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Traveler’s Guide to Stormbreak Keep

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henrythemad

Artisan
Traveler’s Guide to Stormbreak Keep

Sponsored by House Heinlen and House Sterne


Table of Contents

Forward

Treatise on the Maelstrom

History of the Empire: First through Fourth Eras

Education in the Empire

Fifth Era to Today: A Treatise on Current Events

Races in and around the Empire

Laws of the Empire

Report on Trolls in Wyndael

Report on Stormbreak Keep

Naval Intellgence Report on Pirates

Treatise on the Curse of the Kracken

Nobility in the Empire

Nations within the Maelstrom

Cities within the Empire

Imperial Military

Houses of the Empire

Venerable Order of Chivalry

The Guild of Wine and Roses
 
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henrythemad

Artisan
Forward

This work is intended to aid those who are answering the Emperor’s call for those of bold hearts to come to Stormbreak Keep and forge a new territory out of the wilderness. Houses Heinlein and Sterne wished to ensure that all those answering the call to action would have sufficient information to avoid any confusion. I have attempted to compile a collection of treatises and writings that will give a full view of the history and situations that led to the recent events at Stormbreak Keep and why Houses Sterne and Heinlein striving to restore the area. Some of these were written specifically for this work, others were taken from other sources in the name of expediency in getting this work published in time (all original authors have been properly credited). It is my fervent hope that it proves sufficient to the task and that everyone coming to Stormbreak Keep finds the information contained herein helpful. I close this forward with the words of the late, great scholar Decric Sterne: “Knowledge is power: Arm yourself.”

-Jonis Schule, 20, 6E
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Treatise on the Maelstrom

By: Professor Dalmys Schule

The Maelstrom is a phenomenon that influences every aspect of life in and around the Empire. What few historical records exist from the time of the First Era indicate that it was a small stationary funnel cloud within Maelstrom Bay, no more than a few miles wide, with rain and hail and lightning of all colors. It was surmised that it was composed of elemental and magical energy, some celestial, as it causes discomfort to Gryphons and Getragen near it. It’s existance is why our ancestors were sent to these lands, they were to study it for the Dominion and learn about it. We have surely disappointed those long lost ancestors, as we know little more about it now than we did then.

Any findings discovered by the original team are long since lost, but what is known is that at some point something occurred to cause the Maelstrom to expand roughly three hundred miles, destroying nearly everything and everyone in it’s path as it did so. This is called the First Maelstrom Event. Historians debate if this expansion was caused by a natural magical occurrence or the experiments of the sages and wizards sent to study it, or some unknown other reason. Regardless of the cause, it destroyed all structures and killed everyone not underground. It was quickly realized that the borders of the storm had expanded and while the weather seemed unaffected within it, exiting the storm was impossible. All attempts to cross the storm resulted in a horrible death, nearly always permanent no matter the strength of the spirit of the person attempting. Gryphons who attempted to fly above the storm found the winds more and more powerful the higher they rose and could not get above it.

This First Maelstrom Event set our fate as a people who would live within the Maelstrom forever more. Even still sages attempted to understand the Maelstrom and what caused the destructive First Maelstrom Event. The storm acts as a circular wall of raw magical and elemental energy that remains stationary, never moving and never abating. Though the records that first state it were lost to time at some point in the Second Era, became apparent that some people could survive the journey into the Maelstrom from without, but never back out again. The journey in appears to still be dangerous and often results in injury and death, but it is possible to survive.

At some point the Maelstrom expanded again, an occurrence called the Second Maelstrom Event, and marking the end of the Second Era. This time the storm grew with a wave of water and magical energy emanating from the center and pushing the boundary of the walls to roughly eight hundred miles in diameter. Like the previous Maelstrom Event, almost all buildings and people within that area were destroyed. The Second Maelstrom event is the reason we have so little information about the Second Era, and likewise so little information on what caused the event. Some sages argue that it was a natural phenomenon that caused it to expand, as with the First Maelstrom Event. Others claim that what scraps of documentation are available indicate that the Empire’s expansion had reached it’s apex and that wizards attempted to destroy the Maelstrom and therefore caused the disaster. The truth will, unfortunately, likely never be known.

The Maelstrom had become larger, but otherwise had not changed or become any less potent. Fortunately we have first hand accounts of the Maelstrom since the Third Era that we lack from the previous ones. An account by one of the elven sailors who first settled in the Quyah'scenthaal Forest wrote of their ship being pulled into the Maelstrom in 1012, 3E. He described the Maelstrom as:

“...taller than the mast of the ship, taller than any tree we had ever seen. It looked sometimes like a wave, sometimes like a cloud, and sometimes like black fog or mist. Bursts of lightning exploded within the cloud. The wall twisted and turned, generally west to east, though we were to find out that on the inside, it spun the opposite way and pushed water away from the wall. The Ocean itself poured into the base of the wall like a cyclone pulling the ship downwards and eastwards. We were swallowed by the wall, visibility went to zero and the great galleon was tossed and spun. The windsheer tore off the masts and almost everything on the upper decks. Eleven crew members were lost.”

This is consistent with the few early Imperial reports of the Maelstrom that have survived history. Indeed, except for twice expanding (with cataclysmic consequences) the storm does not seem to change much. An account by the Children of Storm who sailed through it in 109 of the Fifth Era (over five thousand years after the above Elven account) wrote that:

“The Maelstrom looked like a wall of water, and wind, and black mystical fog, with bursts of lightning in the whirling chaotic storm which spun. The water poured into the base of the wall of the storm just as the water of a cyclone does and the current tugged at all three ships as soon as they saw it.”


And indeed the journal of Siggard Steelbeard, a dwarf scholar who served the leader of the dwarven refugees, wrote of the storm:

“It was stationary, stretched on for miles in either direction and though it didn’t seem to be moving, the winds within it and around it were extreme. It was a thing of terrible beauty with clouds, rain, hail and lightning of all colors and obvious magical energy whirling around at wind at enormous wind speeds.”

In spite of the evolution of thousands of years, there seems to be no change in the Maelstrom itself. Accounts of those who passed inward through it indicate that it is similar to passing through the worst storm ever encountered, and history shows that casualties are common. The Maelstrom drives those within the wall ever towards the center with survivors describing violent deaths for those who try to direct themselves out. The intervening years have made leaving the storm no more possible than after the First Maelstrom Event, and attempts seem to end in a permanent death in over 97% of cases, no matter the strength of one's spirit.

As to the nature of the Maelstrom or how it came to be, there are many theories and few helpful facts. The most credible theories over the centuries indicate that it is a strange natural phenomenon; an oddity that occurs naturally like the glacier north of the Frostbite Mountains or the immense size of Maelstrom Bay. Others posit that the Maelstrom is the result of an ancient magical experiment went wrong, possibly related to an ancient civilization that lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, and has persisted all this time. Still others put forth the idea that it is a phenomenon from beyond our plane of existence and is connected to, or somehow came from, one of the elemental plains or even the fey realm. The Storm’ren Scholar Jendine Brightquill wrote most fully on this particular theory and considers it all but fact, making an interesting argument that it originated in the realm of the fey. Many other scholars still dispute Brightquill’s findings, however, and there is no means to prove her assertions since summoning or interacting with fey creatures is strictly outlawed.

Another strange aspect of the Maelstrom is that it seems to have the ability to mutate creatures and, more rarely, people. There is little in the way of definitive information as to how this is done, but there are enough instances of this occurring that it is undeniable that it is caused by the Maelstrom. It seems to happen randomly and only due to close proximity to the edge of the storm for a period of time, but even still there are little facts to help guide how or why such mutations happen.

Sadly, for all the work, all the writings, and all the attempts to understand the Maelstrom we know nearly nothing about it. Worst of all, we do not know if or when it will again expand, destroying everything we know. We can only hope that continued diligent study will result in some breakthrough.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
History of the Empire: First through Fourth Eras: a Syllabus Overview

By Allek Eddicurd of House Schule

[Note: This brief treatise by Professor Eddicurd is required reading in order to participate in my Ancient Imperial History 101 class. It is a far cry from exhaustive and glosses over many decades and even centuries of history. Nevertheless, if you have not read this and are not at least vaguely familiar with these events you have no business in my course and will no doubt be promptly failed.

Events of the Fifth and Sixth Eras, are best studied in Modern Imperial History 101 taught be either of the venerable (and excellent) Professors Munsee or Hennwood.

If this treatise, which omits many of the events of the history of our glorious Empire, is too complex for you do not expect to pass my class.

–Prof. Medikus Sterne, 18, Sixth Era]

Because of the Second Maelstrom Event, which destroyed all buildings, infrastructure and nearly all books and documents, records from the early eras are scarce. What is known is that the Empire’s roots go back over 20,000 to the First Era when our nation was founded by elements of the glorious Dominion. Ancient records and oral histories indicate that a scouting party from that nation discovered the Maelstrom, then only a tiny phenomenon in Maelstrom Bay, and reported it. The Maelstrom seemed to be a stationary storm funnel of lightning, wind and magical energy. The Dominion’s response was to send a team of sages, wizards, a large escort, and several thousand slaves to investigate it and determine if it could be utilized in some way.

That party founded a small settlement, right where our glorious capital, Wolknestadt, now stands, and set to studying it. Only a few years into the study however an unknown cataclysm of magical energy washed over the region. It seemed to have caused the Maelstrom to expand by almost four hundred miles, destroying everything in its path and trapping everyone and everything within that radius inside the storm. The settlement was destroyed and all inhabitants killed and forced to resurrect. Many slaves escaped from their masters upon resurrecting. This explosion and expansion of the Maelstrom is known as the First Maelstrom Event.

The oral traditions and few surviving records indicate that upon resurrecting, the Getragen found that they no longer had feathers or claws and looked like humans, though they still had prophetic dreams from time to time. Additionally their lifespan was shortened, though they still lived for several hundred years. The few Getragen that were not killed (because they were underground or similarly protected) found that their claws receded and feathers fell out as well, indicating that it was not merely the result of the resurrection that caused it. With most records of Getragen destroyed in the Maelstrom Event, subsequent generations took to calling the former Getragen “highblood” or “Gryphon touched” humans since, aside from the life span, they appeared identical. Eventually it became common belief that actual Getragen had left the land forever.

Efforts were made to return to the Homeland but attempts to pass out of the Maelstrom from within resulted in death and destruction; nearly all deaths were permanent in spite of strong spirits on the part of the deceased. It was quickly realized that the remains of the expedition were trapped within the region and would have to fend for themselves. Historians consider this the beginning of the Second Era.

The Second Era lasted 11,000 years and saw what is regarded as a golden age for our civilization. The highblood began to bring order and peace to the scattered tribes and fledgling nations in the region, building thriving cities around Maelstrom Bay. It is an unfortunate fact that there are few surviving records of this time as a result of the Second Maelstrom Event. Some historians believe the Gryphon touched rulers wished to escape the Maelstrom and rejoin the Dominion, while others believe that they had expanded as far as the Maelstrom would allow (mostly the area immediately around Maelstrom Bay, less than half of the available territory now) and sought to continue to expand for the good of their civilization. These theories hypothesize that a team of wizards had located the heart of the Maelstrom somewhere in Maelstrom Bay and attempted to destroy it so they could escape the confines of the phenomenon. Other theories state that the Second Maelstrom Event occurred naturally and with no apparent warning just like the first one had. No matter the cause, the Second Maelstrom Event occurred and proved just as destructive as the first, seeming to destroy all buildings and construction and kill everyone in the region. Most historians and archeologists agree that this is likely why there are so few records of the Second Era, as nearly all libraries and records were destroyed. Historians consider this the end of the Second Era.

We are fortunate that the Third Era has better records, though the early days of this time in history are a very notable exception and the simple passage of time has robbed us of much documentation. What we do know places the beginning of the Third Era around 6,000 years ago and some historians refer the early parts of the Third Era as The Time of Turmoil. Records indicate that the Maelstrom expanded to its current size though most everything within those new borders was leveled in the expansion. With the destruction of the stabilizing nation built by our ancestors, the region rapidly fell into numerous chaotic states and tribes. Our own civilization had been reduced to a single city/state centered around Wolkenstadt, which had to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Though we have few records of those early centuries of the Third Era most historians agree that the Empire as we know it today had its seeds planted in those early days. From Wolkenstadt, our people rebuilt and expanded, again bringing stability and order to the chaotic and war torn nations that had sprung up in the wake of the Second Maelstrom Event.

As the Third Era progressed, the borders of the Empire expanded south to the Sudenberg Mountains, and west into Verdant Lands. The wild tribes and lesser polities there were absorbed or, when they chose to fight, conquered. In addition to these nations and tribes, there were constant threats to the growing Empire in the form of Ice Trolls from North of the Frostbite Mountains (causing the First Troll War as well as countless skirmishes), as well as pirates who would raid from the Ostenwasser Sea to the East.

Records clearly show the Library of Memories was founded in the town of Berghalten in 996 of the Third Era, just over five thousand years ago. With the Library of Memories being housed in the mountains it was believed that they would be relatively safe from destruction in the event of another Maelstrom Event.

As the Empire began to slowly build its infrastructure and steadily expand and bring order and the rule of law to the wild lands, it faced further troubles from the Ice Trolls in the Iceblood War, as well as a nation of monsters to the South called the Wyldfyre Kingdom, and a nation of orcs in the West calling itself the Kingdom of Orentis. The Empire prevailed over these threats, again trapping the trolls North of the Frostbite Mountains, breaking the back of (and thus destroying), the Wyldfyre Kingdom and forcing the orcs out of the disputed territory in the West and signing the Westward Expansion Pact to end the war with Orentis.

The attention to the North and South allowed the settlements in the West to believe that the Empire was not showing them proper attention, leading to the Verdant Land Rebellion when several settlements from the area refused to pay taxes. Since the Verdant Lands produce much of the food for the Empire, the disruption in food production from the rebellion led to a famine within the Empire before the malcontents were captured and order was restored.

Some time later, just over 3,000 years ago, a number of tribes and smaller nations farthest West refused to join the Empire and banded together to form a coalition called the Western Nations. After a time this inevitably led to a massive war known as The War of the Western Nations. This conflict lasted for fifteen years until the Battle of the Broken Spear proved a decisive victory for the Empire, finally folding Western Nations into the Empire. Empress Inring Stratos, known as “The Iron Empress” and “Iron Inring,” officially declared the victory over the Western Nations the mark of a new Era.

The early years of the Fourth Era saw the Hawk Rebellion (an aftershock from the malcontent remnants of the Western Nations) and the Second Troll War all within the first century, but what may have been the Empire’s darkest hour since the Second Maelstrom Event was the Imperial Civil War. When Emperor Kayne Stratos died of old age his eldest child was his daughter Terena. However the Emperor did not get along with Terena and specifically disinherited her in favor of his son Vennik, who was crowned Emperor. Terena, backed by the powerful House Wolken as well as several lesser houses, declared herself the rightful Empress. These actions caused several houses to commit treason against Emperor Vennik and declare for Terena, and saw many houses divided between supporting Terena and the rightful emperor.

The War lasted over seventy years and saw trolls break through from the north and ravage the countryside as well as pirates conquering the Inmouth Islands for a time while Imperial houses fought one another. Eventually Terena was defeated at the Battle of the Red River and suffered her permanent death. House Wolken and all those who followed Terena were stripped of all rank, wealth and holdings and were punished according to their crimes. Emperor Vennik was triumphant but faced an Empire that was fractured, bloodied and with its borders and holdings being ravaged by enemies.

Emperor Vennik launched the Northern Campaigns and though it took many decades, was able to push the trolls back north of the Frostbite Mountains as well as rebuild the Imperial Navy and launch the Ostenwasser Push to force the pirates from the Inmouth Islands. Emperor Vennik’s assassination by House Wolken sympathizers saw him resurrect successfully, but with a preoccupation with security. He instituted The Imperial Cleansing in which anyone associated with House Wolken or other houses that had supported Terena in the Civil War hunted down, punished and often stripped of their status and holdings.

Over two hundred years after the Civil War, Emperor Vennik, convinced the pirates were still a threat to his reign, bolstered the Imperial Navy and launched the First Piracy War. Imperial forces crippled pirate activity in the Ostenwasser Sea for decades. However the Emperor’s obsession with security saw him cracking down on the freedoms of the citizens to an enormous extent in the name of preventing treason and rooting out traitors. The Assembly of Houses voted for the Emperor to reverse some of these decisions, leading Vennik to abolish the Assembly. Most historians believe that this would have led to another civil war, possibly worse than the first, but fortunately Vennik passed away only two days after abolishing the Assembly. His daughter Venna became Empress and immediately reinstated the Assembly of Houses and scaled back many of her father’s more extreme policies.

Only a dozen years after Venna took the throne a typhoon wiped out much of the Imperial Navy and dealt devastating damage to the Inmouth Islands and several port towns. As a result, pirate activity slowly began to rise again, culminating in the Second Piracy War, also called Sirella’s War. Venna’s daughter, Sirella, was taken captive by pirates who demanded an exorbitant ransom. When Imperial Forces attempted to rescue her, the pirates executed Sirella instead, though she resurrected successfully. Empress Venna was enraged and ordered a full invasion and razing of the Stormedge Islands and the construction of Edgeport on the northeastern shore of Malestrom Bay as a launching point for the invasion.

The Second Piracy War dragged on for fourteen years and affected all levels of Imperial Life and caused massive unrest due to the expense and caused many to wonder if Empress Venna was following in the destructive footsteps of her father. Eventually, at the urging of the Assembly of Houses, the Empress declared she did not wish to be remembered as mad, as her father was in the latter part of his reign, and ordered a return of troops and an end to actions in the Ostenwasser Sea and the Stormedge Islands.

Nearly a century later southern explorers were amazed to discover elves in what had been known as the Sudbaume Forest (now called the Quyah'scenthaal Forest.) Though legends and stories had told of elves, the closest that was known in the Empire was stone elves and the vastly elusive dark elves. The elves identified themselves members of a forest kingdom called Quyah'scenthaal and the two nations began negotiations, eventually settling upon a firm border.

Though it had been over two hundred years, the pirates had never forgotten their treatment at the hands of the Empire and the Stormborn pirates burned Edgeport to the ground in vengeance. Empress Venna launched the Imperial Navy, vowing to scour Stormedge Islands and the Ostenwasser Sea of the filth of the pirates once and for all, however the war was aborted by what is known as the Resurgence of the Kraken.

The Resurgence of the Kraken saw Maelstrom Bay, the Stormedge Islands and all coastal areas of the Empire and Quyah'scenthaal frequently pummeled by incredible hurricanes even beyond the normal amount in the area as well as attacks by enormous monsters (such as mile long serpents, plagues of flying flesh eating fish, octopi the size of castles, and other similar oddities). Though the storms were seemingly random, the monster attacks would occur exactly every 80 years further devastating the area.

Also during the Resurgence, a ship of hoblings inexplicably appeared, claiming they were teleported through time and space by a fey, and settled on the ruins of Edgeport, declaring a new nation named Newhome. The Empire sent an envoy to explain that, though the Resurgence prevented it’s rebuilding, Edgeport and the surrounding lands were Imperial property. Ultimately their leader, Brollo Goldpipe, agreed to join the Empire and House Goldpipe was formed, centered in Newhome.

