The World of Imris
Imris is a fantasy world set 900 years into the second mortal era. The gods were born to shape the world and make the mortal races, then they lived among us until their warring forced them to depart to new planes lest they destroy their creations. Mortals then lived in the aftermath growing mighty and spreading new civilization before doing battle with the last god who hid themselves when all others left. The aftermath of that battle became known as the Blight, several centuries after that is the world of now. The once great empires weakened or gone and much magic and lore has been forgotten, lost to the ruin and waiting to be rediscovered. Recovery has been slow and civilization exists thanks to the efforts of adventurers.
Races of Imris
Humans are the most common race in Imris by a fair margin, however they are shorter lived than the other most common races. Humans are an industrious lot, where other races are content to have a bit more patience in their life humans cannot afford that luxury. As a result Humans tend to have the greatest empires but also with some exceptions the shortest lasting. Where the Dwarf and Elcar realms are much smaller even at their height, they also tend to last much longer as a result of longer lived rulers and more emphasis on tradition where Humans tend towards progress. Most humans stand anywhere from 5 to over 6 feet with a weight of 100-200 pounds. The origin of Humans is somewhat of a contentious notion, some claim that all the races are descended from the Elves that existed before even Istarelk, sometimes called “True Elves” and that even Dwarves (who maintain their divine creation by Khordal), Gnomes, Kobolds and all the other races share these ancestors. Others claim Humans were made as animals and only given knowledge by Alamain during creation, attributing the supposed baseness of humans to this idea. Most people think they, like Elves and Dwarves, were created by one or several of the gods when all the races were made individually.
Into peril goes the deadly fated Legionnaire
Fighting demons dark is the burden they do bear
Not for victory, but the good of all alive
To hold the wall, fight, not for glory or for fame
The Dark Dragon is coming, see his wings there dive
Alight dread Shadowflame, their doom but not their shame
For battle sharp and steady, their swords he will find
No cowards in the line, hold ready for mankind
The Dragon flies, but the Dead Legion marches on
-Intro to the Ballad of the Dead legion: author unknown
Ramnians are still the most widespread amongst the humans even after a half of their richest farmland was cratered in the Blight causing it to sink beneath the Gulf of Ramns. Ramnians tend to have brown hair and eyes but other colors aren’t uncommon, they tend to be of middling height and weight for humans. The Ramnian Empire was the largest Empire the world had seen since the Mythic Epoch, controlling the entirety of the continent east of the Khor mountains. Since the Blight it has collapsed into just its core territory of the Ithian peninsula and the Sier River valley. Ramnians consider themselves to be a great people only temporarily brought low by recent events, even if these events happened a millennium ago. Still their perseverance has won them the respect of the longer lived races and they tend to have the best relationships with the other races of all humans. Ramnians place great stock in bloodlines, despite the empire at its height being more or less a meritocracy, corruption in the post-Blight period has resulted in increased nepotism and accumulation of power in several families as opposed to the empire and its bureaucracy. Still Ramnians are renowned for being great scholars, arcanists, and soldiers the world over. The current emperor is Amnathir III, though relatively young at the age of 27 he has been ruling since the age of 15 and has proven to be popular despite a tumultuous reign with both external and internal struggle. Still the successful defense of the south and the ousting of the treacherous Grand Duke of Vicant have marked his reign with success that his past few predecessors have lacked even if it was largely due to the heroic acts of adventurers in his employ. It is still unclear if this can be seen as a righting of the ship or merely a few strokes of luck.
Those Ramnians who live in the Seir Riverlands are some of the oldest Imperial subjects, but have grown somewhat disconnected with the capital in recent centuries due to waning Imperial power and growing local authority in the form of various local lords, particularly the Grand Duke of Vicant and the Duke of Ferran. Increased autonomy as a result of the nobility becoming more entrenched in their positions from a mixture of nepotism, mismanagement, and poor judgement on the part of a few emperors, has resulted in the Sier noble lands being essentially independent realms paying lip service to the emperor in Ramns. Despite this, those Ramnians living in the River lands are amongst the most ardent patriots that can be found in the empire and the refrain of the Legionnaire can be heard in the streets “Into Peril goes the Legionnaire! All for Ramns would I bare!” with the accompanying Ballad of the Dead Legion being the most popular song in the empire. The Seirites tend to mostly stick to Ramnian cultural norms being mostly cosmopolitan or living in and around highly fertile farmland. As a direct result of lessened presence of monsters and other outside dangers Seirites are much more easy going than people living in other parts of the world, or even the empire.
The largest city in Seir is Vicant ruled by the Grand Duke of Vicant, a man by the name of Ovillius Contilin. Duke Contilin is not an overly public figure, he is well known among the nobility for being somewhat reserved if not generous and overall the consummate gentleman. However the Duke is not a dullard or at least someone in his court isn’t, over the course of his life the Duke has done well for his city and the outlying parts of his duchy. In particular the creation of the Contilinian Guard as move to become more autonomous from imperial control by establishing a local rival to the “Emperor's Own”, the Emperor’s Guard, is seen as a shrewd move because it gives the duke more control over his lands. He has also come out on top in several dealings with his immediate rival the Duke of Ferran gaining control of several bordering estates through marriage and diplomacy.
The city of Vicant itself is perhaps the quickest growing city in the world at the moment. It straddles the banks of the Yhone with the main administrative center, along with the Palace of the Grand Duke, “Iomicil Dan Contilin”, being located on a large island in the middle of the river. The north bank comprises the majority of the city, and most of the major temples are along the north shore. The south bank on the other hand is newer, not as well defended, and not as dense.
The North Shore is comprised of about three major districts. On the north bank there is a double wall, the outer wall is quite large and has five gates which are roughly equidistant. Inside the outer wall the buildings tend to be unconnected and at most two stories tall. It is greener and more open, though that has been changing as the population of the city grows far surpassing pre-blight populations. The inner wall is not quite as grand in thickness as the outer and is roughly a half oval with three main gates and a multitude of smaller ones. A plurality of the population lives within the confines of the inner gate, about 1/3rd total. The buildings here are cramped but most don’t get higher than three stories aside from the Grand temples, most of which are along the river bank.
Connected to the north bank by three ornate bridges is the island of Vicant. Aside from the palace of the duke there are two temples and a variety of high end shops, inns, and homes, which mainly service nobility who make the city their primary residence. The palace of the duke itself is a sprawling manor/castle with several tall and thin marble towers jutting up into the sky capped with pointed roofs. Other than the towers the palace is around six stories tall with a large ballroom in the center and two wings around a courtyard in the front. The back is dominated by a giant circular stained glass window depicting the defense of the city during the blight and the stand of Duke (later Grand Duke) Korvis at the outer gates.
Connected to the island by two bridges is the south bank which has a single semi-circular wall. It is a nicer part of the city much like the outer wall but not quite as well planned out and can be somewhat confusing for newcomers. It is overall a solidly middle class portion of the city, leaning towards servicing mercantile interests with the homes of many shipping companies, banks and other such ventures which ply the river east and west for their trade. Further south of the wall there is a scattering of clusters of buildings unprotected where folk who work the fields outside the city live, along with the inns for those who miss the curfew or can’t afford something inside.
In Ithain lies Ramns proper, the painted city, marvel of marble, city of emperors, and center of Imperial Power for two thousand years. Ramns is almost a country unto itself. It is the largest city in Imris and even people from the other great cities find themselves staggered by its sheer size. Situated on a gently rising slope from the sea towards the Calans mountains, nearly the whole city can be seen at once when viewed from the sea. Near to the rear of the city atop a hill stands the Imperial Palace of Aumanstis crowning the city like a white diamond. The palace itself is a large complex of several different structures enclosed in a relatively short stone wall. The first and largest is the emperor's quarters where the imperial family has lived for centuries. It contains all sorts of magical wonders, it’s own sizable bath complex, entertainment areas, a dining hall, and various chambers for the family and close guests. Other notable locations in the city are the Lyceum of the Magistrates, the Library of Enthasin, Temple Village, The Forum of the three Emperors which is by far the largest of the six forums in the city and the only one which locals will refer to as “the Forum”, and Mithrenen’s Dome a towering feat of engineering and magic built 900 years ago. The Dome is so large it has been known to have its own clouds and rain inside.
The city itself is divided in several ways, the river splits the city in half aside from a few islands near the mouth of the river. The two sides are conjoined by two dozen bridges. The eastbank bank of the river contains about 2/3rds of the city overall and most of the important or well known structures. Additionally each bank has a large wall which protects the majority of the buildings on either side of the river, both are made out of enchanted granite. These walls divide the so-called “New Quarters” from the “Old Quarters” though both are many centuries or millennia old at this point. The “New Quarters” are principally any city buildings outside the major walls aside from the farming plots and various estates that make up the greater region. The New Quarters themselves are home to tens of thousands of inhabitants who tend towards laborers or simpler craftspeople.
Inside the walls the most important district is the Imperial hill. This is where the Palace complex and much of the important bureaucracy for both the city and the Empire sits, while it used to be nearly the center of the city nowadays it is closer to the northeast portion of the eastbank. Most of the buildings here are made of Marble and are sizable. Few living quarters apart from the palace are located here. The Imperial Palace of Aumanstis itself is a large complex made up of several buildings and surrounded by an enchanted wall of similar construction to the city walls. Most of the protective measures of the palace are magical as opposed to physical and the wall primarily acts as a sight barrier and to deter common folk from stumbling into the palace grounds. The main building is the home of the emperor and contains both sleeping quarters for the imperial family and up to a few hundred guests as well as several receiving halls for the emperor to hold audiences, the different halls are suited for different levels of formality and to suit different sized parties. The main hall is the Audience Chamber of Aumanstis, which holds the Throne of Ramns. An intricate marble chair, the back has a carved depiction of the founder of the city which grew into an empire, Ramnidian the Great, each of the legs is a critical figure in early Ramnian history, Falathamir the Bold who united the Peninsula is the front left leg, Artanian the first Emperor is the front right leg, Khorthamir the dwarf friend is the right rear leg, and Tathir the Doomed is the left rear leg. The Emperor’s throne sits in the middle of the hall on a layered dais of black marble and each of the throne’s legs faces outward. Behind this building are the Palace gardens which are additionally a sort of botanical collection with plants from all over the world some with magical properties themselves. The Gardens connect the domicile to the bathhouses of Trathanian built before the blight; they are an incredibly luxurious display of arcane prowess and wealth. Though they primarily serve the Imperial family they can service up to five hundred guests at once. Other buildings serve as the homes of various servants, guard quarters, a small scale theater, training building, and other such things.
The second most important district in the city is the Arsandil’s Town, also known as Arcanist’s Block, or more generally referred to by its most important institution, The Lyceum of Ramns. Founded relatively early on in the history of Ramns by Arsandil of Halan, also known as “The Arcanist” or “The Scholar” the Lyceum is one part school and one part beaurocratic institution that manages the Arcane within the Empire. Each year the Lyceum accepts a number of students to train them as wizards, sorcerers, bards or any other kind of wielder of the Arcane. Enrollment costs a flat fee of one gold for the first semester, though this is waived at times, after that tuition depends on what the head magistrates determine to be justified based on your ability and personal wealth. As an institution of learning the Lyceum is unmatched, not even Sarsaranid in Tal’Anfagon can boast as great an access to materials, teachers, or opportunities. The current head of the Lyceum is Master Magister Hafred d’Arnom, the closely trusted advisor of the emperor. Arcanists who wish to open up stores or do business dealings within the empire are intended to register with the Lyceum or their local Magistrate.
