- Lord Inquisitor Ootomus Rex - Thoughts on Unity
There are many factions within the world, but here are the most prominent:
The Savage Nations:
In truth, the ‘Savage’ nations are not necessarily savage at all. The nations that are considered ‘savage’ are simply the nations that have not signed ‘The Rules of Society’ (A pact between many nations that specify a code of conduct when interacting with one another.) The ‘Savage’ Nations are made up of the following groups:
~The Saek: A nomadic people, originally escaped slaves, who wander the wastes of Breach. They are said to be the most passionate lovers and fighters in the known world, as for them, each day they live is a blessing.
~The Drir: A tribal people that live on the islands off the western coast of the Expanse. They were originally practitioners of dark magics who were chased off the Western Expanse during the Purification shortly after the Crusades. Since then, magic has defined them and shaped all aspects of their culture. Drir rituals are closely guarded, and typically only passed down to members of their family.
~The Vicaul: A hearty warrior people who live to the far northeast along the southern end of the destroyed islands of Eur. They survive through fishing and raiding the coastlands of the eastern expanse. They are superstitious and intolerant of weakness. With no means of mining ore, most of their weapons and armor are gained through raiding. Clad in furs from the mightiest of beasts and the bloodstained armor of slain enemies, the Vicaul know no fear.
~The Gael: The last remnants of the great ‘barbarian’ clans of old. Followers of the ancient beliefs, they are superstitious and mistrusting. They see the world in simple terms, and are perhaps the most stubborn people in the known world. The details of their society change from clan to clan, but they live to the northwest of the Celestine Empire and are in a constant state of war against the Celestine as well as society as a whole. Clad in thick furs and leathers, wielding great war mauls, the Old Clans will never yield nor bend, for not even death can break their resolve.
~The Coatl: Once they controlled most of the expanse and were the first to tame horses and ride the vast plain-lands claiming all they could see. Now they are a dieing nation, a shadow of what they once were. The Coatl are said to be descendants of both man and the darkest of gods. With their power fleeting, many of the Coatl are returning to the forbidden arts in hopes of rekindling their nation’s power.
Spreading across most of the eastern expanse, the Amalgamation is the largest, and arguably the strongest of all the nations. It is driven by religious fervor, and they see their conquest as a divine mandate.
The Amalgamation, as its name implies is made up of many different peoples and cultures that have all been conquered by their empire. Those conquered by the Amalgamation are taken and taught the ways of the Church of Chorus. They either convert, or they die. The captured people’s culture is erased, and their literature is burnt. They are also often moved from their indigenous homeland, and placed in another location within the Amalgamation.
Though the Amalgamation has the largest Army, they have enemies on every border, and always seem to be quelling internal strife within its boundaries. The Amalgamation’s army also isn’t as well outfitted or disciplined as one might assume. Their front line is made up of newly conquered people and less desirable citizens. The following lines of forces include the Amalgamation’s more veteran soldiers, and will almost always have some of their elite Inquisitors on the battlefield.
For a nation as rife with internal struggle as the Amalgamation, the Inquisitors serve several roles. The first is to spread the mandates of the Church. The next is to seek out heresy and threats to the nation and destroy it. The third is to maintain order. All inquisitors are skilled in the arts of torture, and are chosen and indoctrinated since their youth.
Though the inquisitors do an exceedingly good job at maintaining order through fear, there has always been a tension between the ruling nobility, and the theocracy. No one is above the church, and therefore the inquisition will take no pause at executing heretical nobles. But it is (at least in theory) the nobles’ place to rule the lands and actually run the nation. Therefore, even the Kings of the Amalgamation must be ordained by the church, and their heirs granted the church’s blessing before they can ascend to lead their nation.
Caught in the crossfire between dissenting nobles, fanatical priests, lost history, and a swarm of enemy nations surrounding them, are the people. The citizens of the Amalgamation by and large have been victimized their entire life. They hold few privileges, and are heavily taxed. Though life is considerably better for them in the Amalgamation than as say a slave in Breach, or to live in the Nadine Empire, the life they live is still filled with hardship.
The average Amalgamation citizen is also less educated than the average citizen of other nations. This is due to the strict censorship imposed by the church. Some ... misinformation, is also taught as though it were fact in regard to their enemy nations. Many citizens in the Amalgamations believe the soldiers of the Empire to be demons, or the Coatl to feast on human flesh. The Church even paints the chaste maidens of the Celestine Empire as foul seductresses that exist to lure away men’s souls. The peasants are kept ignorant for many reasons; however, the most apparent seems to be control.
