This is just a rushed summary of the direction I'm taking. I wasn't sure if you wanted real pictures or drawn so hope I guessed right. Still going to work on the current descriptions, a history, general culture, military strengths/weaknesses, resources they have and are lacking, etc.Kingdom of Velar, home to the velerians, a race of humansThe Curse (Valen's Folly):
Every month those who stand under the banner of queen Valen are subject to a perverted transformation known as the "Week of Endless Night" or "Turning". There is no escape from the curse once it grabs you and it touches every bit of land that is deemed to be under Valen’s rule. It twists and contorts, making the people look and behave like orcs, demons or ogres as the land becomes savage and burnt. The dead crawl from their graves and even structures are afflicted, becoming as black as night as shops turn into dark forges while homes begin to resemble war huts. This includes the queen and her daughters as they’re turned into horrible, towering, monsters.
Because nobility is matriarchal coupled with the fact the changing occurs monthly has caused nervous jibes of those outside the kingdom of the land itself being the embodiment of a moody woman, although a refined one.
All injury short of death that the populous experiences during the turning becomes healed on their "awakening". Civilians who were killed while transformed are simply missing on the following day (there are no dead bodies of transformed civilians on "awakening"), a time the nations towns are sober and silent. Trees and scorched constructions also seem to return to their normal state on sun-rise.
Accidental fires triggered during the changing have previously destroyed the most beautiful city the Velar have made, following which flammable materials such as wood have been banned as building material. The combination of which only permits very slow formation of new suburbs, divisions and the hierarchy needed for its coordination (ie nobel daughters of the queen).
Any Velerian that is outside the nation during the time of the Turning will change unless in possession of a specially created gem (Soul Stone – Incredibly difficult to make) which will instead have them become comatose and awaken to extreme nausea. Those outside the nation within a mile of a Power Stone are afflicted by nausea the entire time, each monthly phase becoming increasingly crippling the longer they are away from the aura of the queens stone (or a sister stone).
People within Velar establish and break relationships easily thanks to the curse, knowing that their love might not last with the next Turning should one of them die.
Merchants attempting trade during times of transformation have long spread the word of this curse to neighboring kingdoms.
This makes it difficult for Valen to form any permanent alliances with others.Capital City:
Veredin, City of GemsLand and TroopsCastleUnder the Cursed Fortnight (Ignore Girl)
Veredin earned its name by the amount of magical jewels which pass hands in and around it. It is the Queen’s seat and home to their most precious resource, the mage stones.The Rulers and Generals:
The city may have one queen but it has many rulers. Nobody knows how the curse came to be but all know that the cure lies with only one of the queen’s daughters. And should the queen select the wrong one to rule, their kingdom shall be stuck with the curse forever. Besides the daughters and queen herself are a few lesser nobles.Queen Valen:Picture
A mature sorceress who has seen more than she cares to, it is through her experiments that the curse came into being. She can normally be seen wearing a large black cape and cowl when out of the castle. She has had five daughters in her lifetime and it is understood that one holds the key to freeing the kingdom of the curse. With around a thousand people under the care of each daughter, she is left with only five thousand.The Twins:Picture
Erin (Brunette) and Neri (Blonde), born together these two are inseparable and currently hold the advantage against their sisters thanks to the combined might of their troops and resources. Erin is an adventurous sort who cares little for the affairs of her people, unless they’re at war, while Neri prefers the luxuries of their castle where she attends to matters of diplomacy and state. The people under Erin and Neri have mixed nicely, with Neri’s scholars, traders and diplomats complimenting Erin’s vicious soldiers. Erin’s charge is the training of the kingdom’s troops while Neri’s is the creation of scrolls, record keeping and trade. A mix of scholars and warriors, the Twin’s exemplify how a keen mind behind a vicious ambition can shake the world.The Paladin:Picture
Said to be the most loved of the people, Kayla’s kindness and skill with a sword is well known. She was the only one who was unwilling to participate in the war between her sisters, when it first started, but was critical in establishing the peace they’ve had up until now. Her people enjoy the simplest luxuries in life, from the rush one feels by helping their neighbor to the reward of a hearty meal thanks to an honest day’s work. They enjoy having an open and amicable relationship with their princess. Those under her also make up the entirety of her army as they switch from being farmers to knights whenever war draws near. Her charge is supplying the kingdom with food.The Warrior:Picture
A fiery warrior, Lirian holds some of the most seasoned soldiers within Velar, marching her troops out to skirmish with barbarians and tribes on nothing more than whim. Her people are warriors, revelers and proud. When not at war the bulk of them are blacksmiths. Her charge is supplying Velar with weapons and armor.The Mage:Picture
The most powerful magician of the sisters and the oldest, Morgana seems to be driven by a need for knowledge, power and beauty. She dabbles in all kinds of magic, even the more dubious, but her obsession has caused her to forget her military, allowing it to dwindle even as her mages grow in strength. Her city on the other hand is one of the most fantastic next to the capital due to the spells cast within its walls, but this is only thanks to the magical barriers which block out the sounds of crunching bone and sizzling flesh from the many surgeries. The people under Morgana are egotistical and prone to backstabbing; neighbors’ trying to one-up each other is common place. Her charge is enchanting weapons and arms as well as research for Velar.