It’s hard to pin capital Ramnians down, due to the sheer size of the city and the variety of races and people from all over Imris living there it tends to be somewhat of a roil of cultures. While Ramnian born humans make up the majority at around 3/4ths of the population, the influence of Elcar, All the other cultures of men, Dwarves, Gnomes, and recently even Kobolds can be felt walking the streets of the city. Visiting the city a person could be forgiven for not knowing or even believing that the Empire is in decline, such is its exuberance. However even here in the Grand City of Emperors can the presence be felt. Crime which in the height of imperial power was virtually non-existent or on a small enough scale not to be worth mentioning, has taken a sharp uptick in the city in the past few centuries and while no part of Ramns could truly be called a slum the less maintained parts of the city are awash with drug smugglers, ten-jot’s, cutpurses, and failed magistrates taken to the streets. Ramnians and other peoples living here tend to be fairly self-absorbed, It becomes hard to think of anything outside the city after spending long enough time there and while every other farmers children want to go off to see the world and become an adventurer, that’s less true of those who’ve lived in the city.
The people living on or around Torsen Dan Ramn, known more commonly as The Broken Road in recent times, are technically are still part of imperial control but the empire lacks the resources or the organization to properly maintain any direct influence over the area so it is mostly ruled by minor lords or is under the influence of local demagogues. Unlike in the riverlands of Seir the local lords here only hold sway by virtue of the empire being unable to dedicate resources as opposed to years of internal corruption, though the problems are intertwined. It’s a much poorer area overall as well with the richest farmland being sunk beneath the shallow gulf as a result of the Blighting. While the Duke of Geran might hold the same title as the Duke of Ferran, Geran’s estate is little more than that of a Barons in Sier. The people of the Road know best the state of the Empire, it is failing, and in it pervades the emptiness of a people who no longer believe they will rise again and feel that the best days are behind, not like to be seen again. Walking the streets of Barindi where the ruins of buildings never reclaimed after the Blight are more common than those where people still live, looking out upon what remains of the towers of Blackened Geran, Torsen Salael Geran, the city where Vorkar’shai layed down shadowflame, is naught but a reminder of what had been.
Ashen tend to be on the shorter side typically with brown hair and light eyes. Those living along the crescent of the Ashen Gulf and in Saris and Feaport have taken on a much different culture over the years since Feaport, Lanistan, and Torlus declared themselves to be The Ashen League. Saris and the other towns along the crescent joining some years later. The Ashen League was formed as a direct result of no Ramnian aid being given after the eruption of the Tip, a giant volcano sitting on the edge of the Crescent Peninsula. The eruption triggered a widespread famine in the area around the gulf which the empire's heartland was mostly unaffected by. Ramns, however, lacked the necessary surplus grain to give to the Ash coast without being forced to ration the imperial heartland, a prospect that could not be risked in the eyes of emperor Histasis II as the Grand Duke of Vicant was already looking for excuses to increase the autonomy of his demesne. The cities later recovered with some losses in life but they never forgave the empire and have no wish to return to being its subjects. The League is a loose confederation of local lords and city governors with no real central authority to speak of. While the League Council in theory has powers of state such as the authority to raise troops and write laws, they lack any means of raising taxes to pay for troops or administrators to enforce the laws. In effect the League is little more than an alliance between local magnates with the singular mandatory duty of ensuring proper grain storage and cooperation in the event of a famine. The only real organization in the league government are the Grain men (officially the Grain overseers of the Ashen League, and now called the Golden Order) who are funded with a percentage of the collected grain they take for storage, though in more recent years they acted as the unofficial army of the league in cooperation with the ashdwarves when battling against an invasion of Hobgoblins. Ashens themselves are a jovial people, they delight in music and storytelling, especially in Torlus, and many bards of great renown have been born here. Torlus also produces a disproportionate number of adventurers who think to try their hand at the Tower. The Tower is an ancient monolith of stone rising out over the city like a sheer mountain, built either by some unknown god or arcanist of ages past and its purpose is not really understood. However it seems that the tower is somewhat mutable as different accounts of the inside have been made by different groups who have entered. Regardless there is but one entrance and is warded against teleportation but contains riches from the second epoch of the gods. The reward is grand but more people die or are driven mad inside before becoming rich and powerful, in fact there’s only a handful of people who’ve ever gone in and come out the better for it in the last few millennia. That hasn’t stopped people from trying every few years.
Witten Goldcloak and Seh’saya’s Invasion
The Hobgoblin invasion was a series of raids and battles that occurred one hundred years ago when the hobgoblin Warlord Seh’saya united the hobgoblin generals and banners living in the south-easternmost portion of the Khor mountains in between the Ramnian empire and Sothren. They had been raiding into both the southern Ramnian empire and the kingdom of Remnad in centuries before but never in very large groups and they were mostly repelled after taking some plunder. Seh’saya however had set his sights on being a conqueror and had felt that the Ashen league would be the weakest target since it had a smaller army than any of its other neighbors even when taking into account the Ashen dwarves. The Hobgoblin army marched through the edges of Lithrion forest dealing with minor skirmishes from elves and druids but managed to make it through without alerting the Ashen league. They set about recruiting the Bugbear tribes living in the Ashmout, small in number but excellent scouts and raiders, and whatever goblin clans they could find along the way. The bulk of the hobgoblins lay siege to Saris, Feaport, and Lanistan while the rest of them along with the mercenary bugbears and goblins raided down making their way to the coast. Initially the Ashen league was sent reeling, with no standing army and lacking coordination between the individual cities and towns militias they were outmatched by the much more disciplined and better lead hobgoblins under Seh’saya. The Grain men of the Ashen league at this point heeded the call of Witten Goldcloak, who greatly expanded the role of the Grain men (now called the “Golden Order”). He recruited men from the countryside citing his order to “ensure the safety the Ashen leagues food supply”, an incredibly broad reading of the charge but the league was in no place to contest his interpretation. He formed an army and pushed west beating back the raiding army sent southward with the aid of the Ashen dwarves. Seh’saya lifted the sieges to march to meet Witten Goldcloak in battle. The two armies met just outside Carden at what is now called the battle of Carden with Witten and his dwarven allies being still significantly outnumbered as the majority of the hobgoblin raiding force had retreated, not been killed. Witten was able to use the Dwarf engineers to erect battle defenses that Seh’saya didn’t have time to and used both his archers and cavalry to much greater effect than Seh’saya. Goblins tend to use shortbows which are significantly out ranged by the longbows used by hobgoblins and men but goblins made up over half of Seh’saya’s archers so he was effectively outranged. The warg riders which act of goblinoid cavalry are far less effective in open battle than horses, lacking barding and being less effective in a charge. Witten used both facts to his advantage relying on the hobgoblins being forced to march up towards his defenses thinning them out before the charge of knights. The battle was still close however, hobgoblins numbers making the difference, the tipping point happened when Witten called for Aramis’s aid and led a charge of knights, his brown cloak glowing golden blinding the hobgoblins.
Since the hobgoblin invasion the Golden Order as they are now styled (officially they are still the grain overseers of the Ashen League) have exercised their influence. They retain the responsibility of acting as grain collectors but have taken up the duty of collecting some taxes to the chagrin of local lords. This is all done under the justification of fulfilling their duty to “ensure the safety of the Ashen Leagues food supply” by maintaining a trained army. Since the invasion they have commanded widespread respect and admiration among the common people, which is a significant reason why the League has yet to move against them besides the fact that it would inevitably lead to a civil war they might not win. This has resulted in an uneasy peace since the death of Witten Goldcloak who was fervently opposed to the idea of using the army to control the League but saw it as a necessity especially after the war. In all likelihood the situation is a civil war or coup d'etat waiting to happen and Goldcloaks legacy is the only thing that has prevented it so far.
The people of the Isle of Urist are the most culturally detached former Imperials proper having been both the most recently conquered before the blight and the soonest to leave after, with opportunistic locals establishing their own kingdoms. The two major ones are The kingdom of Bryn and the Kingdom of Wyln each controlling roughly one quarter of the island with the main border being along lake Hesh. In the north there are a few petty kingdoms, Ulnith, Youret, and Chornit are sparsely populated in fairly harsh areas with large swaths of empty wilderness. All the kingdoms of the Isle have clashed somewhat but fairly infrequently as they have mostly been concerned with keeping the wilderness at bay. Families tend to be large in Urist with the greater familial support structure being important when the nearest town with any sort of soldiers or adventurers might be a week away or more. Uristers are very superstitious folk, rightfully so as many times something that has been dismissed as superstition has come out of the woods to kill the cows, or worse, the farmers. They tend to be a bit shut in and aren’t quick to trust outsiders unless they’ve got something to barter with. Among each other and anyone who can gain their trust however, they’re a warm people delighting in large gatherings of family and any excuse to have a meal. Their frontiersmen lifestyle also means that most Uristers tend to be a blunt sort, not really having the same concept of, or need for, the more mannered style of speech that a lot of the continentals outside of Norelend tend to have.
The Thratian Peninsula and its immediate environs is divided into a number of small kingdoms and republics as well as a number of principalities. However for most purposes there are four powers in Thrate: Samatias, Athas, Sartus, and Maredos. In general Thratians tend to have a militaristic bent as a result of years of conflict, this is stronger in some areas rather than others. The rocky hill terrain makes offensive warfare somewhat more difficult as large armies are harder to use to full effect, the result has been that Thrate has developed a defensively minded style of warfare with most battles rarely being larger than skirmishes and raids and territory not changing hands often. Despite this the Thratians fight on for control of the peninsula in the wake of the fall of the Kingdom of the Thratians just four hundred years ago due to a mixture of famine and internal squabbling. This was the result of the royal family being killed with a number of pretenders all vying for the claim. Oknos I proclaimed himself high king after killing most of his rivals causing much of the higher nobility outside the capital and many of the various city councils to declare independence under the guise of proclaiming High king Oknos I illegitimate. Oknos I was possibly the worst claimant for the stability of Thrate due to his widespread extreme unpopularity outside the capital in Samatias. The next hundred years were very volatile with constant warfare between the principalities, newly formed kingdoms, and independent cities until stabilizing into roughly the borders we see today, the only large changes to territory being when influence over a principality or city changes from one power to another. Because mercenary forces make up the bulk of most of the Thratian militaries it’s fairly common to see people from all over Thrate fighting together in mercenary companies even against their homelands.
The Four Powers of Thrate
The republic of Athas lies on the southernmost end of the peninsula, technically the second smallest city state ahead of only Sartus, It is the de facto leader of the Thratian Isles Trade League and by extension the ruler of the Principalities of Wetekos, Dirkantis, Xarlas, and the port city of Notas. It is worth noting that The kingdom of Lakri is technically part of the Trade League and as such has some ties to Athas but is not a full member. Athaseans pride themselves on having the largest navy of all the powers, doing the most trade, and being the most educated. Though the last is debatable it is true that the largest Library outside of Ramns is in Athas and that Alamain has a large devoted presence in the city. Athaseans are known either as a friendly bunch and or too tightly wound and like to unwind too quickly depending on who you ask. Fasting is popular in Athas particularly from drinking with many Athaseans claiming it is good for the body. Despite this, Athas buys more spirits than anywhere else in the Peninsula and it's common to hear stories of Athaseans imbibing drinks till they’re sick and then still challenging a dwarf to go a few more rounds with them.
The Kingdom of Sartus is the smallest of the four powers both in direct territory and its subjects but controls the city of Karanth through marriage. This is important because Karanth has the largest single gold mine in Imris and is strategically placed at the center of the peninsula giving Sartus power disproportionate to its size. Culturally Sartuseans are known for being far to unpleasant for their own good. They tend to not wear much emotion on their face thinking it unseemly. Satuseans perhaps somewhat ironically highly value art, especially in the form of paintings, pottery, and weaving. Even the meanest among them has a piece or two to show off to the neighbors and relatives and Sartus produces the finest works of gold, highly prized everywhere for their beauty. Sartuseans hold Kravd the aspect of Khordal primarily concerned with beauty in creation in particularly high regard and the only temple dedicated solely to Kravd in all Imris can be found there.
