Shattered Empire

A generation ago, an empire fell. Brigands, goblins, raiders and insurgents toppled the Eternal Emperor from his golden throne and burned the Senate to the ground. Civilisation across the empire collapsed. The lines of communication snapped as the once sprawling nation shattered into warring city-states. The five castes, ordained by Heaven, became six distinct peoples.

The Tultans were the Judges Caste. Administrators, lawyers and Senators all proudly carried the two-pronged staff that was the mark of their authority. Now, the Tultans are coastal traders who have settled the islands or dwell on what were once pleasure barges but are now ruthlessly utilitarian. Tultans use their proficiency with laws and contracts to serve as judges, bounty hunters, mercenaries and, most importantly, merchants. While the Tultans will never break he law, their knowledge of quirks and exceptions makes every deal with them suspect.

Though the Tultans travel along the coast, the Nariths live upon it. Once lighthouse keepers and the guards against coastal raiders, they now maintain their sacred duty though the rest of the empire has crumbled. While the men watch the coast, train for war and maintain the fleet, the women hunt narwhals and whales on the high seas and the children fish. Though the lighthouse-fortresses are solidly built, their shantytowns along the shore are nt.

Inland from the barren cliffs of the Nariths are the Yulars. These people were once guildsmen and artisans, but in these troubled times the guilds have become training grounds for assassins, families of extortionists and con-men, havens of gambling and sorcery, and the de-facto governments of many towns. Some keep their ancient trades and secrets live, while others have forsaken or forgotten them entirely. Many have taken to the lush plains and savannahs near the coast, the beasts of which they consider their sacred duty to hunt.

These racial classifications are not absolute. Some Nariths and Tultans have travelled inland, while other Yulars have joined ships or lighthouses. Amongst all races can be found the Mithrais, or Forgotten Caste. Once, the Mithrais were part of a powerful and exclusive priesthood, but with the collapse of the Empire they took more into their ranks in a futile attempt to maintain the Empire. Now, they are the peasants, farmers and labourers of their society, seeing in their humble existence a reverence for the land and the spirits that occupy it. Some, more radical, Mithrais have taken to following behemoths and other monsters: worshipping them as gods.
Nearest the impassable mountains that mark the Empire’s innermost point dwell many of the Hurad. Once the aristocratic warriors who ruled and managed the Empire, the Hurad utilised their military training and arms and armour after the fall to eke out an existence as bandits and brigands. Others have become the lords – through popular choice or by the sword – of Mithrai communities and some have even taken up mercenary duties. Most, however, live by enslaving and intimidating local populations and destroying all weapons that are not “ten-thousand-year-old steel” (the ancestral swords used by the Hurad).

There are other thinking inhabitants of this land. The Mabasi are light-skinned savages with small horns – they predated the Empire and still have a deep connection with the land. Within recent years their community has schismed. Some orthodox Mabasi have cast aside the Byzantine laws and austerity of their people, as well as the centuries-old settlements, aqueducts and roads, preferring a more dynamic and active, albeit primitive, existence.

The black-skinned invaders that helped topple the Empire call themselves Tarrack (others call them ”Heathens”). The Tarrack are the stock from which the people of the Empire once came, though the people of the Empire since mingled with the Mabasi. Since the Empire’s fall, more Tarrack have come to live here – some joining coastal communities and others establishing their own villages.
The setting is built on two broken empires: the ancient stone of the Mabasi and the old wattle-and-daub of the Empire.