Of the 275,000 residents of Ket that live outside the Bramblewood Forest, the demographic is overwhelmingly (98%) human. There is a small but influential population of 5,000 dwarves--most live in clan strongholds in the Yatil Mountains; however, others have moved into the cities, especially Molvar, or have joined military units. There is also an even smaller--and decidedly non-influential--community of 2700 halflings living in small halfling communities scattered across the rural countryside. Another 5,000 people of other races--gnomes, half-orcs, half-elves and even a few non-Bramblewood elves--are concentrated in the major cities.
The human Ketite population looks and acts as Baklunish as any nation in the Baklunish West. However, the constant transit of traders and caravaneers from other nations for five centuries has had an effect--although members of the great noble families and powerful merchant houses are almost entirely of pure Baklunish blood, the middle and lower classes are a blend of Bakluni, Oeridian, and Suel.
Ketites are extremely lawful, and feel that the greatest good comes when everyone works together. Vigilantes and spontaneous posses are unheard of in Ket--the people expect the duly appointed Threshers, Jurats and other members of the judicial system to handle lawbreakers.
Protected by the surrounding mountains and a strict set of laws, confident in their military and respectful of their government, the people of Ket are generally happy and confident. Street festivals are a common occurrence, featuring contests of skill, fortune-telling, music, food and drink, as well as the favourite form of street entertainment in Ket, puppet shows. These shows are not merely the children's entertainment found in other lands--the puppeteers of Ket are highly skilled, and can wrest raw emotions from their wood-and-cotton creations, causing laughter, tears, anger and love in their audiences. The best puppeteers--or rather the best-known puppets--are famous in Ket, and conversations at dinner parties will revolve around the latest adventures of the twins Janfruz and Jandral, or the plight of Poor Yazmin, always unlucky in love
During the hot days of summer, Ketites dress in loose robes--silk or linen for the upper class, light cotton for the middle and lower classes. Everyone wears sandals with straps that wrap a few inches above the ankle.
When the cold winds of winter sweep off the Yatil Mountains, Ketites add heavy outer robes, while light leather boots with pointed toes replace the sandals. Travellers and those who must spend time outside add furs and additional woollen layers to ward off the biting cold.
In all seasons, middle and lower classes tend to wear bright solid colours or decidedly garish patterns (or sometimes, disturbingly, a mixture of both). Nobility and members of their households favour pale pastel patterns in tasteful designs.
Prosperous men cover their heads with tightly wound turbans, while Ketite women usually wear their hair in a single braid, the length of the braid often a sign of the woman's status--the longer the braid, the higher the station. In addition, tasteful jewellery made from Ketite silver is common--men tend to wear silver rings and thin bracelets, while women sometimes add silver earrings and fine silver chain necklaces and anklets. Ostentatious jewellery and glittery displays of gold and precious gems are rare, although some merchants dealing in gems from the Yatils will often advertise by wearing a ring set with their house's specialty gem.
Neither men nor women wear hooded cloaks, since bumbershoots are clearly superior.
The middle and lower classes speak the common tongue, although most understand at least a smattering of Baklunish. The day-to-day language of nobility and their households is Baklunish; therefore merchants will always conduct business dealings with the rich and powerful in Baklunish. Some special services in churches of the Baklunish pantheon are in Ancient Baklunish, which, although full of little-used archaisms, can be generally understood by those who speak Baklunish.
The Yatil Mountains form a vast north-south curtain of stone between the Baklunish West and the rest of the Flanaess. The roads through Ket are the only ones that pierce this curtain, and thus every caravan carrying spices and silks from West to East, or gold and magic from East to West must perforce travel through Ket.
Many centuries ago, the rulers of Ket looked at the trade caravans crossing Ket, and realized that they were sitting on a goldmine. They started to charge taxes on the trade goods flowing across their lands, and fostered a new era of prosperity in Ket. Currently, all trade goods are charged a transit tax of between 2% to 5% of their value, the exact tax rate depending on the type of item being transported. Normal trade goods tend to be taxed at the lower end of the scale, while more valuable items--gems, jewellery, rare wines, silks, gold, etc.--are taxed at the highest rates. The resultant flood of gold has made Ket a prosperous country indeed, her people well-educated and healthy.
Although one would think that all trade organizations would oppose this tax, the association known as the Mouqollad Consortium strongly supports it, mainly because they have been granted a large tax reduction on goods carried by their trade caravans. They gained this tremendous competitive advantage through negotiation with the Ket government coupled with several direct and sizeable contributions to Ket (and likely to a few government officials).
Goods that enter Ket for the purpose of being sold in Ket are only taxed at 1% to 2% of their value, but the goods are carefully bonded and re-inspected at several points to ensure that the goods are not smuggled out the other side of the country after being taxed at the lower "import-only" rate.
