Rise of the Ashen Crown
Welcome the Metronian Empire (potential) citizen!
Hello and welcome to Taur’Res, the capital city and heart of the Metronian empire, the Empire founded by the one True God-King Metroniel. Since that day, 2000 years ago when the great God-King and his angellic choirs liberated this world form the savagery of the demons and the tyranny of the dragons, the Empire has been ruled by his Grace’s most favored servants the Deva.
The Metronian Empire is an exciting and wonderful place to be, serving the God-King’s rule. Stretching from the Stardust Coast in the northwest to the deep forests beyond the Granite Curtain to the east. In the south, the Blue Wall, holds the line against the savage, frozen monsters in the north, and in the south beyond the deserts of Ja’Rad all the way to the Ironsides Mountains. The blessed continent of Larasia is home to so much love and bounty given to us by Metronial when he raised the Golden Spire beside Lake Gondiva and raised the Holy City of Taur’Res around it.
Also part of the Empire’s divine geography is the sub-continent to the north, Rimenheim, home of the Goliath, the empire’s newest allies and their wicked enemies the Giants. Rimenheim is frigid and cold, but is the only place to find Ever-Ice, the ice that never melts, and is particularly powerful against flaming creatures.
While every good citizen of the Empire knows that Metroniel is the One True God-King, the Empire is very compassionate when it comes to understanding and accepting the beliefs (however flawed) of other cultures.
The elves who cling most firmly to the past still believe in the Iafa tree, a magical tree of life to which their sacred lifestream sends all lives to nurture it so the world continues to grow. The Goliath have a strangely similar belief. However, it is known by all good citizens of the Empire that this belief is just a confusion, that their sacred ‘Tree’ is actually Metroniel the God-King.
Some of the savage dwarfs in the Granite Curtain believe in ancestor worship, believing that the strength of their ancestors can be passed forward to them. Which is true, through true faith in Metroniel. The dwarves are close to the truth, but simply don’t take it far enough back. They should worship Moradin’s progenitor, Metroniel.
The Human belief system is the most difficult matter. The Pantheistic belief that the humans brought with them, seems counter to everything that our solemn belief in the God-King stands for. However, upon closer examination of their power and divinity, it is apparent that the Gods are simply lost Archangels, archangels that are wandering slowly back into Metroniel’s choir of angelic hosts.
Though there even more beliefs out there, including the Atavistic beliefs of the Shifters and desert dwelling halfling tribes, and the Drow’s worship of the Moon Angel, there are even more different people in Larasia. Here are some of the inhabatants:
The undisputed lords of the Metronian Empire, the Deva are a race of beings with close ties to their lord and god, the great Entombed God-King Metroniel, an archangel of immense and near deific power. It was through Metroniel, his angelic hosts, and his legion of faithful and deathless Deva servants that Metroniel was able to conquer the Prime Plane after his fall. To show his gratitude, he granted his Deva followers dominion over all other creatures of the land.
To this day the Regent-Emperor is the reincarnated Deva that reconnects with his past life that was closest to Metroniel. The Regent-Emperor and his court of Deva and the Lesser races rule the empire with ‘benevolence and grace’ that at times borders of cruelty and savagery. However it has brought the many races of the continent together under its might wing.
Not all Deva are members of the court, though many are and pursue divine paths or the paths of the Wizard, Bard, or even forge ancient pacts with the Angelic Choir serving the God-King as Warlocks. Those that are not members of the court can pursue any path, though the above mentioned are the favorites. However, many that do not serve the court have begun to question the divinity of the God-King and must flee punishment for that capital crime.
The descendents of the draconian empire of Arkhosia, the Dragonborn to this day are treated with scorn and indeed pay the price of their fathers. Many Dragonborn find themselves as house slaves, putting their ‘limited’ intelligence and respectable strength and charisma to good use. This is a remnant of the ancient quelling of the ancient empires of Bael Turath and Arkhosia by the hosts of Metroniel.
However some Dragonborn have escaped slavery into the service of mercenary companies all over Metronian empire. Other serve as slaves in gladiator pits, far from the capital city. And some join the secret underground movement, the ‘Order of the Emerald Claw’, seeking to use ancient magics to ressurect the Dragon-Kings of old and overthrow the Empire.