City: Daughtan (Daw-tan), City of FleshPicture
It is named as such for the amount of magical surgery which occurs within its walls and the necromantic lengths some magicians will go to improve this. The grim art is practiced to such an extent that all kinds of people now wander her streets, from cat-people to fake elves, to reptilians, etc. Mage stones:
Both a necessity and luxury, without them, the kingdom would crumble. They are created in the capital by extracting the excess essence which flows from the queen’s stone, a perfectly cut blue-diamond held deep under the capital’s castle. Like the kingdom, it too changes depending on the week, from its bright blue to a deep ruby red. The gems are a series of power amplifying stones which can give even the most inept peasant a touch of magic or assist the most adept wizard in casting even more powerful spells. They’re also useful for making a spell a little more persistent; for example, a spell of light on a shard can have it glowing for years. They use them in this way all around the kingdom to strengthen walls, imbue weapons with magic, light up lamp posts, etc. A mage stone’s function is determined, forever, by the first spell cast with, or on, it.
Flaw: Dependent on stones, your masons and architects are dependent on them for their craft Social Castes:
but have just managed to integrate their benefits perfectly. Your weapon smiths and armor smiths have also integrated powers of these symbiotic crystals into their work.
This technology has frustrated other artisans attempting to re-create their wonders, and as time has progressed it has become more obvious that this form of crafting ("hueing") is less a learned skill and more a racial trait of the velar.
A ritual technique involving anything which elicits passion, mostly music, has been deduced to change massive gemstones of a certain quality into sister stones to the queen's stone, allowing the formation of settlements far from the previous aura the queens stone allowed. A gem meeting these standards however is something the Velerians do not currently possess.
Much smaller versions (Power Stones) held by commanders of military arms can maintain weapon and armor strength of their troops during campaigns extending beyond the aura of the queens stone. Gems suitable for these uses are extremely valuable and not found locally (the nation currently only has two).
Only those of royal decent (which only females are born from) hold leadership stations, (male lovers of the royal bloodline hold mainly a minor ceremonial role which fades away quickly after conception). Leadership adoption for a populous is highly ritualized and impossible to manage under emergency conditions. Dynamic changing of leadership (such as the current leader being lost or killed) is unheard of, loss of a leader would sent underlings into depression or panic, as such the queens daughters are accompanied by guards of their choosing who would do anything to prevent their injury. Loyalty of these guards is absolute. (In order of rank, with their Week of Endless Night names bracketed or shown in a similar color beneath)
Populous living under the reign of a blood daughter will over time become infused with that daughter's character traits and aptitudes. So much so, the nation effectively is an amalgamation of castes of each of the current blood daughter's specialty.
Queen/Empress (Dark Matron): The title changes depending on whether they’re at war or not, with “Queen” being a sign of peace while “Empress” expresses expansion and war.
