The Imperium is the largest and most powerful realm of the Old Continent. It was founded little over sixty years ago when Marius the Great, king of Minthras conquered the elven kingdom of Londar. Since then its rulers pursued aggressive expansion, making the Imperium one of the strongest realms in the history of the continent. Its most recent expansion was the conquest of the Cleaver tribes and the failed conquest of Rubia.
One of the most important pillars of the Imperium’s power is the Imperial Law, a set of policies aimed at homogenizing the empire’s diverse population, granting equal rights to all sentient beings along with the duty to serve the Emperor without question or hesitation. Once imperial rule is established in newly conquered lands all previous titles and deeds are meaningless, all wealth is redistributed and the vanquished are given a choice: serve or die. Although the Imperium’s treatment of newly conquered lands is harsh, in time these territories become fully fledged provinces whose people are subject to the same laws as all imperial citizens and enjoy the protection of the Emperor.
The Imperium’s main justification for expansion is that it brings “law, order and civilization” to its “barbaric neighbors”. They view the feudal system as inherently corrupt where the abuses of petty lords are left unchecked, while they regard tribes and nomads as “savages who desperately need the guiding light of civilization”.Despite its aggressive expansion and brutal subjugation of new lands, many foreigners are sympathetic to the imperial ideals. The Imperium’s emphasis on law, order and the execution of justice is appealing to many lawful characters who have become disillusioned with the excesses of the nobility in the feudal system. Similarly, many chaotic characters enjoy watching as the kings and lords, who once boasted of their right to rule, are stripped of their privileges and forced to kneel.
Pillars of Power Edit
The Imperium is currently ruled by Emperor Marius II of the Augustus dynasty, grandson of the first Emperor, whose authority in all matters is absolute. To the outsiders the Imperium looks like a single immense war machine obeying only the will of the Emperor, but in reality there are a number of factions within the empire vying for power and the Emperor’s favor:
- The Arcane Directorium oversees the application of magic within the empire (including the creation of Edicts) and provides the infamous inquisitors, masters of mind reading, who ensure the loyalty of those in power.
- The core of the empire’s armed forces is the Imperial Legion. These are elite troops whose loyalty is beyond question. They live and die by the Emperor's wish. Very recently there were 6 legions, each number approximately 8000 soldiers. However, one whole legion was lost during the Battle of Oringrad, making the current number 5.
- The bulk of the empire’s forces are not legionnaires but members of the Crimson Tide who are mostly recruited by force or coercion. Their numbers are hard to gauge as it changes rapidly during conquests, but during peacetime the Tide has about 100000 soldiers.
- The day-to-day life of the Imperium is governed by the Imperial Senate, although senators are better known for looking out for themselves than for the commoners.
- The Imperium puts extreme emphasis on the rule of law and the execution of justice which is handled by the Imperial Magistratus.The Magistratus has a mixed reputation, for every impartial and incorruptible magistrate there is one that is more than willing to take a bribe.
- The Phoenix Guard are the best the Imperial Army has to offer. These highly trained soldiers are under the personal command of the Emperor. Apart from serving as his bodyguards they are mostly used to carry out high-risk covert operations.
The Empire has conquered a number of kingdoms and principalities but not all of it was achieved through military might. When an enemy is too strong (or troublesome) to deal with through conventional methods the Imperium turns to its most fearsome weapon: the Edicts. These weapons have such a fearsome reputation that smaller countries often willingly submit to imperial rule.
Unlike smaller realms (e.g. Rubia) the Imperium does not have a preferred deity. The citizens are free to follow any god from the Pantheon of Life (this includes all non-evil deities). Although most citizens have a preferred god, but since the Gods have disjoint domains, people often pray to other ones as well if their help is needed.
The worship of gods that are not part of the Pantheon of Life (e.g. evil gods, dragons) is forbidden by Imperial Law, the punishment ranges from flogging to death.
Recent History EditThe Imperium’s last major conquests were the Kingdom of Ilorin and the Land of the Cleavers (Rubia’s former neighbour). Ilorin fell quickly to the Imperium’s might, but the druids of the Elderwoods managed to resist its armies as they turned the forest itself against the invaders. Although they posed no real threat, their refusal to submit angered the newly crowned Emperor Marius so much that he had the Edict of Nightfall proclaimed on them: “Those who resist the Light of Civilization deserve to suffer in Darkness. Let the Sun not rise over the Elderwoods as long as anyone within defies the just rule of the Imperium”. Darkness fell upon the forest. The druids used all their magic but it was to no avail, they could not save the forest just postpone the inevitable. Without the Sun, the forest slowly died and the druids died with it. After 6 years the Sun finally rose above the dead forest which the locals renamed as the Silent Grove.
The conquest of the Cleaver lands was relatively quick as the squabbling tribes were too slow to realize that only a unified response could hope to stop the invaders. Despite aid from both Rubia and Cascadia the orcs were defeated at the Battle of Ragged Gorge. The remaining orcish warriors either kneeled or fled to the mountains in the west.
Now the Imperium borders the Kingdom of Rubia. Although the empire is still recovering from its most recent conquest, the weakened state of Rubia provided an opportunity too good to pass up. When wealthy members of the Imperial Senate offered to organize and fund the campaign the Emperor allowed them to proceed with the invasion of Rubia. This endeavor ultimately ended in failure due to the intervention of The Faultless Arrow who captured the Edict of Fire and turned it against the Imperial Army and the city or Oringrad.
