The Eastern Empire
As far back as known history, humans have always claimed the lands of the Eastern Empire as their own. It is an ancient land filled
with the ruins and glories of its millenia long past. Humans rightfully call this great swath of land along the Sea of Rains the
birthplace of their race. Though the elder races of Dwarf and Elf are bemused when this fact is mentioned, none contradict it. One
traveling through the heartlands of the Eastern Empire is unlikely to encounter anything non-human.
Humans of all trades and travels call the Eastern Empire home. By far they are the majority (95%) of all denizens that live in these
lands. Southern humans of the Eastern Empire are fair skinned and fair haired. Northmen tend to have darker complexions, eyes, hair, and
clothes; but centuries of travel between north and south have mixed the blood of the five kingdoms into a melting pot of different
faces and complexions. Humans are very proud of their country and its lengthy history, most don't understand why a human would want to
live anywhere else in the world and look upon other nations of human populations with some fondness as though they were long lost brothers
that have strayed from home for too long.
A far second among races within the Eastern Empire are (3%) dwarves, mostly of Daernarthor stock. It is said that many of the most ancient and
lasting fortresses of the Empire were built with the help of the Daernarthor Dwarves. These dwarves are often craftsmen, emmisaries,
and travelers from the southern Clans of Hallanstaen, though some are from further abroad. Humans
of the Eastern Empire get along very well with their dwarven countrymen. Humans respect them for their industriousness, for their lengthy
memory and ties to older days of the Empire, and for the great skill they bring to building things that will last.
Still more uncommon than dwarves are (1%) elves. Most of these are Lerether elves from Greentree in the
far north or Galiadre from Alfheim,
in the west. Elves are looked upon with suspicion and wonder. Many humans question the motives and alien mindset of a race whose
forefathers remember events of the Eastern Empire that most humans have never heard tale of. Elven scholars are very welcome among the
elite sages of the empire, but it is unlikely they will find a beer being bought for them at a local tavern, as a dwarf might occasionally
The remaining citizens of the Empire are a varied assortment of Halflings who have called the Empire home for
untold time and half-orc-human crossbreeds who mostly remain in the north and the hills of the west. Other races are of such exceeding
rarity that one is unlikely to encounter them, even should a traveler go through the exercise of seeking them out.
The government of the eastern empire is best described as a military feudalism. All the land of the Empire is first the land of the
Emperor. Presently, Emperor Lasillion XVIII, the Grand, rules over the Eastern Empire. He is well beloved by his people for his guidance
throughout the time known as the Black Scourge and is seen as an effective leader for his efforts at rebuilding the Empire after the
ravages of the Dark God.
Beneath the Imperial throne there are five Greatkings. Each of these kings rules over the hereditary lands
that were once the five kingdoms: Aden, Ergoth, Rillanon, Briteland, and Hemmibri. Traditionally, the greatkings claim to be of a blood
line descended from the first rulers of these lands when they were united into a single empire, and thus each claims to have some small
bit of imperial blood in their line since in the first days it was the five sons of Emperor Rydendow that were appointed over each of the
five kingdoms. Whether this is at all true after thousands of years of marriages and strife is hand-waved away as unimportant. Greatkings
each have their own court and their position is passed down to the eldest male descendant, typically the oldest son of the current
greatking, but on occasion a generation is skipped or a cousin is called to take the throne. There have also been rare deposing of
greatkings by the Emperor, whether for political or personal reasons.
Each greatking appoints dukes and barons to manage his lands. Dukes are wealthier families of ancient
standing who may participate in the formal kingscourt of the greatking. Barons fill the halls of the commoncourt, which advises and
plays a complex game of politics with the kingscourt. Barons typically have smaller holdings, but they it is still a very prestigious,
envious, and powerful position. Both dukes and barons are hereditary appointments, though a greatking can stop an appointment this is
very, very rarely done because of how much power dukes and barons have.
Beneath the dukes and barons of the land are noble principles. These are baronettes, powerful families of
high-knights, magistrates of the greatking, governors, and other people of significant political power. Most have a small bit of land and
are commanded to steward and manage other parts of their duke or baron's holdings. Baronettes are passed on from generation to generation,
rarely without challenge, but most other families at this level of political power enjoy their position at the whim of their liege.
Equal to baronettes in power are kingsmen and members of the imperial court, though the two engage themselves
in distinct and mutually exclusive courtly circles. Members of the imperial court are the more respected of the two since they have a closer
ear to the Emperor. These are grandsons of the emperor who might one day become prince, cousins to princes, imperial magistrates,
emissaries, and other servants of the Emperor. Kingsmen are not so different, but they are the unlikely-to-inherit sons of greatkings,
distant cousins, and so on; each a frequent face among the court of their greatking. These nobles typically pass on their family wealth
and position to their inheritor and have a long line of influence in the social circles in which they travel. They often have countryside
manors or three, perhaps a small keep, and most do not dirty their hands with common work.