The Kingdom of Maredos is the northernmost power in Thrate, controlling some of the best farmland on the peninsula proper. It is the de jure liege of the Marquisate of Ilnaxs and is the second largest power in direct territory. While all Thratians have varying degrees of martial prowess Maredosians likely have the best claim to be the best warriors of Thrate. Maredos thrives upon it’s martial culture, skill with blade, bow, or spear is prized in children who are encouraged to practice with training weapons in hopes to be taken in at Kaldoran’s day, The day potential recruits are tested in the capital in an almost sport like competition with several different events renowned so much that even non-Thratian hopefuls are not unusual. Citizens from across Maredos, every mercenary company in Thrate, or their representatives if they are contracted out at the moment, and spectators from across Imris can be found in attendance at the stadium during the competition. Outside of warfare Maredosians have a long history as cooks and bakers, in my opinion it seems after several years of eating rations on the march some Maredosian simply had enough and learned to cook real food to take with and now Maredosian food rivals that of Tal’Anfagon, Ramns, or Twin-Port. Maredosians have strong practice of ancestor worship celebrating the deeds of their forebears, even the average farmer will tell you stories of his long dead ancestor who once slayed a giant, dragon, or king in combat.
The seat of the former Thratian empire Samatias still styles itself as the Kingdom of the Thratians and retains the title High King of Thrate, regardless of how plainly both claims are not accurate. Samatias holds the Marquisate of Iamtax and the Principality of Wekaros within its influence as well as extensive holdings on the coast opposite the Jakathan sound which contains much better farmland than any of its territory in Thrate proper but has to be maintained against Chonag to the west with a series of forts. Samatians know deep in their hearts that they should be the true rulers of Thrate holding to the traditions of the High Kingdom including maintaining good relations with the silver dragon Vikon-Tir. Vikon-Tir only seldom appears in her true form but she favors those with the blood of the high king who act justly. It is no small coincidence then that during the initial collapse of the kingdom she left Thrate for a period or at least had no desire to deign friendship with Oknos and his immediate successors. That was until about two hundred years ago when she appeared beneath the Olive tree in the center of the city in full glory to back the claim of Nonir silver eyes as the true heir of Irim II, the high king who was murdered by Oknos I. While there is rampant speculation that Nonir was also the child of Virkon-Tir the official story is that Nonir’s ancestor was the last born son of Irim II who fled to a village which now lies on the border between Maredos and Samatias. He and his children lived there as farmers and later fought in what would become the Maredosian high guard. His family lived there under the protection of Vikon-Tir until such time where a child truly worthy of the title high king was born which was Nonir silver eyes. While the royal line maintains no claim to dragon's blood, perhaps so that the nobility would not have further excuse to claim someone raised as a peasant to be illegitimate, elsewhere and among the populace the High kings after Nonir are also called the Dragon kings. Samatians are a people who pride themselves on their history and symbolism. On every street corner one can find the Silver dragon and Olive tree symbol which is the standard of the kingdom. Samatians maintain a mixed Monarchic republic with representatives debating matters before the king who maintains absolute authority as long as the Senate does not declare them illegitimate, something that has only happened twice before with Oknos III who was replaced by Nonir, and long ago near the founding of the kingdom. This is a precarious balance held together mainly by tradition. Some high kings abuse their powers pressing themselves upon a weak senate but it’s just as often that a weak king is bullied by a powerful senate. Samatians have a habit of being overly political, it’s extremely common to enter a tavern to the sounds of debate over which representative to vote for or whether the high king should step in on some such matter. All together Samatians are a very outgoing lot and it’s very easy to find a friend on the streets of Samatias, as long as you're voting for the right person anyway.
The Republic of Lakri was a part of the kingdom of the Thratians at one point but now endorses political isolation from the Peninsula and is the only independent realm outside of the four powers in no small part due to its distance. They tend to be a closeted bunch going out of their way to not trouble themselves with outsiders unless they’ve come to do a bit of trade and be on their way. They have a strong Druidic practice on the islands which not very much is known about except for that they are in tune with the waves of the ocean and the animals of the jungle and like all Lakrins, keep to themselves.
Hailing from the land along the southern coast of the Laman Sea the Lamanish live in what has been come to be known as the “New Kingdoms”. This land was only settled fully after the Blight, when large numbers of people resettled here from the Ramnian empire. The New Kingdoms consist of the Kingdom of Lamna with their capital in Nernarn, the kingdom of Newnwin with their capital in Ristar, The kingdom of Harv with their capital in Harvlan, and the City of Mendun Port which is ruled by the Merchant Council of Mendun. Aside from Mendun Port they were all started by what later became monikered “The Adventurer Kings'' which were eight kings and queens (the moniker is a bit of a misnomer) who came to Laman originally as settlers then later became adventurers and were able to start their own Kingdoms either through the wealth, influence, or power they wielded. They gained these things rapidly by becoming the defenders of the first Lamanish settlers who were primarily displaced laborers without much skill in the ways of warfare. They lacked fighting men because they were primarily coming from what was the southern shores of the Gulf of Ramns whose men suffered most to the destruction of the 53 fallen legions after the Battle of the Gulf during the Blight. Lamanish see themselves as a self-made people. While Ramnians, Thratian, and even Ashen tend to mostly be willing to accept help from others on a personal scale and to make alliances on a country-wide scale, Lamanish are either too proud or stubborn to seek help from anyone outside their immediate circle with the exception of paying adventurers for their service, a well kept tradition among Lamanish. The only time that the kingdoms of Laman have ever made alliances with each other was in fact during the Khor-Lamanish wars when Dwarves from the Khor mountains wanted to establish control over the hill territories south of the Lamanish kingdoms which to this day remain mostly unsettled. The New Kingdoms however saw this as a threat to what they considered their established claims to the land and very quickly attempted to forcibly remove Khor settlers. The resulting war was long and bloody with the Lamanish eventually establishing full control over the region. Wistwats, Medwats, and Estwats were set up as border forts in case of future aggression. Wistwats and Medwats became small cities in their own right, Estwats however was perhaps too deep in the hills and when the river began to shift away it quickly fell into disrepair.
The Land of Laman was originally home to the people that many of the current day Elfkin, supposedly descend from (Istarelk, Elcar Gathite, Lanelf, and less common forms) though that was at least several thousands of years ago. Whether from demons, intervention by a god or gods, or some self made calamity these early elfkin were driven out of their homes here, though many remnants and ruins remain behind. For instance, it's well known that Lake Dorun holds the ruins of an old elf city though it’s been picked clean of any artifacts of import. Still there are a number of lesser known ruins scattered throughout the forest and foothills of Laman. Especially in the largely unsettled Spanning Wood which is not well traveled other than by the Lanelf who themselves are few in number.
The Kingdom of Lamna is the oldest continuous kingdom in Laman, founded not long after the first settlers came by Queen Lamna, the most famous of all the Lamanish adventurers during the settlement period.
Norlend is one of the more remote areas in Imris, snowing for almost half the year with many islands and long bays of water. Norlenders as a result are a hardy bunch used to long stretches of days where looking out the window reveals not much but snow. Most of them live among the straights and jutting forested islands or just on the coast of the southern part of the peninsula with the interior being difficult to live in for any extended period of time. Norlenders are mostly organized into loose semi-feudal tribes, the only Kingdom being that of Norfin centered around Narfareth and Revjarik. But most settlements are ruled by local lords who are little more than chieftains. While large scale warfare is almost unheard of blood feuds and conflict between the tribes are common with frequent skirmishes and revenge killings. Norlenders are a slowly growing people, it’s only relatively recently that they’ve had sizable amounts of interaction with the rest of the continent in the past two centuries when the Lamanish Kingdoms grew large enough to support significant sea trade. Since then Many Norlenders have left to seek their fortunes as mercenaries or to study in the temples and schools of the south in order to improve living conditions back home. Norelenders who are new to the south have a habit of not being able to fit in, not very many people speak Norlendian outside of Norlend which puts leaves them deaf and dumb until they learn to speak the local languages and so Norlenders have gained a reputation of being somewhat dimwitted and reserved people. Despite their reputation Norlenders tend to be hardworking and quite devoted to the gods and while they are not as educated in the arcana or the sciences Norlenders tend to be far more knowledgeable about the gods than the average southerner. The common myth is that Norlenders are closer to the gods because they live closer to the sun up north, however it’s more likely that they simply have more time to devote to worship during the winter months when stuck indoors and have a much more decentralized orders of worship for much the same reason.
Maldinish are the people living mostly along the Maldin river and Sinfelin Flats to the west of the Khor mountains and those living around the Still Sea. Maldinish stand at the crossroads of the major trade hubs of Imris, living close to the river they see all trade heading up to Ramns or down to Twinport along the Maldin and most of the trade to either city coming up from Tal’anfagon along the Lakeroad. Though primarily a trading people they do produce two major goods themselves, salt from the Still Sea, and dyes for clothing which several good sources can be found in Istain, around lake Salsam, and on the northern edges of the Elcarin desert near Valandra. Maldinish are often accused of being greedy, it's easy to see why, many traders are Maldinish even in the Empire or Thrate and no self-respecting trader would make a deal without bartering. Still it’s the one blemish on their otherwise upright reputations. According to most while a Maldin might try to talk you out of a few more calans it’s almost unheard of for them to try to cheat someone. Besides that most Maldinish can speak more languages than the average man and people tend to like you more when they can speak in the tongue they’re most comfortable in. The other most noteworthy trait of Maldinish is that they are a river people. Now plenty of other Imriseans live near rivers, but the Maldin is wide enough for full oceangoing ships to travel along all the way from the Still Sea to Vicant and there aren’t many Maldinish who don’t live within a few miles of it save those who live on the shores of lake Salsam. As a result waterways are the home of Maldinish, it’s rare to find one who doesn’t know their way around some sort of boat and even rarer to find one who doesn’t know how to survive in the wilderness when they’ve got a river or lake next to them. Maldin has two main cities Valandra, which is the eastern port of the Still Sea and the primary producer of Salt in Maldin and therefore Imris, and Twinport. Valandra is a small city mostly labourers working the Salt flats and people stopping by on their way into or out of the Still sea. Twinport or the Twin ports of Visin and Derindra, a name really only used by the courts of Twinport and even then only on paper documents, on the other hand is the major trading hub in the northeastern part of the continent and the only major trade hub out to the west of Imris along the Reaching Sea. While one could travel overland to Wesris, The continent west of Imris, (called Mulach’iin by those who live there) the nomadic Orc tribes which inhabit the steppe west of the Elcarin Desert make it an incredibly difficult task. Even if you fend them off or they leave you alone not many people can survive the months long overland journey which has no towns along the way and not much food for those unfamiliar with the lands. While Ramns moniker is the “White city” and Tal’anfagon’s the “Red city” Twinports is the “Gold city”. However while Ramns and Tal’anfagon are named for the Palaces whose color overpowers the rest of the buildings in either city, Twinport is called so for the color of the money which flows through the hands of its merchants. Their monopoly on western trade means that Twinport is the only supplier of a few rare materials not found readily, or at all, in Imris. For example some of the goods are, fine wines, raw silks, certain spices, fruits, sugar, and perfumes, traded by Mulach’iin for high quality finished and dyed linens and silks made in Ramns, precious metals and high quality steel mined in the Khor mountains, wools and finished wool products, oils and gold from Thrate, arcane goods from the Lyceum, as well as numerous other things all being traded in Twinport. In addition many consider the wainwrights of Twinport to be the finest that can be found and even Ramnians will sometimes pay for ships to be taken all the way upriver and then to Ramns or up through the Norl passage during the summer months.
Sothrenian is a term originating in Ramnian texts for the people living directly south of the Khor mountains from the empire, at one point in time they called themselves Jorinians but overtime as Ramnian became the universal language of these peoples the name fell out of use. Sothrenians were at one point highly influenced by the empire and were it not for the blight they likely would have been the next target for expansion. Despite the shared language Sothrenians are worlds apart from the Ramnians who live to the north of them. Sothrenians live in a rigid caste structure, unique in Imris to them, though there are stories of similar systems in the lands near Mulach’iin. There are three kingdoms in Sothren, Remnad, Midden, and Norfend. All of them have adopted this hierarchical caste system based form of government with some key differences that have led to significant strife between the kingdoms.
