D&D 3.0: Tales from Mystara
Population: 42.000 (Rural: 36.000)
Capitol: Wongzhao Tsushao (Pop: 6.000)
The Cao province bases its wealth on a combination of riverside agriculture and mining activity. The Great Dragon Spires are dotted with small but numerous iron and copper mines – usually a village or enlarged family will work one mine on its own. Smelted ore is sent to the metal market in Wongzhao Tsushao, where merchants from the central provinces of Chung, Kiang and Yuen gather to buy it. Several mining villages are home to Earth Genasi (a.k.a. mountain spirit folk), who are only found here and in the Celestial Territories.
Unfortunately, Cao has very unsafe border regions, including the undead-infested Marsh of the Dead Men (also home to the dangerous purple worms), the bandit-ridden Forest of the Green Men, and the mysterious Weilunglin, the Forest of Little Dragons. Therefore, exporting the ore to Kiang or Chung requires heavy escorts with specialised skills. These services are provided – at a significant price – by the Escort Masters (biaoshi) and their organisations. Professional caravan guard services include expert guards, scouts, animal handlers, guides and negotiators. The escort organisations maintain a corporative monopoly of their professional field, basically forcing the merchant to use their services by ``discouraging’’ individual guards-for-hire. Only veteran guides are allowed to found new organisations, and permissions are only issued by the biaoshi council.
Wongzhao Tsushao houses several temples, but the Mystic Way of Order is especially popular here, as several monasteries, including the Zhonghu Siyuan, are located in the mountains at the border with the Celestial Territories. This province is also home to several member of the Circle of Heaven and Earth, though that cult is not especially popular.