In 1465, an army of elves led by an elf named Halsinith and calling themselves the Blade of the Glade captured the Imperial town of Baumweld. Declaring they were serving the earth by eliminating necromancers, they executed Imperial officials and anyone they felt committed or condoned necromancy. The Maturarch, the leader of Quyah'scenthaal, immediately condemned these actions and declared Halsinith and his followers outlaws and that the Empire could deal with them as they saw fit. House Holtz, whose seat was Baumweld, proved unable to retake their town and the elves continued to capture nearby towns and villages and execute those they felt were necromancers. After an attack on the city of Ellbogenstadt by Halsinith’s troops, Empress Rhenna Stratos dispatched Talon Company. In short order the elves retreated to Baumweld and prepared for a siege. Rather than face a protracted siege, however, Talon Company torched Baumweld and struck down the elves as they fled. Halsinith was obliterated on the field as Baumweld burned and his followers died all around him.

At last, in 1941 of the Fourth Era, after nine hundred and sixty years and over a dozen monster attacks related to the Resurgence of the Kraken, the best wizards of Quyah'scenthaal, the Ralyn Remnant, and the Empire collaborated to find a way to stop the Resurgence. The team traveled beneath the waves to the very heart of the Maelstrom and performed a ritual to stop the attacks and return storms to their historical norms. A side effect of this seems to be that ever since, mages casting spells seem to occasionally have an emotional response to the magical energies they manipulate.

Just two years after the Resurgence was stopped, the head of the elven contingent of wizards, a high mage named Cyndarian who was reputed to cast ritual level magic as most mages cast spells from memory, conjured an immensely powerful artifact and joined his spirit with a Death Elemental. Cyndarian then teleported into the heart of Wolkenstadt and wreaked bloody havoc for five days in what is known as the Wolkenstadt Massacre. None of the highblood or Gryphons slain resurrected, no matter how powerful their spirits, and the permanent deaths were in the hundreds. Among the dead was Empress Helena Stratos and most of the Imperial Family. Reports of the massacre state that after five days the sword vanished and the Death Elemental within Cyndarian bellowed in rage and teleported away with Cyndarian. Neither being has been seen since.

With the destruction of the Imperial family, the next in line for the throne was Empress Helena’s cousin, Brand Stratos, who became Emperor Brand II. Emperor Brand became known as “Brand the Battle Ready” for his tendency to personally participate in battles and lead from the front.

As Cyndarian was well known and was identified as the assassin, Brand wasted no time in declaring the assassination an act of war and invaded Quyah'scenthaal. The Elves declared that they had not sanctioned or known about Cyndarian’s actions and that he could not be found to be turned over. They did state that, although they would never have sanctioned Cyndarian’s rogue actions, they understand them as accounts verified that some of the rituals used by the Empire when stopping the Resurgence were necromantic.

With the elves of Quyah'scenthaal hostile over use of necromancy, and the Empire enraged at the Massacre of Wolkenstadt, and the fact that the elves were unable (or unwilling) to hand over Cyndarian, war was inevitable. The war became known as Cyndarian’s War and dragged on for eighty-eight years. The Empire found it difficult to engage in woodland warfare against the elves, and the elves seemed reluctant to venture from the forest, leading the war to quickly become a long and very bloody stalemate. It is only the intervention of the Venerable Order of Chivalry that convinced the Emperor and the Elves to come to the negotiation table. The Treaty of Maelstrom Bay was signed at sea on board the Imperial warship Iron Inring. It ended the war and forced the Empire to abolish necromancy and outlaw House Geister and any other houses that refused to abandon necromancy forever more. Emperor Brand declared that a new era of peace was at hand, and thus decreed the end of the Fourth Era.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Education in the Empire

By: Kellish Dorinn, House Schule

I pledge my loyalty to the Empire,

And the Order and Tranquility that it brings.

Our Empire, the Apex of civilization

Asks only Obedience and Fealty,

To bring Peace and Prosperity to all.

No mercy to those who oppose Her.

-Student’s Pledge, recited at the beginning of every school day

All settlements have a school to teach children which is paid for by the Imperial Crown. Smaller villages may have just a building with a single teacher for the children, while cities may have several within the city grounds. Truly rural areas may lack a building altogether but a teacher will be employed to travel to each home in a circuit to say for a number of days to teach a series of lessons before moving to the next residence and returning next time their circuit brings them back.

The schools will teach young children basic letters, history, civics, math and other rudimentary skills. By the age around 10-12 most students, (depending on race) have moved onto apprenticeships, acquired jobs or further their education elsewhere. That said, the Empire will teach children as old as 14, if they opt to remain in school.

Higher education depends, like almost everything else in the world, on resources and connections. If a student has enough of either one they can move onto further education in a school or university. The education center of the Empire is Bergholoten, of course, but there are excellent schools, colleges and universities in Wolkenstadt and Grunhot as well, and several larger towns and cities have specialized learning institutions.

For someone without means the options are fewer. Frequently a child of a modest background will follow in the footsteps of their parents working for them and learning their trade. For a cost, a child can be apprenticed to another craftsman to learn a new, and presumably better, trade. Apprenticeship fees vary but they are usually far more affordable than a college education and don’t inherently require any specific connections (though good connections will undoubtedly result in a more skilled craftsman to apprentice to). Naturally, the quality of an education as an apprentice often depends on the quality of the student’s master and varies widely.

Many young men and women will join the Imperial army or navy right out of school. For many who do not want to follow in the footsteps of their parents but lack funds and connections this is a good way to better themselves and learn new skills. The military offers training, housing, regular meals and the chance to see other parts of the world.

Certain regions may have variations arranging a career path for their young, for example the Dwarves of House Mithril have an annual fair where students can choose their apprenticeships. In short, the Empire ensures that Imperial Citizens, regardless of race, get a good foundation of an education to help them to be better and more productive citizens in life.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Fifth Era to Today: A Treatise on Current Events for the Layman Historian

By: Professor Krisik Deridius

The purpose of this treatise is to educate laymen historians on current events from the Fifth Era to today. It glosses over many facts in the name of expediency and any serious historian will likely find it sorely lacking. Given that most historians find writing a true historical event for proper examination of the effects on history any sooner than 100 years or more after the events in question dubious, the entire concept of postulating on most of the topics discussed here is seriously flawed. If I had my preference I would never write based on such a flawed concept, but Professor Sterne is not to be denied and wished it written, so here it is. -Prof Deridius -20, 6E

Fifth Era

As the Fifth Era began, the bloody Cyndarian’s war with the elves of Quyah'scenthaal had just ended. As part of the provisions of the Treaty of Maelstrom Bay, and in the spirit of cooperation, the Durchblasen was created. Called “The Purges” by the elves, this was a joint effort between the Empire and Quyah'scenthaal to ensure that the Imperial Edict outlawing necromancy within the Empire was enforced. Squads made up of Elven and Imperial soldiers would scour the area arresting any necromancers and reporting any houses that continued to condone the practice.

With the end of the war Imperial Naval forces again began cracking down on piracy in the Ostenwasser Sea, which had been on the rise during the war since resources were directed elsewhere. While dealing with the rise of piracy, the Ice Trolls attacked again in what is called the Paltry Troll War. The trolls attacked in force, and though the defenses that guarded the pass through the Frostbite Mountains,held, many trolls broke through the lines and harassed the countryside. Emperor Brand Stratos II, known as “the Battle-Ready” lived up to his epithet and led the counterattack. Within a mere six months the trolls were defeated and pushed back to the north. Sadly, six years after the Paltry Troll War, Emperor Brand was slain in battle by the army of a liche villain named Malikos who resisted the Durchblasen. Brand’s son Veddis Stratos II succeeded him.

In 109, an enormous ship full of strange people who called themselves Children of the Storm arrived. Their ship had been pulled into the Maelstrom and they were unable to escape. The Empire offered them safe haven and many took them up on the offer. Some, however, sadly refused and left to join the various pirate gangs of the Stormedge Islands. Nonetheless, those that stayed became important members of the Empire.

A year later, in 110, 5E, the Durchblasen came to an end and was hailed by the Emperor as an unprecedented success. Some historical records indicate that there was some tension with the elves that may have contributed to the end of the program, possibly relating to the Empire offering a haven to the Children of the Storm, whom the elves of Quyah'scenthaal seemed to dislike.

In 147, 5E a mysterious figure attempted to assassinate Emperor Veddis II. He was stopped and killed by the Emperor’s bodyguards, but the lengthy investigation revealed no information on the identity, or even race, of the would be assassin. Speculation on the figures who may have been behind the assassination attempt ran rampant, however. Theories on those responsible ranged from Quyah'scenthaal, to rival houses to the pirates of the Stormedge Islands to the Orcs of Orentis.

A hundred years later, in 247, a massive slave uprising occurred in Meerhold killing hundreds of citizens, and capturing the city. To prevent the rebellious slaves and their allies (many of whom were Children of the Storm) from fleeing the city, the Imperial Navy blockaded the port city while the army laid siege to attempt to regain control. The siege lasted nearly a year before starvation caused the rebellious slaves to surrender and the city was retaken. Casualties from the entire affair were massive and the surviving ringleaders were executed. House Heinlein, who had adopted many of the Children of the Storm that the Empire took in and had become sensitive to the plight of slaves, started to propose practices for the fair treatment of slaves. They argued that slave uprisings throughout history, including the massive one in Meerhold, were a direct result of the poor treatment of slaves. Fifty years to the day after the Meerhold Uprising, House Heinlen succeeded in getting most of the houses to agree to these new statutes and Emperor Veddis II ratified the the new laws in an Imperial Edict.

Unfortunately the new laws did not eliminate issues with slaves in the Empire, and in fact, some supporters of slavery pointed to these laws as emboldening further aggression. In 334 a massive raid on House Geifer’s slave pens of the port city of Ellbogenstadt by the Coral Reef Pirates took place, resulting in hundreds of slaves being freed. House Geifer accused many Child of Storm members of House Heinlen of being involved but no charges were able to be brought and they denied it vehemently. This dispute came to a head two years later when two cabinet members of the Overlords of the houses came to blows. Emperor Veddis II, very conscious of the potential of a civil war, intervened and executed both cabinet members and ordered their removal. He heavily fined both houses and warned that any further repeat of this incident would result in the Overlords themselves facing the same harsh punishment. Though the two houses never fought so publically afterwards, their enmity towards one another persisted for centuries.

In 535 the Stormborn Pirates attacked the Inmouth islands, plundering a large amount of wealth and murdering dozens of citizens. The following year Emperor Veddis, finding House Meer’s security precautions to be at fault for the attack, removed half of Liber Island’s land from House Meer’s holdings and put them under House Stratos in order to build a large naval base there to prevent any future such attacks.

In 568, 5E Emperor Veddis II died after 553 years on the throne, making him the longest serving ruler of the Empire. His son Andus, though an old man, was crowned Emperor. His leadership was tested in 592 when tensions with Quyah'scenthaal again rose in the Baumweld Incident. A strange monster, later speculated to have been mutated by the Maelstrom, attacked the border town of Baumweld. The monster was slain, though it caused significant damage and casualties. Elements within the Empire blamed Quyah'scenthaal, stating the elves had somehow directed it towards the town. Quyah'scenthaal denied these charges. An Imperial investigation as well as a summit between both powers found no proof of the accusations, though hardliners in both nations advocated harsh actions.


In 687 the Ice Trolls rallied around a new leader called Bloodspyke and attacked New Norwatch, burning the city down and swarming into the Empire in vast numbers. This started the Third Troll War which raged for 22 years before Talon Company were able to permanently slay Bloodspyke. Upon the troll leader’s death, Imperial Troops were able to push the trolls back through Windgap Pass and contain them north of the Frostbite Mountains again.


In 714, A mere five years after the end of the Third Troll War, a large group of bearded humanoids appeared in the Verdant Lands. They called themselves dwarves and claimed that they had fled the destruction of their kingdom outside the Maelstrom. Negotiations with their leader, Duncan Platnumspike, revealed an aptitude for mountainous combat and Emperor Andus offered to allow them to rebuild and settle in the ruins of New Norwatch, which was destroyed in the war, and incorporate them as a minor house. In return they were to defend Windgap Pass from future troll attacks and swear fealty to the Empire. Duncan agreed and House Mithril was formed as a vassal house to House Stratos. Within three years the dwarves (aided by Imperial slaves and laborers) had rebuilt New Norwatch and renamed it Iceforge. A mere ten years later, in the year 727 a massive troll attack struck at New Norwatch. The defenses built by the dwarves proved so effective that the trolls were slaughtered in Windgap Pass without any need for Imperial troops to be sent into the area. Emperor Andus was so impressed that he elevated House Mithril to a Great House, over the objection of many other houses with far longer histories of service to the Empire.


As part of their elevated duties since their promotion, House Mithril began extracting resources from the Frostbite Mountains, including gems and ore, and had province over sale and trade of those goods in the Empire. This became a point of contention with House Goldpipe in 882 when enormous gem deposits were found in the hills north of Newhome. Since House Mithril had the sole right to trade gems, House Goldpipe could only use the gems internally, which chafed the hoblings considerably.


Emperor Andus died in 883, 5E. As his daughter and only child was killed in the Third Troll War, Andus’ sister, the elderly Empress Julianne, was crowned.


In 959 scandal rocked House Goldpipe when the Pearl Island Pirates captured a ship out of Newhome with a large gem supply, cut and ready to sell. The pirates attempted to ransom the gems back to the Empire, thus revealing that House Goldpipe was selling gems in violation of the law. House Goldpipe pinned the blame on the captain of the ship, who had permanently died in the pirate attack, and no direct proof could be found to countermand this claim. Nevertheless the Empire instituted a number of harsh oversights on House Goldpipe’s dealings and assigned Imperial Auditors to enforce them.


Further tragedy struck the Imperial Family in 971 when Julianne’s only surviving daughter and heir, Nessania, mysteriously vanished while en route from Meerport to Wolkenstadt after touring the naval facilities on the Inmouth Islands. Empress Julianne launched a massive investigation that lasted almost a decade but no sign of Nessania was ever found. It was as though she had vanished into thin air.


In 985, a mere twenty five years ago as of the writing of this document, Empress Julianne Stratos passed away of old age. Because Nessania was never found, the Empress’ sixteen year old grandson Ernst was crowned as Emperor.


After only five years on the throne, Emperor Ernst made history in 990, 5E by outlawing the slavery within the Empire, which freed the scores of enslaved Wylderkin. The reasons cited by the Emperor was that House Giefer’s was selling slaves to tribes and nations outside the Empire, thus giving combat capable slaves to potential enemies of the Empire, as well as impassioned arguments by House Heinlen. House Heinlen, which had a high population of Children of Storm, had been petitioning for the outlawing of slavery for centuries. House Giefer, whose main businesses was the slave trade, however, was financially devastated. Emperor Ernst declared that with the abolition of slavery that it was a new era, and thus the Sixth Era was begun.


Sixth Era

The Sixth Era began a mere twenty years ago (as of this writing), though it has been highly eventful. Less than a year after the new Era was declared House Goldpipe cited a clause in the contract that brought them into the Empire back in the Fourth Era. The contract stated that House Goldpipe would remain “until the end of the next era.” As the Fifth Era had been ended by Emperor Ernst, House Goldpipe announced they were seceding from the Empire. Overlady Signa Goldpipe named herself Queen Proprietor of the independent Kingdom of Newhome, claiming the land and territory that had been House Goldpipe’s. They propmptly began diplomatic talks with the elves of Quyah'scenthaal, leading many within the Empire to speculate that Signa was a being manipulated by the elves.


Many citizens, especially the wealthy and nobility, accused the Hoblings of absconding with tax money owed the Empire and investments made, essentially robbing the Empire like a common cutpurse. There was a strong call for Emperor Enrst to march on Newhome and force the Hoblings back into the Empire militarily. Others, however, urge caution as such overt aggression could trigger another bloody war with the elves since they had taken a friendly stance on the new nation.


When slavery was outlawed many Wylderkin left the Empire, though many stayed to create new lives with their freedom. Economists point out that the impact on finances were twofold; firstly, those relying on low cost labor from House Giefer suddenly were forced to pay more, and price gouging became a huge issue on commodities. Secondly, what this did was flood the market with cheap labor, as in general the Kin were willing to work longer for less wages than many other laborers. This caused a great deal resentment towards them amongst much of the lower classes, and occasional acts of violence against the former Wylderkin slaves is not unheard of.


By 5, 6E many of the Kin who left the Empire settled in the wilderness between the Empire and House Goldpipe’s territory. They claimed the land and named it Wyndael and called all kin who wished to live free to move there. They made their capital in an ancient fortification they discovered called Stormbreak Keep. Quyah'scenthaal opened talks with Wyndael almost immediately, leading some to believe the elves sought to set up a puppet state that neighbored the Empire.


Wyndael had a sovereignty problem, however. The land they claimed had been officially claimed back in the Fourth Era when the town of Edgeport (which later became Newhome) was founded. The Empire informed the ruling council of Wyndael of this and negotiations began. In 8, 6E Wyndael and the Empire came to an agreement, called the Stormbreak Compact. The Empire decided to not only allow Wyndael to retain the territory but also stationed troops there to help protect the Wylderkin from the constant troll attacks in the area, which had been on the rise. In return Wyndael agreed that the troops would remain under Imperial control, that Wyndael would not ally with Quyah'scenthaal and that the basic food and board fees of the soldiers would be paid by Wyndael since it was their land and citizens they were protecting.


In 6, 6E, a mere fourteen years ago, a massive magical event took place. Initially wizards feared it was the precursor to another Maelstrom Event, but eventually wizards and sages dismissed this and called it a Celestial Change. For days magics operated differently and celestial magic was incredibly potent while potions ceased to function entirely. After five days the magics returned to normal but all Highblood humans began to physically change and grow feathers and (in some cases) claws revealing that they were the Getragen of ancient lore. Though magics returned to normal a few days later, the transformed Getragen remained changed. The implications of parts of the populace transforming into Getragen is still being felt within the Empire.


Problems in Wyndael began cropping up only two years after the Stormbreak Compact was signed. Relentless and deadly troll attacks required increased troop movement and security measures in the region and Emperor Ernst, in an attempt to allow House Giefer to find a new way forward given their financial losses after slavery was outlawed, assigned them to be in charge of military security in Wyndael. The Emperor stated that House Giefer knew the most about the Wylderkin people so they were naturally the obvious choice for this assignment. Some of the people of Wyndael objected, however, and violent anonymous attacks and sabotage began against the very troops that were there to protect the Wylderkin. In spite of the difficulties Emperor Ernst announced that the Empire was determined to live up to its obligations under the Stormbreak Compact and bring safety and security to Wyndael for the Wylderkin people.


