Kardi Emperors

By Bill B

A band of ferocious mercenaries, the Kardi Emperors identify with Kardek - the legendary emperor who once ruled much of the land around the Halcyon Sea. Although they describe themselves as Kardi, they identify with the Old-Blood Kardi that served under Kardek, instead of the Kardi ethnic group that exists today. As well as their association with Kardek, the Emperors also serve an anonymous demon prince whose glowering visage marks their shields. While rigidly disciplined in war, the Emperors take great pleasure in harassing travellers, taking liberties with young women and picking fights with farmers' sons when not on the battlefield.

The Emperors number in the hundreds, making it one of the largest mercenary companies in the area. What is more peculiar is that the Emperors only ever fight in battles that are doomed to failure. The arrival of the Emperors sends all but the most stalwart troops into a retreat since the battle's conclusion is foregone. Generals thus call upon the Emperors not to win battles but rather to complete objectives - decimating the enemy, spreading pestilence among the foe, assassinating political enemies, and so on. Since they can never win a fight, the Emperors are also adept at falling back to defensive positions, strategic withdrawals and - under the cover of darkness - retreating to their defensible fortresses.

The Emperors origins and curious patronage are understood only by sages and demonologists. The Emperors are servants of Kardek, the legendary figure who - at the dawn of history - united the entire Halcyon region and gave his name to his ethnic group as well as the halfbloods resulting from his conquests. There is no demon the Emperors to pledge themselves to - Kardek's fey consort, Ananna, wove an enchantment that turned the mortal to a spirit on his deathbed so he could continue to rule his kingdom.

Kardek may have continued to rule the world today, if an unnamed witch had not countered Ananna's blessing with a curse bound up with the suffering that Kardek had inflicted on a hundred thousand souls. Kardek could never win a battle he commanded. His empire disintegrated into warring kingdoms within months.

Thus the rise of the Emperors who, as agents of Kardek, can never win but still strike terror into those they fight, who turn unwinnable battles into unwinnable massacres. Further, while Kardek can never win a battle, individual Emperors have no such curse and they frequently cause trouble as drunkards, gladiators and marauders.


By Ryan St.

Although the Kardi (singular and plural) were a race that once inhabited the entire Halcyon Sea region, the term has broadened into a catch-all term for the mixed-breed humans that are frequently shunted to the bottom rungs of that region's present-day society. While Kardi templars and merchants are not unheard of, they are extremely rare, and there are no Kardi noblemen (unless they have managed to conceal their bloodline). Most frequently, the Kardi are slaves, or huddle in villages on the borders between God-Kings domains. Kardi most often describe themselves by their social role – mother, husband, etc. – but are described by others in terms of their lineage: “Old-blood Kardi” or “Half-Gam” or “Mongrel.” The intolerance and disdain of society leads the Kardi to turn to one another for strength and comfort – and they often find both. Despite to the world’s image of them, Kardi are a strong, hardy people, but are marked most of all by their common sensitivity to others’ emotions. Education – even in a trade – is very rare among Kardi, and when they have the choice they will follow those with strong social skills, rather than those who display the most intelligence or skill. The stereotypical Kardi is a dumb, lazy slave, built for a life of work and servitude. The exemplar Kardi is a kind, caring member of their small circle of friends, binding their community together and showing remarkable resilience to the world’s troubles.