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20:45, 12th April 2024 (GMT+0)

The Tauric Peninsula.

Posted by Alpha StorytellerFor group 0
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 5 posts
Thu 4 Feb 2016
at 13:47
  • msg #1

The Tauric Peninsula


In the early Iron Age, Crimea was settled by two groups: the Tauri (or Scythotauri) in southern Crimea, and the East Iranian-speaking Scythians north of the Crimean Mountains. The Greek city-states established several colonies on the coast during the 7th and 6th century BCE.

Crimea was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire under Darius I 513 BC, but by 477 BC the Persians had withdrawn from Europe and Crimea fell back to local rule.

Crimea became part of the Roman Empire in the 1th century BCE. The Southern coast remained part of the Roman and later Byzantine Empire, and from 1204 part of the Trebizond Empire.

Northern Crimea was invaded or occupied successively by the Goths (CE 250), the Huns (376), the Bulgars (4th–8th century), the Khazars (8th century), the Rus (10th century) and finally the Cumans (or Kipchaks, 11th century)


The Tauric Peninsula can be roughly divided into three parts:
  • The North is steppe terrain, joining with the larger steppes of Eurasia.
  • The Southern coast, hilly and with several good harbors on the Black Sea.
  • In between is a range of high hills or low mountains restricting travel.

The Azov Sea to the Northeast is almost closed by the Crimean Peninsula. It is also a very shallow sea, almost a marsh, and so the cities of Kerch (on the Peninsula) and Tmutarakan (on the mainland to the East) are the natural transshipment points for river trade coming down from the Don (which flows into the Azov Sea).
To the West of the Tauric Peninsula the Dniepr flows into the Black Sea, and while the Tauric Peninsula does not directly control that river it is still close enough to serve as a transshipment point. The Danube is even farther to the Southwest, halfway to Constantinople.


Parts of the Tauric Peninsula (which will one day be known as Crimea) are held by five different powers in 1225:

  • The North of the peninsula is held by the Cumans, a tribe (or more accurately an alliance of related tribes) of Turkish steppe nomads. There are fishing villages and small cities along the coast, and nomadic tribes roam the interior.
  • The South coast and the Southwest are mostly held by the Trebizond Empire, a successor state of the Byzantine Empire. They have been part of the Byzantine Empire as the Theme of Cherson, and before that the Roman Empire, for centuries (with some interruptions).
  • Venice has a trading post in Caffa, a small city on the South Coast (basically, controls the town).
  • Genoa has a trading post in Kerch, at the Easternmost tip of Crimea (ST fiat, probably not historical, at least not for another century, but Genoese certainly had interests in the area, I just can't figure out what they actually held).
  • The Sultanate of Rum (Seljuk Turks) holds the trading town of Sudak.

Other powers who held part of the peninsula recently enough to have left a trace include the Khazars and the Kievan Rus.

The term "holding" is to be taken with its full, medieval fuzziness. Caffa and Kerch, for instance, are still technically part of the Empire of Trebizond, and administered by Venice and Genoan traders in exchange for an annual tribute (ST fiat, may or may not be true historically).

Languages of the peninsula (with dialects)

Crimean Gothic (no dialect), a German language spoken in the southwestern parts of the peninsula (administered by Trebizond), mostly in the rural areas.
Greek (no dialect), spoken in most of the South, particularly the cities and towns.
Kipchak (Cuman, Kipchak), spoken by the Cumans in the North.
Italian (Ligurian), language of Genoa, spoken by Genoese traders
Oghuz (Seljuk), spoken by the garrison of Sudak.
Veneto (no dialect), the Romance language of Venice, spoken by Venetian traders

Greek means the Greek spoken in Contantinople during the game (modern scholars call it Byzantine Greek, and The Theban Tribunal book Romaic Greek, but we'll skip that controversy and call it just Greek). For simplicity's sake, it is assumed the Byzantine Empire was fully successful in keeping Greek standardized (which it wasn't), and that areas the Empire lost to the Turks (and others) are still speaking that standardized Greek if they are speaking Greek at all (which they aren't).

Other languages of interest include Latin, Classical Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Lingua Franca, Khazar, and Kievan Rus (modern scholars would say Old East Slavic), all of which are spoken, or at least understood, by at least a few people in the peninsula.

These languages are inter-related to some extent, and the speaker of one language may still understand a speaker of a related language, or read a text in that language (but not speak or write it himself). The following modifiers apply to the base language (ignore dialect specialties, if applicable):

Kipchak vs Oghuz vs Khazar: -2
Greek vs Classical Greek: -2
Veneto vs Lingua Franca: -2
Veneto vs Italian vs Latin: -3
Crimean Gothic vs Gothic (dead language, known to some Bjornaer): -3
Crimean Gothic vs High or Low German: -4

For the relationships between those languages and other that the character might now, consult the ST.

The alphabets used are Latin, Greek, Arabic (for Oghuz), and Hebrew. The Crimean Gothic and Kipchak languages do not have an alphabet of their own, and have only been written down by outsiders using whichever alphabets they felt most comfortable with.