In Remnad the structure from top to bottom are arcanists, followed by scribes, priests, warriors, artisans, and finally labourers. In Midden the hierarchy goes Priests, scribes, artisans, warriors, labourers, arcanists. And in Novend, warriors, priests, arcanists, scribes, artisans, labourers.
The reasons behind these vastly different hierarchies within otherwise identical systems has to do with the history of Sothren. When the Ramnian empire was still in its formative years several thousand years ago the ruling empire of the day was The empire of Jorin. The empire of Jorin had a similar caste system however it was much smaller, Warriors were on top, with Priests, arcanists, and scribes having roughly the same status and rank, followed by artisans , and finally labourers. The empire of Jorin fell to internal strife caused as a reaction to both conflict with Dwarves and the small kingdoms which would later become Thrate. In the fall and very bloody civil wars that followed members of the middle castes in Remnad and Midden used their influence there to form their own kingdoms placing themselves at the top.
In Tandaum, the capital of Remnad, was Jorin’s school of magic and the majority of their powerful spellcasters who quickly seized power placing the council of Magi in charge of the region. Despite protests from the priests, which they quickly silenced, their caste system was radically altered to suit the ruling arcanists and many priests left for more welcoming parts of Sothren.
In Midden and it’s capital Midal, the former capital of Jorin, The ferocity of the conflict caused many to reassess their beliefs and put greater stock in the priests and clerics who were doing everything they could to staunch the bloodshed. Midden itself was nearly torn apart by arcane powers and the people of Midden have never been able to fully trust the arcane since. As a result the Guided Hands of Midden, were placed in charge and found nearby settlements rallying to their banners, the previously ruling warrior caste was relegated to a lower order as punishment for their causing the downfall of Jorin by the Guided Hands and the castes were rearranged with spellcasters almost being little better than animals in the eye’s of some.
Novend somewhat removed from the center of the Jorin empire was able to weather the storm under the Prince Novend who ruled from his duchy in what is now the city of Korfus. He was able to stop any rebellion and repel those from the southern parts of the empire by building the fortress at Berdain and making peace with the dwarves whom his father and grandfather had angered, lavishing them with gifts and displays of penance. Novend then went about reforming his realm making the caste system more rigid so that less power could be concentrated in the middle. Later rulers of Novend would make some attempts at reclaiming their birthright but were rebuffed by the Guided Hand and then with the subsequent death of the last of the line of Jorin whom was heirless, they lost their claims on the area as a new king was crowned outside the old royal family.
Sothrenians have a reputation overall of being cruel people, they’re the only openly slave trading peoples in Imris unless you count the indentured servitude practiced by the Elcar and Thratian, and the serfdom which is fairly common in Maldin. Sothrenians are known to be somewhat of a hard to read people partially because while they are all similar in terms of traditions they each have vastly different outlooks on life as is caused by the radically different caste hierarchies in each of the kingdoms. The caste system has also resulted in some demographic anomalies. The amount of priests in Midden is abnormally high, as is the concentration of spellcasters in Remnad.
Dwarves are the folk of the mountains. If a person knows nothing else about them they know that dwarves live mainly underground in one of three mountain ranges in Imris, The Khors, The Sivkhals, or The Ashmounts. Dwarves themselves claim to have been made by Khordal from bits of Mira’s bones given freely, though their origin is somewhat debated like that of all races. Dwarves are shorter on average than humans or elves but taller than gnomes standing anywhere from 4-5 feet, they make up for their lack of height in broadness averaging 125-175 pounds. Dwarves are most often thought of as Craftsmen, Architects, Warriors, Miners, and finally Protectors. Dwarves live closest to the underground where the creatures of hatred and darkness dwell, and Dwarves, whether by divine charge or natural sense of duty is unclear, take it upon themselves to be the first protectors of others from these dangers. Some dwarves take this charge less seriously than others, fewer disregard it altogether believing that Dwarves should only protect their own not risk their lives for all, but these are a vocal minority. In their daily lives Dwarves are mostly people not so different from Humans and Elves. Dwarves do tend to be miners as a result of their living preferences and naturally with an abundance of metals and stone they have become storied smiths and masons. Some among the other races have been known to be equals with dwarven master smiths, but these tend to be a handful in a generation whereas even a novice dwarven smith has greater skill than seasoned smiths of the other races. All Dwarves have a natural affinity for stone, they feel the mother Mira all around them from birth and can carve her bounty into dazzling displays like the City of Kharad or much of the grand works of the cities of other mortals. None others so closely adhere to Khordal and heed most his teachings of creation. In contrast the average dwarf has a tendency to be somewhat disapproving of magic. Things should be made and destroyed with the tools of the hand as Khordal has done before them. This has led to some… disagreements with a few of the more magically inclined races over the millennia resulting in some animosity between dwarves and some gnomes and elves. The fact they have an inclination towards magic is only a small part of the conflict however as Dwarves are on friendly terms with Elcar and Humans both of which have renowned arcanists. The reason gnomes and other elves are different is mainly due to opposing natures. Elves tend to be enigmatic and standoffish both qualities dwarves find difficult to deal with as a result of their more straightforward hearts and proud past. Faithless Gnomes they regard as having all the downsides of being silly and delighting in trickery with none of the redeeming (in their eyes) qualities of other Gnomes who have their inventiveness and over the centuries have learned even more how to get along well with Dwarves since the diaspora has found many Gnomes living in Dwarven cities. Still a dwarf is a good friend to have if you can convince them you’re a useful person to have around.
Deep, deep, our mother sings.
Toil, toil, our crafters ring.
Ding, ding, go our hammers.
Shine, shine, mithril banners.
Foul, foul, see now their spies.
Dread, dread, our foes arise.
Down, down, to our battles.
Drums, Drums, whose death rattles?
Demons, Demons, Demons!
Khor dwarves typically have brown or red hair colorings and grey eye color but browns and blues are not uncommon with light skin tones. They tend to be a bit taller than other Dwarves but are otherwise consistent with the averages for their race. The Dwarves living or originating in the Khor mountain range consist of the majority (around 60%) of all dwarves in Imris. As such the common idea that people have of Dwarves tend to come from them and so they best fit the “Dwarf” stereotypes. Unlike other Dwarves however there are far more Khor dwarves who live off of trade. The great city of Kharad lies along the Maldin river and is a major stop along that route for those who want to buy from the finest craftsmen. They also have an extensive history of doing business with the Ramnian empire in part due to close proximity and an excellent import/export balance. Ramns itself does not contain extensive mining areas, The Calans have a good bit of iron, silver, and marble but the empire, especially at its height, requires far more of either resource than they produce. This is not even mentioning things like copper, gold, gems, etc. On the other hand Khor dwarves don’t produce extensive foodstuffs. They of course have a long history of mushroom farming which is non-existent elsewhere in the world and a tradition they have all but perfected. However, growing mushrooms underground, even with all their techniques for squeezing everything they can out, is not nearly enough to meet the demands of the population of even Kharad alone. So they import foodstuffs which Ramns produces in abundance. The other major imports are timber, a vital resource especially in the winter, and magical goods which they do not produce on any scale themselves. This relationship goes back to the founding of the empire and is a large contributor to the prosperity of both peoples even if it has lessened since the Blight.
The Khor Dwarves were hit harder than anyone but the Ramnians during the Blight. The Great Shadowflame passed over Sutril’Dar and then Galmador as the dragon Vorkar’Shai tore the top of the mountain above Galmador off, emerging from it like it were a cocoon, before flying south to join the Battle at the Gulf. As such their hosts from Kharad and Durad’khor were delayed in getting to the Battle of the Gulf needing to repel the invaders at Vad’Dar before they could push down south.
Khor Dwarves are ruled by a united lordship, referred to as “The Commonwealth of Khor”. The way the government functions is each of the twelve dwarven Lords, four of their respective vassals, and a representative from each of the ten major temples among dwarves, form the Khurin. The Khurin could be thought of as similar to the Senate of Samatias or Merchant Council of Mendun Port, with a few key differences. The Dwarven Lords make up the upper half of the Khurin, their primary responsibility is to select the King from among all the peoples of the Khor mountains, This does mean all the people even if there has only ever been one gnomish king two thousand years ago mostly as a mistake. Their secondary responsibility is to vote on laws passed in the lower Khurin making them active law. The lower half is made up of the vassals of the dwarven lords. They have the power to introduce and vote on new laws, and they also help select the king in the event a majority decision cannot be reached. Then there are the representatives of the gods, they are considered members of the lower Khurin for voting purposes only and cannot introduce laws themselves. They also have the power to veto anything, but only on absolute consensus. It’s rare enough for all of them to agree to make it serious enough that they must. The King has the responsibility of overseeing the day to day operations of the army, can also introduce laws to the lower Khurin and acts as a tiebreaker. The one major flaw with this system is that if a majority consensus cannot be reached among all 70 members as to the next king there is no tie-breaker mechanism. In that event the dwarven lords act as kings of their own realms until a king can be found and the Commonwealth Khurin is effectively dissolved. Any member of the Khurin may call for a new vote for king during this time, however, so in practice the Khurin stays active for most of this time. This has only happened three times in history. Once for three years when no one of real worth could be found until the dwarf Ghranfi proved himself in battle against a surprise invasion by Orcs and led the army in the chaos. Another time for twenty, a long time even by dwarven standards, when the immediate aftermath of the Blight caused the loss of too many Lords and their heirs for the Khurin to be formed until clear successions were established. And a third time for 1 year because the two main contenders were twins who were, for all intents and purposes the same, but the Khurin was split evenly on. It should be noted that the title of dwarven “Lord” or “Uthard’nik” is not the same as a lord amongst some other races, Dwarven Lords are equivalent to dukes, and princes in some cases. Their immediate vassals in the council rank similarly to counts or earls.
The army of the Commonwealth consists of two parts. First and principally is the standing army called the Deirdhod, this army is made up of a small portion of levied men from the principle clans, a number of volunteers, and at times a select ten or twenty year levy from all the clans. Because of this system the army is overwhelmingly made up of dwarves with gnomes serving as auxiliaries, usually of an arcane nature, and more recently kobolds acting as scouts. The Thurnak is the main division of troops in the army and the Khor equivalent of a Ramnian legion, generally rendered in common as either legion or the less specific regiment used outside the empire. These forces are largely heavy infantry who specialize in fighting underneath the mountains backed up by auxiliaries. General tactics consist of defensive formations with crossbows as the primary ranged weapon. Generally they favor Halberds or other pike weapons for formation combat, with long axes as a
Sometime during the Deep war between the dwarves and demons in the first mortal age an order of warriors was founded to combat the dark things that lurk below the world, in the depths that are now lost and some, even deeper, that were never explored by mortals. This order came to be known as the Imghalad,
There are three major cities that belong to the Commonwealth are Durad’Khor, Galmador, and Kharad.
Galmador was rebuilt shortly after the Blight and has since mostly recovered. It is near several rich ore deposits and gets a fair bit of sunlight now which makes farming above ground crops down there somewhat easier. There have been talks of trying to rig a series of mirrors at the top and going down, to extend the daylight however, it’s never gotten underway since its proposal. The city itself could be considered somewhat gruff, even by Dwarven standards. Previously the city was based around a central tower which was home to clan Kolmal, the city's suzerain but this fell under Vorkar’shai’s attack. As it has for centuries Galmador is major artery on the road to many nearby mining outposts and operations as it is near a number of valuable ore deposits including some known mithril mines beneath the mountains, but also gold, and ores containing iron, zinc, and copper. As such Galmador is primarily a city where ores are taken to be refined, turned into bars, and sold on the market generally heading into the Ramnian Empire or north towards Kharad. Many of these mining outposts lay near depths controlled by the forces of Salael and their strange creatures and so Galmador is also home to a relatively large force both of the king's army and of clan Kolmal's own forces, acting as the main staging ground for sorties and patrols of the nearby regions.