Dishonest merchants trying to pad their bottom line will import goods into Ket supposedly to sell to Ketites--paying the low "import only" tax rate--then smuggle the goods out the other side of Ket to sell in another part of the Flanaess. The money they pocket due to the difference in the tax they paid versus the tax they should have paid can be very profitable.
Due to its substantial tax revenues, Ket is one of the few countries of the Flanaess that does not export any goods in large quantities. However, a few high-quality items are sold in small quantities to discriminating buyers in other parts of the Flanaess:
- horses, for which Ket is renowned throughout the Flanaess
- bosq, a fiery liquor unique to Ket, derived from the yarpick nut that forms the staple diet for most of the population. Bosq is often delicately seasoned with exotic flavourings to increase its value
- copper, silver and gems from mines in the Yatil Mountains
- top quality rugs
Like almost every country in the Flanaess, Ket uses a decimal system of coinage. The obverse of every Ketite coin displays a portrait of Beygraf Nadaid and the words "Shield of the True Faith" in Baklunish. There are only five coins in circulation at the moment:
Names of Days & Months
The days of the week are: Starday, Sunday, Moonday, Godsday, Waterday, Earthday, and Freeday. Godsday is commonly associated with worship, and Freeday with rest. The remaining days are considered "work days."
Names of the months:
The year has 364 days divided into 12 months of 28 days plus four "festival" weeks--Needfest, Growfest, Richfest (or Midsummer) and Brewfest--that are associated with the solstices/equinoxes and the turning of the seasons:
During the festival weeks, festival-type activities are common, especially in the evening, and private parties and special meals are popular. However, during the day, life and work go on pretty much as normal--shops are open except during large festival-associated public street celebrations, which occur once or twice during each festival week.
A Ketite who falls into debt suffers a great loss of honour in addition to any monetary woes.
The creditor can apply to the courts to have the debtor made a servant indentured to the creditor's household until the value of the debtor's work equals the value of the debt. The name for an indentured servant is ushdar.
There is a balance of honour in this situation: honour demands that the master use any ushdari in his household to the best of their abilities--as accountant, bodyguard, cook, or whatever skills the ushdar possessed before coming to the creditor's household; and honour demands that ushdari perform this work ungrudgingly, gracefully and to the best of their ability.
Legally, an ushdar forfeits Citizenship during the time of servitude, and is in fact counted as a temporary possession of the creditor with no other legal rights. Harming an ushdar is not only considered very dishonourable, it is also counted as an act of vandalism, and the perpetrator can be charged and punished by a Thresher on the spot.
When the value of the ushdar's work has been deemed by the courts to have satisfied the value of the debt, the debtor is completely absolved of debt, and can take his or her place as a Ket Citizen again with no loss of social standing--the person's honour has been completely redeemed.
Since this system revolves around honour, only Citizens are eligible for the privilege of receiving a loan unsecured by any collateral, and only Citizens may be declared ushdari by the courts. Non-Citizen residents, monsters and visitors to Ket must secure all loans with collateral, which then can be seized by the creditor if the loan is defaulted.
A Ketite Citizen owing money to the government--unable to pay a fine for tax evasion, for example--will be indentured to a prominent Citizen chosen by the Jurat.
Horses have a unique place in Ket society for two reasons:
Horse lineage and breeding receives much attention and is frequently more important to a bey than the people that work his lands.
- being a Baklunish nation, Ket's ancestors were nomads, and the horse is an honourable reminder of this, even to those who are now urban dwellers;
- a few centuries ago, Ket was overrun by the Brazen Horde--a nomadic horse-culture people. The Horde eventually left, but the Ketites adopted the Horde's love of horses.
It is a serious and dishonourable crime to steal or injure a horse. If you are a visitor to Ket, under no circumstances show disrespect to a horse, either through action or word. Neither do an injury to any horse, however well-deserved. Doing either insults every Ketite as well as Ket culture and history. Run, don't walk, to the nearest border.
Rary, former member of the Circle of Eight in Greyhawk City, was actually born in Ket in CY512. Even when he was part of the Circle, he continued to fulfill his duties as Archmage of Ket, and maintained a residence in Lopolla--Rary's Tower.
Then in CY584, on the day of the signing of the Treaty of Greyhawk, Rary apparently betrayed the Circle, killing two fellow members. For that act, he is now reviled across the Flanaess as "Rary the Traitor". On that same day, his tower in Lopolla was ripped from its foundations by extra-planar creatures and transported far away, likely to the Bright Lands where Rary now styles himself "Emperor" of those dry and barren sands.
However, many people of Ket are slow to condemn a native son, and still believe his actions on the infamous Treaty Day have been misunderstood. Instead of "Traitor", most Ketites still call him "the Great Patriot" or "the Rider". They point to all his previous work for good, and note that judgment of the mage by others has come faster than comprehension of the reasons behind his act of "betrayal".
A well-known phrase in Ket is "He's not evil, he's just misunderstood."
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