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Koryo

From Dragon Eye Atlas

Koryo is a naval culture in the south-east, especially on the main island of Hampa. The culture is deeply affected by the fact that the oceans out there are often hostile and tsunamis sweep away entire villages at the coast. It is the dominant culture in the Hampyan Republic and the Duchy of Mun.


Law and Crime[edit]

Protection is the primary value of Koryo culture. Protection against the elements, the evil gods (almost all Koryo lands follow the Seogism religion), outsiders to the community and bad elements within the community. Crimes of all kinds are additional dangers to a community that is already fighting for survival - if not in reality then at least in the mindset of the Koryo people - and really does not need more threats.

The punishments for crimes are severe, and the investigations into them minimal. The difference between rural and city life is most visible in the handling of crimes. In a hamlet, village, monastery or other small, closed community, an alarm will go out once a crime has been detected, and the entire community will meet in a central space. This is true for all crimes, from murder to simple theft. Then everyone who has something to say will step forward and say what they saw or heard. Accusations are rare at this point because accusing someone of a crime is a very serious thing, so it will only be done if the accuser has witnessed the culprit directly. Since people spend most of their day in close proximity to other people, wrong accusations are almost always challenged immediately by those who were out in the fields or woods with the accused. If nobody has been identified as the criminal at this point, the community will begin to rule out those who were with others at the possible time of the crime, until only those who nobody can vouch for remain. If there are several, and none of them are prime suspects, a trial is conducted. A trial is rooted in the belief that crimes weigh heavily on the soul of the criminal, and he will thus be less capable of feats of strength or endurance. Trials vary from place to place, but common methods are to have each of the suspects carry a heavy load around the village until one of them falls behind or falls down - who then obviously is the culprit.

The punishment for all crimes is the same: Banishment from the community. In many places, banishment is a death sentence. Other communities know that a peasant wandering the lands and asking to join the community is most likely a criminal who was banished and will not let you in. Sometimes, the banished can hide among the refugees of a flood or other calamity, but most of the time they will perish in the wilds.

In the towns and cities, where people are more anonymous and more often work by themselves in a workshop, small store or as a messenger, runner or delivery boy on the streets, this method of justice does not work. It has therefore been replaced by a concept adapted from the Tallian culture: The posse. When a man begins to live in a Koryo town or city, he is assigned a posse. Those who are born there join a posse on their 12th birthday. The posse is essentially a group of people tasked to keep each other honest. They either live or work close together and see each other daily. If a crime is detected, a town or city is too big to go through everyone living there as a possible suspect. The posse whose turf the crime has been committed on will first rule out any of their own as possible culprits, and then go contact nearby posses to do the same, depending on whatever information about the culprit is available. This can potentially cause a ripple through an entire city. Most of the time, however, the fact that Koryo society is close-knit means that someone has either spotted something or knows something, and a list of suspects is quickly gathered. If there are multiple suspects, the same principle as in a village applies, except to the posse - anyone who can be vouched for by a member of his posse is off the hook. With punishment for crimes being so severe, the chance that a good friend will falsely vouch for you is minimal, as he would endanger not only his own life but also that of his family. Any remaining suspects are put into the gaol until one of them confesses. The principle is simple: All the suspects are put into the same cell. Those who know they are innocent will beat the confession out of the one who is guilty, sooner or later. It is a crude form of trial, but it works surprisingly well, as men who are forced to spend days or weeks in such close proximity to each other become really good at reading each other.


The laws within Koryo culture are mostly limited to clarifying what is considered a crime and what is considered an offense. All crimes are punished by either banishment or for the more serious crimes such as murder or rape: execution by hanging. Offenses are things like insulting another man or his family, damaging someone's property by accident, endangering the community unintentionally, using the name of a god within the village and other minor transgressions. These are punished by making amends (taking back your words in public, paying for the damage done, etc.) plus a public beating, typically until the first blood flows.


Coast & Islands[edit]

Where the Koryo people live closest to the unforgiving ocean, justice is more swift and immediate. Instead of banishment, most crimes are punished by death. Along the cliffs and rocky coasts, watering is a common form of execution. The convict is bound to the cliff side or an exposed rock where he is left to die, either by the waves crashing into him, the flood drowning him or until he dies of thirst. Larger settlements have metal rings drilled into the rock for this purpose. Some villages simply break the culprits arms and legs to ensure he can't escape from rope bindings.

Away from the coast and most common on the smaller islands, but also seen in some places on the main island of Hampa, is the tradition of eroticising death, symbolizing life and death as a cycle. In these places, the executioner is a woman, who is supposed to be young and beautiful though some villages struggle with that and make do with what they have. When going about her business, the executioner is dressed in revealing clothing, and in some places will go so far as provoke the soon-to-be-hanged man. She symbolizes life and birth, which inevitably leads to death. These women are as efficient and ruthless as male executioners elsewhere, and despite the lewd appearance, are respected and feared in their communities. In fact, not one public hanging was interrupted by a public beating when someone could not control themselves and violated the solemnness of the moment with a raunchy comment. This is certain to turn the entire crowd on you, and in a few cases the culprit of most offensive words found himself swinging next to the convict soon after.


Storm Law[edit]

The more specific and strict Storm Law is rooted in Koryo culture as much as it is rooted in Hampy governance.

Traditions[edit]

It is common in Koryo culture to enter private houses or temples without shoes. There will always be a shoe rack or other place to put yours outside or, in larger dwellings, in the entrance hall. There is also commonly a large bowl with water to wash your feet. Among peasants, who sometimes walk barefoot, this is actually used. In higher social circles, it is retained as a small, symbolic bowl of water, and sometimes used for washing hands instead when entering the house.


This page is still incomplete and missing content or details that are planned, but have not been added yet.



Common Phrases[edit]

  • "Calm winds" - I wish you a peaceful time, good wishes in general
  • "Once in a red moon" - not very often, but it does happen


Clothes[edit]

Architecture[edit]

Most buildings in Koryo lands are sturdy and relatively simple. Tough to knock down, quick to rebuild is the concept. Local materials are used, wood in most places, mud and straw outside the forests, stone when it is available.

Buildings also tend to be square in shape, with a central courtyard thus somewhat sheltered from strong winds and outside views. Many buildings house an extended family or in large villages an cities, multiple families who each occupy a section of the house. In some of the large cities, three-story building blocks can be found with space for a hundred people and a courtyard with its own well and small gardens or plots for chickens.

In the countryside, some large buildings are only one story high but wide enough to have inside and outside flats with a corridor circling around at the centerline. This corridor has no outside windows and will instead have rooflight domes for light, which is why it only very rarely will be found in multi-story buildings.

Many old castles are essentially large and fortified houses following the same building style, though they tend to have a corridor near the outside that can be use to quickly reach the battlements and is open towards those, allowing light to come in.

KoryoHouse.jpg

Another very common feature in the subtropical and tropical parts, about two thirds of the Koryo lands, is that roofs are flat and used as outdoor working areas and herb gardens. Larger and especially multi-story buildings have stairs up from the inside, often covered by a canopy against rain, while most peasant homes, simple single-story houses, simply have stairs or just a ladder at the outside.



Villages are also less evenly distributed than in other lands, and tend to be clustered together for mutual support and protection in times of crises.

Religion[edit]