Elba sits between Miristan and the Achaemian Empire. The country is quite odd, although characteristics that were once unique to Elba can be seen in facets of the cultures of both of its neighbors. In Elba, life and culture revolves primarily around pokemon battling, and their military training program is the best in the world. Every Elban spends several years of their life training for the military by battling in coliseums around the country and challenging the eight powerful generals of Elba who are known by the title of Gyms. While the population of Elba is small, every single member of the adult populace has at least a basic understanding of pokemon battles and military tactics. This has turned Elba into what used to be the top military in the world. However, Elba has had no desire to expand their borders, and this monolithic force remained largely on the defensive. The program has been slowly on the wane over the past century since nobody has invaded in seven centuries, although it still remains the most powerful military in the world (although the Achaemian Empire's strength is beginning to rival it).

Regional History: In year 125 the Elban people were completely overrun by the massive army from Khalkha. Three years later their empire fell, and the Elbans were freed from their short submission to the foreign power. Those three years had a major influence on the Elban mindset, and the country decided to completely reform their approach to military training so they would never be conquered again. They built eight coliseums throughout the country that military recruits would hone their pokemon training, battle, and military formation skills in. Each coliseum was led by a powerful trainer known as a 'gym'. These gyms each created a unique battle environment in each of their domains for people to train in. Some focused on personal strength while others looked solely at how well a trainers pokemon could battle. If a trainer demonstrated an appropriate amount of power in a coliseum battle, they would gain the chance to challenge the gym. The gyms lower their abilities to make the fights challenging, but not impossible. If the challenger succeeds, they travel to the next coliseum and start the process all over again and repeat until they had beaten all 8 gyms. This, coupled with the five year military service requirement of all young men and women, has created an environment that fosters exceptional talent in all members of society. Even the most basic farmers are competent in battling at the level of of most advanced warriors in other countries.

Their reputation for military genius spread, and soon nobody dared to raise weapons against Elba, because they had the strongest military in the world. A few cursory attempts by Drell (now annexed into the Achaemian Empire) resulted in complete defeat during the year 153. After that instance Elba remained completely unchallenged, as no other country was able to create a military training program as effective as Elbas. However, Elba had no desire to expand their borders, and so the rest of the world slowly began to ignore the country, resigning themselves to the fact that it would remain forever, an unconquerable country. Since almost every single member of their populace is an able battler, the military might they would muster would be overwhelmingly powerful. However, Elba's government has not expressed the slightest interest in changing their policy. They love pokemon battling, and if it gives their country security, then who are they to complain?

Culture: Elba's culture generally revolves around one thing, battling. Everybody knows the basics of battling, and small local tournaments are common on a weekly or monthly basis. This is directly due to the five year training ordeal that all Elbans go through (starting at age fifteen), and a love for battling is instilled during that time that never vanishes. Every citizen has at least two pokemon, and many have more. In general, Elbans have little interest in the outside world, except for the possibility of catching pokemon that can't be found within Elba's boundaries. Thus, many Elbans take a ship to the Syreni Islands and Silvastre in hopes of catching a rare mon that could give them the edge in battle. After returning, these travelers often return to military service and re-challenge the gyms. Outside of the military however, battling serves in many ways a social event: an opportunity for people to come together and share in something that they all have a passion for. Powerful battlers are something of a celebrity, and small towns will often hold festivals in honor of a particularly famous person who recently defeated all eight gyms and participated in the League Challenge.

Every 2 years, an event known as the League Challenge occurs. In this, a large number of highly competent battlers gather: all the gyms, the elite four, the champion, and those who have successfully challenged all the gyms (known as challengers) within the last two years. The festival begins with exhibition matches between the eight gyms, and is followed by a single elimination tournament between the challengers until a pool of eight challengers are left. The top eight challengers each choose one of two paths. The first, and most common, is to challenge for a position as a gym by fighting the gym at full power in their preferred style of battling. The second is to challenge the Champion in a free for all battle. If they win, they take leadership of the country and the old champion either retires or takes a position on the elite four. The League Challenge is the most anticipated event in Elba, and tickets are sold two years in advance. People will save money their entire lives for the chance to go to even one League Challenge. It is the hallmark of Elba's battling tradition, and it even brings in nobles from around Iussus to witness some of the best battlers on the continent demonstrate their abilities.