One prominent group of rebels that sprung up in recent times is the ‘Churchwood Brotherhood’ which is a glorified band of thieves that dwell in ‘Churchwood’ a large forest in the Central Expanse. Other citizens cope through ale, as the Amalgamation has some of the better ales and spirits.
The Celestine Empire views itself to be the mirrored reflection of the heavens in the world. It bases much of its culture, fashion, religion, and morality upon this belief. They are a people who pull their strength from their faith, but are not blinded by it, or at least so much in that they also recognize the importance of military strength and sound battle tactics. Unlike most other nations, they do not force their religion on others, and though they do look down on other faiths, they do not persecute or condemn those of other religions.
The arts, philosophy, and all forms of beauty are revered. Great marble statues of men and women, mostly soldiers, great thinkers, or people of note, litter the cities, shrines, and most of all; the Celestine Arenas, where combat skill is tested, and warriors hone their skill.
The Celestine Empire has the most fertile soil anywhere within the expanse. They have used this to expand and extend trade with many nations, making strong alliances. Their ambassadors are also second only to perhaps the Seductresses of the Nadine Empire. As such, their already formidable military is backed by the armies of many nations should they choose to call in old favors and sworn oaths. The Celestine Empire is the greatest rival of the Amalgamation, and the only nation that can match and repel the full fervor of the Amalgamation’s armies. Because of this, the Amalgamation and Celestine Empire, who at one time were allies, have remained on a peaceful; albeit a strained, truce. Many fortresses and keeps run up and down the boarders between the two great nations, as both are aware of the great threat the other represents.
The Celestine Empire is ruled by a queen. Their queen is revered as though she were a divine creature and a prophet. Though their queen enjoys the genuine adoration of her people, it is not without its own restrictions. Originally to prevent the jealousy of rival nations, the Celestine queen must never marry. As their culture evolved this became more than a manner of political survival in the Empire’s early days, but now has taken on a meaning of purity through chastity. The queen and all of her handmaidens forsake the touch of man, for a spiritual clarity that they perceive can only be obtained through abstinence. Because of this, the queen is never unsupervised, and her maidens follow her wherever she goes.
When the queen has lived 36 years, she is veiled in lace and, with but the smallest number of servants, sails into the Mists, never to be seen or heard from again. In this circumstance, or other untimely death, faith and diligence yield reward with the highest ranking of the queen’s maidens ascending to become queen herself. In this way, ruler-ship is not carried in the blood, but through devotion; moral values instilled in the culture. This consistent turnover also ensures that the queen always appears beautiful and youthful. With her typical similarities in appearance with successors, this provides a mystique of immortality and etherealness. It also makes Celestine handmaidens the most sought after women in the world: Sought after, yet unobtainable.
The Celestine ruling class paints a nice image of chastity, purity, and all things good, but as an aside, it should be noted that the kingdom is made up of people of all walks of life. There are merchants, beggars, and even bandits. There is also an extremely large population of farmers and simple, good-natured, country folk.
Though small in comparison to the Amalgamation or the Celestine Empire, the Nadine Empire is made up of several conquered kingdoms, all united under their Empress. Empress Nadine ‘The Shrike’ is said to be immortal and un-killable. She leads with an iron and cruel fist, and has never known defeat; simply setbacks. Her cruelty is evident if by no other way by her very appellate, which is ‘The Shrike’, named after a bird that impales its prey upon thorns. Her soldiers are said to have no souls, feel no pain, and will fight endlessly, for even if they are slain, the Imperial Necromancers will bring them back to their undying feet. Of all the nations in the known world, the soldiers of the Nadine Empire are the most feared.
Within the Nadine Empire, every soldier is raised from birth to excel in all things. All children, men and women, are trained in combat. Those that show particular promise are taken from their families and given to one of the various legions. The legion becomes that child’s new family, and the children become like brothers to each other and soon forget the mothers who birthed them. Those children that are not chosen for warfare, and thus not given to the legion, are allowed to remain with their families and are apprenticed into a trade.
Imperial soldiers are the finest soldiers in the world. Their typical footman is as skilled as a knight or elite veteran of any other army, and one Imperial Soldier is expected to be victorious so long as he is not outnumbered five to one. The reason for this is not skill alone, nor is it discipline. The Imperial Army, being smaller than its peers, is able to outfit their men with some of the finest weapons and armor available. They also utilize their fearsome reputation for full effect, very rarely will an army stand against them without at least a portion of the force routing before the first arrow is launched. Imperial soldiers have excellent tacticians, who are unconstrained by morality and will gladly use demons, Blood Magic, or Necromancy to turn the tide in their favor. They also recognize the value of their soldiers, and will send wagons of corpses along with a force, which their necromancers will animate and send as their first waves to weaken an enemy before sending in living warriors.