The middle-class of the Eastern Empire is made of wealthy merchants, knights, country gentry who live on the
investments of their family wealth, and so forth. The esteem held by these people is solely empowered by how they can change the lives
of those who are less fortunate than them. A merchant can employ many men and thus have a great reputation among the common folk, but he
is not a member of the noble families and they can only influence politics as much as they are willing to pay to do so. Middle-class and
other non-nobles cannot own land. Owning land means that you have the right to collect taxes from it. They rent the land of nobles or
live in the countryside in the kingsland; often this is done by complex contracts which are honored by both the liege and by the
middle-class family. This is a secure living arrangement though, middle-class citizens very rarely need fear being evicted from their
household, even if they don't particularly get along with their liege.
The common folk are divided into two classes: freemen and serfs. Freemen are greater in status than serfs,
they may chose their liege and can move on to another lords lands if they can afford it and find welcome there. Their only obligation
to their liege is faithful execution of their liege's command (generally a non-issue since lords rarely take the time to directly
command their charge), provision of an able body for military duty in times of need (some freemen can afford to pay someone else to
do this duty for them), and to pay taxes. Most freemen are laborers with a trade. They may be masters of their trade, journeymen, or
novices. Some freemen belong to guilds and they may even become powerful guild leaders if they are ambitious and lucky enough.
Most adventurers are freemen; a serf would never be allowed to leave his master's land on such dangerous enterprise.
Whether voluntarily (often due to their impoverished situation) or because of a debt that must be repaid
a serf and their family is contractually obligated to work the land of their lord. They own nothing but the stipend which their lord
allows them to keep; even the roof over their head is provided by the grace of their liege. In return for their labor they are given
security in times of trouble, protection from the politics of neighboring lords, shelter, and whatever produce they are allowed to
keep for themselves. Most serfs are farmers, though some work within the keep of their liege. A modern humanitarian of Earth would
probably compare serfdom to slavery, but in the Eastern Empire neither a serf nor their liege would make such a comparison.
The last sub-group of the Eastern Empire's population is non-citizens. These are people who either for
political reasons or willfully do not associate themselves with a liege. The distinction is important. Political non-citizens are
usually visiting non-humans, emissaries and merchants from other lands, and fugitives. In any case, they are not citizens for reasons
beyond their control. Many political non-citizens can become freemen if they find a liege willing to accept their oath of fealty. For
fugitives who lack importance this might be as simple as enlisting in the armies of the Eastern Empire since all who do so are granted
the status of freemen, even though their lives are tightly controlled by the military. Depending on the reason for their non-citizen
status, many political non-citizens enjoy various protections of the empire provided that they conduct themselves in a lawful manner.
Those who commit crimes against a political non-citizen can expect rapprochement just as if they had done ill towards a freemen.
Finally, there are those who for reasons of their own do not live beneath the graces of a liege, many
of whom are criminals. These non-citizens truly have no rights, though brazenly accosting one in an open market may result in some
minor punishment for reason of disturbing the peace as much as anything else. Members of this non-class live throughout the empire,
in cities as often as without, and most of them regularly interact with citizens.
The official religion of the Eastern Empire is the Church of
the Light (58%), a following of Lathidus. Thanks in part to the three older
religions of Harushta, Solten, and Prolitar adopting the doctrine of Lathidus, churches of Lathidus can be found dotting the countryside
and in every city of the empire. The Church of the Light has many political connections and generally has a positive effect on the
Empire, for the better of its population. Slightly less common is the old religion of Arden (24%). Many commonfolk prefer the tennants of Arden, believing them to be
uncluttered of political affiliation, whereas they see sometimes see the worship services of Lathidus to be the province of the wealthy.
There is a minor, but significant (12%) following of Chishleen, goddess of the
seas and rains. It should come as no surprise that in a country that depends on rain to feed its swelling population, whose coastline
is greater than its land-borders, that worship of this travel and harvest goddess has a measurable following. A variety of other gods
are also worshiped. Many of these are remnants of religions from when The Twenty still ruled in the heavens, but some are of a darker
and eviler intent.
Much of the Eastern Empire is continually rained upon through most of the year as
waters gather off the Sea of Rains and deposit themselves across the empire. Summers are mild, winters are stormy, and the rest
of the year is marked by a steady drizzle. The bounty of water helps to keep the crops and subjects of the empire watered and fed,
the streets of the cities stay cleaner than elsewhere in the world, and no one needs to wonder much what tomorrows weather
will be like. The rains frequently make the northern parts of the empire either muggy, as in the Summer, or swampy wet in the
winter and so most citizens live along the coast or in the southern parts of the Empire.
Greatest of cities in the Eastern Empire is Larissa (pop 204,000), whose magnificent sheltered ports make
it a king among port cities. Trade from all parts of the empire pass through Larissa's wide gates and thriving metropolis. It is a sprawling
city that presses up against its waterfront. In the hills behind it glitter many palaces which can be seen by approaching ships. Second
most populous is the beautiful metropolis of Ergoth (pop 132,000) whose marble-white walls and sculptured
courtyards are famous through-out the Empire. Ergoth is a provincial capital, enjoys an enormous port, and is the greatest center of
government and wealth in the northern parts of the Empire. The city of Ephesus (pop 96,000), the "Gateway
to the North" is also a trade magna of the northern lands. Ephesus is a large city sectioned by canals fed by the Fesar River, making it
the greatest inland waterway trading site. The Imperial City of Ardent (pop 89,000), though not the largest
among giants is certainly among the most beautiful cities of the Empire. Palaces and temples feature throughout its skyline and its
sprawling population follows the River Rillanon down to the Sea of Rains. Ardent is also the provincial capital of the Rillanon Kingdom.