Geography: Like Miristan, the geography of Elba is split in two by the Thales River. The Darken Forest covers western Elba and provides good training and capturing grounds for the many trainers of Elba. The forests are full of wild pokemon, many of which are decently powerful, and Elbans will often venture into the deepest parts of the forest to look for rare and powerful species to battle against. Sometimes these trainers end up on Miristan land and skirmish with an Elban patrol. When this happens Miristan doesn't make a fuss over the Elban trainer's unprovoked attacks; they're too scared of any possible retribution. The eastern portion of Elba is mostly hilly, with tall grass and sparse trees. Farms dot the countryside to provide food for the cities, and pokemon farms are common here. Since every farmer has at least a few pokemon, the farms are unusually productive, as these trainers find creative ways to work with their partners to increase the yields of the fields.

Demographics The Elban people have been rather unified for a long time. Not many people immigrate in or out of Elba, and the populace generally has one mindset. Those who do leave are usually people who dislike battling, a sure way to become an outcast in Elba. While Elba does see immigrants coming into the country, the country lets in only a limited number each year. This is generally to keep their culture relatively undiluted and to prevent their training techniques from bleeding over into other cultures more than can be avoided. Thus, one doesn't see a large amount of diversity in the Elban people, and they are fine with life that way.

Economy: Elba is a practically self sufficient. They have all the food, water, and natural resources they need to survive. There are mercenary companies made up of people who have finished their five year service to the government who work with outside nations, but that is the extent of business done with other countries on a large scale. The government makes money not by having taxes, but by charging entrance fees into the events at the coliseums. There is a small amount of trade with other countries for luxury items, but not much. There is also a rather flourishing egg trade with Attica, as Elbans have discovered that they can obtain a wealth of well bred and rare pokemon from Attican breeders for the right price (Elbans tend to focus on battling not breeding, and breeders are few and far between in Elba).

The revenue of the country through coliseum proceeds is so great that the government provides subsidy programs for farmers just starting out to purchase a pokeball or two. After that, they're expected to figure it out on their own, but until then the country has the funds to give everybody a shot at glory. After all, some of their best warriors came out of the ranks of the poor. That being said, many new challengers take family pokemon with them to start with, and many are too proud to ask for assistance. However, Elbans give every member of society an opportunity to flourish. Those with more money can afford better bred pokemon from powerful species, but that doesn't guarantee that they'll succeed, it just gives them a significant leg up at the start of the race.

Politics and Government:
Elba is a meritocracy. They are ruled by their champion, which is decided in the League Challenge every other year. The champion works in many ways as a king, passing laws and sending ambassadors to other countries. As a well respected and loved figure in Elban culture, the champion rarely has problems with passing policy. Oftentimes, the champion stays in power for at least twenty years before another powerful enough to take his place appears. The champion can also be replaced if they lose publicly in a duel, though this has happened only three times throughout Elban history. The champion's power is checked by the Elite Four, who have the ability to overturn any decision that the champion makes with a unanimous vote. The Elite Four is made up of former champions, and they travel the country to ensure that the league functions smoothly and that the gyms have all the resources they need. The Elite Four is also responsible for organizing the League Challenge every two years. Underneath the Elite Four are the gyms, who run the eight coliseums, enforce laws, govern cities, and oversee the training of the Elban population. This upper echelon of the government are well loved and highly public figures, and a visit from any of these individuals to town without a coliseum is enough to host a multi-day battling festival in their honor.

Pokemon: Pokemon are an integral part of Elban life. Almost every citizen who has finished their five year program is a competent battler, and they practice their skills often. Weekly tournaments in towns are the norm, and the Colosseums run year-round for spectators enjoyment and the training of young bucks. There is no particular type of pokemon that is favored over any other, but Elban trainers tend to favor offensive teams over teams that focus on stall tactics. Pokemon have also served as instrumental to the economy. Since every worker has pokemon, he can achieve much more than if her were too poor to own one in another country, and productivity is much higher in Elba due to this fact.