Life within the Empire is hard. Morality is viewed as a weakness to be exploited, and people who are not soldiers are second-class citizens. Walking about, it is not uncommon to see a dead body lying in the street, be it murder or by suicide, the death rate is very high and one is not expected to live to become old, nor are the elderly respected.
Soldiers who disobey an order, fail a commanding officer, or are cast out for some other offense are often killed, tortured then killed, or given to the arenas to become a gladiator. Here in the arena, an Imperial soldier must relearn how to fight; how to survive on his own, without his brothers and sisters in arms. Most nations across the Expanse compete against each other in gladiatorial matches. It is a way a nation can show strength, and boast its skill in arms without warring. It is for this purely practical reason that a disgraced soldier is allowed to live. In this way alone may they redeem themselves and one day perhaps be allowed to rejoin their warrior family. Other types of criminals are also dumped in the arenas, and they too have the opportunity to redeem themselves, but in truth, its just another form of execution for them as few can stand against even a disgraced Imperial Legionnaire.
The Nadine Empire exists to the Southeast of the Amalgamation, and is one of the few forces that dares to invade the Amalgamation on a periodic and successful rate, however they rarely decide to hold any ground, more opting to raise and destroy nearby Amalgamation settlements, creating a buffer between them and the larger enemy nation.
The Nadine Empire is indifferent when it comes to religion or race. For them, nothing matters but how useful it is, and how it can be exploited.
Long ago there were no empires, and Citystates spanned from one half of the world to the other. Now all of the city nations to the east have been conquered aside from those out at sea. Those to the west only have survived due to the Celestine’s distaste for conquest.
Diplomatic ties between the Celestine Empire and most of the Citystates tend to be favorable, as none of them wish to anger the largest nation on their border. In exchange for aiding the Celestine Empire in times of war, the Citystates are granted security and abundant trade. This alliance does not include the island nations of Eirie, Cestral, and Dace.
The laws, traditions, and culture of all of the Citystates vary, as does their size and strength. Some of the more prominent Citystates are listed bellow:
~Dace: Arguably the most powerful of the Citystates. This island nation boasts the largest mercantile force in the world, and has trade agreements with just about every nation, trading even in the demon lands. Commanding vast fortunes, Dace spends its wealth on the arts. Theatre, fashion, sculpture, and painting, are just the beginning in the large breadth of Dacian artistry. Dace is sometimes called “The Island of Masks” as part of their culture and fashion include wearing masks. As it is believed that sin done while wearing a mask is washed away with its removal.
~The Eirie: The islands far off the western coast of the Expanse. Originally found by Dacian explorers, the Eirie value a different form of pleasure. Whereas the Dacians explore the pleasures of sight, taste, and smell, the Eirie pursue pleasures of touch and of the flesh. Known as a hedonistic paradise, the Eirie Isles also have some peculiar rules of etiquette, and those who violate these rules while visiting their island are said to disappear. For the Eirie, pleasure is divine.
~Cestral: An island nation of rolling hills and grasslands. The Isle of Cestral is large, filled with many small settlements, but only one fortress. The ruling family, instead, utilize lightly armored cavalry that can quickly move and defend whatever region is needed. The Cestral have a unique affinity for animals, and are hailed as the finest animal trainers in the world.
~Castle Thorn: Built on the cliff side that separated the Expanse and Breach, Castle Thorn fights more demon kind than any other nation. Known for their stalwart courage and stubborn nature those of Thorn take it as a matter of pride to never flee nor yield against their enemies. Despite their formidable fighting skill, tacticians, and thick fortifications, Castle Thorn is forced to rely on their allies for supplies such as food and armaments. The land surrounding Thorn is barren from frequent battles and though Castle Thorn has a king and is considered a nation in its own right, it is always called ‘Castle Thorn’ for that is what it is; a lone fortress at the edge of the world.
~Cole: “The Gambler’s Paradise” is a port city along the western coast of the expanse. The people of Cole are rogues of all sorts, from pirates, to smugglers, to mercenaries. They follow an odd code of honor, and revere the concepts of chance, luck, and fortune.
~Mandala: Also along the western coast, Mandala is a citystate that knows a great many secrets. Ettiquette is fairly important to the diplomats and well bred within the city, as there is an art even to conversation, and tea plays a central role in most business dealings.
~Ad Decimum: A city of mages who spend their time in study and experimentation. They have grown out of touch with the rest of society, and are often socially awkward. The Mages of Ad Decimum tend to fall into one of the various Mage Towers.