The Cumans practice Tengrism and Shamanism.
The Greeks practice Eastern Christianism.
The Genoese and Venetian practice Western (Latin) Christianism.
The Seljuk are Muslims.
There are numerous Jewish communities, and Judaism was the official religion of the Khazars (although mainly a court religion chosen for political reasons, it nonetheless attracted many communities of foreign Jews who settled in that now defunct Empire).
This message was last edited by the GM at 14:02, Sun 20 Jan 2019.
Alpha Storyteller
GM, 10 posts
Wed 3 Aug 2016
at 10:33
  • msg #2

The Tauric Peninsula

Disclaimer: the following information is not strictly historical, although I did my best not to outright contradict what is known of Crimea in the 13th century (which isn't much). Population numbers usually include nearby villages who are administratively part of the city

This is a lot more information than the characters can find from even Constantinople.

Cities of the Taurus Peninsula:

Qirk Yer or Kyrk-Or (modern name: Cufut Qale or Chufut-Kale or Qale): a fortified city in the mountains, has a Cuman garrison and pays tribute to the Cumans, but is largely self-governing. It is notable for having a large Karaite Jew community, and is generally a melting pot of every religion and culture present in the Taurus peninsula, some of the outlying villages are even still recognizably Crimean Goth. The official language is Cuman, but someone can always be found who speaks any of the languages of the peninsula. Population: around 5,000.

Solkat or Qirim (Staryi Krym): A fortified town in the mountains, held by the Cumans with a small garrison. The population is still mostly Eastern Christian, but they have fully switched to Cuman (the few educated people also speak Greek). Population: around 1,000.

Kalamita (Inkerman): A fortified city on a cliff overlooking the estuary of the Chernaya river (Chorna, Chornaya, Chorhun). It is the main Byzantine trading port, and the population is culturally Greek with some small minorities from other trading nations (Genoese, Venetian, Seljuk). Population: around 10,000.

Yamboli (Balaclava): A small Byzantine city at the bottom of a sheltered bay, it has a good sheltered anchorage which trading ships sometime visit to get away from bad weather, although it has no real stake in the Black Sea trade. Population: around 1,000.

Mangup: Once known as Doros, it was once the center and capital of the Crimean Goth nation. The city and surrounding region were once autonomous vassals of the Khazar Empire, but it switched its allegiance to the Byzantine Empire, while still maintaining some autonomy. Crimean Goth and Greek are spoken side by side in the city, and the countryside is all Crimean Goth. Population: around 10,000.

Caulita (Yalta): Another good sheltered anchorage, this is an ancient Greek colony (as in, from before Alexander the Great). It is a fishing port and an occasional port of call for traders. The culture is entirely Byzantine. Population: around 2,000.

Lusta or Aluston (Alushta): A Byzantine trading port, it has a small Jewish community with a modest trading interest of its own. Population: around 5,000.

Soldaia (Sudak): Once an important trading port on the Silk road, its wealth has made it a prime target and it has changed hands many times between the Byzantine and the Cumans in the 12th century, albeit in a relatively civilized manner where damage to the city itself was kept to a minimum. Finally the Seljuk Turks from the Sultanate of Rum (in modern Turkey) launched an expedition from across the Black Sea and captured it (historically in 1224, but before the start of the game even if I have to fudge that date). This was ratified by a treaty between the Turks and the Trebizond Empire, whereby the Seljuk are officially administering the city on behalf of the Empire, but this is mostly a polite fiction. Still, as a result, this is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in the Peninsula, with traders from every nation, and the main port of call in the Peninsula for traders from the Muslim world. Population: around 20,000.

Caffa or Kaffa (Theodosia of Feodosia): Founded as Theodosia by Greek colonists, the city is currently ruled as Caffa by the Venetians who purchased it from the Byzantine Empire (in a treaty which is quite vague on whether it includes its full sovereignty or just the administration of the city). It is the main Venetian trading port in the region, and while Byzantine traders are reluctantly tolerated, others are openly harassed (or worse, in the case of the Genoese) if they dare enter the city. Greek and Venetian are spoken side by side. Population: around 4,000.

Kerch or Korchev (Kerch): Once known as Panticapaeum, then Bospor, Kerch is situated at a strategic location at the entrance of the Sea of Azov, into which more than 20 rivers flow, including the Don and Kuban rivers. Kerch thus controls the trade routes to these rivers and through them to the Northern Caucasus to the East and Rus Principalities and even the Baltic Sea to the North, but there hasn't been much trading there for at least one century, not since the arrival of the Cumans. It is still an important trading port for the Silk Road and other Black Sea trade, and is held by the Genoese who paid tribute for it to the Byzantine Empire. With the Empire gone, the tribute has gone unpaid, and the Empire of Trebizond has chosen not to force the issue. Venetian are not welcome here, other traders are. There is a strong Rus community here, and a smaller Jewish one (which has suffered under the Genoese administration). Population: around 10,000.

G├╝zliev or Keslev (Yevpatoria): a small city on the western coast of the Taurus Peninsula, held by the Cumans. It is a center of coastal trade with the other Cuman cities along the Black Sea. Population: around 2,000.
This message was last edited by the GM at 10:05, Fri 05 Aug 2016.
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