army to work with, Malceon the lich set about reconquering the western kingdom. In 719 BC, Malceon began his invasion, driving his armies south of Melcem.
In this time, the King Andreas of Lanzer refused to risk his people, lands, and armies in conflict with Malceon. While the lich conquered the western kingdom, Andreas had a massive wall constructed along the border between Lanzer’s central and western kingdom, abandoning thousands of the king’s subjects to their fate. The construction of the Cruel Walls 691 years BC stands out as an act of infamy and cowardice loathed by Telsans to this day.
With the walls completed and manned by an elite garrison of Lanzer troops, Malceon had no choice but to turn his cruel intentions southward. However, finding fearsome resistance in Kreuzer and little worth conquering in what was once Karo, the lich chose instead to raise new standing armies, and develop powerful new spells, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike back against the Kingdom of Lanzer. No longer bound by the limitations of life, Malceon ruled Telsa as a totalitarian dictator, perfecting his magic and political strength over centuries of undeath. A failed diplomatic conference in 479 nearly ended in war between Telsa and Lanzer, and was only narrowly averted by divine intervention.
Finally in 333 BC, an order of powerful magicians was able to infiltrate Malceon’s fortress in Melcem, destroying the lich once and for all. This order could have assumed power, but instead handed power to a council of Telsa’s racial leaders. They, in turn, installed a new king, refusing to swear fealty to the throne in Lanzer which abandoned them over three centuries before. The border of Telsa have not changed since this time. Two hundred years later, in 133 BC, the King of Telsa created Parliament, and a Charter of Rights, turning Telsa into the constitutional monarchy it is today.
Telsa is a point at which central Haltenlanz and the southwest peninsula come together. Where human culture meets elvish culture, where magic meets mundane, and, to a certain extent, where life meets death. Arts and sciences flourish from this cross-cultural exchange of ideas.
Telsa’s tradition as a land of magical experimentation has led to it being something of a pilgrimage site for young magic users trying to make their mark. Indeed, the grand majority of necromancy spells in common use can trace there origins back to the Heart Swamp; some spells even trace their origins back to Malceon the Necromancer himself. However, since Malceon’s ultimate destruction in 333 BC, there has been a major shift away from this spellcasting focus in Telsa.
Telsan architecture and art tends to be gothic and foreboding. Tall spires and grotesque gargoyles are balanced with gorgeous displays of stained glass and tapestry. Music from Telsa usually features deep bells, low strings, and high woodwinds. Surely the jewel of Telsan culture is its capital, Melcem. The city itself is a war between the forces of creation and decay. The city is a hub of trade and architecture, but it is constantly sinking into the Heart Swamp on which it stands.
Furthermore, Telsa’s experiences under the rule of Malceon make it more tolerant of certain bizarre or taboo practices than other states. For example, there are several high-profile citizens afflicted with lycanthropy or vampirism. However, where in other countries this would lead to pitchfork and torch-bearing mobs, in Telsa they are regarded with little more than passing curiosity. However, their opinion of necromancy is much harsher than other countries, and they cannot stand the idea of being pitied for their survival under Malceon.
Telsa’s international relations are scarred by their dark and lamentable history. Telsan citizens travelling abroad often find themselves subjects of dark rumours and suspicion.
On a global level, most countries find Telsa suspicious, but not terribly malicious. Even Kreuzer, which fended off an invasion at the hands of Malceon the Lich recognizes that Telsa’s past misfortunes should not be laid at the feet of its current government. Perhaps the most curious aspect of Telsa to its neighbours is its protection of the Karo territory.
Telsa views the rest of the world with curiosity. Being the gateway nation it is, Telsa is willing to accept new ideas and citizens from the whole world. With the exception of Lanzer, Telsa treats the countries of the world amicably. No citizen from Telsa finds Lanzerians trustworthy. The two countries do not share embassies. Any meeting between the two nations in international competition or diplomacy is weighed down with tension. As often as not, these meetings end in violence. This stems, obviously, from Lanzer abandoning Telsa to the cruelty of Malceon the Lich. Lanzer is likewise untrusting of Telsa. In spite of the fact that Telsa has been a more or less peaceful monarchy for over three hundred years, Lanzer continues to man the walls and fortresses along their shared border.
Real World Influences
Telsa was one of the first countries I developed for my campaign world. I wanted a spooky, swampy, grim country full of fog, intrigue, and dark magic. In terms of real-world influences, its strongest influences are central european states: Northern Italy, the Rhine valley, and so on. The most obvious real world influence is Venice, which heavily influences how I picture Melcem. I also draw on the 3.5 sourcebook Libris Mortis.