Durad’Khor is only recently recovered, it fell to an orc campaign a few centuries after the Blight and was forced to be abandoned, along with much of the Khor lands north of Lake Dura and west of Korma’Dar. Significant lack of resources, particularly food as nearly half of the food production in the empire was destroyed, in the post blight period had left the dwarves weak and as such the city fell easily but the dwarves were able to keep the orcs contained. It wasn’t until farming infrastructure in Ramns was built up enough that the Commonwealth along with significant aid from their Ramnian allies were able to launch a campaign and take the region back almost three centuries ago. The final battle was called the battle of the broken hills. After being pushed back the orcs decided to strike at the empire and cut off the dwarves' food supply as well as replenish their own. This plan was discovered by an adventuring company hired to act as scouts and so the Commonwealth and Ramns tricked the orcs into following a valley down to Havis. Once the orcs did so they created a landslide destroying half the orc army and slaughtering the rest in a hammer and anvil. The city was recovered without much incident as the rest of the orcs retreated back into the deeper bowels of the mountains.
The great city of the Commonwealth and all dwarves is Kharad. Kharad lies on the shores of where Lake Dura enters the Khor tunnels and most traders heading across the mountains pass through at the Lake, making it a substantial trade hub. The city itself is made up of two major concentric walls conjoined at three places to create a sectioned defense so that even if part of a wall were to fall only one peice of that layer would be breached, an expanded form of defense in depth that the dwarves are well known for. Additionally the centerpiece of these defenses is known as Half-Helm’s Height, a tower-like keep bordered on two sides by cliffs that is reminiscent of a stalagmite. It is also called the Khurinal, and is where the Khurin meets when in the city. The keep itself is named after the Dwarf Gairn “Half-Helm” Thohak who won a desperate siege from the last bastion on the same cliff where the keep now sits. The current keep is not the first to sit on that spot, the first was the one Half-Helm defended, the second was built by him and his successors some three thousand years past, and the current one was constructed about twelve hundred years ago as the previous was shown to be lacking in magical defenses. The current Keep is a joint project, the stonework done entirely by dwarves but the magical enchantments done with the aid of the Lyceum of Ramns.
Ashdwarves are those Dwarves who live in and around the Ashmount, which refers to both the enormous volcano at the end of the Ashen Gulf and to the mountain range which it belongs to. Ashdwarves number fewer than their cousins the Khor Dwarves by a small, but sizable, amount. In terms of appearance they tend towards darker hair, with dark brown or black being the most common, and darker tanned skin tones. In stature they are usually both shorter and broader than other dwarves. They mainly live in their kingdom of Varak, in the western portion of the Ashemount, and in the cities of the Ashen league. Ashdwarves don’t live in grand underground halls like other dwarves, partially because most of the Ashmount does not contain any sort of grand tunnels in the same way the Khor mountains do. Instead for the most part Ashdwarves build their homes partially on the mountains and partially below and spend much more of their time above ground. This means that there are more Ashemount dwarves who participate in farming, along with a still larger number of those who participate in mining and craftworks. Ashdwarves don’t take the “sacred” duty of the dwarves as seriously. They still sent their army to participate in the Battle of the Gulf of course, but the Ashmount lacks the depth of the Khor mountains and is home to fewer of those creatures which lurk in the darkness. Perhaps as a result of this Ashdwarves tend to be much less haughty than other dwarves, though not less proud, and a bit less rigid in their beliefs. More dwarven mercenaries and adventurers tend to be Ashdwarves because Varak maintains a much smaller army and militia but Ashdwarves still have the fighting spirit of their ancestors. Ashen dwarves as a result tend to be more well traveled and a bit less attached to their mountains. You can also find colonies of Ashdwarves in Thrate, Urist and in the hills around the Still Sea, descendants of mercenaries, traders, or adventurers who grew rich enough to buy a good bit of land in the hills and move their families and friends there.
Varak has had less strife to deal with than the Commonwealth, it only dealt with minor invasion during the Blight and the only major war it’s participated in recently is that of the Hobgoblin invasion of the Ashen league. They fended off a series of raids by a portion of the hobgoblin army and their goblin and bugbear mercenaries when the League had yet to organize any defenses. They were able to give time to Witten Goldcloak to gather up his forces by delaying the bugbears with patrols along the Ashmount. The Varakians also provided the majority of Goldcloaks elite infantry troops and engineers as he was mostly working with militia and conscripts without even a small professional army as the core aside from what knights he could muster. They maintain good relations with the Golden Order to this day having great respect for Goldcloak since there are still many alive who fought with him, however they view the League itself as weak and in need of centralization, preferably under the Gold Cloaks in their opinion.
Siv Dwarves call the Sivkhal mountain range home in the far north of the Norlend peninsula. Siv dwarves tend towards light colored eyes with blonde hair being more common, depending on the type they either have reddish or pale skin. They are usually of average dwarf build. A notable exception to the rule, Siv dwarves tend to be more accepting of magic than their southern brethren particularly in regards to alchemy and are well known practitioners of those arts. Much like Norlenders, Siv Dwarves tend to not have as much contact with the other peoples of Imris due to the remoteness of where they live. Individual clans have varying relations with the norlenders to the south from friendly to antagonistic depending on any number of things but for the most part they keep to themselves. The main reason why Siv dwarves are able to live so far to the north in the numbers they do is the hot springs and other thermal activity in the area. Lake Siv itself is kept warm year round by this phenomenon and is sometimes called Mira’s Blessing. It also appears that many plants feed off of the reaction leading to a surprising amount of variety with each pool having its own variation of the local fauna somehow influenced by the nearby spring. Siv dwarves have notably developed a resistance to heat over the years of living by these pools and can comfortably swim in them when another dwarf might start to feel burned.
Siv dwarves live in a tribal-clan structure that differs from southern dwarves in their size and concentration. The typical khor clan is only about 100-200 people on average and ashen clans tend to be smaller about 75-150, both for the most part are spread out over a few villages as the individual families move about. Siv dwarves tend to have clans in the 1000’s and a few villages might all be made up of one clan. Inter clan marriage is more common and less frowned upon as a result, however there are a number of informal rules dictating what is and is not appropriate in terms of direct blood, usually 3rd cousins or more distant is acceptable. This is not too much of an issue due to the sheer size of the clans and most of the time relations are far back enough to be considered barely existent, and mingling outside of the clan is just as common or more as well. Most clan leaders operate as the lords of their clan but generally don’t raise taxes in the traditional sense relying on the clan to willingly donate in labor or materials whenever the clan hall needs fixing or creatures need driven off. Mainly they act as leaders during combat, arbiters during disputes between clan members, and the caller of clan meetings. The larger cities and forts of the Siv tend more towards a semi-feudal style of rule with a head clan whose leader is a sort of king but without quite the same sense of innate authority. They can call a meeting between all of the clan leaders pledged to his clan, act as the head of the army, and are the final arbiter of justice for clan to clan disputes.
Outside of the Clans there is a distinction in Siv Dwarves over whether they live near one of the hot springs, more common near lake Siv, or not. So much so are the differences between these two kinds of Siv Dwarves that they often refer to the other as “Springdwarf” and “Icedwarf”.
Springdwarves are those who settle around or very near to one of the many hotsprings common to the Sivkhal mountains, this includes those who live around Lake Siv. They are the more common of the two kinds of Siv dwarves since the hot springs provide benefits in the way of alchemical components and of course physical comfort. Spring dwarves are capable of bathing in hot springs that would cause minor burns to most other peoples and are notable for their reddish skin. They tend to be a bit more learned and alchemists are more common among them than Icedwarves.
Among the Springdwarves the two largest settlements are Siv’dor and Utrak’Khor. Siv’dor is built into the mountains with warm lake water being used as a heating agent through a series of pipeworks keeping it fairly warm year round. It is the larger of the two settlements and comprises the main body of trade in the Sivkhal.
Icedwarves in contrast tend to live more towards the north or west from the central mountain range away from the main area of hot spring activity. They live in somewhat harsher conditions where crops are harder to grow and the terrain is rougher and colder. They tend towards the lives of hunters, trappers, and other such professions. While hot springs are not common there are several lakes and ponds in the mountains which they fish out of even in winter, cutting through the ice to do so.
Elves and Elf-kin
Istarelk are what most call the ancestors of the Elcar, Lanelf, Gathite, and Orcs. Istarelk are those who remain apart from the dealings of the world, living in small tribes wherever others are absent and they can be alone. All elves to some extent are born in magic but Istarelk exhibit these traits more than most others, being among the greatest of the spellweavers. Istarelk are somewhat closely tied to the ebb and flow of the world, despite putting themselves at a distance from others they feel the effects of the changing of the world greater than all else. This is both a blessing and a curse in equal measure, they gain great strength in years and magic because of it, but suffer a price. Istarelk are subject to feel the pangs around them of emotion much like they feel that of the world. They suffer from suffering and joy might elate them but it risks overwhelming them. For these reasons Istarelk are restrained and many people who have encountered them have called them emotionless. It is a strange Istarelk who goes off into the world to feel the feelings of others but some of the greatest heroes are in that number.
Istarelk differ from other elf-kin because they belong to those tribes of elves who most resemble their ancestors never having changed significantly. They all tend to share some common values despite living in very disparate collections of tribes or in elven Lamali. Lamali translates most literally to clan or family perhaps even house. Lamali don't generally grow beyond one thousand and it's far more common to find Elven Lamali of around one hundred to three hundred elves. They are structured in a tribal manner generally speaking, with a chieftain/elder or Imdaan leading them. Though it has been heard of elves who run their Lamali as a council of Imdaan, this is more common among the larger Lamali which are rare. The title of Imdaan is usually passed down from parent to eldest child, though the final decision of who should replace them is left up to the Imdaan. Traditionally, no one else is ever selected unless the Imdaan has no children. In which case any adult member of the Lamali is eligible to become Imdaan.
In terms of culture, Istarelk Lamali all share a few important things. All Lamali as a whole are extremely traditional, placing a high importance on their ancestors and historical culture. They tend to also be more reclusive, preferring to live on the edge of the civilizations of the other races so that they might avoid the needless passions of those who don’t feel as strongly. This also means that they can be found in nearly all parts of the world if one looks hard enough at the borders of civilization and wilderness. Like most elf-kin they tend to think very highly of themselves and view outsiders not necessarily with disdain but as less important than themselves and often act as though they are beyond the troubles of the world. By most reports this led them to react slowly to Salael's blight and their aid came late, as a result Ramnians in particular tend to have mixed views on them ranging from heroes to cowardly bastards depending on whether they come from near the gulf or more towards the river valley. Istarelk are an uncommon sight in most civilizations, especially larger cities. This is less true for those with academies for training in the arcane arts as some elves will study at them to trade magical learning. The highly rigid conservative societies that most Lamali are, it's not uncommon for a few to run away every so often out to see the world and feel what others do. These odd few tend to gravitate towards the adventurer's life which is why you'll see a disproportionate number take up the calling.
Elcar are the most common type of elf and among others the term “Low Elf” has been used as a derogatory statement, particularly by Istarelk. Elcar are elf-kin but unlike many other elf-kin, which are quite different from their ancestors in appearance, they adhere strongly to the “typical” elf form, lithe and beautiful with heights slighter taller than that of humans ranging roughly from five and a half to six and a half feet. Visual differences include their pale white hair and dark skin, eye color ends towards purple and silvery grey but exceptions are common. The common story of origin for Elcar is that their ancestors wandered until they found the desert and it’s Oasis and settled there calling it home letting the desert and oasis shape them into what they are now. Elcar are most commonly found on the Sinfelin Flats, which extend south of the Maldin river to the coast and east of the Khor mountains past the desert for miles even beyond standard definition of the continent (which traditionally ends at the edge of the desert and west of Twin-Port). For the most part however they are concentrated in what is known as the Elcarin desert. In particular in the cities of Tal’Anfagon and Tal’Tarecus. Despite this Elcar can be found in most large cities in the world being, with some exceptions, a fairly cosmopolitan people. Personality-wise Elcar share the haughtiness of their close brethren, they take great pride in their advanced age, natural affinity for the arcane, and the great culture that has welled up from the desert. They have a rich history of dance and a strong musical tradition both of which they take great pride in. Despite their haughtiness Elcar are a fairly friendly people if somewhat more aloof towards strangers.
