Wars World Survey: Confederation Spotlight: The Sixty Demes of Avalon - By Abalux
|Cultural Basis:||Combination of the United Kingdom (cultural background) and the Netherlands (social attitudes)|
|Population (% Military):||10 million (0.4%)|
|Government Type:||Absolute democracy (the closest definition)|
|Primary Industries:||Agriculture, mining, brewing, shipbuilding|
|Exports:||Fine liquor, ships, steel, tubers|
|Imports:||Fruit, grain, electronics|
|CDF Uniform Variations:||Avalonian soldiers' trench coats are made of thick blue-green wool and shinier than the standard coat (they're waterproofed against the rain). They also wear shorter shirts than their comrades. Supposedly, this is so the shirttails don't get in the way if the soldier has to swim. Historians believe it's actually a holdover from when the pirates were the military.|
HistoryThe small group of United Kingdom colonists who founded Avalon did so entirely by accident. They were sailing through particularly thick fog and rain when their ships ran aground. Stranded, the colonists found themselves on a lovely island with grassy plains and rolling hills. A particularly well-schooled colonist named the land after King Arthur's resting place. The name, Avalon, just stuck.
Soon after founding the settlement of Wrenton, the colonists discovered nearby coal and iron deposits. A mining and industrial boom erupted. The settlers plowed many of their riches into shipbuilding. Some used their ships to reestablish contact with the rest of the world. More unscrupulous sailors decided to become pirates and prey on other nations' ships. They found smaller islands to use as bases. The pirates soon established themselves as the archipelago's rulers. With their vast wealth and military power, they practically held the Big Island hostage.
Then a Portsmouth city councilwoman named Harriet Colwyn got an idea. She knew that the pirates needed their fellow colonists for ships and weaponry. Bringing the sixty disparate Big Island settlements together, she got every single one to go on strike. The pirates did attempt to bully the colonists into submission ... but the colonists were using their own guns against them! They had no choice but to compromise with Colwyn. In return for cooperating with the colonists and training them in naval warfare, the pirates would have sanctuary in Avalon. Colwyn's deal was essentially the founding of the People's Collective Navy. Colwyn also set up the system of demes that would allow Avalon to unite against outside threats. To this very day, Avalonians call her the "Mother of the Demes."
Afterwards, the Avalonians returned to their trading and local politicking. The nation was an industrial powerhouse that rivaled Rostania and even Direnholm. Then Steinhalt conquered the mainland. The Avalonians knew what was coming. They called upon their deals with Wars World's pirates, rallied the navy, and kept the dictator at bay. Nearly all of Wars World's historians believe the island nation's resistance contributed to Steinhalt's defeat. Afterwards, Avalon hosted his war crimes trial in its boisterous, purely jury-based legal system. The nation was the last to ratify the Confederation Council charter. Avalon entered only because it was allowed to maintain its tradition of sanctuary.
Avalon lived in peace even through the first conflict with Sturm. It was the Macro Land conflict that nearly did it in. Using his awareness of the nation's weak points (everything but the navy), Hawke took nearly all of the Big Island in a single terrifying week. Only Wrenton successfully resisted. There, the Avalonian Resistance made its stand. Led by Jeanne Brannaugh, Drake's mother, its partisans engaged in a life-or-death guerilla struggle. This struggle no doubt contributed to Hawke's rout from Green Earth. Now, the Avalonians are trying to make sure they never face conquest again ...
GeographyThe Avalonian archipelago fascinates Wars World geologists. It sits just off the coast of the main Green Earth continent. Its islands, however, display the rolling hills and twisting rivers typical of Cosmo Land continents. The Big Island is particularly representative with its grassy northwestern hills. Most of Wars World's scientists believe Avalon is a chunk of Cosmo Land that ancient tectonic movements broke from the mainland. The plates' motion likely bought the archipelago to its current position.
Meteorologists also have an interest in Avalon. For some reason, the archipelago is incredibly moist. This results in massive amounts of precipitation. In fact, Avalon has the most rainy days on Wars World (about two-thirds of the year). The cities reflect these conditions. Balconies and covered walkways are common, not to mention the bus system that all the demes pitch in to maintain. Avalonians often joke that it is possible to cross the Big Island without feeling sunlight or rain on one's head. They're only slightly exaggerating.