Princess (Blood Daughter): The queen’s daughters are generally called as such. They enjoy much freedom under the queen, to the point of declaring war against each other, but are expected to pay tribute to Valen or risk being cast out. There have been times in history where Valen had to put down the more ambitious of her daughters. During the Week of Endless Night the princesses normally continue their battle amongst each other, sending their minions in wave after wave as they release all their pent up fury from the days before the Turning.Mages:
With the discovery of magical abilities within men came the switch from “witches” to “mages”. These men and women are considered invaluable to the kingdom of Velar and hold much sway over the politics and war which occurs. Many act as advisors.Shrieks:
The creatures which mages become. These figures appear in the form of a ragged, grey, robe, with piercing red eyes glaring out from the darkness of a drawn hood. They’re called as such for the deafeningly high shriek they release when in trouble, a call which brings forth all kinds of vicious and menacing help. These creatures are masters of cold, monsters and the dead. They’re weak against fire.Courtier:
The equivalent of a prince, these are the men the princesses pick up to flaunt, entertain, or simply hold their arm for important events, balls, etc. They are treated like royalty and when dumped are sent to live in a large estate situated near the palace, with all the other courtiers, unless they choose otherwise.Incubus:
Enchantingly handsome men who wear little more than a small brown cloth beneath their chiseled torsos. These creatures draw in both males and females alike, turning the victim into another cursed of the Week of Endless Night. As for what they become… that’s up to Valen.Nobility and Officers:
The two are almost interchangeable since any soldier who proves themselves worthy and capable is raised to the level of noble while current nobles, who dabble in battle and perform poorly, can be stripped of their titles and land. This is why people who are born into nobility simply enjoy a good book rather than taking up the sword.Ogres and Helmed Horrors:
Ogres are towering, half-naked and grotesque, humanoids, with rows of sharp pointy teeth, bulging muscles and bloodshot eyes. They can crush a man with a single hand and carry massive clubs or other makeshift weapons. Helmed horrors on the other hand are your dark horse riders, clad entirely in an armor of blackened steel. Monsters converge on these creatures, follow them, and disperse when the helmed horror or ogre dies.
Soldiers: From protecting the streets to going to war, these men and women make up the meat of Velar’s forces. There are various ranks within the army. When turned they become all kinds of beasts and demons, from small imps to large, well-built orcs.
Civilians/militia/peasants/commoners: The term with which the commoners are referred tends to change depending under what princess they stand. These are usually your slaves during the Turning, they forge the dark armors and weapons for the horde.Military Culture
Conquered lands are awarded to the victor, giving the princesses some incentive to support the Queen should she request their military aid. They still are expected to pay tribute to the empire (a term used when expanding their borders) but otherwise can use what is left for their own agendas. Those who fall under Valen’s, or a daughter’s, banner are affected by the curse.
Mercy for the enemy is shown on a case by case basis, depending on who is currently in command. Officers however are usually spared for varying reasons. Prisoners of war are treated rather well, by order of the queen, unless it is Morgana or one of her people who is leading the battle and then it’s probably best not to be captured.
Before each battle, if there is time, a command tent is erected where the mages and officers gather to direct the troops. This is normally essential unless it’s Erin or Lirian in charge as they normally enjoy diving into the chaos of battle and have a bit more experience in maneuvering troops under pressure.Weaknesses:
Preparing the troops of Velar is a difficult and tedious process, from the slow hueing of the armor and weapons to the equipping of the army.
Gathering soldiers for war against another nation can be a pain as it often requires the compliance of the princesses or being forced to head out with anything from half an army to a full complement.
Oddly enough, only a dismal few magic users ever accompany an army. Velar is very protective of its gifted.
Cutting off the head of the military, magic users and officers, can cause devastation on the battle field.
Bows and arrows are normally in short supply, meaning they're mostly a melee orientated force.
Preparing an army is draining on Velar's resources, more so than most nations.Strengths:
The strength of Velerian soldiers lies in their versatility, thanks to the magic with which their equipment is imbued. They can traverse the hottest deserts or coldest regions, be given strength, agility, speed, defense, etc. Unfortunately, with their current resources, they can only imbue their troops with one of these traits at any time and changing an army’s trait would require recalling them to the capital for a full re-outfitting.
Magical scrying allows the velerians a little insight before they go to war and even during the heat of battle if there is enough time to setup a command tent.During the Week of Endless Night:
During this time their weakness can either be fire or cold depending on whether its monsters or demons an enemy faces; the trick is to see which daughter an army intends to engage. They are controlled, just as in life, by their usual leaders whose minds have been bent and twisted almost as much as their bodies.
They’re generally a lot stronger and more durable during this time but infighting between the daughters and queen make the advantage useless.Resources:
Velerians absolutely love the finer things in life, Exports:
(In order of abundance, from most to least)
Magical Artifacts (Of what is up for negotiation and dependant on the availability of resources)
Arms and Armor
Baked Products, from plain bread to your sugary buns, cake and biscuits!
(No particular order, Velerians will eat most of this stuff right up)
Bows and Arrows (Needed)
Chocolates (Needed... what?)
Exotic products, from art to the edible, useable or wearable
Ointments and Oils