Thuria and Beyond
Shem is a land of decadent despots and lively cites in the west and fierce nomads and mysterious ruins to the east. Shem is an influential power, drawing in wealth through overland trade via well-travelled caravan routes that criss-cross the arid
deserts and pastoral meadowlands. Trade is the life’s blood of Shem and its debauched city-states specialise in the manufacture of fine goods, fashioning valuable objects from the materials brought by the the unending camel trains and by ships calling at the ports along the coast.
Shemitish city-states are the property of generally despotic overlords who style themselves as kings. These numerous kingdoms are constantly at war with one another, each trying to seal domination over key trade routes.
The Shemites have a penchant for numerous gods and goddesses. But there is no single Shemitish faith as such. Some people believe a number of gods are equally real and important. Others believe in the reality of man gods but are themselves, henotheists, specialising in the worship of one particular deity above all others. There are also Shemites who believe in the existence of some gods and not others. Even priests adopt varying positions with regard to which gods really exist and which do not. It is not possible, however, for a Shemitish priest to be involved in the formal worship of multiple deities. So while a priest of Ishtar, for example, may believe other gods and respect their power, he will consider himself truly loyal to his preferred deity alone.
The major deities venerated across the Shemitish lands and city-states are:
In addition to these cults, many bandits and cutpurses of Shem worship Bel in much they way the God of Thieves is worshipped elsewhere.
Western Shem is a fertile meadowland with cities and city-states in the hills and along the coast. The land becomes more and more arid as one travels the caravan routes eastward; but busy trade-centres continue to abound.
Important cities in Shem include: