The nation of Tyr'Mallor is comprised of a series of 34 islands, with five major cities, each covering one of the five largest islands. In times past, the nation was connected to the main continent by land bridges, but during the tumultuous earthquakes of the Long Winter, huge swaths of land sank away, causing large scale destruction and many deaths, as well as isolating the nation for several years.
Over time, the people of Tyr'Mallor have adapted to their environment, becoming a nation of traders with a massive fleet of ships that allows them to easily journey to other nations. Due to this, they have grown to be an extremely wealthy and extravagant nation, with the more influential houses often owning entire islands to themselves.
Tyr'Mallorean culture is viewed by most outsiders to be incredibly convoluted and oftentimes insidious. Noble families are divided into what are known as Houses. Houses usually consist of the extended family, their servants, and occasionally close friends who are houseless and have been absorbed. Each House is then in turn ranked by a somewhat arbitrary system of influence and power known as their Crest. Houses Leaders within the top 12 crests are considered to be part of the nation's ruling council, with the 1st Crest Leader serving as the Arbiter of the Council.
Crests are won and lost in an invisible struggle known as the War of Tides. It is rare (though not unheard of ) for actual violence to occur in the course of this war, but the stakes are unmistakably high. It is very common for entire houses to be driven into destitution, leaving their members to starve or eke out a living in the squalor of one of Tyr'Mallor's many slums. The blows struck by this war are often done with a pen stroke at the bottom of a contract, or a whispered rumor into the ear of an influential ally. Cleverness and ruthless ingenuity are considered prime virtues by Tyr'Malloreans, and are often how individuals are judged in the eyes of their peers.
While the Council may be the visible ruling body, it is a widely known secret that the true power behind the nation is the Trader's Union Bank. Nothing occurs without their consent, and any shifts in a Houses Crest is approved by the TUB. It is rare that they take an active hand in the governance of the nation, but unexplained disappearances of particularly troublesome House Leaders has occasionally been attributed to their agents, and untimely foreclosures on House assets is a common thing. In this way, they ensure that affairs within Tyr'Mallor stay in line with their interests, whatever they may be.
The peace-keepers of Tyr'Mallor are known as the Constabulary and are firmly in the pocket of the Trader's Union Bank and it's subsidiaries. They are highly trained and given instructions to show little mercy to those who deviate from the accepted rules of society, particularly with those of low means. It is well known that the Constabulary are always susceptible to financial influence, and in the event of illegal action against another House, a significant donation is essential, and usually factored into any budget for such an operation.
Tyr'Mallor has no military to speak of, though most larger Houses do keep a personal militia, and even the smallest House does well to keep one or two guards on staff.
Nobles within Tyr'Mallor go through an extraordinary amount of effort to put on airs of regality and refinement. Many Houses hold frequent balls and invite both allies and rivals in an elaborate show of their wealth and influence. Every aspect of these events is factored into the War of Tides, from which guests were invited or not, to who actually showed up, to what outfit they wore and who they spoke to. To a non-native it may seem like a normal gathering of party-goers, but in reality even the smallest action can have far reaching implications and will be interpreted and re-interpreted by everyone attending to extract any possible meaning.
Most Noble Houses have at least one trading vessel that they use to engage in some sort of commerce. Most trading occurs within the boundaries of their own nation, but at various points in history, trade agreements have been set up with the other four nations. These are often short term, however, as the other nations have a low tolerance for the constant subterfuge of the Tyr'Mallorean traders.
Those who have fallen destitute within Tyr'Mallorean society are barely even acknowledged as humans by the rest of the populace. If a person does not have money or influence, they are considered unworthy of even the most basic human rights. There are no safety nets for the poor, and starvation is all too common in the numerous slums that exist on the periphery of the Noble districts. These slums are incredibly dangerous for the unwary, and violence and robbery are common. So long as this element stays within the slums, the constabulary take little interest. Once it spills out into the Common and Noble districts, however, their justice is swift and decisive.
One positive aspect to this dynamic is that Tyr'Mallorean society rewards innovation greatly and upward mobility is a real thing, and the stories of impoverished individuals who found a path to success are rampant. Just as common, however, are the stories of once mighty Noble houses who found themselves bankrupted and out on the streets practically overnight. Thus are the whims of the War of Tides.
The Common folk in Tyr'Mallor eke out a life just like in any other nation, trying to avoid the games of the Nobility, and also prevent themselves from falling into the squalor of the slums. This sect of the populace is comprised primarily of tradesmen, such as tailors, blacksmiths, servants and other skilled or semi-skilled laborers. Even in this area of the populace, the War of Tides occasionally rears it's head, and though the stakes are much smaller in this arena, the results are no less damaging to the losers. Crafters often compete against each other using rumors or sabotage, and laborers use deception or back alley attacks to eliminate competition for jobs.