Of the two cities of the Elcar the city of Tal'anfagon is the richer city, known by its monikers "Ruby of the Ulassas sea" (known also as the Raised Sea) or more commonly "The Ruby City" or "The Red City" as a result of the iron rich red sand making the buildings seem red from a distance in combination with the red painted Ruby Palace. It boasts a prominent arcane academy known as Sarsaranid that has been known to produce arcanists of great renown. In addition it is the cultural center of the Elcar and is a major trade city following the route up towards lake Salsam to the Malduin river and then dispersing in either direction. It also has profited immensely from the Thratian Wars as an exporter of iron and grain both being in ready demand in the less arable peninsula in exchange the Thratians trade Electrum, olives, and wool which are sold both in The Red City and taken further upriver where they're traded for other goods. The city is well renowned for its famous dancers home to many many styles of dance and It's particular style of lute playing characterized by rapid strumming, clapping, and drumming on the lute itself. In addition the Red City is known for its seedier underbelly, there is a sizable black market in the city for Atias a drug grown in Thrate which is illegal in the city. This trade has of course caused other illegal enterprises to spring up as the drug traders have gained a modicum of wealth and power in the city. The city is ruled by the illustrious Imrindian Anfagon 14th Suthan of Tal’anfagon. By all accounts the Suthan is a likable and respected man but not overly well suited towards ruling. Many thought that his sister would inherit the throne instead but she was never seen again after taking an expedition to find and recover Tal’Losinan the oasis city which the Elcar are said to have been born in. Imrindian is mainly ineffective at the political and day to day aspects of his position, Tal’Anfagon does not have a robust bureaucracy to speak of it instead relies on the strength of the individual ruler. This has worked well in the past because of the strength of the Anfagon family, however Imrindian is indifferent to working the position as he should. Tal’Anfagon is not in a death spiral by any means, they are still wealthy and face little in the way of outward threats. However, cracks have begun to show, parts of the city are not as well maintained and the drug Atias which was declared illegal (mainly in order to maintain the trade balance with Thrate it’s main producer) has seen its use jump among the poor.
The city has a few notable locations and features, in no particular order they are: The Arcane Quarter more commonly referred to as “The Towers”, home of Sarsaranid which is comprised of five large multi-colored towers each home to a master Arcanist. In addition there are many magic or magical supplies shops nearby to service Sarsaranid and most of the students and teachers live nearby. Further north is the Sun district named for the large temple to Perador the god of the sun which sits at the center with 10 roads radiating outward like sunbeams. The Sun District is also home to a sizable portion of middle class craftsmen and many of the administrative buildings for the Suthanate. Between the Sun District and the Towers is the great Ruby Palace, the sight of which dominates the landscape. The Ruby Palace is a centuries old building that has been expanded twice with new wings to the central building and a large garden walkway. It is the home of the Anfagon family and holds many ancient Elcar relics, as well as the treasury of the Suthanate and many works of art. The palace can be seen from just about everywhere in the city because it is situated on an artificial rise, the main complex and walls sitting about 15 feet higher than the earth around it. Across the bank is the famous Bazaar of Tal’Anfagon, which hosts an ever changing number and variety of stalls outlayed in a rough predetermined pattern by lines painted on stones on the ground. Nearly everything one could hope to be able to buy can be found in the Bazaar, or at least there will be a merchant there willing to find it for you. Connecting the two halves of the city are two bridges. The first is known as Teminsian Bridge and was built not long after the city was founded and expanded twice since its initial creation. The second is the Bridge of Talfin, constructed six hundred years ago by the Suthan Talfin Anfagon, it provides a quicker connection for those traveling from one of the northern parts of the city across the river. Despite its age by most standards it has retained the common title of “New Bridge”. In the bay the main docks are either called the Wharf district or “Haven” depending on whether your talking to someone on the seedier side or not. The Majority of the shipping for the city goes through the Wharf district, it also has a significant smuggling and drug trafficking presence and is known for being a place to lay low which its second moniker can be attributed to. “The Orchids” is named after the Blue Orchids, a gang which wields a large amount of influence in the city but in that district in particular, its’ proper name is the Hilltop District but even most city officials and map makers stopped using it. The Low district is named so primarily because it is lower than its surroundings situated on a slight downward slope. Whether as a result of the name or not it is also a part of the city mainly for lower class inhabitants since most merchants and craftsmen prefer to be closer to the Bazaar or on the other side of the river. The Merchants Quarter is where many of the more common shops of the city can be found as well as where most of the traders at the Bazaar keep their wares and sleep. It has a large public park in the north well away from any docks or the noise of the Bazaar. Opposite the Merchants Quarter on the other side of the river is “Dust Town”, far less commonly called the Outer District. Dust Town gained its name because it gets the worst of the eastward blowing wind and is often buffeted by sand. It is a nicer part of the city despite this due to its closeness to the Sun district and the Ruby Palace. While the sand wind is irritating to visitors most of the permanent residence aren’t really bothered by it too much. The Upper District is where a large portion of Arcanists, well to do merchants, and city officials live. The name is somewhat of a mystery since it is neither the wealthiest part of the city nor is it on any particular rise. The most common theory is that it was named so simply in contrast with the Low District which is on the exact opposite part of the city.
Tal’Tarecus is the other major Elcar city and just less important enough to be called the second city of the Elcar to Tal’Anfagon. Nominally the Suthana claims the western half of the desert as well as some lands just beyond, however in the middle of this kingdom is the Elcarin’Dajain the “Impassible sands” as it is sometimes also called. The Elcarin’dajain is the traditional homeland of the Elcar which was abandoned for reasons that are not exactly clear nearly six thousand years ago, over a dozen generations even by Elcar standards. So in reality most of the Kingdom of Tarecus’s holdings are near the border with Thrate or along the border with Anfagon. The city itself is somewhat less grand than that of the Ruby city but it makes the difference in its concentration and population. Tal’Tarecus is home to taller structures massed with people and to more slums than Tal’anfagon. It’s this reason that it has also been given the nickname “The Churning City”. The it has always been home to several shadowy organizations which are said to maintain sizable influence over the rulers of the city, They keep their activities controllable and afford the royal family stability. The current ruler of the city is Hodinasti Amada'en Tarecus III the 17th Suthan of Tarecus. He is a shrewd ruler and quite capable by all standards and has increased the well being of the kingdom considerably in the past century.
Not everything is peaceable between the two Elcar Suthan, The lines of Anfagon and Tarecus share some considerable animosity dating to the foundings of the Suthana. Shortly after being driven from Tal’Losinan, debate began over who would lead the now leaderless Elcar with the death of Elcarindar’s last known blood heir. Otma’ion Anfagon was the more popular choice, although by a slim margin, particularly among the arcanists, craftsmen, and soldiers of Tal’Losinan for having been the first to forsee the coming doom and meet it head on defeating the slayer of Elcarindar a Narangor whose name is now forgotten or hidden. The rightful heir by closest family however was Amada’en Tarecus I who was Elcarindar’s step-brother. Despite having the best claim, Amada'en was seen by many people as not really worthy of Elcarindar’s legacy, as he was a fairly shrewd schemer amongst the lords of Losinan. This was generally frowned upon by Elcarindar who was disdainful of the machinations of the other nobility. So despite his claim and proficiency in administration he wasn’t well liked outside of his personal circle and those who viewed Otma’ion as having no claim whatsoever despite his past actions. This never broke into open warfare as the more pressing matter was to move away from the city and it’s destruction. What ended up happening was upon leaving the deepest desert Otma’ion and his followers struck east instead of following Amada’en south. The exact reasons for this are unknown to all except perhaps the descendants of both men as the story goes that the night before the elcar split ways Otma’ion was visited in his tent by Amada’en and an argument broke out with threats and promises being given by Amada’en in equal measure. Not a word was heard by Otma’ion if he spoke at all and the next day he left and never spoke of the moment if it even happened.
Gathite are exceedingly rare by most accounts and are atypical of elves. Gathite are called many names, Mountain Elves, Rock folk, Small Giants, Goliath. The differences in names are mainly regional and have much to do with both how uncommon they are and the uncertainty of their origin. While some would claim that they are a breed of men or giants having taken to the mountains and grown tall or short depending on the version of the story, The commonly accepted origin backed by the Gathite’s own traditions is that they like the other Elf-kin were wanderers who took to finding a true home for their people, they found the mountains of Khor and the frigid mounts of the farthest north where they took root in the tallest peaks until their bodies were like the mountains, tall and strong. It is difficult to gauge the average heights and weights of Gathite due to their rarity, however one account puts them at around 7-8 feet tall and weighing anywhere from 250 to 350 pounds after examining a tribe and this seems to be more or less correct. Gathite usually have grey skin ranging from a white marble to a dark slate marked with tattoos of white, dark green, blue, or black. Their eyes vary from person to person, white is common giving them an iris-less effect but black, pale blues and bright light greens have all been recorded.
Most Gathite live a clan/tribe structure with very strict, but simple, rules. The most important in many of their minds being, the strong should lead. This is not a simple matter of strength of arms however, as Gathite have that in abundance, those who lead them take or are given the position through their ability to lead be that through cunning, charisma, wisdom or a bit of all three. This works primarily because Gathite have no real concept of nobility and treat most things in life as a competition, one which needs a fair playing field. This has some negative consequences however, Gathite are harsh upon any perceived weakness and will not go out of their way to help any lamed or otherwise unfit members of the tribe. Most of the time a crippling wound means death even if it isn’t fatal because the Gathite won’t be able to keep up with the others and die or will seek out death knowing they won’t keep up.
Lanelves are more similar to Gathites than they are to Istarelk or Elcar but truly they are like neither. Lanelves as the name implies call the forests of the world their homes, particularly in deep and old forests far out of the way of civilization. They take the form of tall humanoids with pointed ears, strong limbs and ashy colored skin underneath the black or dark brown hair which is much thicker than a man’s but far thinner than most other animals. Most Lanelf’s stand at around 6-7 feet weighing around 200-300 pounds. Much like Gathite and Elcar, Lanelf’s oral traditions place them as wanderers who eventually settled in the deepest parts of the large forests of Imris, particularly the Greewood, Lithrion Forest, and the Spanning Woods.
Culturally they tend to stick to a loose clan or tribal structure but unlike other Elves they tend not to have any particular leader and instead are banded together by proximity. They speak older dialects of Elvish when they meet with other peoples with some minor variations and usually refer to their tribes as “herds” or “packs” among other things borrowing more animalistic words for their groupings. For the most part they view their forests as sacred or at the very least worthy of desperate protection. They are cautious when it comes to people passing through their domains but tend to be fairly friendly to those who respect their forest. They are fine with people using dead trees for firewood and those who hunt game to eat but are very particular about how one goes about doing either. For instance even should a tree be dead one should never cut it with an axe or other tool, if it cannot be broken with your hands it should not be used. Most often they sing to the tree’s in order to shape them for the purposes of crafting or construction and so they have developed a very particular style of architecture. As for hunting they are distasteful of those who do not take the bones and other parts that are often discarded for later use even if it be decoration, and you should never simply kill an animal for its skin or feathers. As a result in their woods beavers and other such furred animals tend to be quite common as compared with other parts of Imris.
The Chonag are a nomadic people that can be found in the rough grasslands to the west of the Elcarin Desert, the far edges of the Sinfellin flats. They are tusked with beige or faintly greenish skin standing slightly taller than humans, however they are naturally more muscular. It is surmised that because farming is difficult in the region, given that it is rather arid and the soil unsuited for most types of farming, the Chonag’s nomadic lifestyle is the only kind suited to that area. While magic certainly could enable farming, the scale and intensity necessary would make it costly and impractical, moreover the Chonag show no outward desire to a lifestyle of farming over their current one. Given that, it makes sense why there are no records of large permanent settlements there for at least a couple thousand years. However this has also made study of the Chonag somewhat difficult, they do not generally share their histories with others and it is understood that they only keep a few historical records which are kept within the tribal structure. Without ruins or textual record the details become harder to piece together from direct sources. Therefore most of the information about the Chonag comes from observation and questioning by outside groups.
Probably as a result of their nomadic lifestyle the Chonag live in tribal structures not unlike the Istarelk, Gathite, or to a lesser degree Siv Dwarves. Generally Chonag tribes are made up of clans united under a charismatic or wise leader referred to variously as the Tsirlan, Cirlam, or Kirlan depending on the specific tribe and region. Each tribe is fairly distinct and individual, much like any of the kingdoms of Laman or states of Thrate, and they are seemingly in constant struggle with one another for resources, and land. In pursuit of this the Chonag have mastered a variety of large animals for riding, not only horses but bison, axe beaks, giant lizards known as Gurmel, among a few others. They often cross into the eastern portions of Samatias as well as the edges of the Maldinish kingdoms to conduct raids and extract tribute, though they leave the Elcar and their desert well enough alone. The Chonag seem to have a variety of ritual customs regarding war which manifest in various pre-battle ceremonies, war paint, and specific rules of engagement. They view death in battle as a very high honor but only a particularly worthy death, though it doesn’t seem they have any particular disdain for death from other causes except cowardice. They seem to worship the same set of deities though under different names and of different aspects which are not found in Imris. One of the most unique customs relating to battle is a concept regarding enforced servitude as a result of failure in battle. Generally when two clans fight the surviving members become subservient to the winning clan for an extended period (the exact length seems to depend on a number of complicated factors including exactly how badly the other side lost). This however is not a slave relationship like the ones described in the downfall of the ancient Elves of today’s Laman, or the debtor’s servitude practiced in parts of Sothren, or the stories of slaves in Mulach’inn. If a serving one (the best translation for the Chonag term) chooses they may duel their master (generally not to the death) and earn their freedom by winning. There are strict rules regarding the treatment of serving ones, and they are not considered property, they cannot be taken as raid bounty or tribute, and should their masters lose to another clan they are set free and not transferred over. Oftentimes marriages arise at the end of a serving one’s required time debt and seemingly it is one of the most common ways Chonag marry outside their tribe.
That is not to say that all of the experiences with the Chonag and the other peoples of Imris are negative. The Chonag lands are one of the major trade passages off the continent and towards the more mysterious lands of Mulach’inn other than the dangerous sea routes of the Golden Sea. Any overland trade has to pass through there and then onto either Twinport, Samatias, or Tal’Tarecus. Few take that route due to the distances involved and having to deal with the various Chonag tribes, who generally leave traders alone except to exchange goods. Instead most overland trade coming from Mulach’inn is a result of either repetitive trades between friendly tribes or eastward moving plunder.
Most Chonag who travel into Imris proper do so as mercenaries, either alone or in small groups and it seems most do so as a result of tribal circumstances making their former homes difficult to return to, though this is not always the case. They are often mistaken for humans from afar, particularly if their faces are obscured and many in Imris regard them with a mixture of wariness and curiosity. They’re most often seen in the countries of Maldin and Laman, Thratians tend to be more hostile to them though not unwilling to use them as mercenaries and they don’t get to the other side of the Khor mountains often, so most Ramnians have never met them.
Gnomes are a displaced people whose original homeland was long since lost, the nature of which is somewhat of either a closely guarded secret or heavy shame that they do not speak of. Many Gnomes in fact would seem to not know or care about such things now a days. Gnomes are a shorter folk standing around 3-4 feet and weighing anywhere from 50-100 pounds. Since they have no homeland of their own they tend to live in the settlements of other races, favoring most human lands and the mountains of the Dwarves, though they are not overly rare in the Elcarin Desert. Gnomes favor no particular hair or eye color but most have pale to tanned skin with few having a brown complexion. Possibly as a result of their smaller stature and slimmer build, Gnomes tend towards clerical work, tinkering, pursuit of the magical arts, and other forms of craftsmanship such as weaving, brewing, making jewelry, etc. In particular a sizable portion of gnomish families have histories as alchemists and enchanters. As a result many gnomes are drawn towards larger towns and cities where these arts are more in demand, though not all of them take this path. Gnomes have suffered some discrimination at the hands of certain human cultures in the past. In particular they do not readily fit into the Sothrenian caste systems and as a result were largely banished or otherwise forced to leave by intimidation. Gnomes are also not overly fond of the cold north and there are no communities of them living in Norlend or northern Urist. While many Gnomes lived in Thrate at one point the constant warring caused many of them to leave for other places such as Laman and Maldin.
Gnomes that live in cities or other large towns make up a slight majority of all Gnomes, likely, as explained before, due to the professions which they are drawn to. These Gnomes tend to be what most people think of when they think of Gnomes as a result. City Gnomes favor no particular hair or eye color, but may be noticed by the colorful clothes they favor in comparison to other Gnomes. City Gnomes have a reputation for being industrious but at the same time easily distracted. A common saying is that a Gnome could sew five shirts in the time it took a man to make one if they didn’t stop to talk to their fellow between every other stitch. While this is slightly overblown both ways it is true that Gnomes are somewhat more easy going when it comes to such things and their slender fingers work quickly when they need to. Still as a displaced people city Gnomes have trouble achieving any sort of rank or higher office in most parts of the world which makes them somewhat bitter towards the concept of nobility, except in the few parts of the world where gnomish lords are not unheard of such as parts of Ramns and Laman.
Gnomes that live out in small communities are less common than city dwellers, and those that live with only one or two families nearby are quite rare. Rural Gnomes do engage in such professions as farming but they greatly prefer herding sheep, goats, and other such animals when they engage in such pursuits. They have a particular affinity for herding animals, dogs especially, likely because of this. Rural Gnomes almost always live nearby a few other extended Gnome families, so the villages they live in tend to be highly skewed in terms of demographics compared to most. In terms of appearance Rural Gnomes favor undyed clothing and have a strange affinity for brimmed hats.
Faithless Gnomes technically make up the majority of all Gnomes, but this name usually refers to those in particular who have not begun to call any one place home for more than a generation at most which totals about a third of all gnomes. For whatever reason these Gnomes maintain a transient lifestyle often staying with a more settled Gnomish family before moving on. Sometimes they might stay as long as a decade or more but always they find themselves on the road eventually. Faithless Gnomes are those hailing from the old Gnomish homeland from farther east out into the sea which was mysteriously destroyed. Many Gnomes were able to make it out alive and came to settle west in Imris alongside some of their brethren already living here. Faithless Gnomes maintain the traditions of their homeland celebrating certain Gnomish holidays that others don’t and maintaining certain oral Gnomish histories which are jealously guarded as Gnomish secrets. There are a few written accounts here and there made by some Gnomish scholars but most try to keep the tradition. This has contributed to the mystery of the fall of Sar’gnome, the land of the Gnomes.
Kobolds are the new people as far as the civilized world is concerned, They’ve only been living in Kharad for about 250 years and many people in rural areas are still more familiar with their unenlightened cousins. Still in that 250 years they’ve begun to spread along the trade lanes out from Kharad mostly sticking to larger cities or towns. Kobolds stand at similar heights to dwarves, anywhere from 3.5-4.5 feet on average. They tend to have orange, green, blue, or red scales that are mottled at least somewhat though they can have any color scale that dragons can have. Their eyes are snake like and are usually some gold tinged color. Their culture has a basis of a clan caste structure though those who’ve been integrated into society have had to seriously adapt this system to the workings of city life. At the top end is the chief followed by any sorcerers, then the chief’s warriors, then any labourers. With the integration into more advanced societies the growing number of craftsmen and traders have begun to occupy a new slot in between the arcanists (as now there are both sorcerer and wizard kobolds) and the warriors. Additionally this caste system has become a lot less rigid with moving between the castes becoming far easier. Though the naming scheme and much of the prejudices remain, the caste system for modern kobolds is much more akin to formalized class system.
Kharad Clan Kobolds
The Kobolds living in and around Kharad are come from the first clan of Kobolds to have entered society and those who have since abandoned their former ways of living to join them. Kobolds “were civilized” as it is so often put, quite recently in the grand scheme of things. About 250 years ago two adventurers were able to broker a deal between a starving group of Kobolds and the Dwarvish mushroom farmers they had been stealing from. The adventurers had helped a young Kobold named Kashaak overthrow the former chief and take his place, he offered his clans labour as tunnelers to the dwarves in exchange for food and farming techniques to prevent future shortages and famines among his clan. This deal proved quite profitable for both sides as the Kobolds provided a source of cheap labour and the dwarves greatly improved the living conditions of the Kobolds. Overtime the clan became official vassals of the Khor Commonwealth with Kashaak as their first great chieftain. Though he did not get a spot in the Khurin the great chieftain of the kobolds was afforded rights as a noble and given recognized rule over his people. It wasn’t long before other Kobolds, whether as small clans or individuals made their way to Kharad to pledge themselves to Kashaak in exchange for the promise of safety and food security. Once a Kobold had been initiated into the priesthood of Khordal the eventual outcome was all but clear. Kobolds had become permanent members of the city, and by extension recognized people of Imris. Kobolds, perhaps because of their subservient nature to dragons, took to worship with some measure of dedication. Many joined the various priesthoods as soon as they became willing to accept these new adherents.
Some of the Kobolds of Kharad have desired to leave their newfound home on occasion and go wander about the world usually in the company of a trade caravan or some other group willing to vouch for them when they stop in a town not so familiar with these new civilized kobolds. Some of them have migrated more permanently away from Kharad choosing to settle and start small Kobold communities elsewhere. They mainly are attracted to cities offering their services as now expert builders of water systems, particularly sewage, from their time in Kharad. They’ve formed small communities in Maldin, mainly Valandra and Twinport both cosmopolitan places that are more readily accepting of their strange new neighbors. Some of these Migrant Kobolds have become simple wanderers and adventurers moving from place to place with a group or company but never really settling anywhere for long. Most Migrant Kobolds return to Kharad once or twice in their lives, usually to find a partner that they can start a family with back in their new home. This is a hard proposition for some, outside Kharad they are looked on with a mix of suspicion and curiosity even in cities. In the countryside, where people might not have even heard of kobolds other than the kind who steal livestock or worship dragons, they can be attacked outright if not travelling with a group of the other races. Despite this Kobolds are persistent and have strove to make new friends following the principles that Kashaak’s Dwarf pact has laid out.
Celesteri are curiously rare people on Imris who arise from celestial blood presenting itself in powerful ways on a child or descendent of a Celestial being and a mortal. The exact features of a Celesteri vary widely depending on how the blood presents itself and what kind of celestial the person is descendant of, whether they are archons of power, divine wisdom keepers, or heralds of the storms and winds. Some common ones are silver or gold hair or eye’s, the ability to sprout wings, and the
Gods of Imris
– Excerpts from "The Divine" by Torilus the Sage
What Men are we, who think ourselves mighty
When gods walked the lands naught felt so empty
And we in our facsimile strive to be as weighty
And we in our facsimile try to hold on tightly
We are but candles to bonfires
We are but pets to greater sires
Though we may be
Hot to the spark
We are not
There are many gods in Imris and the more important ones have what are known as Aspects, forms of the gods which are worshipped in their own right. Some claim Aspects are merely lesser gods which adhere to one of the greater and worship them as they are worshipped in turn while others claim that the Aspects of a God are simply names for the different forms the God inhibits.