Important People:
Cosmic: The gym of the Alph Collosseum, Cosmic is widely recognized as the most competent battler in Elba. He became a gym 30 years ago in perhaps the most one-sided gym challenge that Elba has seen. Many questioned why he didn't try for the title of champion. Cosmic's favored style of battling involves pokemon and humans fighting alongside one another. People have never seen him fight using his true team, and he instead uses a 'B team' of frealigatr, ninetails, and raichu that has remained undefeated since his rise to status. Comet, his Jirachi, constantly sits on his shoulder, and has been with Cosmic since before he became gym. Only one of the wish tags on Jirachi's head have been used, and many whisper that Cosmic's first wish was to be the best pokemon battler in all of Aatos. In recent years, Cosmic has become rather wary of the Achaemian Empire, and he fears that Elban may be invaded for the first time in centuries.

Xander Mallakam: Xander is an ambitious man who recently finished his five years service. Having come from one of Elba's wealthier families, he has decided to fund an expedition. He's ordered a boat from Miristan and plans to take a boat full of worthy battlers to Silvastre to hunt for the rare and powerful pokemon that inhabit its depths. A collection of powerful battlers in Elba have the potential to make an impact in the forest where the more inexperienced explorers might not be able to. However, there's only so much room on the ship, and he can't take everybody. The way he chooses who comes? By a pokemon tournament of course.

Chronos: Leader of the Blades of Time, a widely respected mercenary group, Chronos is an ex-gym who hasn't lost his love of battling. He is a brilliant tactician and martial artist who is legendary when fighting alongside his Haryiama. Over time, he has started enfolding more and more mercenary companies under his banner, and is quickly becoming one of the most sought after commodities by countries going to war. He's recently been hired by the Achaemian Army for the coming war, and Chronos has chosen not to inform his country that they are about to be invaded. Some may consider it treason, but, to Chronos, its simply a good business decision.

Important Areas:
Alph: While Alph may be the capital city of Elba, there are no palaces that look out over the city to house the champion. However, the champion does live in a large manor house located in the center of the city. With both the champion and Cosmic here most of the time, as well as the League Challenge every other year, Alph is the busiest city in the nation. It features several large independent battle training facilities in addition to the coliseum. Most trainers elect to spend most of their five year challenge in Alph, where the battling level is high and the opponents are numerous and talented.

Hayle: The northernmost city in Elba, Hayle is where most of the mercenaries in Elba congregate. Willing to sell their talents for money, these men and women ship themselves to countries hiring their services using the Sea of Shooting Stars. The arena here is vicious: having trainers fight without any pokemon against large numbers of wild pokemon, and many trainers save this coliseum for their last knowing that most trainers never make it through all eight coliseums. However, for those who enjoy the arena at Hayle, it provides a one-of-a-kind experience of unrestrained battle for survival that's hard to replicate. Some compare it to that of going to war, and perhaps that's why so many Hayle coliseum devotees end up as mercenaries these days. Since most of the mercenaries were recently hired, Hayle will empty itself soon of much of its population and become a small city in a large amount of space.

Elba in your Campaign:
Elba works best as a way to translate the pokemon league into a fantasy campaign setting. If your players are set on having gym battles in a fantasy game and you want to set the world in Aatos, then Elba is the region for you. However, it does provide a few more options than just as a league analog. While you can waive this away if you like, a war is about to start between Elba and the Achaemian Empire when the Empire launches a surprise invasion against Elba's easternmost towns and cities. As part of the military, the PCs would be forced to serve, probably serving as a special task force performing missions instead of always fighting on the front lines. The PCs can earn their final badges on the battlefield with acts of valor, and, if the war is won, the PCs can participate in the league challenge as a grand finale.

Alternatively, you could simply skip the league bits and have most of the campaign focus on the PCs as part of the war (which had already begun by the campaign's start). This would likely be a heavier approach to the campaign than a pokemon league game. The PCs could also be mercenaries that are constantly hired out by different countries to take care of one problem or another. This could bleed over into any number of different assignments and missions that could provide an interesting and episodic feel to a game.

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