J Gray, over at Fat Goblin, has some thoughts on The Kingdom of Kongo for Castle Falkenstein:
Like the original Castle Falkenstein books, our first offering, Curious Creatures offers a mixture of fiction and game rules in an attempt to be entertaining both as a story and a game supplement. However, based on some advice from a certain ENNIE nominated game designer and Castle Falkenstein fan, we’ve tried to go beyond just passive entertainment with our story.There are eight sections of fiction in Curious Creatures and for six of them, we’ve included a sidebar to provide extra content to Hosts and Players. This includes a new Infernal Weapon, information and game statistics for a giant bear from California, two Adventure Seeds, thoughts on where to find dinosaurs in the world of New Europa, and information on a nation from a continent poorly explored thus far in Castle Falkenstein: Africa. For your reading pleasure, I’m posting the information from the sidebar, detailing the Kingdom of Kongo here in advance of the publication of Curious Creatures.
Kingdom of Kongo
Population: About 2 million ● Government: Hereditary Monarchy ● Alliances: Angola, England, Portugal ● Enemies: Austria, Bayern, Belgium, Ottoman Empire (all but Belgium indirectly) ● Position: A slowly dissolving African state under the sway of Portugal.
Back home, people tend to forget the Africa of Victorian times was more than just a patchwork of European colonies. Nations, kingdoms, and even empires ruled and run by Africans were still common and would be so until 1884 when Otto von Bismark organized the Berlin Conference and the major European powers divided up the continent like one big birthday cake. What followed was known as the Scramble for Africa and the intense colonization European efforts pretty much destroyed most African autonomy. Hopefully, Bismark’s defeat at Königseig and native Magick and organization will make things different here in New Europa.
The Kingdom of Kongo is an influential nation on the west coast of Africa. It was a mere century old at most when the Portuguese first made contact. The two nations got along famously at first, with Kongo nobility so impressed they adopted Portuguese customs and names and converted to a form of syncretic Christianity which combined native beliefs with Catholic ones and persists to this day.
During the height of the slave trade, Kongo became a major source of slaves for much of the rest of the world. The driving need for slaves created problems between the Kingdom and Portugal and the relationship between the two countries fluctuated over the centuries and eventually culminated a series of wars. Relations between the two countries were eventually restored, especially when Portugal backed current king Pedro V in a war of succession.
Today, the Kingdom of Kongo is a nation slowly losing power. A series of squabbles over succession has weakened the ability of the monarch to effectively govern and the abolishment of the slave trade, which has gone underground and become a criminal enterprise, has given more power to tribal leaders living closer to Kongo’s new source of wealth, rubber trees. Things aren’t made easier by Portugal actively pressuring Pedro V to sign a treaty naming Kongo a vassal state as they build power in the region. Even the Catholic Church in Kongo is in turmoil as a breakaway group known as the Antonine Sect, who believe Jesus and his followers were from Kongo and practiced native sorcery, gains influence. The Antonines are popular among the young people of the region who believe in a nation influenced by New Europan civilization but ruled by Africans and the sect boasts a number of powerful sorcerers who make eliminating it next to impossible.
The capital city, and also the largest settlement, of the Kingdom of Kongo is São Salvador, also known as M’banza-Kongo by some natives. Despite the turmoil, it is a beautiful city which mixes New Europan architectural techniques with West African aesthetics. Among the most beautiful sites of the city are the ruins of a cathedral built in 1549 and a newer cathedral which local legend states was built overnight by angels. A smaller city to the north, known as Tungwa, has become increasingly powerful as the headquarters of Garcia Mbwaka Matu, a trading magnate and Pedro V’s chief political rival.
I do hope you enjoyed!
Your humble servant,