Whatever their reason or capability for adventure, the Dragonborn find themselves constantly seeking freedom and glory; the two things that keep them away from their would-be Deva captors. Some might be escaped slaves, while others are freeborn mercenaries, plying their combat skills in far away lands. One thing all but the most brainwashed share however is a deep disdain for their slavers, the Deva.
Dwarfs are savage, territorial, and greedy in most cases, and are hard working and loyal in teh best of cases. In the large cities of the Empire it is easy to find both of these amongst the civilized dwarves that have joined with the rest of the Empire, putting their skills and trade to good use among the major populations. But not all dwarves are so civilised.
To the far east, on the edges of the Empire’s border, in the Granite Curtain the dwarven clans make their home. The clans are clannish, hostile, and in some cases downright xenophobic to other races. While many think of the dwarves as industrous underground miners, they have obviously never seen a braided, mohawked dwarven berserker charge down the mountainside into a group of travellers for nothing more than a few scraps of gold. The Clans of the Granite Curtain take no prisoner and while some may be willing to trade, many will not even stop speaking dwarven long enough to talk to those not of the Clans.
The Clans are not limited to Dwarves; Derro, Deep Gnomes, Azer, and even Duergar, all count themselves as members of the United Clans of the Granite Curtain, a group that barely maintains ties to the greater Empire. However, no matter race or backround, all Dwarves and dwarfkin have a strong veneration of their ancestors, believing that their departed ancestors go no further than the ground beneath their feet and are therefore always close by.
On the western coast of the Empire, there is a lush land of vibrant forests and volcanic mountains. The Isle in the Mists, the ancient Eladrin kingdom of Amselen, on this world since (according to the Eladrin living there) time immaterial. The volcanic activity on the island interacts with the sea to make the mists. Or so the geologists of the Akashic University want people to believe. The Eladrin people believe that it is the protection of their ancient fey lords still helping them.
The Eladrin are connected to the Empire through trade negotiations and naval protective agreements, but is not actually a controlled protectorate of the Empire. They retain their independence as a power, especially focusing on the war between the Shadar-Kai and the Eladrin, or more accurately the war between the Shadowfell and the Feywild.
When the Deva took over the Celestial Spire and wiped out the Dragons and Demons that fought over it, the elves (while they had little involvement in that conflict) were presented with a choice, be wiped out with the other resisters, or bend knee and join the fledging empire. The Elven lords of the day wisely chose to bend to the angellic hosts. Over the millenia the long lived elves has served the Empire and swayed its leanings with wisdom and empathy and a stong view of heritage and culture.
However, many elves have adopted a very similar belief structure to that shared by the Deva, a system in which when the elves die their spirits join in a massive flow of soul energy called the ‘Lifestream’. This stream carries their spirit to the Tree of Life, the I’ifa Tree, which then uses them as energy. Then after many years this mystical tree produces fruit in the form of new elven souls born to the parents of children.
Not all the elves went quietly however. A small group stayed in the forests to the east and continue to resist attempts at being tamed and/or controlled by the empire. This group calls itself the ‘Shiakar Lo Ios’ or the Thorns in the Side, a group of radicals seeking to overthrow the empire, or at least live free of its influence.
Desert nomads, the halflings are the savage yet fierce people of the southern sands of Ja’Rad. While they are accepted in the Imperial city for trade, they are not actually imperial citizens. However, there likable charm, yet fierce nature makes certain that no one tries to take advantage of that fact.
Halfling hold community in paramount importance and will often forsake personal goals for the good of the community. In the desert, where one man would perish, many will survive. So it is not uncommon that all children are raised together by the elders, while the young parents are off proving their worth the the Tribe. While this is not necessary, it is often undertaken as a rite of passage. However, whether successful or not, a halfling and his monitor lizard mount is always welcomed into any tribe.
The halflings believe they all come from the whimsical spirits of the winds. Because of this, a halfling from any tribe is believed to be a brother or sister, and is treated as such. However, should one commit a great crime; murder, rape, or stealing from the tribe, he is marked and banished, so that all the Natu will know him as an outcast; an 8 pointed star on the cheek.
Some halflings do not return from their attempts at proving themselves worthy, finding the sedentary and social lifestyle of the city intoxicating. These individuals use their natural charm and quick fingers to make an easy living in the throngs of the cities, untroubled by the press of lives so close together. In fact, many find it soothing to have so many people so close, finding that it soothes the ache of the soul for the tribes.
