|A procession in Qazan for a local boyar|
Ruthen was originally formed of disparate peoples - ancestors of the Osmanli, the Gilded Imperium and the Noreg were all wanderers and allied with native Ruthenians into the hard-scrabble nation of Rut'. The nation rose to prominence, but roughly 2000 years ago was overthrown by Hobgoblin Khans from the Tsagadaina Steppes who ruled over the land for centuries. Eventually, a man known as Ivaan rose up and united the remnants of Rut' and struck back against the Khans. Their subsequent victory caused the formation of the Tsardom of Ruthen, and Ivaan 'the Great' was crowned their first Tsar.
Despite its size and power, few people from either Europa or Asiwai journey to Ruthen, so few know of their struggles. When Ivaan's grandson, Ivaan II, ascended the throne, he was unstable and mentally disturbed. He sent Ruthen's armies out to expand and conquer in near endless wars - mainly against Noreg and the Lekhitian-Tuvian Commonwealth - and he created a 'realm of the Tsar', which was an administrative district he owned that consolidated all the wealthy boyars of the country, leaving most of the country poor and starving. After his death, a line of pretenders tried to adjudicate to the throne and Ruthen was thrown into dissension, rebellion and civil war backed by foreign powers. This time became known as the "Time of Troubles," and only ended roughly 30 years ago when Tsar Mikhail rose to power after being elected by a congress of Ruthen nobles. Though Ruthen has calmed down, Tsar Mikhail is still struggling to get the weary nation back on its feet.
LAY OF THE LAND
Ruthen is a diverse and sprawling land. Two major rivers run through it - the Dnepr to the west, which forms a natural border with The Lekhitian-Tuvian Commonwealth; and the Bosra, which is a main artery that runs from the massive Qazan Lake across the north of the country, dividing it from Noreg. The lands to the west are mostly deciduous forest that bleed into taiga the further north you go, and rising lands that turn into steppes to the south. Ruthen is divided from Asiwai by the Uralskiye Mountains, a northern branch of the Ximalayas. Large cities are few and far between - Moskva, Qazan and Novgor all lie along the Bosra at different intervals. The rest of the country is small villages or towns in their oblasts, and vast tracks of beast-haunted lands. The land remains cold year-round throughout, but can plummet to freezing at the height of winter.
POLITICS AND DIVISIONS
Ruthen is ruled over by the Tsar of All Ruthen, Mikhail Romanvy, and he has total autocratic power - though Tsar Mikhail is considered a kind and understanding tsar. The country is divided into dozens of oblasts, each ruled by a prince, duke, baron or boyar - collectively called dvoryanstavo. Despite the years of the Time of Troubles, Ruthen government maintained relatively strong due to the large amount of bureaucracy in it. That said, their government is rather strict - few people are allowed to migrate from their residencies, and serfdom is not only encouraged, but any who escaped it are considered fugitives. This leads to a strong central state and sparse outlands, which could be a boon as Ruthen is surrounded by enemies such as the Arktos Wastes, Noreg, Lekhitian-Tuvian Commonwealth and Tsagadaina Steppes.
|A group of cossacks reading a letter from Osmanli|
Ruthenians are a diverse peoples. Though they can trace their heritage across most of Europa, they have interbred into a distinct people - broad shouldered, dark haired and stern faced, but possessing a jovial spirit and a true feeling of kinship. Large portions of Ruthen are still rural, so many are either farmers or nomads, but more and more are starting to migrate to the cities. A unique peoples of Ruthen is that of the cossack - groups of autonomous 'mercenaries' that sell their sword for coin and glory. Tsar Mikhail has hired many cossacks to patrol the borders of Ruthen for any threats, and these soldiers are willing, able and more than ready.
Moskva - The capital of Ruthen and the largest city in the country with over 150,000 people living here. The city is heavily fortified - surrounded by three walls, possessing numerous citadels called kremlins, and distinctive onion-domed temples with few weak points. Perhaps that's why in spite of multiple invasions and occupations, Moskva still stands proud. Here is also the imperial palace of Tsar Mikhail, one of the most imposing in all Europa.
Qazan - Qazan was once its own nation, conquered by Ivaan II not long before his death. This meant the city was in ruins and had a dwindling population. Over the years it has been built back up and is now a bustling trade port, trading by both land and sea to places such as Osmanli, Noreg and the Gilded Imperium. Still, Qazan is a remnant of what it once was, and its native nomad residents long for their old state.
Novgor - Novgor has always had a rebellious streak, a sprawling city often inhabited by cossacks and nomads who would rather break off into a new nation. However, after a terrible raid from the forces of Corruption, Novgor is considered cursed. While people still live here, it is said voices howl at night and babes here quickly turn to Grendels. Tsar Mikhail always has one eye fixed on this city, in worries it will be raided again.