?T or Aeth, sometimes Eth, is not a god who is worshipped in the typical sense. Aeth is instead a debated concept among mortals, unknowable to us, and among certain arcanists and scholars thought to be the god, world, or existence before creation, whether a conscious entity or a point of infinite is beyond understanding. Some say Aeth is the material, and the Arcane is what of Aeth is still observable. Fitting as the exact nature of the Arcane is as unknown as is the nature of Aeth. Unlike the gods this progenitor lies firmly in the realm of philosophy, to recorded history no such entity has ever been communed with nor had its will been made manifest. It is worth mentioning however as discussions about the nature of Aeth date to before the land was shook by Godly war. It is a somewhat popular concept in Ramns and in some places outside the continent or so I’ve been lead to believe.
The First Gods
Vera – Goddess of the Sky
Vera Goddess of the sky, twin of Mira. Much like Mira, Vera is a comparatively less worshiped goddess likely due to the more abstract nature of her domain and power. Nonetheless worshipers of Vera can be found among all the races. Actual priests of Vera are rare and seek out extreme weather patterns to be closer to their goddess, places where the wind is fierce, extremely hot or extremely cold for example and anywhere where storms are common such as the northern portion of the Doras Channel.
Aspects of Vera: Shotra – The Thunder, Aetra – The Wind, Okara – The Clouds
Mira – Goddess of the Earth
Mira is the earth mother, on her bones and skin rests all creation. Her body lies almost entirely dormant lest her stirrings destroy the life she has built upon her back though her essence is very much alive and responds to those who worship.
Mira is most worshipped by Dwarves and then probably by gnomes though of course as a creator goddess all races worship her somewhat. Dwarves view her as the mother goddess (the analogy is obvious), they thank her for their homes and lives. Priests of Mira are viewed as protectors among the dwarves, strong and solid they fight against that evil which would taint their mother, gobliniods, orcs, twisted creatures made by Salael, etc. Outside of dwarves she also takes the place of the "mother" though humans and other surface dwellers are not quite as zealous worshippers favoring Aramis sometimes known as the daughter due to this relationship. Surface dwelling priests are a bit more rare except in large mining or quarry communities and places that live near extensive natural cave systems.
Aspects of Mira: Zelra – The Soil, Moura – The Mountain, Soltira – The Sand
Shai’naran – Goddess of Nothing
Not much is known about Shai’naran in the common consciousness other than they are the counterpart of creation, the opposite of Vera and Mira, and that they hold a deep hatred for all things, even their own “children”. Even among dark cultists the children of Shai’naran are more widely worshipped. Shai’naran was locked away in the void by the gods after the godly war and has limited direct influence on the world today but still accounts for the forces of entropy.
The Born Gods
Aramis – Goddess of Nature
Aramis is of course one of the most important gods to the common folk seeing as farmers make up a significant portion of any given population. Aramis is widely worshiped among all the races of Imris, though less so among Khor dwarves. She and her aspects rule over all common plants and animals as well as fresh water and the life it brings. She is a dynamic goddess and has some of the most well worshipped aspects of the major gods.
Ley’Cestil aspect of plants: Ley’Cestil is the aspect of wild plants in Imris from the great trees of the spanning wood to the meanest weed in the Elcarin desert.
Argamathil aspect of agriculture
Scethapodran aspect of insects
Perador – God of the Sun
Perador is God of the sun, Herald of Truth, God of Birth. One of his more famous myths is that During the early stages of creation after he was made by Vera and Mira he desired companionship and so stole a bit of their power so that he could make one. The result of this was the birth of Sil the moon, but he was punished by Vera and Mira. They could never be in the sky together but very rarely and had to look at each other from afar. Perador swore after this to never lie or cheat, never take powers from others but only give his own out. He hates Salael and her demons in particular and his followers fight them whenever they can. He also is a god of Celestial Law and ordered the lesser lights of heaven.
Aspects of Perador: Vetador – Twilight, Ivaedor – The Dawn, Noador – The Noon
Sil – Goddess of the Moon
The Moon Goddess rules over secrets, the night, beauty, and of course the moon itself. Sil was born from a secret and hidden away and by this virtue she rules over these things. Followers of Sil believe in the power of mystery and the time before revelation, but also celebrate it’s ending like their goddess being discovered and taking her place in the heavens. The moon's beauty is so radiant that Perador constantly yearns just to see her face and their touching is a show of heavenly majesty. Youthful people pray to her to bless them with these powers and grace the world with their own beauty. She also is the goddess of love and all those lovers who embrace in the moonlight thank her. She also provides a counterpoint to Alamain, where he provides knowledge she keeps secrets and her adherents know ways to counter his powers, even his magic. Followers of Perador and Sil are both closely intertwined and yet also distant due to their vastly different spheres, though some worship both in equal measure and a rare few are blessed to this cause, as majestic as the moon and sun touching together in the sky.
Aspects: Mour – The Full/Romance and Beauty, Lour – The Half Moon/Revelation, Sur – The New/Mystery
Samilis – Goddess of the Sea
The god of the sea rules over the ocean waves, and everything in them from the depths to the shoals. Tempestuous, strong, proud, and full of life. Samilis is close to Vera and Mira and their domains share intricate cycles. Samilis imparts an untamed spirit unto those who see her as a guiding point, an air of freedom and unwillingness to easily be bowed to others whims or ideas. Unlike other gods which tend to be hierarchical in nature Samilis has a much looser sense where there are no high ranking priests, only those who’ve garnered respect. This Meritocratic atmosphere is imparted on many strongly seafaring cultures as a result.
Aspects: Ohkanilis – The Depths, Milinis – The Wave, Finilis – Sea creatures
Gods of Mortals
Alamain – God of Knowledge
Alamain’s temples are, by and large, libraries, which should make it clear what Alamain is primarily concerned with; the collection and dissemination of knowledge. Alamain is one of the earliest gods that came about in order to aid mortals and give them strength according to myth. He is said to be the gatekeeper of the Arcane and most of his priests are in fact Arcanists and not clerics. For Alamain order, practicality, patience, and caution are virtues which instructs the way that his followers organize themselves and how they pursue knowledge. While Alamain teaches that the pursuit of all knowledge is good, not all knowledge should be used or available to the unready. However knowledge should be disseminated so that more people have the capacity to seek out new knowledge.
There is one major aspect of Alamain that stands a part in many ways. Alamain’s aspect Denoumas is the lord of stories and the god of storytellers, this of course is quite different from the ordered and cautious nature of Alamain proper. Denoumas espouses a whimsical and dramatic nature wherein truth is made in fiction.
The priesthood of Alamain consists mainly of sages, scribes, bards, and Arcanists. They can be distinguished by their multicolored robes, each band of color representing a different domain of knowledge they have mastered.
Curan – God of Roads and Commerce
Curan is most often referred to by his moniker the travelers god. Curan is worshiped by anybody who leaves their home or travels regularly, in particular he is a popular god among merchants and adventurers. Curan is the god of roads and commerce the two going hand in hand. Roads is also a bit of a misnomer in my personal experience. To anyone who worships Curan seriously, the seas, rivers, and lakes are simply roads that are less well marked and can't be walked upon. His priests are known as Roadswains and they often can be found in two positions primarily. First acting as regulators in large cities ensuring that trade flows smoothly, usually in conjunction with local guard or militia forces or sometimes more rarely replacing them. Second, wandering a chosen area, sometimes as large as the world, keeping the roads clear of bandits and monsters and accessible to travelers, rebuilding washed out bridges, clearing fallen trees, and so forth. Many Roadswains as a result gravitate toward adventuring companies both as a way to sustain their living and as an aid in their journey.
Kaldoran – God of War
Kaldoran is not just the God of war but of warriors. He is popular amongst anyone looking for bravery in the face of danger, but also for anyone who has a healthy spirit for competition. Gladiators are common worshippers of Kaldoran as well, and so are those who compete in games of athleticism. Kaldoran’s priests advocate for perfection of the physical form, for the thrill of battle, and for the spirit of pushing yourself past the limit. Kaldoran is also a god of change and upheaval, while some might call peace and stability good worshipers of Kaldoran often see this as stagnation. For this reason Kaldoran is a bit less popular among Elves and Dwarves who favor tradition.
Galdi – sports and games, Valdan – war and strategy, Evoldan – Evolution/Revolution
Khordal – God of the Forge
Khordal is named the God of the Forge and is the patron of blacksmiths. He is particularly popular among dwarves so much so that Khor actually is their word for forge and their cities often have "Khor" in their name. However in addition to this he is also prayed to by many different craftsmen as a god of creation and mending. He is prayed to for protection, safety, well made things, and repairing of things both physical and personal. It is said that disrespecting him causes your tools, weapons, and armor to break at the most inconvenient of times. He opposes demons with righteous fire and steel and his clerics often craft weapons specifically for this purpose.
Aspects of Khordal: Khadal – Metal and Mining, Invak – Invention
Order of the Powder
The order of the powder is a recently established group of Khordal worshippers aligned with the Ramnian Empire. They are particularly concerned with the use and manufacture of gunpowder related devices as well as mechanical beings otherwise known as automatons. The Order was founded by Symon en’Leur a notable adventurer and advisor to the emperor of Ramns in an effort to train prospective adherents of Khordal in the use of this weaponry as well as to create a house of invention to further his own research as well as Imperial designs. The first major branch of the Order consists of Paladins and Gunknights, warriors who utilize guns with great skill either through physical mastery or through devotion to Khordal through the gunpowder itself. The second branch consists of the craftsmen, researchers, and functionaries who mostly do work in the headquarters just outside of the city of Ramns.
Lifisa – Goddess of the Spirit
Lifisa is the Goddess of
Mordain – Goddess of Death
Mordain is the lady of Repose. She guides the fallen to their resting place either with her or in one of the realms of the other gods for some chosen few. She is the goddess of patience, of balance, and of the lost. Mordain does not have as much of a dedicated priesthood as other gods, Clerics of Mordain are not specifically needed for burials or other funerary customs and these are often left to the other priesthoods for their adherents. However for those who don’t pray to a specific deity or who die unknown priests of Mordain shepherd their souls to the right places and they are usually assigned to specific locales to be called upon when needed.
Thel – God of Trickery
God (or Goddess depending on who you ask) of trickery, Thel is about more than mere pranks despite what some would say. Adherents of Thel believe in putting themselves and others in situations of absurdity both because they enjoy it, but also because they believe it helps them to be creative and not trapped within a singular pattern of thinking. They believe in being creative, unexpected, and clever. Of course, I've also heard priests of Thel say the phrase “laughter never hurt anyone” so perhaps their reputation as pranksters is not wholly undeserved. Thel’s teachings are those of the wisened fool and one of her symbols is the inverted world, or the upside down man. He also is a practitioner of
demonstrating the flaws in systems of law and encourages his followers to do the same and exploit them for the purpose of everyone's betterment. An element of measured Chaos in the world.
Murain – God of Murder
Murain is one of the dark gods born of Shai’naran’s meddling in the world. They represent murder, violent revenge, and other unspeakable acts born of hate and powerlust. Perhaps the dark gods most likely to have cults, Murain is sometimes prayed to by the desperate in hopes that whatever wrongdoing will be revenged. Unlike Perador who is prayed to for justice, Murain is prayed to for misery and woe on the target. Ritual sacrifices are the most common for Murain who craves blood and violence and seeks power over others.
Shenik – God of Fear
The god of Fear is the youngest of the three dark gods and all of the others were born out of him. He is the most primal and the least influential of all the dark gods, though the power of fear is truly great it is not often that people come to worship fear and those who do tend to be an odd bunch, not truely cultists in that they tend to be more harmless though they still inspire dread they do commit deads to foment it. Instead they find power in the spread of knowledge that might cause panic, in this way they often act as couriers but intentionally will present the worst form of the news, not lying outright but still attempting to bring about the most fear they can. Sometimes they will aid the worshipers of the other dark gods but this is rarer, they prefer to introspect on their own fear and spread it around rather than make their own.
Salael – God of Darkness
Salael, the great blighter, is the most hated of all the dark gods in Imris for their part in the blight. Ramnians and Khor dwarves have a particular loathing for Salael and her demons. Salal represents all the things that