Masterful leaders capable of elvish empathy and human stubborness the Half-Elves have been picking up movement, namely making names for themselves as players in the game among the houses. Negotiators, spies, and warlords make up the ranks of these half-breeds that are becoming a more and more vital part of the Empire’s functions.
The first half-elves were viewed with distaste by the stern elvish lords and curiousity by the humans. However, the empathic nature of the elves won out, especially once their natural charisma and talent for versatility while maintaining their composure manifested itself. Soon, houses in the Empire were conspiring to have ‘daliences’ werein the half-breed children could be concieved and used for their ‘neutrality’ in the game of houses. Mostly they were used as spies and in power plays.
Half-Elves come in two groupings; natural born half-elves or ‘Lituans’ born of two half-elves and the half breed children of humans and elves. Lituans look upon humans and elves with inherant distrust, knowing that their ancestors were bred like cattle for use in social manipulating. Furthermore, they seek to increase the standing and rights of the Lituan people, trying to make themselves a separate but equally powerful force in the empire. The half-breed children tend to favor one parental group or another, but eventually they run across the Lituans, who inevitably force them to make a difficult choice.
The Orcs are a strong and proud people in the southwest deltas, but their dullness of wit and savagery has always left them as targets of the smarter and cleverer peoples of the empire, namely the goblins in the badlands and the Stardust Plains. Then the humans moved in to the plains pushing out the goblins and pushed the orc people around, but it was far worse as the humans settling along the delta had little respect for the Orcish heritage, warrior culture, and pride. However, not all humans believed this, and it was through this understanding that the Half-Orc race was born, and with it the Orc people’s salvations.
The half-orcs or ‘Rituan’ people were people of two worlds, capable of relating to the warrior spirit of the orc people and the adventurous nature of the human people. More aptly, the half-orc people were capable of better higher reasoning, better strategizing and quicker than their bulky orc brethern.
The Rituan people quickly came to lead the orcish people through their superior intellect and strategic skills. The Orcs were brought back from disaster in a long and bitter fight. Throughout many drawn out battles and conflicts the empire came to realize they could not conquer these delta dwelling people. So the Empire made a deal; they gave the Delta independence as a sovereign nation of the Empire under the leadership of the powerful and charismatic Warchief of the day. Though they are by Imperial standards dukes, the Orc and Rituan people still refer to their leader as their WarChief.
Having sailed across the sea centuries ago escaping some catastrophe or bondage long forgotten, the humans have always been adventurers, explorers, and corsairs, plying the waves. When they first came the lands of the Deva, they were veiwed warily by the elves, dwarfs, and deva that ruled the empire. However, as they proved their worth and their talent, they were gradually allowed to function in society, mostly as ‘privateers’ for and against rival factions of the Divine Royal house. As their penchent for travel and their varied nature has grown they have made themselves a force in the Empire.
They also brought another thing with them; knowledge of the ancient arts and techniques of forming energists from crystallized dragon hearts, knowledge of the Old World of mankind. Using this knowledge they have made the occasional ‘Eldritch Machine’ mostly in forms of vessels. However, the recent discoveries of dragon graveyards has led to an increase in production of these wondrous machines.
However not everything brought by the humans was positive. The Humans also brought with them their paganistic patheon of Archangels; creatures they call gods, but in reality are just powerful divine entities, servants of Metroniel’s great will.
Githzerai often serve as bodyguards and consultants to the shardmind diplomats from the southern empire of Dinnova.
Gnomes are secretive and discreet by their nature, as they have been running from the Eladrin for centuries. When the Eladrin began the shadow war with their estranged cousins, the Shadar-Kai, the gnomes protested the battle. Eventually the leader of the gnomes, a man named Garl Glittergold told the Eladrin Court of Stars that the gnomes would have no part in this brutal and bloody war. Overnight, the entire population of gnomes in the feywild had vanished, have moved to the natural world. So great was the wrath of the court that every Eladrin was deemed to have a blood-fued with the ‘traitorous’ gnomes.
In truth, the gnome people simply did not agree with the Court’s reasons and purposes for engaging in the shadow war. Gnomes are creative at their most mild and hedonistic at their most extreme, but war-like tendencies don’t tend to occur very often. So the Gnomes ran and hid, forming an underground to get the weak and downtrodden to freedom, a freedom they earned in escape.