Unfortunately events conspired against the people of Wyndael. Just two years ago as of this writing, in 18, 6E, rumors began to be heard of a massive Stormborn attack on Newhome. As the Hobling nation did not have a particularly strong military, the Empire offered to station troops there to help their new neighbors repel the pillaging Stormborn. After a strictly negotiated contract was signed on the matter, Queen Signa agreed, though by the time contract negotiations had concluded, the only troops close enough to arrive before the Stormborn fleet, which was on its way, was the legion stationed in Wyndael. Believing that the trolls would not launch any attack of size for the few weeks it would take to fight off the Stormborn, the Imperial Second Legion was ordered to Newhome. The battle against the Stormborn was a resounding victory, and the pirate barbarians were repelled. Unfortunately, the Imperial estimates about the Trolls proved incorrect and against all odds the monsters chose the exact moment the Second Legion was gone to invade Wyndael.


Swarming from the Frostbite Mountains in massive hordes, the Ice Trolls poured into Wyndael, killing, burning and pillaging the new nation. Within only a few days Stormbreak Keep was captured by the trolls and the surviving members of the Wyndael Ruling Council were on the run.


Emperor Ernst invited the Wyndael Council to Wolkenstadt to a summit to discuss the matter. At the summit the Emperor offered to drive out the Trolls for the council, but explained that such a loss of blood and treasure would require that Wyndael join the Empire as a new province. He offered to form House Wyndael, ruled by the head of the ruling council, who would control Stormbreak Keep and the surrounding lands for the Empire. The council voted unanimously to reject the Emperor’s offer and left the summit immediately.


With Stormbreak keep and the former nation of Wyndael being officially abandoned by its leadership, and unwilling to leave the Ice Trolls to fortify their position on the border of the Empire, Imperial Troops invaded. Within the year Imperial troops had captured vast swaths of Wyndael territory from the Trolls, including Stormbreak Keep.


Emperor Ernst annexed Stormbreak Keep and the surrounding area, naming it a protectorate region. Realizing that the new Imperial territory would need to be governed, and unwilling to give it to House Giefer after their failure in the region, he proposed a contest. He offered to allow House Heinlen and House Sterne to both establish a ruling presence in the area, deeming that the house that did best job of rebuilding the area would be granted the lands for their house in perpetuity. The Emperor assigned his cousin, General Argus Stratos, as Governor-General for the region. He was to command the Imperial army in the region and continue fighting the trolls but also be the judge of the efforts of House Sterne and House Heinlen and report to the Emperor so a decision could be made on which house would receive the territory.


Early this year wizards and sages began noticing strange fluctuations in magic. Academics stated that the energies are different than those of the Celestial Change, and many fear it could be the precursor to another Maelstrom Event, though some say the ancient records dispute that theory too.


All anyone can say for sure, is that the Sixth Era, though only twenty years old, is shaping up to be one of the most turbulent times of recent history…
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Races in and around the Empire


This is merely a brief summary of the peoples within the Empire. All of the races discussed below are considered “civilized” races and thus are protected by, and subject to, Imperial law while in Imperial Lands. The only exception to this is Dryads, who are not considered citizens by all houses of the Empire -Jonis Schule


Gryphons (Loweadler): Gryphons are sentient shapeshifting beings of immense physical and psychic power. Their lifespan is known to be measured in millennia. Capable of assuming the form of a Getragen, or their true forms, great winged lions with the heads and foreclaws of eagles. They are often sought for historical understanding, wisdom, and in dire need, defense of the Empire. Loweadler rarely take roles in running the Empire directly, often focusing on assisting those that do. They feel that their role in what they call the “mortal world” is an advisory role to help the younger races reach their destiny. Loweadler are very, very rarely born from Getragen families of high bloodlines.


Getragen (aka Biata, aka Gryphon Touched, aka Highblood): Getragen are descended from Gryphons and are identified by their feathery eyebrows and sometimes clawed hands. Originally the founding race of the Empire, the Getragen were thought to have vanished after the Second Maelstrom Event. Recent evidence indicates that they merely changed into the Highblood (or Gryphon Touched) Humans. As such they lived far longer than most Humans, upwards of 800 years, but were otherwise identical. Fourteen years ago, however, a magical change swept the land causing all Highblood to grow feathery eyebrows (and in some cases claws) and develop mental powers. It was clear that they were the Getragen of ancient lore. It’s presumed that their lifespan has also expanded to that of Getragen norm before the change as well. The return of the Getragen is believed to herald a new golden age for the Empire.


Humans (aka Sapiens): Humans are the backbone of the Empire, serving in all levels and functions. For thousands of years they were physically indistinguishable from Highblood save that they did not live nearly as long. During this time Humans were sometimes known as Sapiens. After the return of the Getragen there is now a physical difference between the two races, though many families still are mixed with both Getragen and Humans represented. Humans are also commonly found amongst the pirate clans of the Stormedge Islands. It is said that Highblood that were identified by the Pirates during the Celestial Change as being Getragen were all executed.


Dustren (aka Stone Elves): The Dustren resemble Elves but with a skin tone ranging from white to light grey. They often have arched eyebrows and black lips as well. They are the trusted administrators and middle managers of the Empire dutifully carrying out their tasks and helping to ensure the greatness of the Empire. Stone Elves are almost exclusively found within the Empire.


Dwarves: Dwarves are a people with thick and prominent beards (even the females.) They are sturdy and hard working. They joined the Empire nearly three hundred years ago when they found themselves stranded within the Maelstrom. In return for guarding the Frostbite Mountains against Trolls they were given land within the Empire and have proven to be sturdy and loyal citizens of the Empire.


Kel (aka Dark Elves): These people are called Dark Elves because they resemble Elves with coal black skin. Their hair color ranges from white to silvery grey, no matter their age. They live in the caves of the Wahnsinn Cliffs and have no interaction with the surface world. There are rumors of occasional raids on towns near the cliffs but they are not substantiated. Once in a great while a Dark Elf will be born within the Empire due to some recessive genetic trait. By ancient agreement with the Dark Elf kingdom these children are left at the Wahnsinn Cliffs to be adopted by their brethren.


Hoblings: Hoblings are beings with long sideburns (regardless of gender) and large, tough feet. They are often quite skilled in businesses matters. They appeared within the Maelstrom almost 1300 years ago, stating they’d been thrown through time by an evil fey. They built a settlement on the foundations of a destroyed Imperial City. After the Empire advised them they had settled on Imperial land they joined the Empire as House Goldpipe. Today many Hoblings can be found serving honorably within the Empire. Hoblings also are found amidst the Pearl Island pirates. House Goldpipe recently seceded from the Empire and started calling their territory Kingdom of Newhome.


Children of Storm (aka Storm’ren aka Mystic Wood Elves): These beings appear as Elves but with horns of varying sizes that protrude from their forehead, and occasionally the tops of their heads. They appeared 900 years ago from outside the Maelstrom and were invited to join the Empire. Some of them refused however, stealing an enormous galleon and fleeing to join Coral Reef Pirates. Many remained however, aghast at the actions of their brethren, and have become loyal members of the Empire.


Elves: These are beings with pointed ears who seem to have a special affinity for nature. They have a forest nation South of the Empire called Quyah'scenthaal, which the Empire fought a bloody war with around a thousand years ago. Most elves are found within Quyah'scenthaal, though a small amount live within the Empire and are loyal citizens. Elves are also sometimes found amidst the Coral Reef Pirates.


Selunari (aka Arianis): The Selunari are a festive and nomadic people who roam in all areas within the Maelstrom. They tend to dress in colorful outfits and have one or more jewels that grow from their forehead. They refuse to take part in the conflicts of nations and, likewise, do not sell weapons to any nation. They tend to put on shows or otherwise entertain the populace wherever they go and seem to exhibit a love of life at all times.


Wylderkin (aka Kin): Wylderkin are beings that share the traits of various animals and insects. They can be found within the Empire, within the territory of Newhome and amongst the Coral Reef and Pearl Island pirate bands. Historically they had been held in bondage within most of the Empire, but twenty years ago the Emperor outlawed slavery. Many of the Kin traveled to the frontier and settled in and around Stormbreak Keep, declaring a new nation called Wyndael (even though they were still in Imperial territory.) Ultimately the Empire allowed them to keep the territory, but just last year they were conquered by trolls and their leadership abandoned them. Today the Empire is attempting to help the Wylderkin by forcing out the Trolls and bringing order to the territory they were given.


Dryads: A race of plant people who appeared only recently. Reports state that most have appeared in the Quyah'scenthaal Forest, though some have awoken elsewhere. Those who awoke in the Empire seem to be cooperative and to follow the law, but tend to be indigent as they appeared in random locations with no idea of the world around them and no funds to support themselves.


The Emperor has not yet made a ruling on the question of Dryad citizenship leaving it to the Great Houses to decide the policy in their territory. Dryads citizenry is recognized only by Houses Heinlein, Sterne and Meer. Houses Mithril, Verger and Giefer do not consider Dryads to be citizens. As such, while Dryads dwelling in the territory of these houses are required to obey the laws of the land they are in they are not protected them.


Oathsworn: There are two cultures of Oathsworn near the Empire. The first is the Azarka, a nomadic people who roam the Southern Wildlands and are master horsemen. The Empire has little interaction with them. The other culture of Oathsworn is the Stormborn, violent and insane raiders who attack and plunder any ship, village or town that they can reach. They seem to love nothing more than killing and theft.


Kesh (aka High Orcs): These are a green skinned warrior people with prominent tusks. They hail from a nation called Orentis to the West of the Empire. Relations are cool between the two nations and Orcish war parties have been known to attack western Imperial holdings, but Orentis claims that these are rogue bandits, not their soldiers.


High Ogres: These are yellow skinned beings with prominent tusks. They seem to live with yetis and exclusively upon the glacier North of the Frostbite Mountains . There is little interaction between them and the Empire, but the Dwarves of House Mithril perform expeditions to the north and have had some contact with them. So far they have mostly proven friendly and helpful.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Laws of the Empire


Below is a layman’s summary of the Laws of the Cloud Empire. The actual legal case law and the specifics of each statute would fill a library. In fact, it does. Several of them. The best legal libraries can be found in Bergholten, Grunholt and Wolkenstadt. Interested legals scholars should travel to one of these cities to continue their studies. This document is meant as a layman’s guide to inform your average citizen of the basics of the law so they can obey. A citizen's ignorance of the law is not an admissible excuse in a court of law, nor will such an excuse be accepted for any of the civilized races. -Domicus Recht, 2, 6E


The Empire's laws apply to citizens of the Empire or those granted official travel rights by a duly authorized House. Naturally they also apply anywhere within the borders of the Empire. Any crime perpetrated against citizens who are member of the Imperial Family falls under the crime of Treason and has that charge attached to the crime.


All crimes are committed against the State, not the individual. It is irrelevant if a victim is not interested in pressing charges, the Empire will prosecute to ensure an orderly society.


Punishments:


Fines:

All fines are first given to the aggrieved party for restitution and consideration if applicable. Any remainder will then go to the governing body of the jurisdiction. A magistrate or noble judging the case has discretion on how much is given for restitution and consideration. If the crime was committed outside of a House’s (or Imperial) jurisdiction, charges can still be pressed and restitution and considerations may be given to the Empire.


All crimes will carry a minimum fine or sentence. Note that these are Imperially mandated minimums. Magistrates and judging nobles can (and often do) impose harsher penalties based on the circumstances of the crimes and perpetrators.

Unless otherwise stated the minimum required fines are as follows:


-Committed against Citizen – 1 Gold Piece

-Committed against Lesser House – 5 Gold Pieces

-Committed against Greater House – 10 Gold Pieces

-Committed against Imperial House – All crimes committed against Imperial Family

holdings or individuals have Treason offenses attached.


All crimes committed are counted individually, for example: casting two Charm spells against a member of a lesser house and getting the victim to come with you will result in a fine of no less than 15 Gold, 5 for each spell (Assault) and 5 for leading them away (Kidnapping).


Anyone unable to pay the fines may have their possessions confiscated at a price dictated by the magistrate or noble, or sold at auction (whichever the magistrate or judging noble chooses.) If they still cannot pay the fine the convicted may serve a period of indentured servitude to whomever the magistrate or judging noble dictates.


A convicted criminal can always willingly chose to suffer an execution as payment of any fines owed for their crimes. The convicted is executed in whatever manner the magistrate or judging noble chooses and all financial obligations for the crime are absolved. In situations where a convicted criminal would face death for his crimes as well as fines, he would need multiple executions to wipe out the fines.


Indentured Servitude:

If a criminal is sentenced to indentured servitude they are compensated at the rate of 1 Silver Piece per day, less the cost of lodgings and food. The master of the indentured servant is required to show an invoice of the costs associated with the room and board of the servant if audited by Imperial or House authorities.


If an indentured servant dies while still in service their debts are not transferred to their offspring or held upon resurrection (as the master must protect their servants), the fines are dismissed at that point.


Death/Execution:

The standard execution in the Empire is for a criminal to be publicly disemboweled. They may or may not be afforded last words or the mercy of being rendered unconscious before the sentence is carried out. This is completely at the discretion of the magistrate or noble performing the execution. The sentence is only considered completed when the criminal dissipates or the corpse is verified to be permanently dead.

Rite of Banishment:

A criminal sentenced to the Rite of Banishment forfeits all property to the Empire and will be taken to Sudenberg Mountains and be stripped naked and hurled bodily into the Maelstrom to be torn apart by the primal energies therein. Because of the magical nature of the Maelstrom this sentence will almost certainty result in permanent death, no matter how strong a person's spirit. Anyone sentenced to the Rite of Banishment who somehow resurrects and is seen within any Imperial held territory will suffer the Rite again.


List of Crimes:


Assault: Assault is the act of placing someone in fear of imminent physical harm. The standard is an objective one, and the threat must be immediate and real. Simply insulting someone or giving a vague threat is not assault. Also, the threatened harm must be serious for example, requiring the application of healing spells or elixirs or breaking a defensive spell. This includes threatening to apply Charm and Sleep spells, as those would break defensive protections. Note that threatening to Curse someone or use an Amnesia effect falls under this law.


Battery: Battery is the causing of harm to an unwilling person. “Harm” is defined as damage requiring the use of curing medicines, spells, potions, or elixirs or the breaking of any defensive sells. Performing a Curse against someone does constitute Battery. Those who can prove they are under the effect of a berserk or other mind controlling effect would not be guilty of Battery, but the individual who placed the effect on that person would be guilty of Battery. The use of a Prison spell upon an unwilling person is considered Battery.


Bribery: Giving or accepting gifts of value in exchange for favors from someone in authority.


Cannibalism: The consumption of the flesh of any creature that, by race, has the capacity for sentience and speech is strictly prohibited. Violation of this law will result in the penalty of death and no less than double the standard fines. Subsequent convictions may result in Obliteration or even the Rite of Banishment.


Conspiracy: A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. Giving aid or comfort to a wanted criminal or obstructing the investigation or apprehension of that criminal is also conspiracy, as is having foreknowledge of a crime and not reporting it or taking reasonable steps to prevent it from occurring. Note that conspiracy requires actual participation of at least two persons; one cannot conspire alone.


Counterfeiting: Counterfeiting is the making or passing of money, guild tokens, or any other commonly accepted representation of wealth, that is false and that the passer knows or has reason to know is false. Note that coin shaving, or using base metal coins or ingots covered with valuable metal fall under this law.


Destruction of Property: This is the malicious destruction of the property of another. Destruction of Imperial possessions constitutes an additional Treason charge. If a magistrate or judging noble deems the destruction of property to be involuntary in nature, but reasonably preventable, only restitution to the aggrieved party is usually necessary.


Disobedience: Disobedience is the voluntary and willful nonobservance of an order given by one who has power to issue that order.


Embezzlement: This is the fraudulent conversion of personal property of another by a person in lawful possession of that property. For example, a tax collector who keeps the funds collected would be guilty of this crime, as would be a magistrate who keeps any fines levied for his own use.


Extortion: Extortion is the act of forcing a person to give value against their will through the threat of force or harm. The value can be coins, gifts, favors or anything else a court might deem to have value.


Forgery: Forgery is the production or planting of false papers and documents or false signatures on legitimate documents that the accused knows or has reason to know are false.


Kidnapping: Kidnapping involves the unlawful confinement of a person that involves some movement of the victim to another place against their will. The statute verifies that unconscious people cannot grant their consent, nor can people under mental or magical control.


Larceny: Larceny is the taking and carrying away personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property. This includes stealing of another person's possessions from their home, cart, or personal dwelling.


Manslaughter: Manslaughter is broken down into two subcategories: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation. This is a subjective test that asks if a reasonable person would have been so moved to commit such an act under the provocation. Involuntary Manslaughter is causing the death of someone through inaction or negligence. Note that failure to heal or bind the wounds of someone bleeding to death (if one knows how to do so) will result in a charge of Involuntary Manslaughter as will walking away from a citizen bleeding to death and not informing anyone of their injuries.


Mockery of a Noble Title: Being insulting, degrading, or otherwise not showing the proper respect to one of noble title constitutes this offense. It should also be noted that since all persons are required to salute or bow before those nobles higher in rank than oneself, the refusal to do so is Mockery.


Murder: Murder is the deliberate taking of a life though an intent to kill or an intent to inflict great bodily injury which leads to death. This will apply even if the victim is given a Life spell before having to resurrect. This crime has a mandatory minimum sentence of a death plus applicable standard minimum fines for each death caused. More than one person can be convicted of murder if they acted in concert, even if only one of them struck the actual killing blow (and they are likely to face a Conspiracy charge as well.)


Necromancy: Necromancy is the casting of any necromantic spell, ritual or effect (including from use or creation of a magical item,potion or scroll). This includes the creation, control of, or assistance rendered to, undead creatures. The minimum sentence for Necromancy is death plus any applicable fines. Note that many magistrates and judging nobles have cited case law written just after Cyndarian's War to construe a Necromancy conviction as Treason as it risks violation of the Treaty of Maelstrom Bay.


Obstruction: Any willful or accidental act that impedes, or attempts to impede, the execution of Imperial Law. This includes, lying to investigators or magistrates, destroying evidence (including memories), coercion, misrepresentation of facts, or trying to trick or stop a duly appointed authority from carrying out a sentence.


Piracy: Piracy is defined as committing crimes as part of a group of outlaws (i.e. not affiliated with a Nation or State) that engages in criminal activity or other activities that would be construed as acts of war were they committed by agents of a foreign nation. It is not unusual for the crimes themselves (such as Assault, Theft, or Murder, for example) to be included with a Piracy charge or for a Treason charge to be attached if the accused had been an Imperial Citizen. Merely being a member of such a group is sufficient to be charged with Piracy. This law includes groups other than pirates (such as bandit groups or other criminal organizations) and is not limited to crimes committed on the high sea. In addition to the standard fines, the punishment is execution.


Possession of Unlawful Items: Possession of any items deemed illegal by the Empire. Examples include: Any item with a necromantic effect, or any outlawed ritual items or scrolls (refer to ritual laws for details on these.)


Pretending to a Noble Title: A commoner who attempts to convince others that he or she is a noble or member of a house has violated this law and is possibly subject to the penalties of a Treason conviction as well.


