Between a Devil and a Blue Abyss
Hermea (her-MEE-uh) is a nation founded as a social experiment to test the limits of human potential when it is not constrained or destroyed by war, intolerance, or ignorance. The residents of this experimental nation are the best and brightest humanity has to offer. Each year, only a handful of people are selected to live on the the lush jungle island. This utopian paradise is ruled by the gold dragon Mengkare, the benevolent but absolute ruler of Hermea.
The government of Hermea is an unusual mix of meritocracy and legal totalitarian dictatorship. The majority of the day to day decision-making is done by the Council of Enlightenment, a group of thirteen humans who manage most of the day to day activities of the nation of Hermea. They also organize the gathering of information on potential candidates to be invited to live on Hermea. Each member of the Council of Enlightenment is chosen for their skill, intelligence, and wisdom. Despite this, every decision made has to be approved by Mengkare, as he is the ultimate shepherd of Hermea’s destiny. Mengkare exerts similar levels of complete control over everyone on Hermea. Every citizen of Hermea has to sign a contract which cedes all their personal authority to Mengkare, meaning that they are legally bound to obey Mengkare’s will. While this level of power would be a recipe for disaster and tyranny if given to most people, as a gold dragon, Mengkare is not corrupted by this power. He endeavors to give each citizen as much freedom as he feels they can handle; after all, they are the best and brightest humanity has to offer, so it would be unfair not to let them follow their own paths towards greatness. Nonetheless, if a situation arises which threatens the greater good of Hermea, Mengkare does not hesitate to enforce absolute law and impose his will on the people.
Hermea’s relationships with the other nations of Golarion are always polite and fair, but tend to be stand-offish. After all, it is the squabbling of these other petty kingdoms which forced Mengkare to create Hermea as a safe haven. The insular nature of Hermea does not help its foreign relations. Even in its only city, the docks where foreigners are allowed to trade are cut of from the rest of the city by a red sandstone wall so tall that the buildings of the city are invisible to visitors. Hermea has also made enemies of several major religions, partly because some religions view trying to breed humans like horses is inherently distasteful, and partly because Mengkare has banned all organised religion on the island. With the high quality of life on Hermea, the rumors that the far side of the island harbors rebels fighting against Mengkare must surely be exaggerated.
Hermea was created as a nation over a hundred and fifty years ago in 4552 AR. Mengkare had long watched human civilization and despaired at the lack of foresight, willingness to wantonly kill and destroy, and humanity’s frequent bad choices. Yet despite this, Mengkare saw enormous potential in humankind, particularly their dogged resilience. Being a benevolent creature, he decided he would make sculpting the human race into his life long project. So Mengkare tried to find somewhere he could conduct his experiment uncorrupted by the rest of humanity and their bad influence. He settled upon an isolated jungle island located hundreds of miles from the coast of mainland Avistan. Mengkare then extended invitations to the best and brightest of humankind to join him in creating a utopian paradise. With these initial members, Mengkare founded Hermea’s only city, Promise. Since then Hermea has gone from strength to strength with an invitation to join the nation of Hermea being highly sought after but incredibly rare.
Hermea is located on an isolated jungle-enshrouded island in the middle of the Arcadian Ocean. It is hundreds of miles away from the coastline of Avistan, giving it the isolation Mengkare sought for his experiment. The lush tropical nature of the island allows the agriculture of Hermea to be particularly fruitful. This is further helped by the innovations in agriculture, which are, like most innovations on Hermea, highly-encouraged.
One unique feature of Hermea and its deliberate design is that it has only one notable settlement, Promise. Promise is the only large settlement on the island and serves as its capital city.
The people of Hermea are amongst the finest humanity has to offer. The population of Hermea is almost entirely human, although occasionally an elf or half-elf is allowed to live and breed with the residents of Hermea, injecting some of their natural charisma, good looks and longer life spans into the human gene pool. The human residents of Hermea can be split into two categories: those born on Hermea, and those invited to move there. Those born on Hermea are given access to the best education, so no aspect of their development is left untended. Science, art, magic, and martial are all taught to them until the age of sixteen. After they reach sixteen, they are tested to see if they are suitable for citizenship. Those few children who fail this test are given enough supplies to make their way in the world, and then banished from Hermea, never allowed to make contact again. The rest of Hermea’s population is made up of those who have been invited to Hermea. These are normally some of the brightest examples of humanity, with only a few of Golarion’s most talented people selected each year. The process for selecting a someone worthy of life in Hermea is long and arduous. A potential candidate is normally watched for months, even years, before the council decides if they are worthy. If they are found worthy, they are sent an invitation to come to Hermea and join the grand utopian experiment; they can take as long as they like to respond, but all answers are final.