Unlike other kingdoms, Ardent is traditionally ruled by an imperial appointed viceroy, kin of the Emperor, and in some ages even by the
Emperor himself. At the southwestern end of the River Rillanon is the murky city of Zanour (pop 89,000). If
Ardent is a gleaming jewel then Zanour is a chipped and tarnished one. Zanour is ancient, even by dwarven standards. Ruins dot the land
around it and beneath its modern city streets. Shady dealings and mysticism are also common. Zanour sports more temples to obscure gods
and spirits than any other place in the Empire. Another ancient and powerful city is that of Lyam (pop
65,000), also of the Ergoth Kingdom and a port city on the Sea of Rains. Lyam is an agricultural giant, it's city limits spreading out
further than any other in the Empire; one begins to encounter its farms and country manors two days travel away from its city gates. Most
of the other metropolises of the Empire are in the south. Cobalt (pop 54,000) and Daka (pop 37,000) are both enormous trading cities around which much of southern trade revolves. Daka grew
centuries ago from its legendary ore mines, said to be endless, and all trade passing east-west in the south now flows through its
massive stone gates. Adventurers can find plenty of ancient mines to ply their treasure hunting skills in the nearby mountains and hills.
Kider (pop 49,000), like Daka was once a mining town, but it has grown and is now the first major stop for
land caravans heading into the Empire out of the west. Kider is also known for its status as the capital city of the Hemmebri Kingdom, and
for its rampant corruption. It is also the city where the a religious extremist group, the Arm of Justice, was born. Last of the great cities is perhaps that of
Trinsic (pop 24,500), capital of the Briteland Kingdom and one of the largest industrial centers of the
Empire. Trinsic is a dirty city of rapid trade, an exemplar of human productivity.
Founded before the UnHoly Wars, the Eastern Empire was originally five
separate kingdoms until King Rydendow the third united three of the kingdoms (AC1157) by marriage and then conquered
the remaining two. The tradition of military excellence has persevered through the ages until this time. During the Unholy
Wars, Emperor Rydendow the sixteenth led the nations armies on a successful campaign against the other races of the
world, leaving scattered settlements of humans all over the face of the continent.
After the pillaging of the nations peoples at the hands of Emperor Loraedros the eighth
(AC4259/U1700), who was dragged from his carriage and lost his head, the throne was taken by his uncle, Emperor Eoric who was
called "the Unsteady" for his short reign in which he used the nations armies to mercilessly crush a multitude of uprisings. It
was in this time that a mass exodus left from the Eastern Empire and traveled west to what would be the United Kingdoms.
Generations later, the Eastern Empire entered a golden age where it controlled nearly
one-quarter of the continents landmass (AC6409/U3850-AC6658/U4099), stretching from the Sea of Rains to encompass more than half of the
shores surrounding the Gulf of Biengyar. Mismanagement and corruption led the empire to fall into two parts, separated
by the Crescent Mountains. Most of the rogue nations would become parts of the United Kingdoms and the rest became
independent city states. The main lands of the Eastern Empire continued under the rule of numerous and less notable
In AC8979 (U6420) a terrible cataclysm struck as a fiery asteroid plunged from the sky and into the
vast southeastern lands of the empire. The following terrible earthquakes caused tens of thousands square miles to sink into
the Sea of Rains. Millions of humans perished in only a few days, unable to flee faster than the land was sinking, turning a
vast number of cities into undersea ruins. Strife continued to plague the Eastern Empire for hundreds of years following this
as the Second Winter settled upon the world (U6436-U7191), undead swarmed from the Sea of Rains to plague the southern
coastlines (U6680-U6695), the tragedy of demonic corruption reared its head at Scaurvum Re (U7020), and the sinking of
the Pentish Lands (U7320). Each disaster bringing sorrow to its peoples.
AC10769 (U8210) to AC10,904 (U8345) saw the rise and fall of the Grasping Death, a plague named for the
spasmodic loss of muscle control experienced by those who were afflicted. Unable to immediately control the magical plague,
it quickly became a terrible pandemic which, by estimates, slew nearly one-third of the empires population. It was in this
dark time that the empire split into several independent states and republics as grabs for political power became common with
the numerous deaths among the nations leadership, for nearly 900 years the empire remained shattered and in decline.
The nation was again reunited with the rise of Emperor Lasillion the first, called "the Hopeful,"
in AC11680 (U9121). Since then, the Imperial Lasillion family has ruled through numerous obstacles and has preserved the unity of
the empire even through such events as the terrible Black Scourge of AC12859 to AC 12868 (U10300 to U10309).