The most important region of Avalon is the Big Island's coast, where all of the major cities lie. Avalonians call the circle they form "Our Ring." (This name implies their ambivalent attitude toward the Confederation Council.) About sixty percent of Avalon's population lives in Our Ring. Its major cities include:
- Camilla: Avalonians are not the most scholarly nationality on Wars World; most prefer the docks and the pub to the library. The southwestern deme of Camilla is an exception. It hosts the most prestigious naval engineering program on the planet. Although most of the University of Camilla's engineering graduates wind up working in Portsmouth or Wrenton, some return to their foreign homes and pass Avalonian shipbuilding techniques there. The deme itself is unusually quiet compared to its neighbors.
- Portsmouth: Portsmouth is Avalon's capital through sheer size (over a million citizens). It is the most lucrative and dangerous free port on Wars World, where pirate ships openly dock, the red light district is unionized, and the cafes sell a variety of interesting recreational drugs as well as tea and crumpets. Portsmouth also contains numerous Avalonian cultural sites. Wars World scholars often compare it to old Earth's Amsterdam.
- Wrenton: Wrenton is the oldest Avalonian settlement. Far to the northwest of Portsmouth, it has the People's Collective Navy headquarters there to maintain order. This doesn't mean that the sailors are paragons of virtue; they just don't openly seek out the bars and clubs. Wrenton also hosts many of Avalon's best seafood restaurants. It was the only city to escape Hawke's dominance and served as the headquarters of the Avalonian Resistance.
GovernmentThe joke in Wars World political circles is that Avalon has no government. This isn't entirely true. The Avalonians do have a government. It's just an incredibly loose one.
Unique among the nations of Wars World, much less Green Earth, Avalon is an almost total democracy. Its structure is based on the Big Island's towns and cities. Called demes, these administrative districts occupy areas no larger than a hundred miles. They have a remarkable amount of autonomy. Certain trusted individuals, the dememasters, preside over the monthly deme meetings and voting sessions. They range from ten in Portsmouth Deme to only one in each inner, rural demes. Occasionally, widely-supported measures call for national voting. The dememasters then assemble in Portsmouth to tally the votes. For some facets of Avalonian life, such as military operations and Confederation representation, national voting is standard.
This system results in what many Avalonians call "genteel anarchy." Although the demes of Avalon vary in politics, they are generally places of near-total personal freedom. If a citizen votes at least once per month (and there are computer voting terminals all over Avalon and in friendly foreign nations to make this more convenient), no one cares what he or she does as long as it does not disrupt others' lives. This freedom comes with considerable responsibilities. In the inner demes in particular, the police are underfunded, inexperienced, or completely non-existent. Protecting one's property and life is generally up to the individual Avalonian. Oddly, the nation's policy of sanctuary does not badly exacerbate this problem; any sanctuary claimant caught backsliding is sent home to trial. Applied to an Avalonian citizen, this policy is called ostracism, and the banished citizen usually gets sent to the Ring. (It's no coincidence that the Ring has a large Avalonian expatriate community ...)
MilitaryAvalon's military stands in sharp contrast to Direnholm's. Before the Macro Land conflict, it focused on what its people did best: naval engagements. The Avalonians were master shipbuilders when most Wars World nations were struggling to build speedboats. Having the pirates around only made them better. Avalonian ships are and always have been the most durable and sturdy watercraft on Wars World.
As a result, the core of the Avalonian military is the People's Collective Navy. (Historical note: when Avalon was joining the Confederation, one of the official names tossed around was the People's Republic of Avalon. The resolutely anti-communist Rostanians objected.) Its fleet is inordinately large for its nation. The ships composing it are the toughest of the tough, able to take even moderate bomber hits without sinking. This is especially true for the battleships. Mounting guns large enough to give Orange Star naval forces pause, they are the flagships-particularly the P.C.S. (People's Collective Ship) Mordred, Drake's favorite battleship. The arrival of it and its sister craft in ports attracts massive attention.
Avalon's army and air force are comparatively anemic. The People's Collective Army's grunts have high morale and decent equipment (they are soldiers of Green Earth), but most are not terribly experienced. Most of the true combatants sign up for Avalon's marines. As for the People's Collective Air Force, its personnel generally have more enthusiasm than combat experience. The weather conditions make practicing and training dangerous. Most Avalonian parents with sons and daughters in the air force believe their children are incredibly brave or just incredibly insane. This doesn't dampen the pilots' enthusiasm though. After being nearly conquered by Black Hole, more and more Avalonians are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The naval officers of Wrenton have even voted to give the air force and army some of the navy's budget. It seems that Avalon is finally balancing out its military forces.