Reckless Endangerment: This crime covers any action taken by an individual that causes harm or damage to any community within the Empire as a result of their direct or indirect actions. For example: a citizen taunting a troll Chieftain and the tribe then attacking the village in retaliation. This law is to ensure that citizens consider the good of the Empire as a whole before taking action.


Robbery: Robbery is a taking of the personal property of another from that person by force or by threats of force with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property. It is more serious than larceny (which do not require taking from the person themselves).


Slavery: Slavery is the holding in permanent bondage of another citizen or protected traveler.


Tax Evasion: The failure to pay one’s appropriate tax, fee, toll, or other remuneration to the proper authorities.


Trafficking with Magical Creatures: Entering into any agreement, pact or otherwise holding truck with a magical or extra-planar creature is strictly forbidden. These creatures are often chaotic by nature and disrupt the serenity of the citizens of the Empire and often pose a direct threat to Imperial stability. These creatures include: any and all Fey, Dragons, and any other sentient extra-planar creature.


Treason: Treason is any rebellious action that is taken against the lawful governing bodies of the Empire or giving aid to any enemy of the Empire. Speaking to encourage others to commit crimes against the Empire would certainly be Treason. Any noble is considered a “lawfully governing body” as are all magistrates, sheriffs, and other town or city officials.


Punishments for Treason carries the minimum mandatory sentence of death in addition to twice the minimum standard fines (and often far higher than that). Subsequent treason convictions (even if all part of the same incident) can be subject to Rite of Banishment, at the discretion of the magistrate or judging noble.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Ritual Law


Any violation of ritual law carries a mandatory minimum fine of 10 Gold. This is in addition to any other charges that may be brought surrounding the misuse of a ritual.


Ritual Assault: Ritual Assault involves casting of ritual magics upon or affecting an unwilling recipient. Ritual casters will not be held legally responsible for flaws or backlashes during regular rituals in which the recipient voluntarily participated unless it is proven that the caster intended to cause such disturbances or failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent it.


Unlawful Possession of Ritual Items/Unlawful Performance of Prohibited Rituals: Certain rituals are so powerful that there are strict guidelines as to their casting, ownership and possession. Possession of a scroll or catalyst (if applicable) is also included in this law. In addition to all necromantic rituals, the following scrolls are limited: Obfuscate, Obliteration, Planar Gate, Proscribe, and Racial Transformation. Not even Houses Sterne and Heinlen, the owners of the Mages and Healers Guilds, are permitted to hold these items or perform these rituals without express written consent of the Imperial House. Additionally the following rituals carry the indicated restrictions:


-Use of a Sacrifice Ritual effect to subvert a lawful execution constitutes an Obstruction

charge.


-Casting Spirit Lock requires Imperial approval.


-Casting Spirit Walk, Transfer Enchantment, Unmark, Vengeance, Vision, and Warder

Glyph require House approval of the jurisdiction the caster is in.


-Circles of Power: Creation of Limited or Permanent Circles is illegal within the Empire

without a writ from the governing house. Unregistered Circles will be subject to prompt destruction or seizure of the circle (and the building the circle is in) by the proper authorities upon discovery. All possessions within the circle may also be seized at the discretion of the noble or magistrate judging the case.


Summoning: Summoning of extra-planar creatures are to be limited to beings that lack sentience. Any violation of this law falls breaks both Ritual Law as well as the Trafficking with a Magical Creature law.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Report on Trolls in Wyndael

To: General Argus Stratos, Governor-General of Wyndael, commanding officer, 2nd Imperial Legion

From: General Kellin Trupp, former commanding officer, 2nd Imperial Legion


General Stratos,


I congratulate you on your recent appointment as Governor of Wyndael and at the command of His Imperial Eminence hereby relinquish command of the 2nd Legion to you. My troops have performed exceedingly well in defending Newhome as well as taking Stormbreak Keep and the immediately surrounding territory from the trolls. Your complimentary words regarding our performance were appreciated and too kind. It is pleasing to know that I am not being removed from command of the 2nd for some failure on my part. I cannot help but agree with His Imperial Eminence that a soldier with no political or diplomatic inclination such as myself is not well served to the duty of rebuilding the war-torn Wyndael and, if I may say, I believe he has chosen well in appointing you that daunting task.

Enclosed you will find readiness reports and detailed reports from the commanders of each cohort within the 2nd about the current positions and movements of the trolls, but it can be summed up in short as follows: As you well know, trolls have always been crossing the Frostbite Mountains to cause trouble in the north for as long as there has been an Empire, however, never before have we seen these kinds of numbers pour south anywhere but Windgap Pass. Their timing, while the 2nd was in Newhome fighting the Stormborn, was uncannily unfortunate.

As soon as orders came in and we confirmed the Stormborn were defeated we swept west and routed the Trolls within weeks, retaking Stormbreak Keep with minimal damage and casualties. The wizard’s squads and their use of fire spells proved especially helpful in this campaign as the slightest of flame will usually send an Ice Troll to its death. Though the area around the keep within a roughly twenty mile radius is fairly secure, the north of Wyndael is still occupied and it is not uncommon for the trolls to strike south at our lines. Additionally trolls are still able to slip the lines to launch attacks on settlements behind our lines. It is possible they are probing our lines for weakness. Occasionally a particularly bold troll commander will organize an ill fated attack on the keep itself, though as things now stand they are unlikely to have a chance of taking it with the numbers they have thus far committed.

I had intended to push north with most of the 2nd to destroy or force the trolls back across the Frostbite Mountains once the keep was secure but the local citizenry have made the task of securing the reclaimed territory incredibly difficult. Civilian acts of sabotage and disobedience are a constant problem. I tried several public executions to restore order to the citizenry but to no avail. There is no open revolt, but I dared not leave the keep minimally garrisoned lest one occur. As I said, your skills of diplomacy are renowned to be far better than my own, which is why His Imperial Eminence was wise to assign you to this task. I have no doubt you can convince the populace that we are there to protect them and that they sabotage themselves by attacking our troops.

I leave you to it sir, and ask you to treat the 2nd well. I have rarely served with such fine soldiers and I believe you will find them more than up to the task at hand.

Long live the Emperor!
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Report on Stormbreak Keep

To: General Kellin Trupp, Commanding Officer 2nd Legion

From: Kommander Shylya Kessig, Commanding Officer, 5th Cohort, 2nd Legion


General,


Per your request in preparing your report for General Stratos I have compiled what little information we have on Stormbreak Keep itself. The structure had clearly been abandoned for centuries before the Wylderkin moved in and they don’t appear to have done much. Fortunately it was evidently very well built back then as it seems fairly sound. Beneath the keep seems to be extensive catacombs, most of which seem to be blocked off by cave-ins. It is believed that the area suffered some sort of catastrophe long ago, possibly even the Grand Groundquake, which caused the cave-ins. Because they are blocked off we cannot say how deep they may go. The structure above is sturdy and fairly easy to secure and we are fortunate that the Trolls did not have the time to properly fortify it or we would have had a much harder time forcing them out.

Eager to see if we could determine more information about the keep I called upon Kade Qint Celtus of 3rd Cohort’s 2nd mage squad, who is something of an amateur archaeologist. Celtus says that he believes the keep was built sometime in the Third Era, which would make it at least 3800 years old since that’s about when the Grand Groundquake struck. Celtus admits to having difficulty telling the exact age, however, because the construction methods are unknown to him. He is certain it is not Imperial, but cannot think of any other race that might have created it. He says that any civilization active in the region at the time would not have had the skills to construct it.

In clearing out the keep we traversed enough of the catacombs that are accessible to ensure that there are no trolls hiding out down there but time for a true exploration was not available. Kade Celtus inquired of any documents that the Wylderkin may have found when they first moved in to shed some light on the matter but either the Kin didn’t find any or, if they did, the trolls destroyed them.

I am sorry that we could not garner more for your report, sir. A team of scholars from the Imperial University would, no doubt, be able to build a career of investigating the history of this keep, but for simple soldiers such as ourselves, this is the best information we can provide in the time allotted.

Long Live the Emperor!
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Naval Intelligence Report on Pirates

October, 17, 6E

To: Admiral Jagoda Stratos, Commanding Officer, Imperial Naval Intelligence Division

From: Kaptain Dasal Schiff, Imperial Naval Intelligence Division


Greetings Admiral,

First, please allow me to welcome you to your new position.

Per your request, I’m including a brief overview of the leaders and headquarters of the pirate bands of the Ostenwasser Sea. More detailed information is available in the classified files, but this will serve as a very brief overview.

As every Imperial citizen knowns, three of the four Stormedge Islands are vile pirate havens. (The fourth, the Ralyn Remnant, is a small island nation of limited significance and is protected by their apparent ability to use the eddies around their island to prevent unauthorized landings.)

As you are no doubt already aware, throughout history the Empire has twice instituted campaigns to take over the pirate infested Stormedge Islands to end the menace, but the islands are too remote to control without a vast cost of treasure and blood. Even still, the pirate gangs are dangerous and a threat to the lives of Imperial Citizens.

Stormborn

The insane Stormborn live on Storm Island, which is located almost dangerously close to the Maelstrom. It is presumed that the close proximity is what has driven them mad. They are violently aggressive and most sages agree that the only thing that probably has prevented the Stormborn from conquering the rest of the Stormedge Islands is because they have no interest in conquest. Though the Stormborn have no qualms about attacking the other pirate groups, they often attack the shipping lanes and coastal areas of the Empire, Newhome and Quyah'scenthaal as well. It’s believed they prefer to attack these established civilizations because the loot is better. The Stormborn make a habit of taking slaves of anyone they consider weak enough to surrender or be captured. Those allowed to go on raids are almost exclusively Oathsworn, but they have mixed races of slaves and servants on their island. The current leader of the Stormborn, called The Eye, is an old warrior named Tagren. Reports indicate he is highly respected.

Pearl Island Pirates

These thieves and kidnappers are, as their name implies, based on Pearl Island. The land itself has a series of complex coves allowing the pirates to effectively hide on the island. Even today no one knows where on the island the leaders of the Pearl Island pirates make their homes. Racially the pirates do not appear to discriminate, but are mostly comprised of Humans, Hoblings, Wylderkin with some small numbers of Selunari, Elves and Storm’Ren.

The Pearl Island pirates are led by Rondel “The Round” Throttlebottom, a fat Hobling who is said to rarely leave the comfort of his lavish home in the hidden coves of the island. His trusted right hand is a fierce tiger wylderkin called Samat who commands a ship called the Golden Claw. It’s believed that the death of Throttlebottom and Samat both would be required to truly cripple the leadership of the Pearl Islanders.

Coral Reef Pirates

Calling themselves “Coral Reefers” these pirates are a major thorn in the side of the Empire and regularly raid our port towns and shipping lanes (as well as those of other coastal nations.) They appear to welcome any races to their group, including the group of Storm’Ren who stole the galleon brought into the Maelstrom when that race arrived. Likewise, slaves who escaped from the Empire back when slavery was still legal have joined the pirates, as have outlaw Elves who have turned their back on their own people. Racially the Coral Reef Pirates seem comprised of Humans, Storm’Ren, Selunari, and Wylderkin with a very small amount of elves.

The Coral Reefers are loosely controlled by an “Admiralty Board,” that consists of the commanders of the four most powerful ships and a mayor who oversees things on the island itself. Their love of independence and dislike of rules and order makes their control rather weak, and many people of Coral Reef Island do their own thing with little regard to how it affects their larger community.

Their Admiralty board consists of the following members, all of whom are sought by the Empire for many crimes:

-Mayor Caragan Serus: a human male. Our intelligence reports state he grew up on a farm in the Empire but as a boy was taken as a slave in a Stormborn raid. He was subsequently rescued by the pirates, Darria Wenivar specifically, and joined them. Instead of commanding a ship Serus leads the pirates’ efforts on Coral Reef Island itself.

-Admiral Dennik “The Fierce” Carwaner: a Child of Storm man who is reputed to be a bloodthirsty warrior. He commands a ship called the Scallywag.

-Admiral Cynley Ternon: a human man who instills harsh and firm discipline on his ship, the Retribution, which is reported to be incredibly well run and its crew very disciplined. This makes him, from a technical standpoint, the most dangerous commander amongst the Coral Reefers. He seems to prefer to focus on Imperial targets.

-Admiral Darria Wenivar: a female Child of Storm who commands the Wenivar’s Wave. She’s said to be a fierce and passionate warrior.

-Admiral Cru’Heldas: an elven male who is said to hail from Quyah'scenthaal. Reports indicate that he has been with the Coral Reef Pirates for nearly fifty years. Although he seems to prefer to focus his attacks on the Empire he is not averse to attacking other targets when he gets the opportunity. His ship is called the Wild Life.

Though the above mentioned are the most prominent leaders of the Coral Reef Pirates, there are many other ships with their own commanders out there, the specifics of which can be found within the detailed documents. Eliminating any one leader is not believed to have a larger overall effect, as the board will simply appoint another captain of a powerful ship to replace the deceased on the Admiralty Board. A major committed effort to take out most of the leadership and their most powerful ships would be required to break the back of the the Coral Reefers. Due to their lack of uniformity this is a daunting challenge.

Long Live the Emperor!
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Treatise on the Curse of the Kraken

By Kassandra Nimar

The so-called Curse of the Kraken is used to explain everything from common household events such as the curdling of milk, all the way up to cannibalism, wars, storms, and sea monsters. The simpler peoples of the Maelstrom Bay consider this a very serious matter, but most who have obtained higher Imperial education levels will most certainly see this as little more than superstition. The most common theme is that starvation causes the curse of the Kraken, which then leads to cannibalism (especially among the more savage Kin.) Obviously the lesser educated would simply blame the curse for them slipping into an immoral devouring of sentient flesh to avoid personal responsibility. A far more likely explanation is the random chaotic fluctuations is the Maelstrom itself as it is a clearly chaotic, clearly magical storm that has been seen to change the fundamental makeup of creatures that dwell too close to it. But in the absence of fact, the simple create fantasy rather than seek knowledge.

The oldest legends from the indigenous peoples of Maelstrom Bay claim that there was once an ancient civilization full of hubris far to the north of the Frostbite Mountains, where the great glacier sits now, and that this civilization fought a creature that they called the Kraken. Somehow, in defeating it, they destroyed themselves and created the Maelstrom. Sages and historians have found that this is the only common thread.

The Rayln Remnant, an island nation of humans living on an island far to the East, claims to be all that remains of this civilization. This would make the Lost civilization a human empire of some sort. The ruins that they claim prove this are only ever seen on their island, however, and could easily be attributed to any other ancient culture, or even built by themselves and forgotten about or outright lied about. Additionally, other legends have said that the lost civilization were fey creatures, Giants, or Elves with golden skin - an assertion that makes even less sense given that Golden Elves seem to be a Dustren legend, and it is known that the Dustren were brought by the Getragen AFTER the Maelstrom existed. Most likely the civilization was some precursor to the Ogre/Yeti group that live on top of the glacier and was most probably little more cultured than the tribes of the southern wildlands. Though the appearance of the occasional Joten (who claim to be giants in their own realm) on the glacier might hint at their connection to this civilization as well, however, as they are from another realm (Jotenheim, a near Ice realm) and thus are extra-planar it makes little sense for them to build a civilization here.

There remain many accounts of the creature itself, that it is water-dwelling, physically huge, and having massive tentacles like a squid. Certainly no such creature has ever been seen by a reliable source since, or by any traveller from outside of the Maelstrom. During what is dubbed as the Resurgence - nearly a millennium of monstrous creatures from the water, no creature matching that description was seen - though many excessively large creatures were seen, among them a serpent the size of a ship. It may have been the last of its kind, or a creature from another world or realm entirely.

The quantity of conjecture and superstition far outway anything known to be fact regarding the curse, the creature, or the lost civilization.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Nobility in the Empire


Much of the information contained herein will be painfully rudimentary to most citizens of the Empire, but Houses Sterne and Heinlein want to ensure that anyone coming to Stormbreak Keep who may have grown up outside of the Empire would be apprised of proper etiquette and protocol since the nobility are unlikely to view ignorance as an excuse. -Jonis Schule


The nobility of the Empire are the ruling elite. These are the men and women who control all land and business within the Empire, in one form or another, and ensure that the Emperor’s will is enforced.

The nobility have the power to command commoners (and nobles of lower rank) and even the poorest of them tends to be quite well off. Nobles will not go hungry, will not go homeless, and by and large live a very comfortable life compared to the common people of the Empire.


Obviously, Nobles are given enormous power and prestige over commoners and those of lower rank, however it comes with enormous risks as well. Any action taken by a noble reflects on their family, their house and that of their patron house(s) as well. This means that blunders, missteps and abuses of power can result in fines, loss of power, loss of privileges, and possibly even the loss of their noble status and holdings for them and their entire family. Entire houses have been stripped of power, casting the former nobles and their whole family into poverty.


Nearly all nobles are appointed based largely on position within the house and family connections. It is virtually unheard of for a noble appointment to be made without some sort of family or noble connection. Some critics argue that merit should be a larger factor than family name but it is often the case where those with superior education and breeding are also those of higher competence. As a result the highest rank a commoner can usually ever dream of achieving is that of Lord, and even that is exceedingly rare. Most individuals without family connections will reach the limit of their upward mobility as a General or Guildmaster or an equivalent position at best, and often only if they have massive talent.


It is worth noting that while each house has its own specialties and primary industries they control, they also usually have resources interests and skills outside of it. Every house has uses for every skill out there. For example, all houses, even the healing minded House Heinlein has its own warriors. Likewise even though House Sterne specializes in wizardry and research, all houses have mages among their number. The key is that specific houses are preeminent in their specialties and, more importantly, control the trade and businesses related to those specialties. So while all Houses have Weaponsmiths to make goods for their own use, only House Mithril is authorized to sell those goods and they are generally the best at weaponsmithing. Likewise while all houses have farmers to provide food for their populations, only House Verger can set prices and controls the sale for those goods and they produce the best and/or most plentiful crops.


Honoring Noble Rank: Imperial law requires that respect be shown to those of noble rank. The amount of respect that must be shown varies on the rank of the noble. Failure to show proper respect can cause a citizen to be subject to arrest and punishment for Mockery of a Noble Title.



-Saluting: When a citizen of lower rank is in the presence of, or addressing, a Magnate (Lord/Lady) they are required to salute to them. A proper Imperial salute is made by taking one’s right hand, with fist closed, and crossing their chest to hold it to their left shoulder. The citizen is to hold their fist on their left shoulder until acknowledged before returning it to it’s natural position.


-Bowing: When a citizen of lower rank is in the presence of, or addressing, a High Magnate (High Lord/High Lady) they are required to salute and incline slightly at the waist until acknowledged before returning to their natural standing position. When addressing or in the presence of an Over Magnate (Overlord/Overlady) or the Emperor/Empress they are expected to fall to one knee and remain there until told to rise by the noble in question. Further, for the Emperor/Empress they are expected to avert their eyes until told to rise.


Noble Ranks


At the top of the Empire is, of course, the Emperor, who is also the head of House Stratos, the Imperial House. The Emperor is aided by his Assembly of Houses, which advises the Emperor on matters. Each member of the Assembly is the head of a Great House (and thus holds the title of Overlord) or is a proxy appointed by the head of the house and it is expected they vote as their house wishes. Legally a unanimous vote by the council can override the Emperor’s wishes and it has happened on rare occasion, however House Stratos is the most powerful house in the Empire and it is rarely a good idea to earn their ire.


The Empire’s noble ranks are as follows, from least powerful to most:


Cabinet Member: Magnates, High Magnates, Over Magnate (Lords/Ladies, High Ladies/Lords, Overlords/Overladies), and the Emperor are empowered to build a cabinet. These are people either of rank or no rank, (at the noble’s discretion) that are brought into a noble’s house to help them run their affairs. These individuals may hold the right to wear the noble’s colors and sigil (should a noble wish to allow it). It should be noted that a Cabinet Member may only wear their lords sigil upon a favor, never upon their chest. This grants them a small level of prestige amongst commoners because it shows at a glance that they clearly have powerful friends. In spite of this, a Cabinet Member is not empowered to give orders or enforce Imperial law. Like with noble ranks their actions reflect upon their patron and thus a Cabinet Member is often chosen with great care. Commoners are strongly advised to show respect to a Cabinet Member out of deference for their noble patron but they are not required to salute or bow to them.


Edel: This is the lowest Rank of Nobility and is held by the spouse and immediate blood family (siblings and child) of any Magnate. They are afforded the respect and consideration of a noble, however this rank does not grant the right to give orders or enforce laws. An Edel is granted the right to wear a house's colors and sigil, but only as a favor or decoration not upon their chest. Commoners are required to show respect to an Edel but they are not required to salute or bow to them.


Though it has not officially been ratified by Imperial Decree, there has been a movement by House Heinlein to include the more gender neutral Eda in last decade and many Storm’Ren Lords/Lady’s prefer to be addressed by this title.


Magnate/Lord/Lady: This is a rank granted by any noble of greater station (High Lords, Overlords and the Emperor all can appoint Lords.) A Magnate is often granted control of a small tract of land and/or a portion of their patron’s interests (business or otherwise.) There is not a limit to the amount of Magnates a house may have, however the actions of a Magnate reflect upon the patron house (and that house’s patron) thus wise patrons ensure that their Magnates are highly trustworthy, of sound judgement, and small enough in number to be able to effectively manage.


A Magnate is given the right to command commoners (and Edels) and to create a cabinet, however they cannot pass on their noble rank to their children. The spouses and children of a Magnate are granted the rank of Edel. Sometimes a child of a deceased Magnate can petition their patron house to be granted their parent’s vacated position but it is not guaranteed to be granted and the decision is wholly at the discretion of the patron house.


A Magnate is granted the right to create a sigil for themselves, their Edels, and Cabinets Members to wear to show their station, though their colors must match that of their patron house. Once the Magnate in question dies their cabinet is disbanded and the members and Edels lose the right to wear their sigils or colors, though the Edels of a deceased Magnate are still granted the respect of their station.


A Magnate can be identified by wearing a noble sigil upon their chest. Commoners and those of lower rank are required to salute to a Lord or Lady to show respect for their station. When addressing a Lord or Lady it is proper to call them “Magnate,” or “Your Lordship” or “Your Ladyship.”


Though it has not officially been ratified by Imperial Decree, there has been a movement by House Heinlein to include the more gender neutral Magnate in last decade and many Storm’Ren Lords/Lady’s prefer to be addressed by this title. The phrase has become quite fashionable amongst Magnate’s who have strong business dealings with house Meer and House Heinlein.


High Magnate/High Lord/ High Lady: This rank denotes the head of a Minor (aka Lesser) House and a noble of this rank is granted a sizeable tract of land and/or control of a large portion of their patron’s businesses or interests. High Magnates are named by an Over Magnate or the Emperor/Empress themselves. A High Magnate has the power to command commoners, Cabinet Members, Edels and Magnates. They are empowered to create a cabinet as well as grant a rank of Magnate (and affiliated land and/or control of interests) to trusted underlings.


There is not a limit to the amount of High Magnates (and thus Minor Houses) that an Over Magnate or the Emperor can create, however the actions of a High Magnate or their underlings reflect upon the patron house, thus wise patrons ensure that their High Magnate are highly trustworthy, of sound judgement and small enough in number to be able to effectively manage.


As head of a Minor House a High Magnate has the right to create a sigil to allow his Edels, Lords and Cabinet Members to wear, though the colors must match those of their patron house. A High Magnate also has the right bestow the rank of Magnate to his underlings.


A high Magnate can be identified by wearing their sigil upon their chest as well as a prominent silver chain of station around their neck. Commoners and those of lower rank are required to salute to a High Magnate and incline at the waist to show respect for their station. When addressing a High Lord or High Lady it is proper to call them “Magnate,” or “Your Lordship” or “Your Ladyship.”


Though it has not officially been ratified by Imperial Decree, there has been a movement by House Heinlein to include the more gender neutral HIgh Magnate in last decade and many Storm’Ren Lords/Lady’s prefer to be addressed by this title.


Over Magnate/Overlord/Overlady: This rank denotes the head of a Great (or Major) House. Overlords control vast swaths of land, businesses and interests throughout the Empire directly at the Emperor’s behest. An Overlord can sit upon the Assembly of Houses (or denote a representative to do so in their stead) and thus directly advise the Emperor on matters of state and wield enormous influence within the Empire.


Overlords have the power to create a Cabinet, to create High Magnates (thus creating Minor Houses), and to create Magnates to answer directly to themselves. Overlords have the power to give orders to anyone of lower rank. They have the power to create house colors and craft a sigil for their house as well.


There is no legal limit to the amount of Great Houses (and thus Overlords) that the Emperor can crate, though this is rarely done. The most recently granted great house was House Mithril, which was raised from a lesser house to a great one around 300 years ago. The number of Overlords (and thus Great Houses) have varied over the years. There are currently only six Major Houses (not counting the Imperial House) and thus only six Overlords within the Empire.


Overlords can be identified by wearing their sigil upon their chest and a prominent gold chain of office around their neck. Commoners and those of lower rank are required to fall to a knee before an Overlord or Overlady and remain on their knee until told to rise. When addressing an Overlord or Overlady it is proper to call them “Your Excellency.”


Though it has not officially been ratified by Imperial Decree, there has been a movement by House Heinlein to include the more gender neutral Overmagnate in last decade and many Storm’Ren Lords/Lady’s prefer to be addressed by this title.


Emperor/Empress: The Emperor or Empress rules the entire Empire. He or she is responsible for creating and enforcing all laws within the Empire. The Emperor is advised by the Assembly of Houses on matters of state, but the power to create and enforce the laws rests entirely with the Emperor. All citizens of the Empire are required to obey all orders given by the Emperor. Crimes perpetrated against the Imperial Family carry a mandatory charge of Treason in addition to charges for the initial crimes.


The Imperial house is House Stratos, and has been since the inception of the Empire.


Commoners and those of lower rank are required to bow and avert their eyes from the Emperor/Empress until told that they can rise. When addressing the Emperor or Empress it is proper to call them “Your Eminence.”


Inheritance

Title and position of High Lords, Overlords and the Emperor are generally passed to the eldest child. In cases of multiple marriages it is the eldest child of the first marriage. In rare circumstance an heir can be disinherited (usually in favor of another child). This does run the risk of a succession crisis, however, and if it cannot be solved internally the patron house may need to get involved. Patron houses usually take a dim view of needing to get involved in such things and will often penalize a house that cannot handle its own issues internally.


Magnates cannot pass along their position to their children, and upon their demise their cabinet is disbanded and their family may no longer wear the colors or sigils of the Lord’s rank (though they retain the right to be addressed Edels and treated with the respect of that rank.) The offspring of a Lord may petition their parent’s patron to replace their parent, but such a decision is wholly at the discretion of the patron.


Cabinet Members and Edels cannot pass along their position to any family members.


Assembly of Houses

This is a council comprised of the heads of the Great Houses of the Empire. They meet periodically to advise the Emperor and suggest legislative action to the Emperor from time to time. A unanimous vote by the Assembly of Houses can overturn an Imperial Edict, but otherwise the council holds no actual power. Lesser houses who wish to suggest legislation must petition their Overlord and convince them to bring the matter to the Empire via the Assembly.


Overlords are often very busy and are not always in the capital when a session of the Assembly is called. It is not uncommon for an Overlord to assign a Delegate to represent their house’s interests in the Assembly. Delegates are chosen with great care, as their responsibilities (and reflection upon the house as a whole) are massive. Often they are a trusted and capable relative of an Overlord, but this is not a requirement. A Delegate serves solely at the discretion of their Overlord. A Delegate is expected to vote in line with the anticipated wishes of their Overlord, else they are likely to be promptly removed and punished (though any vote made by the Delegate is considered valid).
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Nations within the Maelstrom


Cloud Empire: The Cloud Empire, often simply referred to as “The Empire,” is the largest and most powerful nation within the Maelstrom. The Empire has a long history and has existed, in one form or another, throughout many, many centuries. Imperial territory stretches from the Frostbite mountains in the North, to the Sudenberg Mountains in the south, to the Verdant Lands in the West and includes nearly the entirety of Maelstrom Bay in the East. The Empire is the de facto power within the Maelstrom.


The Empire is ruled by an Emperor, currently Ernst Stratos, who relies on his subordinate houses to rule the various portions of the Empire. Its military might is impressive and includes multiple legions of highly trained soldiers and a strong navy. Though this on its own is considerable, their use of Gryphon Soldiers is arguably the biggest military advantage they have. They also have a vast array of resources at their disposal, though many of them are used internally so trade with other powers is somewhat limited. The power and influence of the Empire is ubiquitous within the Maelstrom and their policies influence all other nations, directly or indirectly.


Quyah'scenthaal: Found within the Quyah'scenthaal Forest, this nation of Elves (and more recently Dryads) tends to keep to themselves for the most part. In fact, they had existed for thousands of years before even being discovered by the other powers of the Maelstrom. With the exception of a massive war with the Empire around a thousand years ago, Quyah'scenthaal has kept to themselves and did not insert themselves in the difficulties of other nations. This has changed recently, with Quyah'scenthaal opening up diplomatic relations with the new nations of Newhome and Wyndael rather quickly after they declared their independence. What their intentions are going forward is very much a question that many leaders would like answered. Quyah'scenthaal is currently ruled by Maturarch An’An’dalia Malt’thos who has been in power for almost eighty years and is rumored to be nearly twelve hundred years old.


Kingdom of Newhome: The Hobling nation of Newhome was once one of the Great Houses within the Empire, though around 19 years ago (as of this writing) they seceded from the Empire and immediately opened up diplomatic talks with the Elven nation of Quyah'scenthaal. Though their military power is still far less than that of the Empire and Quyah'scenthaal, their economic power is large and growing exponentially. Newhome’s ruler is Queen Proprietor Signa Goldpipe.


Pirate Groups of the Stormedge Islands:

There are a number of outlaw clans on the Ostenwasser Sea, all of which engage in piracy on the high seas and participate in raids on the coastal powers (and sometimes each other). Were they ever to unite they could be a troublesome power but they tend to fight one another as much as anyone else which keeps them from being more than a nuisance to the sovereign nations. The pirate groups reside on the four Stormedge Islands on the edge of the Maelstrom. They are:


Stormborn: The Stormborn are insane and violent Oathsworn raiders who live on Storm Island. They regularly attack other ships and pillage and raid the coastal towns of the Empire, Newhome, and Quyah'scenthaal. They are fearless and persistent fighters that claim they have twice survived Imperial attempts to wipe them out. Stormborn are feared by all sailors.


Coral Reefer Pirates: This group of pirates from Coral Reef Island is mostly made up of Children of the Storm, Wylderkin, Arieanis, and Humans. While they never shy from a fight, they lack the bloodthirsty tendency of the Stormborn. They have been known to raid the slave pens of the Stormborn, as well as those of the Empire back when slavery was still allowed in the Empire.


Pearl Islanders: Arguably the least bloody of the pirates, this group of mostly Hoblings and Humans focus primarily on theft and kidnapping and then selling or ransoming back the goods and individuals. They are the smallest of the pirate gangs and are known to have their headquarters on Pearl Island, though exactly where has not yet been discovered. They are said to be led by a Hobling named Rondel “The Round” Throttlebottom.


Ralyn Remnant: Technically the Remnant is more of a tiny nation on one of the Islands than a pirate band. They are kept safe from pillaging by a series of powerful eddies and currents around the island that only they know how to navigate. These humans are, despite their relative poverty, proud and a bit haughty. They claim to be the last remaining vestige of a mighty race of Golden Elves, but they have no memory or records of that time, and the only thing they have in the way of “proof” is the occasional unearthing of ruins or artifacts in caves under the island. But something strange has been happening. The generation coming of adult age now has several people who were born with golden eyes...


Keough’s Fate: Neither housed on one of the Stormedge Islands, nor truly pirates, the ship is nonetheless is a plague upon the sailors of the Ostenwasser Sea. It is an infamous and feared galleon that sails the seas with a crew of ghoulish undead monsters. They destroy any ship they comes across and slaughter and eat the crew. Those not consumed are made into undead to bolster their ranks. It is said that this ship is all that is left of House Geister from the Empire, others say it predates the Empire and is as much a force of nature as the Maelstrom. No one truly knows of the origin of Keough’s Fate though. All sailors, even the Stormborn, fear this ship and actively avoid it at all costs. Those who have gotten close to the ship and miraculously escaped say that words “Keough’s Fate” is written on the hull, and is presumably the name of the ship.


Kingdom of Orentis: The Orc nation of Orentis is a warrior nation on the western border of the Empire. Although the two countries are not at war there is no love lost between them, and the Orcs sometimes raid the western border. The Orcish king always denies responsibility for the attacks, claiming that these are the actions of outlaws and that the armies of Orentis also seek to slay these outlaws. The current king of Orentis is named Zekk, who is easily distinguished by a large birthmark upon his head (which is never acknowledged within his presence.) He is a popular and well respected leader among the people of Orentis.


Western Wildlands: These are lands that are not yet tamed, located West of the Empire and South of the Kingdom of Orentis. The lands directly border the Maelstrom and therefore it is not unusual for mutated monsters or beings to be found here. In addition, there are a number of monster tribes found in the Western Wildlands, many of which will periodically attack the neighboring nations. The territory itself is largely unexplored but seems to be mostly made up of dry plains.


Southern Wildlands: The Southern Wildlands are located south of the Empire and between the Quyah'scenthaal Forest and the Sudenberg Mountans. While somewhat similar to the Western Wildlands, the Southern Wildlands are not quite as wild and are a bit more lush. The nomadic Azarka people live here, and they often fight with the monster races found in the region and are capable of civizlied interaction with Quyah'scenthaal and the Empire. Even still, monster leaders will sometimes amass an army and strike the nearby nations, causing a great deal of death and damage before they are eventually stopped. The territory itself is a mixture of lush plains with the occasional copse of woods and most scholars posit that if it weren’t for the monsters (and the Azarka) who call the area home it would make good habitable land for either the Empire or Quyah'scenthaal.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Cities within the Empire

There are countless villages and hamlets within the Empire, but for the purposes of this document we will be focusing on the major cities and areas of particular mention, all of which generally govern a large area of land around the city.


Wolkenstadt: The capital of the Empire, constructed as one of many port cities within Maelstrom Bay. This was the site of the very first settlement ever built by the Empire. The city has many large old structures, though none that predate the Second Maelstrom Event. The Imperial Palace, an enormous and well-fortified castle that could stand on its own in a siege for months (or possibly years) is one of the most glorious structures in the city, and perhaps the Empire. Its east and west spires reach high into the sky and are called The Roosts, because that is where the Gryphons will often take to the sky or land when flying to and fro.


The port is one of the largest and the city is, in many ways, the central hub of the Empire. Though new construction projects exist within the city, many of the buildings are very old but well maintained. Because many noble and wealthy commoners have a great deal of businesses here, the prices and costs of things are often higher than in other cities. But for those who need or want to be near the beating heart of the Empire and at the center of events, it is worth the price. The area surrounding Wolkenstadt consists of some farms but is mostly given over to roads and highways and the sort of inns and taverns that cater to travelers.


In addition to being the capital for the Empire, Wolkenstadt is the seat for House Stratos.


Bergholten: Built in and upon the Sudenberg Mountains, Bergholten combines secure mountain fortifications with the lofty halls of Academia. Bergholten is the seat for House Sterne and was founded in the Third Era. The mountain citadel rapidly became a popular place to store much of the accumulated lore of the Empire. The logic was that the Maelstrom Events did comparatively minimal damage to those underground or within mountains and that storing the lore of the Empire in a mountain would prevent the accumulated knowledge from being lost in case of another Maelstrom Event. This is not to say that libraries do not exist in other cities, but the most extensive, largest, and the oldest are found in Bergholten.


The majority of the city’s holdings are built into and under the mountain, though there is a smattering of villages and farms at the base of the mountain that fall under the auspices of House Sterne. Bergholten is home to a number of schools, universities and learning institutions for the Empire, including (but not limited to) the Imperial Military Institute, the Library of Memories, and the Miklojcik Memorial Library.


Archaeologists find Bergholten a very popular location as much of caverns and tunnels under the mountains have not yet been explored and evidence of the long lost Mountain Clans are found frequently.


One of the Imperial structures that is not talked about as much is the Banishment Cliff. Located away from most of the towns in the mountains, this simple Imperial structure is little more than a small barracks and a strong platform constructed right on the edge of the Maelstrom. Criminals sentenced to the right of Banishment are brought here and hurled bodily into the Maelstrom where their bodies and spirits are torn apart by the primal energies of the storm.


One may be inclined to believe that Bergholten, with all its schools and academics, would be a tempting target to raid or attack but such thinking would be terribly foolhardy. The narrow paths leading to the fortified towns are easy to defend and even easier to collapse to crush or trap any possible invading force and the fortifications of the town are all well maintained and sturdily built. Additionally, most of the Empire’s Gryphon citizens call the mountains home.


Grunholt: Founded on the remains of an Imperial City destroyed in the Second Maelstrom Event approximately 6,000 years ago, Grunholt was created by the escaped Stone Elf slaves. The city was constructed in an orderly and logical fashion and is by far the easiest city in the Empire to navigate. For the most part the city is eerily quiet. There is remarkably little chatter, as Stone Elves do not engage in small talk and tend to only speak when necessary.


Architecturally the city is constructed with mostly wood and some stone buildings, all of which are symmetrically built and with a maximum use of efficiency and space. Many of the buildings are nearly indistinguishable from one another but for the signs indicating a business. All buildings have a number stenciled on the front, to help citizens navigate the city, thus directions given are as simply precise as a street name and number.


The city has a number of academies that teach basic education in agriculture, administration, military tactics, accounting, the law and a number of other civic or very practical professions. Their schools on Civic Education are considered the best in the Empire and many non Stone Elves who wish to enter these professions travel to Grunholt to learn these skills.


House Grund, which is almost completely populated by Stone Elves, controls Grunholt and the surrounding land. Their income is primarily based upon farming the land around the city and revenue from the educational centers. House Grund is a vassal house to House Stratos and one of the few minor houses to actually have a city among their holdings. The territory around the city owned by House Grund is small, but contains a few villages and many farms.


Iceforge: The city of Iceforge is a walled and incredibly well fortified city found at the southern end of Windgap Pass (the only major path through the Frostbite Mountains). Built on the ruins of New Norwatch (which in turn was built on the ruins of Norwatch), the city is constructed largely from stone and wood and is the seat of House Mithril. The buildings are often simple and utilitarian, with minimal decorative flourish, but very efficiently and sturdily built. The town is a key point of defense against troll armies. It is said that a pauper’s cottage in Iceforge could withstand a siege of 100 trolls.


Large and thick stone walls guard the north and the approach from Windgap Pass, which is itself heavily trapped by the dwarves to sabotage, slow and kill invading troll armies. Various watchtowers, which are carved into the stone of the mountains on either side of the pass to rain death upon any invading army, also contribute to the defense of the city. The only way into the city from the north is the North Gate, a massive and incredibly well fortified gate that is made of stone and metal and is operated on a massive pulley system. Once closed, it would take a huge amount of dedicated strength to open again without using the pulleys. The Northgate is kept open most days, as the workers who live in Iceforge need to exit it to reach the mines and stone quarries in the mountains, but it is well maintained and can be closed surprisingly quickly in times of danger.


The center of the city is Frostfist Keep, where the Overlord makes his home and which serves as the government center to Iceforge as well as all of House Mithril’s holdings. It is more than that though, and should any troll army manage to make it through the gauntlet of death of Windgap Pass, and break through the immense and well-fortified stone walls of the city, the population would make its way behind the thick stone walls of Frostfist Keep. Even the most conservative estimates state that the keep could hold out against an invasion for months with only 50 dwarves to defend its walls. Outside the North wall miners travel to the Frostbite Mountains to dig up ore, stone, and gemstones.


The South wall of the city is also made of stone and defended against attack from the south. Though less built up than the Northern defenses, they are still quite stout and well designed and have been tested. Though not as large a threat as the trolls, orc bandits from Orentis have been known to attack from time to time, striking the southern wall. The southern gate is a large and thick metal affair, and is the only path into the city from the south. Traders and visitors from other parts of the Empire enter the city through Southgate.


Though the underground mushroom farms are found under the mountains to the North (with the farmers typically living under the mountains), most of the food production for Iceforge is from the farms south of the city. There are a few small hamlets or villages south of the city to provide services for those farming communities, but Iceforge is by far the largest settlement in House Mithril’s lands and is the cultural center of the Dwarven people within the Maelstrom.


Ackerland: Ackerland is the largest settlement in the Verdant Lands and is the seat of House Verger. Though the only city in the Verdant lands, as cities go it is still rather small and rustic. Elran Keep (named for the first head of House Verger) is the only stone building in the city, the rest are wooden one or two story affairs. The city itself is surrounded by a stout stone wall, though attacks rarely reach the city itself anymore. When the area was first being settled it was prone to enemy attacks and the stout defenses required then have been maintained over the years. The amount of land possessed by House Verger is very large and mostly consists of farmland so they must tend to and defend a fairly substantial amount of space. There are villages and hamlets scattered throughout the Verdant lands and, if one were judging a house by the amount of settlements or landmass, House Verger would be the number one house in the Empire (even though nearly all of the settlements are small and rural.)


The Western border of House Verger’s lands are also the Western border of the Empire. The border is dotted with small forts used as patrol points to guard against attack from the Kingdom of Orentis or any monsters from the Western Wildlands. Because of the vast amount of land to guard, House Stratos typically will station an Imperial Legion within the Verdant Lands to help House Verger’s troops keep the peace and patrol against hostile forces.


The pace of life in the Verdant Lands tends to be a bit more slow and pastoral when compared with the rest of the Empire, even in Ackerland which is considered the “big city” by most citizens in the Verdant Lands. They are all still loyal citizens of the Empire and attend to their duties, but are a little less high strung than most of the other areas of the Empire.


Gueishoff Castle: Located at the Southwestern point of the Whansinn Cliffs, this crumbling stone keep was once the seat of House Geister. Though some members of House Geister attempted to defend it after the Treaty of Maelstrom Bay outlawed necromancy (and by extension House Geister) they were soundly defeated by the combined Elf and Imperial forces. The lands around Gueishoff Castle were placed under control of House Stratos and, technically, so was Gueishoff Castle. Those who live in the small hamlets that dot the mountains, mostly goat herders, claim that the structure is haunted as a result of the unnatural experiments conducted by the necromancers of House Geister and the Imperial House has opted to not to maintain the castle. From time to time some self styled bandit lord will hole up there and Imperial forces will go in and put the criminals to the sword, but for the most part it remains a foreboding and abandoned structure.


Meerport: Meerport is one of the principal ports of the Empire where a large amount of naval trade and shipbuilding takes place. The seat of the nautically minded House Meer, this city is something of a sailor’s haven. While many of the Imperial Cities border Maelstrom Bay, and thus have a naval tradition, it is perhaps strongest in Meerport, where the majority amount of fishing, sailing and shipbuilding in the Empire are performed. Demographically it has mostly humans, with a sizeable amount of Storm’Ren and a minority of Hoblings. Many of the citizens of Meerport are descended from those who came to the area by boat and still wished to ply their trade on the seas.


Meerport’s port, as might be expected, is larger than any other in the Empire and includes the shipbuilding yards of House Schoffbouer, where nearly all ships within the Empire are constructed. Structurally the buildings are primarily sturdy wooden affairs with only a few stone buildings. Among the stone buildings is Meerhold a small stone keep located at the center of town. The town itself is walled and the harbor is fortified as pirates, especially the Stormborn, like to attack and raid Meerport when they can.


The area surrounding Meerport is devoted to farming and other agricultural needs. Meeport works closely with the lesser House Holtz, which provides the lumber they use to build the Empire’s ships.


Ellbogenstadt: This port town was, for most of its history, a small city with a somewhat used port, some scattered farms surrounding it, and a few small forts guarding the Southern border that technically fell under their authority. House Geifer had large holdings in the city and most of the slave pens were here. After slavery was outlawed, however, House Geifer was forced to sell of much of their territory in the city, much of which House Heinlein purchased.


Originally House Heinlein’s interests in the area was focused on healing and farming the herbs and plants that helped to facilitate that industry. All that changed shortly after the influx of Children of the Storm into the house though. Their crafting ability and energy was a revitalizing influence on the populace and within a generation or two Ellbogenstadt itself grew considerably in size and in relevance and has become something of a crafting mecca within the Empire. Many of the best crafted and finished goods now come from Ellbogenstadt and its trade bazaar in the city is considered by many to be second to none. The forts guarding the Southern border too were rebuilt by Storm’Ren craftsmen and are considered to be far more functional and comfortable by the soldiers stationed there. The surrounding farms also were diversified a bit, making Ellbogenstadt somewhat less reliant on food imported from the Verdant Lands.


Today the city is the seat for House Heinlein and is considered one of the more lovely cities within the Empire with many newly constructed and beautiful buildings and amazing craft goods sold in all corners of the city. There is a grumbling amongst some of the non Storm’Ren, claiming that they had changed too much too quickly. Even still, none but the surliest old timer disputes that things in the city are better than they had been.


Inmouth Islands: These are two islands located within Maelstrom Bay (so called because on a map the bay resembles a large mouth about to eat the islands, hence they are “in the mouth” of the land around the bay). Once they had been a haven for pirates to attack the Empire but thousands of years ago the bandits were pushed off the islands and the Empire settled there.


Liber Island: The larger of the two Inmouth Islands, Liber island was once owned entirely by House Meer. In 536 of the Fifth Era though, Emperor Veddis Stratos II took half the island away from House Meer and placed it directly under House Stratos’ control. The island had just suffered a devastating Stormborn attack and the Emperor had decreed that a permanent naval base would be constructed as a staging point for a rapid naval response in case any of the Imperial holdings in Maelstrom Bay were attacked. That base has become the main headquarters of the Imperial Navy ever since. House Meer’s income from the island is mostly involved in managing the small town of Liberstadt (the largest town on the island) and providing maintenance services to the Imperial Navy.


Kroft Island: The smaller of the two islands, Kroft island is the seat of the minor house Anglen, a vassal house to House Meer. The majority of the fishing for the Empire is performed by House Anglen and a fleet of small fishing ships routinely set sail from Kroft Island, returning to Meerport, Ellbogenstadt, or Wolkenstadt a number of days later filled with fish or other seafood to sell. The buildings of Kroft island tend to be small but fairly comfortable and the inhabitants tend to be determined and salty fishermen. A small wooden keep near the harbor is where the Highlord of House Anglen makes their home. The Lonely Bell lighthouse sits on the western tip of the isle, the architectural construction is unknown among the peoples of the Empire, and some sages suggest that it was left behind by a previous civilization.


Baumweld: Baumweld is the seat of the House Holtz, a lesser house sworn to House Stratos. The town is located on the border between the Empire and the elven nation of Quyah'scenthaal. Baumweld was originally founded as a lumber camp controlled by House Holtz but became a town and the main point of diplomatic contact with Quyah'scenthaal once the elves were discovered. Though the town was burned down in 1465 of the Fourth Era after an incident with a large elven bandit army, it was rebuilt and remains the the main lumber town for the Empire and still serves as the main point of contact with Quyah'scenthaal.


The town itself is a bit rustic, the homes are all made of beautifully and sturdily crafted wood. Lumber is the main industry of the town and much of the wood used in Meerport, Ellbogenstadt, Grunholt and Berghalten come directly from Baumweld. The town has sturdy wooden walls and the militia is on the lookout for attacks from monsters from the Southern Wildlands and sends out regular patrols to give advanced notice of a possible attack.


The elves maintain an embassy building in Baumweld, but it is generally minimally staffed unless there is an incident that requires contact with the Empire. There is also usually a diplomat assigned by House Stratos to the area to treat with the elven diplomats when necessary, but for any actual important events the leaders of both realms will usually send a more experienced diplomat to handle negotiations.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Imperial Military


The Imperial Military consists of the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy. Both are directly under the authority of House Stratos, though they are expected to work cooperatively with the troops and nobles of other houses when in their territory.


Discipline in the military is very strict and punishments can be incredibly harsh. Nonetheless the pay is often good for peasants and the training received by a life in the military serves many former soldiers well. Nearly all nobles entering the military will be granted an officer's commission by default and most officers are still subject to obey the commands of nobles, though wise nobles who are less experienced in warfare than career officers will bow to their wisdom as a blunder will reflect poorly on their house if they do not.


Imperial Army

The Imperial Army is structured around discipline and superior training to defend their allies instead of personal warriors focusing on themselves and the enemy directly in front of them. Recruits are trained in teamwork, squad fighting and typically given basic training in at least most forms of one handed bladed weapons. Drill instructors will often apply more specialized training, such as further weapons training or magical or alchemical training as well as specialized combat tactics based on the natural talents of the recruits.


Soldiers are paid based on rank and are expected to serve for a period of one to three years after basic training, at which point they can continue to sign on for further periods or withdraw to civilian life. Commissioned positions are for five years. The Crown reserves the right to extend the contracts indefinitely or reactivate concluded ones in times of war. Standard equipment for soldiers is provided by the Crown as well as potential bonuses for individual units that perform especially well. Unofficially, plunder from fallen enemies is another source of income for soldiers, though soldiers ignoring orders in order to loot are harshly punished.


Organization:

The entire army is commanded by a Grand General, often a veteran officer of noble birth and granted their position by the Emperor/Empress. The Grand General is often found in the capital and traditionally serves on the Emperor’s cabinet.


The military is centered on Legions, each one consisting of 6,000-8,000 men and women. A Legion is commanded by a General.


Each Legion consists of 10 cohorts, consisting of 600-800 men and women. Often a legion will have at least one cohort that is devoted each to artillery and cavalry with the rest being infantry. Each cohort is commanded by a Kommander. In any legion there will be a Senior Kommander who will command his or her own cohort, but will also act as an executive officer to a General and liaison between the General and the rest of the cohorts.


Each cohort will consist of 10 squads of 60-80 men and women. Each Squad is commanded by a Kade. The Kades will be organized by an Offizer who will lead a squad directly but is also the executive officer of a Kommander and a liaison between the Kades and the Kommander.


Squads will be organized based on specialty, and any legion can be expected to have a number of specialty squads within it. Squads are specifically designated for stealth, skirmishing, shield fighting, magic, healing, archery and other specialties. Some squads are arranged as a mix of skills so that any member has a given necessary skill. These are called Flex Squads because they have the most flexibility compared to squads made up for a single purpose. All squads consist of 6-8 Soldadts commanded by a Kade.


Imperial Army Ranks:

Grand General– commands entire Imperial Army. The Grand Kommander wears

five rank pins to show their rank.

General – commands a Legion (10 cohorts). A General wears four rank pins to show

their rank.

Senior Kommander – leads a cohort directly and acts as liaison between General and Legion and

acts as General’s executive officer. A Senior Kommander three rank pins to show their rank.

Kommander – leads a cohort (10 squads). A Kommander wears two rank pins to show their rank.

Offizer – leads a squad directly and acts as acts as liaison between a Kommander and cohort and

acts as Kommander’s executive officer. This is the lowest rank of officer. An Offizer wears one rank pin upon it to show rank.

Kade – leads a squad (6-8 soldadts). A Kade receives a sash or favor to show their rank.

Soldadt – Standard soldier. A Soldadt wears an undecorated uniform.


Imperial Navy

The Imperial Navy is an important part of the Imperial Military and has a long history of use, primarily for fighting the Stormborn and other pirate bands. Based on the ships that occasionally shipwreck from outside the Maelstrom, Imperial ships seem to be smaller than those used outside the Maelstrom. This seems to be simply because there is less need for vast supplies of food and water because of the comparatively limited ocean compared with outside of the Maelstrom. Most ships seem to return to port with more frequency within the Maelstrom than without, necessitating less storage space for food and water.


In spite of their smaller size, however, the ships constructed within the Maelstrom tend to be a bit more sturdy than those without in order to better contend with the wild storms that are common, presumably as a result of the Maelstrom.


The Imperial Navy is organized by fleets, each of which usually contains one ship of the line, four frigates and ten cutters. The fleets will usually be responsible for specific regions of aquatic territory with one often kept within Maelstrom Bay to defend the Imperial Port towns and the Inmouth Islands. There are regular rotations of the fleets so one fleet does not stay on home defense all the time letting their skills and discipline atrophy.


A ship of the line is the largest and most powerful type of ship in the Imperial Navy and has four masts and houses a crew of approximately 300-500. They tend to be slower than most other ships but are the best armed, often bristling with ballistae, trebuchets and protected platforms for mages and archers.


A frigate is a midsize vessel with two to three masts and a crew of 160-200 sailors. They are of a moderate speed and, while not as well armed as a Ship of the Line they are far better armed than a cutter.


A cutter is the smallest ship in the Imperial Navy. They have a single mast and a crew of 30-60 sailors. They are lightly armed but fast and highly maneuverable.


Organization:

A ship will always be part of a fleet and will be commanded by a commanding officer (or CO). A ship will also have an executive officer (or XO) whose duty will be to act as a liaison between the commanding officer and crew and it will be his/her responsibility to ensure that the crew follows the CO’s orders but also that the CO is aware of the crew's morale and any potential discipline problems developing.


The entire navy is commanded by a Grand Admiral, often a veteran officer of noble birth and granted their position by the Emperor/Empress. The Grand Admiral is often found in the capital and traditionally serves on the Emperor’s cabinet.


A fleet, which will usually consist of 15 ships (one ship of the line, four frigates, and ten cutters) will be commanded by an Admiral. Usually an Admiral will be in the port town nearest to their fleet’s field of responsibility rather than actually at sea, but there are exceptions to this.


The Kommodore will typically serve as the field commander of a fleet as well as the commanding officer of the fleet’s flagship, usually the ship of the line for that fleet.


A Kaptain is usually a commanding officer for a frigate. If assigned to a ship of the line that a Kommodore is serving on the Kaptain will serve as the executive officer for that ship.


A Lieutenant will act as an executive officer to a Kaptian on a Ship of the Line or Frigate or as the commanding officer of a Cutter.


A Fanrik will act as an executive officer on a cutter and as a non commissioned officer on larger ships.


A Matrose is the lowest rank within the navy and serves as the backbone of every crew.


Imperial Navy Ranks:

Grand Admiral - Commands the Entire Navy. The Grand Admiral wears five rank pins to show their

rank.

Admiral - Commands a Fleet. An Admiral wears four rank pins.

Kommodore - Acts as executive officer to Admiral, often will command Ship of the Line if at sea. A

Kommodore wears three rank pins

Kaptain - Commands a Frigate or Ship of the Line. A Kaptain wears two rank pins.

Lieutenant - Acts as executive officer to Kaptain on a Frigate or Ship of the Line or Commands a

Cutter. This is the lowest rank of officer. A Lieutenant wears a single rank pin.

Fanrik- Acts as executive officer on a Cutter. A Fanrik wears a sash or favor to denote their rank.

Matrose- standard sailor. A Matrose wears and unadorned uniform.


Talon Company

The Talon Company is a unit that makes the Empire’s military force far and away beyond that which could possibly be mustered beyond any other nation within the Maelstrom. Simply put, Talon Company consists of Gryphons and Getragen who are the most elite of soldiers in the Empire. Answering directly to the Emperor/Empress, they number approximately 100 troops. They are commanded by a Kommander and are considered the elite force of the Empire. They provide the Emperor’s personal guard and are usually only deployed when precision strikes using overwhelming force are required.


Household Guards

Though the Imperial military is the primary military force for the Empire, each house is allowed their own troops as well. The numbers of troops a house is allowed to have is dictated directly by the Emperor/Empress and is based on a number of factors (including that house’s duties and their status as a Great or Lesser house.) There is also limitations on actions that can be taken by the Household Guard as they are intended for defense and as such cannot mount expeditions. House Mithril has a special dispensation to allow them to launch expeditions to the Glacier to keep the Trolls in check.


Household Guards are rarely as well organized as the Imperial Military, though many former Imperial soldiers find employment as a household guard. The rank system of the household guards is generally more informal often led by a Captain, and with one or more Sergeants to assist the Captain in commanding the rest of the guards. The quality of the equipment will vary based on the house’s resources, duties and desires, and in some houses the guardsmen will be expected to provide their own equipment. All household guards ultimately answer to the head of the house they serve.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Houses of the Empire


Great Houses



There a number of Great Houses (also called Major Houses) within the Empire. The number has shifted somewhat over the years as other houses are promoted, disbanded or collapse. A great house will have a large swath of territory and several industries under their control and are led by an Overlord or Overlady. There are currently six major houses in the Empire, not counting the Imperial House, Stratos.


House Stratos


Colors: Red and Green


Sigil: A hand


Seat: Wolkenstadt


Primary Population: Mostly Biata, Humans and Stone Elves


Main Industries: Military, government, at least little of everything (House Stratos is careful to ensure that they are self-sufficient)


Head of House: Emperor Ernst Stratos


House Stratos is primarily made up of the descendants of original Getragen settlers, their slaves, and the humans they originally conquered (as well as the few Wylderkin ex-slaves that stayed in service.) Stratos is the oldest, richest and most powerful house in the Empire. They are also the strictest as far as the family name being an indicator for the greatest potential and so nearly all of the key positions of House Stratos are held by direct relations to the Imperial family. Critics say that those with merit but the wrong family name can only rise so high, but the truth is that those of the Imperial family simply have the best potential and training.


House Stratos is careful to maintain holdings and businesses that allow them to be self-sufficient and so they always hold a position of strength when dealing with other houses. Their holdings are among the largest and by far are the most valuable. On the very rare occasion where they are not sufficient in an area the take immediate and ironclad steps to ensure that that resource is secured in perpetuity.


House Stratos controls all of the military for the Empire, save for the house guards that other houses are allowed to have, though by law House Stratos can also take direct control of those forces as well, should it be necessary.


All of the Emperors have come from House Stratos. The current head of the house is Emperor Ernst Stratos. He is an accomplished mage as well as an energetic and vibrant ruler. He has already confirmed his place in the history books by being the Emperor to outlaw slavery.


House Mithril


Colors: Gold and Red

Sigil: a Hammer and Axe crossed

Seat: Iceforge

Primary Population: Dwarves, some humans, small amounts of hoblings and wylderkin.

Main Industries: Mining, Smithing, Gem trade,

Head of House: Overlord Nolon Platnumspike,

Nearly 300 years ago dwarven refugees appeared within the Empire, seeking refuge from a horrific war in their homeland, far to the south and outside the Maelstrom. The dwarven leader, Duncan Platnumspike, informed the Empire the dwarves did not want charity but just a place to settle and work to earn their keep. Fresh from the devastation of the Third Troll War, Emperor Andus allowed the dwarves to settle in the Frostbite Mountains if they swore fealty to the Empire and to defend the Empire from future Troll attacks. Duncan agreed and was made High Lord of House Mithril, a new lesser house. Ten years later House Mithril stopped a massive troll attack on their own, prompting the Emperor to promote them to a major house.

Today they are one of the most stable houses in the Empire and amongst the richest. They hold nearly exclusive control of all mining and metalsmithing in the Empire. The current lord, Nolon Platnumspike is the son of Duncan and a powerful warrior. The Platnumspikes can trace their lineage all the way back the Mithril throne of Dwarrengar (the dwarves’ old kingdom). They are among the staunchest supporters of the Emperor and contribute many stout soldiers to the Imperial army.



House Heinlein

Colors: Blue and White


Sigil: Cup

Seat: Ellbogenstadt

Primary Population: Humans, Mystic Wood Elves, Wylderkin, lots of others (inclusive house)

Head of House: Overlord Sandan Haynard

History: Early in the history of the Empire the value of dedicated healers was evident and it did not take long for them to tire of being expected to heal with minimal compensation. Accordingly they banded together to ensure that even the most altruistic of healer could earn his or her way in the world. The most forward thinking and wise of that early guild was a Getragen named Stannert Heinlein. Stannert managed to successfully petition the Emperor to create a house for the doctors, midwives and other healers arguing that they could focus better on the needs of the Empire if they did not need to be overly concerned with such monetary issues. To that end House Heinlein was created (with Stannert as its head) and exists to this day.

Some claim that Stannert’s goals were entirely altruistic, while others claim it was a cynical ploy to all but threaten to withhold proper healing from the Empire unless he were granted a house. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Certainly Stannert participated in and initiated many altruistic policies and practices, but he was also an incredibly adroit leader and chess master and personally built House Heinlein as a solid foundation to its current resources and power. The house in its current form tends to run a little more charitable and inclusive than most houses, but certainly has its fair share of politicking and self-motivated activity, as would be expected of any great house in a powerful empire.

Another of Stannert’s more forward thinking policies that has persisted through the years was a very inclusive policy in regards to other races. Stannert knew that merit often crossed racial boundaries and wished to build his house more on talent and ability than bloodlines and connections. As a result today it is one of the most diverse in the Empire. Because of their inclusive nature they have fairly large numbers of Children of the Storm, which is a large part of why they were so vocal about the ending of slavery in the Empire. In fact the current Overlord, Sandan Haynard, is a Child of the Storm and a well renowned warrior who has ruled the house for over two hundred years.

More recently the tendency towards inclusiveness, as well as the abundance of Storm’Ren, led a large number of Wylderkin to join the house once slavery was abolished. Some even argue that the windfall of new Wylderkin members was as much a factor of the policy push as ideological reasons were.

The most well-known of House Heinlein ’s interests is running of the Empire’s Healer’s Guilds and medical industries, though they certainly have other financial interests as well.

House Sterne

Colors: Purple and Gold


Sigil: Star

Seat: Bergholten

Primary Population: Human, Stone Elves, and various other races

Main Industries: Celestial Magic, Research, Academia

Head of House: Overlady Elmary Sterne

One of the first things the Getragen did when taking over and instilling order in the region was secure the service of the Celestial practitioners.Though they could not use the Celestial magics and didn’t care much for it, they recognized its tactical value and were determined to make the weapon work for them. As a result when the Empire was formed House Sterne was one of the first houses formed, though originally as only a minor house under the control of House Stratos. Since then it has grown and prospered and branched out beyond simply Celestial magic. Today it is amongst the oldest and most respected of Great Houses within the Empire even though it isn’t the largest or richest (though it is quite large and rich, as befitting any Great House). In addition to the celestial arts House Sterne also manages nearly all learning institutions and research facilities within the Empire, making them the forefront of nearly all discoveries both scholastic and magical in nature. Easily their most profitable and valuable holdings are the Imperial Mage’s Guilds. House Sterne is currently led by Elmary Sterne, a human who commanded a scouting unit in the Imperial Army in her younger days.






House Geifer


Colors: Red and White

Seat: None

Sigil: Oxen

Primary Population: Biata and Human

Main Industries: Labor, Slavery

Head of House: Overlady Ludella Passerholm

House Geifer is an old house, but one that has fallen on very hard times. When the Getragen first needed to build their Empire a great deal of labor was required, and this only intensified after the Maelstrom Event and the Empire need to be rebuilt. That labor was procured and rented or sold by House Geifer. Most of the humans from the tribes that were in the area were happy enough to work for coin and manufactured goods the Getragen had and the tribes lacked. They were close enough to Getragen in appearance in custom that this was fine (although House Geifer was sure to make sure that when all was said and done they got maximum labor through minimal expense, in part through the use of Euphoria Elixirs to keep the workers dependent on the House.) The Wylderkin, however, were little more than slightly more useful animals and so were enslaved wholesale and bought and sold as one would trade livestock. House Geifer was in charge of this labor market and while the use of the laborers of other races was profitable it was the slavery trade of the Wylderkin that the house was truly built on.

House Geifer became masters at stock, trade and breeding of Wylderkin as chattel and became enormously wealthy and powerful as a result, nearly matching House Stratos in wealth and power at their height. Eventually the Empire outlawed the use of Euphoria Elixirs as means of controlling the non-slave laborers, though it was still allowed as a means of slave control for the Wylderkin (as were Enslavement Elixirs and simple negative reinforcement.)

House Geifer has long been rivals (and outright enemies) of House Heinlein, whose high Storm’Ren population caused them to despise House Geifer for their slave trading and breeding. Even worse, House Heinlein all but outlawed slavery in their own lands by creating extensive bureaucracy and fees on recovering a lost slaves. These policies often made it more expensive and frustrating to get a slave back from House Heinlein ’s territory then it was to just purchase and train a new slave. As a result many of House Heinlein ’s holdings made it a popular haven for escaped slaves, which only served to further the tension between the two houses.

The fall of House Geifer came roughly twenty years ago. The head of the house, Luin Geifer, was discovered to have been selling combat aged men and women to governments and groups outside of the Empire, thus essentially giving weapons to enemies. This prompted the Empire to side with House Heinlein, who had long argued that slavery should be abolished. The Emperor charged Luin Geifer with Treason for arming the potential enemies of the Empire and stripped him and his family of their titles and obliterated them. Worse for the rest of House Geifer, the Emperor also abolished slavery of all Wylderkin races classifying them as a protected race by law.

The loss of the slave trade, along with the fines imposed by the Emperor for the house’s condemned selling, devastated the house’s finances. The house was forced to sell much of their lands and lesser interests to other houses to pay the fines and settle debts from the sudden loss of their slaves.

Today the house is the smallest and poorest of the Great Houses, remembering their past glory and bitterly dreaming of vengeance against House Heinlein. The current Overlord, a wizard named Ludella Passerholm, is barely getting by from the meagre lands and businesses they still hold and desperately trying to rebuild the fortunes of the house and find new businesses ventures not claimed by other houses.

Their only major surviving industry is renting of citizen laborers, but the profit margin on such things, given the Empire’s laws outlawing Euphoria Elixirs and other means of control, along with the mandates that the laborers be paid a minimal of a silver or two a day for their labors, is incredibly slim.

House Verger


Colors: Orange and Green

Sigil: Bushel of Wheat

Seat: Ackerland

Primary Population: Mixed

Main Industries: Alchemy, Agriculture, Herbs, Livestock,

Head of House: Overlady Kitta Verger

When the Getragen first came to the area they employed or enslaved the locals to perform the manual labor, with a handful of Getragen who knew the requisite trades commanding the labor. Over time, as the Empire formed, guilds sprang up to control the various agricultural industries, though they were owned by different houses and often collaboration was minimal as a result. Eventually Gerhar Verger, the Guildmaster of the Farmer’s guild, proposed putting the agricultural all under the same House, with himself as head, naturally. The idea was shot down rather quickly by the rival houses, who did not want to lose the businesses. Gerhar was persistent, however, and eventually had the opportunity to plead his case to the Emperor himself, boldly approaching him at a state function and arguing that the industries could be far more efficient and profitable for the Empire if they all worked together. Gerhar was promptly punished by his Overlord for ignoring his ruling and going over his head, suffering a flaying and execution. The Emperor, however, investigated the claims and found that they were likely correct and ultimately did exactly as Gerhar suggested and made him head of the new agricultural based house.

Over the centuries House Verger has expanded its businesses interests and importance to the Empire. Today House Verger controls more physical territory than most other houses, though it is largely all tied up in farming and grazing land. Their lands are considered the breadbasket of the Empire and easily has the best and most fertile soil for farming in the Empire. Crops, herbs, spices, horse raising and trading, and livestock are all controlled by the house. Additionally the house owns the profitable Alchemist’s Guild where concoctions are constantly made and experimented with. The current head of the House is a well-known Getragen craftswoman named Kitta Verger.


House Meer

Colors: Green and Blue

Sigil: Anchor

Seat: Meerport

Primary Population: Storm’Ren, Humans, some Hoblings and Wylderkin

Main Industries: Sailing, Fishing,

Head of House: Overlord Porona Meer

House Meer is something of a house with a patchwork history. Originally made up of the sailors that stayed behind after bringing the Getragen to colonize the area, they controlled the fishing and sailing in the area. Occasionally skilled sailors from outside the Maelstrom would shipwreck in the area and they naturally joined the burgeoning sailing and fishing fleets to ply their trade.

As the Empire took shape the sailors were able to carve out a niche as the fishermen and fishmongers of the Empire, a substantial trade. House Meer also maintains a small fleet of patrol boats under their House Guard to protect their fleets, however the Imperial Navy and the ships of the line are all owned and controlled by House Stratos. Overlord Porona Meer, a capable human warrior, currently rules House Meer.





Former Great Houses


House Goldpipe

Colors: Green and Gold

Sigil: a pipe

Seat: Newhome

Primary Population: Hoblings, wylderkin, some humans,

Main Industries: Trade, Banking, some Sailing (trade vessels)

Last Head of House: Overlady Signa Goldpipe

House Goldpipe was formed after a large trading galley full of goods and hoblings landed in the area. Their leader, Brollo Goldpipe, led them to starting a small trade settlement as they could not escape the Maelstrom. It was not long before the Empire and Hoblings came into contact and a deal was eventually brokered with the Empire. Brollo would join his people to the Empire in return for land and concessions for the hoblings. Brollo drove a hard bargain, but the Hoblings’ skills with money and trading proved to make them quickly become one of the richest (and most profitable) houses in the Empire. All trading was performed via the powerful Merchant’s Guild, which was directly owned by House Goldpipe. Even in exclusive markets owned by other houses (such as ore and smithing controlled by House Mithril) were required to be licensed by the Merchant’s Guild and so House Goldpipe got a piece of every sale. Brollo Goldpipe died of natural causes surrounded in incredible wealth and luxury. Brollo is looked upon as something of a hero to Hoblings and as such there are many Brollos, Brollas, Brolls and other namesakes to the first head of the house out there.

House Goldpipe also handled the majority of the trade agreements made with other polities (subject to Imperial approval, of course.) House Goldpipe was one of the smaller houses in the Empire numerically speaking, but they were easily the richest, second only to House Stratos in terms of wealth. Last, but certainly not least, the House controlled a small trade fleet which ferried goods throughout the Empire and the few lands accessible on this side of the Maelstrom.

Nineteen years ago House Goldpipe seceded from the Empire, citing a clause in their entry contract that allowed them to leave after the Fifth Age. Signa Goldpipe declared herself queen of a new kingdom and began building diplomatic ties with the Quyah'scenthaal elves, which helps to keep the Empire from trying to conquer them back militarily.



House Geister


Colors: Red and Black

Sigil: a Tower

Seat: none (formerly Gueishoff Castle)

Primary Population: Human and/or Mixed

Main Industries: Necromancy

Last Head of House: Overlord Elliel Geister

House Geister was one of the first houses formed and was the second oldest in the Empire (after House Stratos and not counting House Wolken, of course). They were originally at the forefront of earth combat magic which naturally gave way to necromancy in addition to the expected binding and utility magic. However, in addition to Drain and Cause Wounds type spells the animation of dead and darker mysteries of necromancy were studied, and at great length, though it was argued the study was wholly for educational purposes. Even House Geister itself saw the danger in such dark magics, but was determined to learn them to better understand, and thus combat, the magic that monster races and maniacs regularly used against the Empire. Their study of the best uses of magic for combat resulted in a longstanding rivalry with House Sterne, especially amongst the celestial practitioners in House Geister.

Some made little distinction between the study and actual use of Necromancy, such as the elves of Quyah'scenthaal, but the Empire was loathe to turn away from any magic (or, in a dire emergency, weapon) and thus defended House Geister. The house grew in prominence and was quite a valuable assets for thousands of years.

The turning point for House Geister came when Cyndarian’s War was coming to an end, around a thousand years ago. The Empire explored a cease fire and eventual peace treaty to which the elves of Quyah'scenthaal would only agree if House Geister was disbanded, its leaders obliterated and/or turned over to the elves and Necromancy outlawed and harshly punished within the Empire in perpetuity. The Emperor agreed in exchange for a cessation of hostilities and various diplomatic concessions.

Rumors persist that House Geister had researched and discovered a research facility that existed in a pocket dimension and could open doorways to the material plane as they wished. Though much of the House's leadership and resources were captured by the Empire, some were rumored to escape to this pocket dimension before the Empire’s troops arrived to enforce the treaty. Even still, all the rest of the Houses lands, guilds, troops and holdings were seized and redistributed to other houses and several ranking house leaders were obliterated.

Today House Geister is presumed to exist only in their pocket realm. Though almost nothing has been heard from them they are rumored to continue their research and fostering dreams of vengeance against the elves of Quyah'scenthaal and the Empire who turned on them.

House Wolken


Colors: Green and Silver

Sigil: Gryphon

Seat: Wolkenstadt

Primary Population: Biata, Humans

Main Industries: Military

Last Head of House: Overlord Rennert Wolken

House Wolken was once the second most powerful and respected house in all the Empire. Originally House Wolken had been in charge of the military and House Stratos the government, and both houses worked very closely together, often directing the Empire towards future greatness. The greatest example of this cooperation was perhaps the war with the Western Nations, over 3,000 years ago. Once the enemy was vanquished House Wolken had been granted the vast bulk of the territory.

Alas, it was a mere 400 years later when it all fell apart. When Emperor Kayne Stratos died House Wolken backed his disinherited eldest daughter, Terena as the rightful heir in spite of Emperor Kayne naming his second child, Vennik, as his successor.

The Civil War lasted almost seventy years and tore the Empire apart, bringing it to it’s lowest point since the Second Maelstrom Event. Terena and House Wolken were defeated, and the House was destroyed, all its leaders suffering the Rite of Banishment. House Stratos absorbed all military operations for the Empire afterwards. Today all that exists of House Wolken is written in history books.

Prominent Lesser Houses

There are many Lesser Houses (also called Minor Houses) within the Empire sworn to the various Great Houses in the Empire. A lesser house will answer to the head of their patron house (always one of the Great Houses) and will control a portion of their territory and/or industry for them. The entries below is not an extensive of all the Lesser Houses but does cover the most prominent of them. Lesser houses may craft their own sigil, but their colors must match that of their patron house.

House Grund

Patron House: House Stratos

Sigil: Scales

Seat: Grunholt

Primary Population: Stone Elves (nearly exclusively)

Main Industries: administration, education in civil service fields (administration, military tactics, accounting, the law, etc)

Head of House: Highlord Geddik von Yormin

After the Second Maelstrom Event the majority of the Stone Elf slaves escaped and ultimately formed a town on the ruins of one of the old Imperial cities. Naming the town Grunholt, they began building a society for Stone Elves there. Nearly four hundred and fifty years later the Empire, now rebuilt, arrived at Grunholt, demanding its former holding and slaves back.

The Stone Elf council negotiated with the Empire, agreeing to be reabsorbed into the Empire, but as citizens, not slaves, and with the agreement to maintain stewardship of Grunholt as a cultural center for their people. The Empire agreed and the head of the council was made the High Lord of House Grund.

Today House Grund operates the lands around Grunholt as well as a large number of civil service academies. Those wishing to learn about administration, contract law, accounting and other such helpful administrative skills frequently travel to Grunholt to attend one of these schools.

The house is led by Highlord Geddik von Yormin, a highly capable Stone Elf craftsman.

House Schiff

Patron House: House Stratos

Primary Population: Biata, Humans, Stone Elves

Sigil: A ship

Industry: Navy

Head of House: Highlady Kolinna Schiff

House Schiff manages the finances, construction, and maintenance of the naval ships and military ports for House Stratos. They work closely with the Grand Admiral, who historically has been from House Schiff if they were not from House Stratos itself.

The head of the house, Kolinna Schiff, is a Getragen woman who commanded a unit of marine scouts in the Imperial Navy in her youth, retiring with a rank of Lieutenant to take over the house when her father unexpectedly died.

House Trupp

Patron House: House Stratos

Primary Population: Biata, Humans, Stone Elves

Industry: Army

Head of House: Highlord Agius Trupp

House Trupp handles the day to day operations, logistics and training issues of the Imperial Military for House Stratos. They work closely with the Grand General, many of whom have come from House Trupp, if they are not from House Stratos itself.

The head of the house, Agius Trupp, is a grizzled old Getragen who led a cohort in the Imperial Army that specialized in skirmishing tactics, retiring with the rank of Senior Kommander many, many years ago.

House Recht

Patron House: House Stratos

Primary Population: Biata, Stone Elves, Humans, Some Hoblings

Sigil: Three Golden Roundels

Industry: Legal matters

Head of House: Highlady Alniz Recht

House Recht handles legal matters within the Empire for House Stratos. They are responsible for maintaining the courts and appointing magistrates within the Empire as well as serving as mediators for contracts for the populace.

Highlady Alinz is a Human respected for her ability with a blade as well as magic, as well as her considerable legal acumen.

House Verwalt

Patron House: House Stratos

Primary Population: Biata, Stone Elves, Humans

Sigil: Ram’s Head

Industry: Administration

Head of House: Highlady Imerly Verwalt

House Verwalt is in charge of the various administrative, accounting and bureaucratic duties within the Empire. They tend to work fairly closely with House Grund, who is responsible for educating up and coming members of the house.

Highlady Imerly is a Getragen woman known for magical skills and her past service in command of a skirmishing unit in the army many years ago.


House Holtz

Patron House: House Stratos

Seat: Baumweld

Primary Population: Biata, Humans, Some Wylderkin

Sigil: A Tree

Industry: Logging

Head of House: Highlady Torina Holtz

House Holtz is responsible for the majority of the logging within the Empire and has been for centuries. When the Sudbaume Forest (now known as the Quyah'scenthaal Forest) was found they focused many of their efforts there as the forest was immense. Eventually explorers from House Holtz, scouting the forest for areas to log, came into contact with the Quyah'scenthaal elves, ushering in relations between the two nations.

The town of Baumweld was founded, ostensibly to serve as a diplomatic mid-point between the two nations, but also to direct the logging operations for House Holtz. The borders of the forest are well marked and have been agreed upon with the Quyah'scenthaal elves for ages, and House Holtz always replants what they take to avoid exhausting their resources. House Holtz does have operations elsewhere in the Empire, but their main operation and moneymaker is around Baumweld.

The current head of the house is Torina Holtz, a tough woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty and do the work she expects others to do. In her youth she was a scout in the Imperial Army and was as beloved by her troops as she is by much of her house today.

House Honeyfleck

Patron House: House Stratos

Primary Population: Hoblings, with some Wylderkin and Humans

Industry: Taverns and Catering.

Head of House: Highlord Berril Honeyfleck

This house owns and runs the most prominent Taverns in the empire. They are also well known for their catering having catered for some of the Great Houses of the Empire including House Stratos. House Honeyfleck being one of the few primarily Hobling Lesser Houses to stay with the Empire after House Goldpipe split from the Empire and form Newhome.

The head of House Honeyfleck is Berril Honeyfleck a Hobling known by the nickname “Lord of Taverns.”

House Cavestone

Patron House: House Mithril

Primary Population: Dwarves, a small amount of Humans and Hoblings

Sigil: Pickaxe

Industry: Mining

Head of House: Highlady Hugnada Cavestone

House Cavestone is responsible primarily for the mining operations under the Frostbite Mountains. This includes ore, gems and semi-precious metals as well as quality stone for construction and stonemasonry. The vassal lords to House Cavestone have these responsibilities split up between them.

High Lady Hugnada Cavestone herself is a veteran skirmisher and warrior. She is quite loyal to Nolan Platnumspike and is a harsh (but ultimately fair) lord as long as her edicts and procedures are followed. When they are not followed she shows no mercy in her punishments.

House Steelarm

Patron House: House Mithril

Primary Population: Dwarves, small minority of Humans

Sigil: A Mailed Fist

Industry: Metal Smithing, Gem Cutting/fitting

Head of House: Highlord Samnoic Steelarm

House Steelarm is primarily responsible for turning all of the raw ores, stones and gems that are brought out of the Frostbite Mountains into a useable finished product. Their vassal lords are largely divided up amongst the various specific products and trades for it, but they all answer to House Steelarm (who in turn answers to House Mithril).

Samnoic Steelarm himself is steadfastly loyal to Overlord Nolan Platnumspike and was a trusted right hand man to his father Duncan. House Steelarm was one of the first houses created by House Mithril. Samnoic himself is a grizzled old warrior and is widely regarded as a master smith, though these days he is getting on in years and most of his activity goes towards running the house. He is quite well liked by his people and vassals and is as trusted by Nolan as he was by Duncan.

House Earthmantle

Patron House: House Mithril

Primary Population: Dwarves, small minority of Humans

Sigil: Naked Arm

Industry: Agriculture

Head of House: Highlord Vonuik Earthmantle

House Earthmantle is in charge of all farming efforts in the lands owned by House Mithril, including the mushroom farms beneath the Frostbite Mountains. While not overly glamorous or profitable, this industry is nonetheless very important to House Mithril’s interests. As a result House Earthmantle is respected for their grim determination and hard labor in spite of fairly minimal profit or glory.

Highlord Vonuik Earthmantle leads the house and though a capable healer he is a bit of an eccentric and inconsistent ruler. Some critics argue that House Earthmantle could be more powerful than it is if its head was more capable, but for the moment he is doing sufficiently well that Overlord Nolan has had no cause to replace him.

House Broadshield

Patron House: House Mithril

Primary Population: Dwarves, some Humans

Sigil: A Round Shield

Industry: Military/Scouting

Head of House: Highlady Dofrae Broadshield

House Broadshield is in charge of the defenses of the lands of House Mithiril, focused most predominantly around the upkeep of Frostfist keep and the defenses through Windgap Pass. They are also responsible for scouting forays undertaken to the north to gather intelligence on troll activities.

Dofrae Broadshield is the current head of the house and is a fierce warrior and shrewd tactician. Her father was good friends with Duncan Platnumspike and a fierce warrior in his own right, but was lost when the dwarves crossed into the Maelstrom. She is a no-nonsense warrior who takes her duties responsibly and has personally led forays to the north and thus knows firsthand the hardships and dangers faced by the scouts who travel to the north, as well as what long periods on the Glacier can do to a person.

Technically this house should not be allowed, as it is a military based house that is outside of the standard “House Guard” armed forces allowed under Imperial Law, however House Mithril has a special dispensation to raise and maintain troops to defend the Windgap Pass from the Trolls.






House Stonehammer

Patron House: House Mithril

Primary Population: Dwarves, some Hobings and Humans

Industry: Trade

Head of House: Highlord Gognic Stonehammer

House Stonehammer was a vassal of House Steelarm until House Mithril was granted the right to control the trade (and profit) of their own goods generated in and around Iceforge. Gognic, a skilled accountant and businessman, made a case for House Stonehammer to be promoted to a minor house and put in charge of the trade. Overlord Duncan had reservations, but House Stonehammer has proven more than up to the task. They manage all of the trade of dwarven goods to the rest of the Empire and the tiny amounts of trade made to the Ogres, usually by sending one or two merchants with some goods to the Ogres along with one of House Broadshield’s forays to the north.

House Stonehammer is currently lead by Highlord Gognic Stonehammer. Gognic is distantly related to the family that ruled the Whiterock clan of dwarves in Dwarranegor, who were well known for their business acumen. Of course that old clan affiliation means far less to this generation of dwarves than it used to. Though an accomplished celestialist, Gognic has eccentric and unpredictable personality. In spite of his eccentricities he is an excellent businessman and has amassed a large amount of wealth and prestige for his house.

House Alamesch

Patron House: House Verger

Primary Population: Mixed Imperial races

Sigil: An alchemical beaker

Industry: Alchemy

Head of House: Highlady Jelidine Alamesch

House Alamesch consists of the foremost alchemical experts in the Empire. They focus on creating and selling alchemical formulas throughout the Empire and perfecting new ones. Any and all alchemical advances in the last several hundred years have been due to the work of House Alamesch. Recently some have argued that House Verger should surrender House Alamesch to the Imperial House because of the military applications of alchemy. Others argue that because alchemical ingredients are agricultural in nature it is properly placed under House Verger. House Stratos has claimed they find this argument wildly insufficient, but has not pressed to have Alamesch moved.

Highlady Jelidine is a Getragen woman well known for her no nonsense personality on businesses matters and her magical prowess.

House Flanzen

Patron House: House Verger

Primary Population: Mixed Imperial Races

Sigil: Maple Leaf

Industry: Agriculture

Head of House: Highlord Fraedderic Flanzen

House Flanzen is one of House Verger’s larger minor houses. They are responsible for the various agriculture crops, both food production as well as herbs and other useful crops. In short, if it grows from the ground it falls under House Flanzen’s domain. Flanzen is not the most glamorous of houses, as their duty relies on a rather boring industry, however it is profitable and absolutely vital to the Empire as the vast bulk of food for the Empire comes from House Flanzen’s efforts.

Highlord Fraedderic is known for his friendly demeanor and his penchant for dabbling in healing magic.

House Viehn

Patron House: House Verger

Primary Population: Mixed Imperial Races

Sigil: Shepherd's Crook

Industry: Livestock

Head of House: Highlord Winin Viehn

House Viehn is in charge of all livestock and cattle within the Empire. Any meat dish, beef, chicken, pork, veal, or mutton, is almost guaranteed to come from one of the livestock farms operated by House Viehn.

In addition to this aspect of the livestock are the Horse Breeding farms in owned by House Viehn. Though they are overseen by one of the House Viehn’s vassals, Lady Katherine Venmoor, horse breeding is an enormously important portion of House Viehn’s operations as mounts from the Imperial Army come from House Viehn. Highlord Viehn is a former scout and cavalry officer in the Imperial Army so he knows what type of horses the military prefers.

House Schule

Patron House: House Sterne

Primary Population: Humans, Stone Elves, Biata

Sigil: An open book

Industry: Education

Head of House: Highlord Muncy Schule, Human Male

House Schule oversees all of the universities and educational institutions within House Sterne, which is the vast majority of the learning institutions within the Empire.

The head of House Schule is an aged human who is a highly respected celestial mage and master educator who has the odd habit of occasionally referring to himself in the third person.

House Zauber

Patron House: House Sterne

Primary Population: Humans, Stone Elves, lesser amounts of other Imperial races

Sigil: Scroll

Industry: Mage’s Guilds

Head of House: Highlady Merisa Zauber

House Zauber manages the Mage’s Guilds across the Empire for their overlords, House Sterne. They oversee and assign the Guildmasters and the day to day operations of the guilds for their overlords. Traditionally they assign their scrollmaking industry to one of their more trusted Lords.

Highlady Merisa is a human woman who is a highly capable celestialist.

House Arzen

Patron House: House Heinlein

Primary Population: Mixed Imperial races

Sigil: A Phoenix

Industry: Healer’s Guilds

Head of House: Highlord Quirilyn Summerwell

House Arzen manages the Healer’s Guilds for House Heinlein, overseeing the day to day operations and finances of the Mages Guilds. They also are responsible for assigning the Guildmasters of the various guilds across the Empire. Traditionally they assign their potion making industry to one of their more trusted Lords.

Highlord Quirilyn is a male Child of Storm who is well loved for his personal policy of healing anyone in need.

House Anglen

Patron House: House Meer

Seat: Kroft Island

Primary Population: Humans, Wylderkin, Mystic Wood Elves, some Hoblings

Sigil: a fish

Industry: Fishing

Head of House: Highlord Govant Anglen

House Anglen is responsible for the vast majority of the fishing and processing for House Meer. Nearly any seafood consumed by the citizens of the Empire is captured, returned to port and processed by House Anglen.The head of the house, Govant Anglen, is a tough old human warrior. House Anglin is one of the few minor houses to have it’s own seat and, even though it’s one of the tiny Inmouth Islands, that is still a mark of some prestige for the House.



House Seglin

Patron House: House Meer

Primary Population: Humans, Wylderkin, Mystic Wood Elves, Some Hoblings

Sigil: A Lighthouse

Industry: Sailing

Head of House: Highlord Aladrynn Seglin

Though the Empire has its own navy and House Anglin has its own fishing fleet, things besides fish and soldiers need to be carried around Ostenwasser Sea and Maelstrom Bay. That is where House Seglin and its trade ships come into play. Anytime cargo, passengers or anything else needs naval transport House Seglin is hired to transport them.

The head of the house is a Getragen named Aladrynn Seglin. Highlord Aladrynn is well known for his crafting skills.

House Schoffbauer

Patron House: House Meer

Primary Population: Humans, Mystic Wood Elves, some Hoblings

Sigil: A carpenter’s hammer

Industry: Shipbuilding

Head of House: Highlady Lefessa Schoffbauer

This house is responsible for the design and construction of all non military ships in the Empire. All fishing boats used by House Anglen, and the transport ships used by House Seglin, as well as any pleasure craft of wealthy merchants and nobles, are made by House Schoffbauer. Their main construction yards are in Meerport, though they Naval Base on Liber Island also has construction facilities that House Schoffbauer uses for some projects.

The head of Schoffbauer is Lefessa Schoffbauer, a skilled human ship designer who is a dabbler in magic.
 

henrythemad

Artisan
Venerable Order of Chivalry

By Sir Jennik Dovis



Introduction

The Venerable Order of Chivalry is an independent organization dedicated to upholding and spreading the teaching of the Code of Chivalry. We live by the Code, and spread the teachings of the Code. We do not serve any nation or master other than the Code and the Exemplar Chivalric.


Our Knights travel the realm independently attempting to strike out at evil and do good wherever they go. The Order teaches that you needn’t be a knight or squire to live your life according to the Code of Chivalry, every man and woman can do so. Knighthood is for those who would dedicate their entire lives and their very being to upholding and teaching the Code.


The Order is led by a council called the Exemplar Chivalric. This council consists of five paladins that are considered the exemplars of the Code of Chivalry. They are granted the honorific of Sir Paladin or Dame Paladin. Among them they will select one to act as Grand Paladin, who can command in times of crisis and acts as the primary spokesman for the Order, though in general the Exemplar Chivalric lead the Order by consensus of the five.


The typical member of the Order is a knight, referred to with the honorific of Sir or Dame. Knights will often wander the realms within the maelstrom seeking to help people, spread the tenets of the Code of Chivalry and defend the populace against evil.


Those wishing to join the order must find a knight to sponsor them. If the knight agrees, the applicant becomes his or her squire. A knight is responsible for ensuring that their squires know and understand the Code of Chivalry, obey it, and are able to defend themselves, the people, and fight evil. When a knight feels their squire is ready they petition the paladins who will test the knight. If they pass their tests, they become a knight and full member of the Order. If they fail the paladins will decide if they may try again at some point after they address their failings or if they are simply not suited to knighthood. There is no shame in a squire quitting or not able to live up to the skills and ideals of knighthood. By design the trials are difficult as a knight must devote themselves fully and entirely to the Code over any other loyalties, a requirement that is difficult for even the most dedicated and good hearted squire to attain. Many former squires still serve the Order in other capacities and they are welcomed to serve the Code in ways that better suit their strengths.


The Order holds monthly local meetings and one fairly large week-long event in the summer, where individuals come together and have contests of marital and crafting skill, as well a small informal feast called a Cook Out.


The Code

-Thou Shalt Respect the weak, teach them to be strong, and constitute thyself the defender of them until they may stand on their own. (This is most often interpreted as: “Take care of those who cannot, but teach them to be strong.”)


-Thou shalt love the land to which thou hast sworn fealty, and the peoples that thou hast sworn to protect. (Love the Empire!)


-Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy. (This is most often interpreted as: “Be Brave, don’t let fear rule your heart”)


-Thou shalt make war upon evil without cessation. (This is most often interpreted as: “Strive to make the world better!”)


-Thou shalt perform the duties of the Champion, and make them the laws of the land. Scrupulously in deed and scrupulous in aims, let not darkness and evil pave the way for good and righteousness. (The first part of this tenant is illegal in the Empire, as the Order does not have the power to enforce laws. Though some members of the Order petition houses for laws that are more in line with the Code with some regularity. The second tenant is considered more important in day to day life to be scrupulous in intention and deeds and to not do evil for the sake of doing good.)


-Thou shalt not lie and thou shalt remain faithful to thy word. (This one is quite straightforward: Don’t lie, don’t go back on your word.)


-Thou shalt be Generous and give freely to others who are deserving, and who shalt not take solely for their own greed. Thou shalt give to those who would not be made weaker or dependent upon thee from the receiving of the giving. (“Don’t be greedy, give to people who need it, but not to their detriment”).

-Thou shalt everywhere and always be the Champion of the right and the good against injustice and evil. (This is most often interpreted as: “Everywhere you go, always be good” and is often considered important to cover anything not specifically discussed in the previous tenants.)


History

Our history hearkens back to one knight: Dame Isabella Ryatt. Our legend states she hailed from a kingdom whose laws were based upon the Code of Chivalry and whose nobles all had to follow the Code before being granted power. Dame Isabella became trapped within the Maelstrom but brought with her the teachings of the Code and spread them to any who wished to learn. It was not long before she had attracted several followers and began to teach them the Code of Chivalry as well as skill of arms. By the time she died the seeds of the Venerable Order of Chivalry had been planted.


Since the very beginning the Order found common interest with the Storm’ren of House Heinlein as both groups were vehemently opposed to slavery, and the more eloquent members of the Order lent their aid to the Storm’Ren to push for its abolition with the Empire. More martial members of the Order would often physically defend abolition proponents from attacks of pro-slavery extremists that would occasionally crop up over the years or would focus on freeing slaves held amongst the pirate clans of the Ostenwasser Sea. In spite of this shared goal with the Storm’Ren, however, the Order was very careful to avoid alliances with any state or national entity and remain neutral.


The Order also played a major part in the ending of Cyndarian’s War a thousand years ago. Acting as an impartial mediator between the Empire and Quyah’scenthaal the Order was able to broker a peace between the two great nations and facilitate the signing of the Treaty of Maelstrom Bay. Many knights even participated in the Durchblasen - a program agreed upon in the treaty for hunting down necromancers within the Empire and bringing them to justice.


Emperor Brand II was so grateful to the Order for their contribution to the peace treaty that they granted the Order a small tower northwest of Ackerland to act as their headquarters, which was named Highhonor Tower. The tower borders the Kingdom of Orentis and the Western Wildlands and members of the Order have been known to travel into the Wildlands to fight monsters there. The Order was also granted the right to bear colors and a sigil, a right granted to no other commoner organization in the history of the Empire. To honor Dame Isabella her personal sigil from her old homeland was chosen: a half purple, half silver shield, with a peregrine falcon.


Though no member of the Order has any authority over the citizenry of the Empire or the right to enforce the law, most recognize us as a beneficial organization who helps to fight threats to the populace. We encourage any who wish to learn about the Code to seek us out.
 
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