Most gnomes deal in illicit and illegal trade or at least knows someone who does. They mostly live in burrows underground, but can also be found in all walks of city and village life; anywhere where they can hide from the Eladrin that wish them dead. Many find sanctuary on the Misty Isle of Amselen, where they can found compounds of renegade Eladrin. However, a life of excitement and adventure awaits every gnome as they seek a way to end this shadow war and return the world to peace.
Some gnomes, however, see the war and their exile to the material plane as a chance for mayhem, as well as personal wealth and seek only to increase their own standings. They use the gnomish underground infrastructure to fence goods, hide from authorities and ambush quarries. No matter what, however, gnomes will never deny aid to one in truly desperate need. That doesn’t mean the aid will be free.
The Goliath are a proud and noble people living on the island to the north of the Empire and to the west of the Forbidden Zone on the island of Rimenheim, and is also the land of the frost giants. Rimenheim is a massive series of huge mountains and glaciers. The goliath travel this massive frozen land travels from peak to peak and valley to valley, all the while fighting for territory against the frost giants.
At the center of this land there is a geo-thermal paradise of a lush mountain forest what the Goliath call the Sacred Vale. This land is protected by powerful primal magics that block out any other source, arcane, divine, psionic, or otherwise. This is where the oldest, wisest, and most powerful Goliaths live, including the Chief of the Mountains, one half of the leading council of the Goliath people. The other half is the Earth Queen, a powerful shaman with direct connection to the powerful spirits of the Vale.
Minotaurs find a very interesting place in the Imperial heirarchy. They serve as elite warriors and guards and, while they find great honor and dignity in the practice, they have little choice in the matter; the ancient elders of the Minotaur people swore 100 generations of minotaurs to the service of the Empire after the great saint Taur’Res (the most prominent saint in the religion and supposedly the first Rune Priest) fought and defeated the Aspect of Baphomet, freeing the minotaur people from the sway of his demonic blood.
Now Minotaurs often devote themselves whole heartedly to the pursuit God-King Metroniel, embracing their task as gaurdians of the rulers of the Empire. The core of the Rune Knights is made up of these devout bovine warriors.
Not all Minotaur take up the Rune Lore of Metroniel however. Some seek freedom from the perceived oppression of the Empire and wander into the wilderness, letting their strength and primal connections guide them in the world. Yet others join with the mercenary companies, joining the hosts of dragonborn, tiefling, and other societal outcasts. These Minotaur are often shunned and viewed with disdain for having broken the Great Vow, though not nearly as much as those minotaur who choose to serve the Panthiec Gods of the rest of the known world.
Mysterious traders and emisaries from an empire to the far south, the shardmind represent the Dinnovan empire and worship her royal immortal empress, the diamond dragon Diamonthe. While their motives are outworldly open trade, the true depths of their motives and power (the strange ability to use psychic energy) remains unknown.
In the plains and forests to the south of the Ja’Rad desert is the homeland of the Shifters. As of yet, the shifters are not accepted citizens of the Empire, though trade with imperial citizens by the Shifters is brisk. The Shifters believe in a harmonious and natural approach to life. While this may seem rudimentary to many city-dwellers, the nomadic shifter call it uncomplicated.
Shifters come of two breeds; razor-claw and long-tooth. The razorclaw live in the plains and coastlines along the western edge of the plains, while the long-tooth live in the western forest butting up against the mountains. Once, long ago the two were separate tribes, but years of marriage treaties during times of peace have peppered both clans with members of each breed. Further tribes have split from the initial tribe.
The plains and forests are ripe with game and this makes the mountain dwellers of the south and desert dwellers of the north eye it with envy. However, the Shifters have a deep respect for the plains and their sacred holy land at its center and are implacable foes when defending it.
Often viewed as wild and savage for their bestial and animalistic ways, the shifters are most commonly recommended by traders to be avoided. However earning the loyalty of a shifter is to earn a champion and companion for life.
Their are very few tieflings in the Empire and fewer in the Imperial city of Taur’res, mostly due to a millenia old hatred and the overwhelming feeling of holy power. However, those that do make their home in the city, find places in the lower reaches and hidden places, where gambling, whoring, and skullduggery take place.
Some tieflings find work in the desers of Ja’Rad to the south, digging up ancient Turathi ruins, as well as the ruins of the ancient Rakshasa empire that once ruled the sands. The fascination with their ancient past does make them much frowned on in the Imperial cities however.