The catastrophic failure of the Rubian campaign shook the Empire to its very core: the Imperial Army had never known defeat before. The Emperor and the Senate were quick to lay the blame on Cassius Hardalio who funded and led the expedition. Within days he was tried and executed, one less domestic adversary for Emperor Marius. Still, the blemish on the Imperium's honor has to be cleansed and Marius is already planning his next move.
Meanwhile Marius has to contend with enemies at home as well. Now that he is the first emperor to lose a war, he is painfully reminded that he is emperor only as long as he can make most of his powerful vassals happy. Also, not everyone is happy with his pursuits of immortality, especially not his heirs. With a weakened emperor various factions have begun fighting for supremacy in the Great Game.
With the discovery of divine amber by Archmage Zykora it seemed the fortunes of the Imperium were turning. These contained an immense amount of magical power, allowing the Imperium to cast Edicts without preparation. But Zykora's laboratory was soon destroyed and these experiments have unleashed the Sorrow on the Imperium. This lead to an increasingly desperate fight where the Imperium suffered very heavy losses. In the end Prince Gregor sacrificed himself to use the Godhammer to destroy the Sorrow.
The most profound effect of the conflict with the Sorrow was not the enormous loss of wealth or life. It was the fear, something that the people of the Imperium have not felt for a long time. One of the primary reasons for the Imperium was to provide safety and stability. If it can't do that, why put up with it?
Yet, there was a silver lining to this: the Imperium defeated a god that threatened all mortals and it was the Emperor's son that gave his life for it. Until this point the Imperium had poor relations with their neighbors but suddenly everyone in the Old Continent saw them as the Protectors of Civilization. While the Imperium lost quite a bit of its military might, it has gained a lot of goodwill in the process. If used strategically, diplomacy can be just as effective as an army...
Provinces and Territories Edit
All land annexed by the Imperium first becomes a territory under military control. This usually lasts for several years during which Imperial Law is established: lands are redistributed, the local government and garrison are organized. After the transition the realm becomes a fully fledged province of the Imperium and all of its inhabitants are citizens of the empire.
Provincia Minthras Edit
The former Kingdom of Minthras, this is the heart of the Imperium. Bordered by the Silkstone mountains, Minthras has a little bit of everything: fertile plains, ore rich mountains and lush woodlands. The area is highly populated but no city compares to the Imperial City, the shining jewel of the Old Continent and the Imperium. This is where the Imperial Court resides along with innumerable merchant and craftsmen guilds fueled by the wealth flowing in from all corners of the continent.
Provincia Londar Edit
The second territory to be acquired by the Imperium, the former elven kingdom is mostly covered by the Forest of Londar that is rich both in game and resources. Although its conquest was brutal but most old wounds have healed in the past 60 years mostly due to the apparent prosperity that the Imperium's further conquests have brought.
Provincia Hastogar Edit
Formerly the kingdoms of North and South Hastogar these fertile lands were ruled by two branches of the Stonemour dynasty. By taking advantage of the incessant feud between them the newly founded Imperium easily conquered them. Now this province serves as the bread basket of the empire.
Provincia Dorahl Edit
The former dwarven kingdom is a treasure trove of high quality metals and precious stones, greatly contributing to the wealth of the Imperial Treasury. This is also the Imperium's source of adamantine which is crucial to the Imperial Legion. Unlike other provinces the local thanes and guildmasters were allowed to keep their positions and properties to avoid disrupting production and losing the famous dwarven know-how of forging adamantine.
Provincia Gnomehearth Edit
The homeland of gnomes on the Old Continent, this hilly area is densely populated. When the threat of the Imperium became apparent the gnome city states banded together to form a unified resistance. No one expected the tiny gnomes to put up much of a fight, but - to the surprise of the other races who always underestimate them - the gnomes managed something nobody else in history could: they defeated one of the Imperial Legions (note that Imperial historians dispute this as the gnome army was subsequently wiped out by an Edict, allowing the Legion to quickly regroup and claim victory). Now Gnomehearth is the industrial center of the empire (not counting the Imperial City).
Provincia Ilorin Edit
Ilorin was a small kingdom with a weak king, it was only a matter of time before the Imperium attacked. When the attack came there was little resistance (except for the druids of the Elderwoods) and the transition to imperial rule was completed within a year. Imperial rule did not change much in Ilorin, it remained a quiet, peaceful place that most travelers just pass through, except the Silent Grove. That is where the Edict of Nightfall struck and now it reminds all of the price of resistance.
"Little Wasteland" is one of the newest provinces of the Imperium. What makes it unique is that it was not conquered from people but from Nature itself: roads and towns were built and wells were dug to make this part of the Eastern Waste habitable. This venture is fueled by the promise of vast underground riches that are supposed to lie just underneath the sand and rock.
Plains of Ao Edit
A large windswept plain with little population, most of which is concentrated along the main road. Nominally part of the Imperium for two decades but in reality imperial authority is only recognized along the roads, the nomads of the plains care little for the Empire. As long as the tribes steer clear of the trading routes and have nothing of value, the Emperor doesn't mind either.
Land of Cleavers Edit
A recent conquest from the orc tribes. The lands itself is not particularly fertile or rich in ore, but the constant raids from the tribes and the access it provides to richer targets (e.g. Free Cities, Rubia) necessitated the conquest. Due to the barbarity of its inhabitants and the difficult terrain it is expected to take at least a decade to establish Imperial Law in this region.
Lower Free Cities Edit
During the invasion of Rubia the Free Cities willingly submitted to imperial rule but as the tide of war turned the Imperium was forced to abandon the Upper Free Cities so that they could maintain their hold on the Lower Free Cities and the Golden Bay, one of the richest commercial centers of the continent.