Hermea – The Great Experiment
Hermea at a glance:
- Alignment: N
- Capital: Promise (6,300)
- Notable Settlements: None
- Ruler: Mengkare, Shepherd of Light (old male gold dragon and ruler of Hermea), and the Council of Enlightenment (13 elected representatives that assist Mengkare)
- Government: Contractual Dictatorship
- Languages: Common, Draconic
- Religion: Secular Ideology (Mengkare and the Glorious Endeavor)
More than 150 years ago, the gold dragon Mengkare grew fed up with humanity. For generations, he watched squabbling nations and religions swarming over each other like ants, fighting and loving and dying in an endless series of poor decisions, always refusing to realize their natural potential. Yet even as he deplored their lack of foresight, he grew fascinated by their dogged resilience — he saw how easily, with a little guidance, they could be prodded and shaped into something worthwhile. A magnanimous, high-minded creature by nature, he decided to make the perfection of the human race his personal mission.
Flying to an uninhabited jungle island in the middle of the Arcadian Ocean, where his experiment could go forward without fear of contamination, Mengkare solicited volunteers from among humanity’s best and brightest to participate in what he dubbed “the Glorious Endeavor,” a utopian dream that began immediately with the founding of the island’s only city, Promise. Here, safe from warfare and ideological struggle, these paragons of the human race could perfect their arts and bodies, making each successive generation healthier, smarter, and more talented than the one before it. Under the dragon’s careful (and unchallenged) guidance, the small population has grown and thrived, and life is easy and fulfilling in Hermea.
The shores of the island are heavily defended, and outsiders are only rarely allowed access beyond the carefully regulated trading docks. Immigration is strictly controlled by Mengkare himself, and the only way for an outsider to become a citizen is to be recruited by one of the nation’s traveling undercover scouts, who follow the exploits of every nation’s heroes and report back to the Council of Enlightenment, delivering invitations to those notables deemed worthy. These invitees are granted a one-time offer to join the nation’s slow march toward perfection and live a life of comfort and security. All that’s required in return is for the applicant to cede all personal authority to Mengkare, agreeing to abide by the dragon’s considerable wisdom in all matters.
Children born in Hermea are given every advantage — educated in magic, art, science, and the martial disciplines according to their interests — until they are 16 years of age. At that point, they are tested by the Council and frequently offered the chance to become a citizen. Children who refuse or are deemed unworthy are sent away and never permitted to make contact with Hermea again. Mating and partnering among citizens is encouraged, but the courtship process is long and frequently guided by those government officials in charge of helping to naturally breed beneficial traits. While the island is primarily populated by humans, Mengkare occasionally allows in members of the demi-human races if they distinguish themselves adequately in a given field, or if he feels they could be an asset to the community’s genetic pool. Adding the occasional elf, for instance, tends to ensure a long-lived and physically attractive population.
While Hermea’s few dealings with the outside world are always fair and polite, if standoffish, not everyone agrees with the country’s goals. To many, the idea of breeding humans like horses or dogs is inherently distasteful, and several major religions have condemned the nation’s mission (their ire possibly influenced by Mengkare’s staunch refusal to allow any form of organized religion on the island). Yet for Hermea’s residents, the nation remains a shining bastion of virtue, humanity’s best hope of transcending its petty conflicts and achieving lasting greatness. Every decision in the country is made for the greater good, as determined by Mengkare, who genuinely believes in his goal and therefore remains righteous and pure, even when forced to order distasteful actions such as the termination of citizens who prove disappointing or threaten to disrupt the system. The dragon strives to give his subjects as much free will as he feels they can handle — after all, he’s picked the best and brightest, and believes they ought to be allowed to follow their passions toward greatness — but he has no problem enforcing absolute law when the need arises. What’s more, since anyone who accepts an invitation to join Hermea is required to sign a contract ceding all free will to him before they’re allowed to enter, Mengkare knows his authority is just and legal, and any subject unwilling to lay down his life for the cause should have read the invitation more closely.
Life in Hermea, whether in Promise proper or on one of the farms that support it (for agriculture has its innovators as well), is just as wonderful as the stories tell. And if those few sailors allowed to trade there whisper of an undercurrent of fear, of rebels hiding in the jungles on the far side of the island or infiltrating the Council of Enlightenment itself, then they must surely be mistaken.
With its lofty goals and comfortable, progressive society, Hermean citizenship is coveted the world over, and many are the disappointed applicants who sail far across the ocean only to be politely but firmly turned away at Promise’s sandstone walls. (Occasionally, the disenfranchised try to land elsewhere on the island and infiltrate the community via stealth, but these hopeful souls are rarely heard from again.) Invitations to join the community are not issued lightly, and each year only a few men and women from across Golarion are welcomed to its shores. Each of these is the result of careful study by agents of the Council of Enlightenment, who sometimes follow a prospective citizen for years before finally revealing themselves, often posing as cohorts, advisors, or bards seeking to chronicle a hero’s deeds. Once an invitation is issued, the recipient has as long as he or she desires to respond, but all decisions are final — Mengkare has no time for indecisive subjects. Once an invitation is accepted, the new citizen is showered with gifts and transported at the nation’s expense to his new home, where he signs the infamous Contract of Citizenship in the presence of Mengkare himself, and is then set up in the city with everything he needs to begin his new life of enlightenment.
Occasionally, for whatever reason, a citizen falls from grace or a child born on Hermea fails to pass the tests required to prove his exemplary status. When this happens, the Council does its best to work with him to resolve any problems that might be leading to disenfranchisement or sub-par performance. If its efforts are not successful, the offending party is quietly sent away in disgrace, and the community does its best to move forward. Hermean society’s understanding in these cases is that the undesirables are returned to mainland Avistan with enough supplies to make their way in the world, and any charred corpses which wash up on the island’s shores are generally believe to be the work of pirates.
The government in Hermea is a massive, sprawling meritocracy, with practically every citizen wielding some sort of official power depending on her area of expertise. While Mengkare alone has final say over every decision made within his nation’s borders, the dragon is wise enough to allow his subjects to govern themselves in all but the most crucial matters, and to this end he formed the Council of Enlightenment. The 13 elected members of the Council handle most of the day-to-day duties of governance, gathering information and advising the dragon on important matters. The Council is also responsible for issuing invitations to those potential immigrants deemed worthy.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting