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The Western League: Pirates and Principalities
With a population of over 55 million people, the Western League is not entirely a nation; it is a collection of thirty-one nations, ranging in size from a few hundred thousand to the 8 million people on the Wavecrest Archipelago. The nations of the League have their own governments, and even many of their laws are different. What unites them are military alliances, economic pacts, and a shared hatred of the Shogunate.
The nations of the Western League cover most of the West, except for the nations of Chiaroscuro in the Southwest and a handful of holdout nations that are content to suffer economic exile. They are aggresive traders spread out across a quarter of the world, and those in one region may have more in common with other nations than with those on the opposite side.
It is difficult to make generalizations about the society of the Western League. The sheer diversity between its member-nations leaves many such utterly impossible. Still, some things can be said about the League in general.
The first is that the League promotes a much more freewheeling, capitalistic society than many other nations. It has a few democratic nations, along with a number of monarchies and a hanful of theocracies, and the overall governing of the League itself falls into the democratic. League delegates meet once each month, using thaumaturgy to send word to their envoys or coming themselves, depending on their nation, and the League Council meets for three days to work out any disputes or issues for the month. Issues are ultimately resolved by vote, with 'small' nations having one vote, 'medium' nations having two, and large nations having three. Most votes require a simply majority of votes, but major issues (including declarations of war, serious renegotiations, or an alteration in the number of votes granted to a given nation) require a two-thirds majority of the 58 votes present, as well as requiring a majority of nations to support the issue. The net effect of this is that many major issues fail to pass, as the League is suspicious and it is easier to find opposition to an idea than it is to find support. With no high council unifying them, Councillors can take up hours in pointless politicking, leaving little time for serious debates.
Outside of the Council, life goes on mostly without major oversight; minor kingdoms operate in their own ways, and laws can vary wildly. Particular issues are drugs, sexism, and slavery. Drugs and slaves are legal in some nations and illegal in others; usually, they are no supposed to be trafficked between nations, but that, of course, doesn't stop smugglers. Slaves are usually only considered free in another nation if their master comes to live there; nations make providers for slaves of visitors. Sexism is not uncommon in many nations, and other nations often take offense at the treatment suffered by women (or, occasionally, by men). Overall, social relations across the island are almost uniformly tense.
Religions also spread and multiply here. A few people worship the Immaculate Order, holding it seperate from the Shogunate. Others prefer to worship spirits, appeasing them in exchange for protection. Still others worship Fair Folk, demons, or Anathema, and some worship nobody at all. Religious disputes can blossom into feuds or even skirmishes, keeping warriors active across the islands.
And then there is piracy; most of the islands of the League quietly employ pirates of one sort or another. These pirates are sheltered provided that they only hunt merchants flying the flags of certain nations. In different waters, different pirates abound, and piracy is a constant concern to merchants across the League. Occasionally, the Council reacts, and fleets of ships attack and destroy pirate fleets, but the pirates always return.
"Anything goes" is the order of the day in the West; whatever technologies work are used, and older sailing ships with ballistae sail alongside new ships with Essence-driven engines and powerful cannons. If people can afford better technology, they will seek it out, but the sheer number of islands in the League means that there are more archaic ships here than anywhere in the world. The League navy, or rather the navies of the various members of the League, are no more uniform, and are sometimes even just civilian vessels purchased and loosely modified. Oil-based engines are not common; although minor nations scramble to keep up with the elegent Essence-driven ships of their richer neighbours, many water spirits find the pollution of their waters to be a serious insult, and oil-based ships must either pay large bribes or confine their movements extensively. Land-based vehicles, on the other hand, are not very common; only on the larger islands are they seen. Rail lines are essentially unknown.
Airships are common in the West, and dirigibles frequently sail across the sky even as boats sail across the sea, carrying passengers and occasional goods. Dirigibles, in fact, are one of the most common means of transportation for many from the larger islands, although they are always grounded when the storms blow in.
Radio is extremely popular in the West, both for entertainment and communications, and serves as the primary means of connecting people across this vast span. Radio listening is almost never censored, as censoring information is dubious to many League kings and lords, and it is from the radio that much of the region's news spreads.
The Western League has aggressive and unfavourable relations with many nations overall, and yet its trade is common. Deep-seated suspicion of the old Shogunate is the order of the day, and relations with some nations suffer for it. Pangu is the least trusted, and there are no official relations between the nations; even if the League wanted them, Pangu would not. Similarly, Pangu rightly sees Dehelshen as committed to a resurgence of the Shogunate, and wants no part of it. As such, any trading with these nations is done with extreme caution.
Similar suspicion exists for New Estasia and Chiaroscuro, but in these cases it is mitigated by other factors. Chiaroscuro is both willing to trade and too large to ignore; although the League is suspicious of them overall, they see the profit in dealing with them, and trade with them frequently. Similar supicion exists of the totalitarian nature of Estasian life, but as somoene fighting Pangu constantly, the people of the League (especially the refugees of Jarish) tend to trade regularly with Estasia and more-or-less support them. Of course, many others support those who resist New Estasia, lending fuel to arguments between the nations.
The Balmori Republic has earned the grudging respect of the Western League by actually seeming to respect their decisions, but the League can't forget that the Balmori are still Shogunate by nature. Still, it seems to have had enough disputes with the rest of the old Shogunate that most of the League is happy to support the Republic in small ways, and Republic civilians are always welcome in the League. Most of the League would be happy to support Rathess, except for having no real way of interacting with them meaningfully.
Even such diverse elements as the Deathlords are more or less welcome in the League; in fact, the Skullstone Islands, a member of the League, remain one of the world's only well-established Shadowlands, and the Silver Prince operates both in the League and within Autochthon. The other Deathlords are less trusted, but they are generally given the benefit of the doubt.
The League as a whole has no opposition to the Anathema; they are distrusted in some areas of the League, and forbidden entry in others, but many other nations are happy to have them, and Solars have found refuge within the League - there are probably more Solars here per capita than any other nation in the world at the moment save Rathess (and there are more Solars overall in the League). Even the Lunars are essentially welcome, provided they do not cause trouble.
In fact, anyone is welcome in the League, provided they behave. The number of Fair Folk, dead, rogue demons and domineering spirits, Solars, Lunars, Sidereals, Outcaste Dragon-Blooded, and all manner of God-Blooded that abound across the islands are almost unbelievable.