New in the world, and yet simultaneously as old as the mountains, the Wilden have appeared for reasons unknown though many believe it is because the end is coming…
So depending on your common sense depends on whether or not you have the intelligence to do the smart thing and join the Empire’s ranks. There are people beyond the shores of Larasia that are interested in joining the ranks of the Empire or at least trade. To the far south there is a continent home to another continent, the land of Salanta. This continent is not as bountiful or protected as the blessed Larasia, but is home to another powerful and heretical Empire, the Dinnovan Empire, led by strange beings with unique and alien magic.
From the lands in the far west seas, the former home of humanity, the Wasted Lands, comes the sole survivors of the cataclysm that drove our human brothers and sisters to our arms and brought their pagan spirit-lords to our shores. The Yuan-Ti come with silks, spices, and traditions of the ancient world from their coastal islands of Yssalden, interested in trade and the bounty of our blessed home.
But you wouldn’t have received this packet of information if you weren’t interested in getting official citizenship from the great and Holy City of Taur’Res, so its time we told you about the city and the surrounding lords!
Taur’Res is the capital seat of Empire, and as such is the largest and most powerful city in Larasia. The city is divided into three rings radiating from the numerous royal palaces built around the spire in the Royal District. The first ring is for the nobles of the city. The second is where most shops and markets are as well as other services, the Commerce ring. The third and final ring is the Urban ring, where the people of the city live. Outside the city walls is the Outskirts, an uneven border of shantytowns set up outside the city. These ‘towns’ aren’t on the edge of the city in the water and do not get to close to the three gates into the city, as they are burned down by the guards if they do.
Aside from the rings, the city is walled off into seven distinct districts, mostly named by the prodominent race living in the districts. The, Drow, Dwarf, Human, and Elf all have their own district. The others are the Southern, Northern and Foreign quarters, called such by habit, though they are not actually quarters. The Human occupied quarter used to be the Lakeside quarter, many centuries ago.
There is one more section of the city, outside of the rings and wedges. It is called Oura’Taur, or ‘Outside Taur’ and it is a small section of the city outside the Main gate to the south. It is a micro-town in and of itself possessing many of the traits of a small adventuring town, giving the many would be inhabatants of the Imperial City places to shop, eat, and live while they wait for their paperwork to clear and get them into the city.
The Stardust Plains to the north and west are settled mostly by humans and is run by the Duke of Baerlyn, out of the city of Baerlyn. The land all used to belong to the Orcs and Goblins that have since been driven south and to the swamps and badlands and are being driven into extinction by prejudice.
The King of the Elves resides in the south of the western woods, the Rosewoods. He has been having a difficult time lately with the attacks of the renegade group, ‘Shiakar Los Ios’ or ‘The Thorn in the Side’, who only attacks imperial caravans moving through the Rosewoods. The King of the Elves remains loyal to the crown, though in his great age, many wonder how successful he will be.
The Fairy King, while technically loyal to the empire, exists in relative independence due to the mists surrounding Amselen the Feywild island off of the Misty Coast to the west, across the Shrouded Sea.
To the north, the Blue Wall’s Azul Keep housed the North’s “king” the Blue King keeps back the tide of frozen raiders on the other side of the wall. The savages slip through from time to time, and if they swear service to the Blue King, the savages in the north are given access.
The Sultan of Sand in the southern desert of Ja’Rad “rules” the sands from his seat of Ahk’Baragh, an ancient Turathi city. But with the stubborn and tribalist Halflings, the wandering tieflings, the marauding gnolls from the badlands of the Crimson Hills and the shadows that gather in the Shadowlands to the east, in the gap between the Granite Curtain and the Ironsides Moutnains, it is debately that he ‘rules’ the sands, so much as he directs them.
A lot of people seem to contribute to the ruling of the Empire, though all of them heed the call of the God-King and his Regent Emperor. As a citizen, it will be your sworn duty to aid these people whenever it becomes possible.
The Empire needs people with strong souls and ablitities to help. While the defeat of Ahriman, the Demon-King of the Rakshasa 2000 years ago has banished demons from the world and the extinction of the dreaded Dragon-Kings of the ancient past, there are still many enemies still lurking in the wilds (and sometimes closer to heart) of Larasia. So be strong and vigiliant potential citizen!
I wish you the greatest of luck!
-Secretary of Immigration
Holy City of Taur’Res