Empire of Rathsia
Empire of Rathsia
The Empire of Rathsia is the governing force controlling the five major tribes of the Loveletter Desert and the Old Island Confederation. The northern boarder is a great body of water called the Gilded Sea which feeds into the Exodus Ocean, and a Swamplands leading into the southern reaches of the Serranzia Forest. The Empire is the largest country in Serrade in terms of land, though most of it is uninhabitable desert, mountains and badlands. It’s main populations are Humans and Kender which live primarily on the coast of the Gilded Sea in the Bay of Lost Blades, though there are many nomadic tribes that wander the deserts and conduct trade into the northern lands.
The Empire is ruled by The Starshah Emperor, King of Glass and Wind. The Emperor consults with the Five Tribes of Rathsia and the Old Island Confederations, who submit to his command. These varying groups bring their concerns to the Emperor and he metes out judgement, though often he allows the leaders of these groups handle the mundane issues.
Origins and History of Rathsia
Before humans came to the deserts there were Kender that inhabited the Islands of the Gilded Sea. Each Island was its own sovereign nation for hundreds of years. Then came the Humans from the south of the desert, 360 years ago. The Loveletter Desert is vast, and none know how the Humans were able to cross it. For a hundred years the new inhabitants lived as nomadic tribes warring with each other and sometimes the Kender.
Then the First Emperor came from a secluded tribe of magic users. With the help of a mysterious vizir from the north he was able to forge alliances between the more peaceful tribes and beat the contentious tribes into submission. After this he set his sights on the Island nations which had formed a confederacy to stop the tribes. They lost horribly. This last aggression caused a parting of ways between the emperor and his vizir.
Rathsian Caste System
In order to hold the tribes in unity The Starshah implemented a caste system. This system placed his native tribe of priests and magic users at the top, followed by the warrior tribes, then the nomadic merchants followed by a mixed group of human and kender workmen. In this system the use of Magic is outlawed except for those bearing the mark of the ruling caste, as well as weapons being prohibited from any who do not bear the marking of the warrior caste. Members of the workmen caste are not allowed to trade, and work for all food and goods they have need of. There is an unofficial fifth caste of thieves and treasure hunters, also comprised of humans and kender often branded simply as workmen until they are caught and rebranded as criminals.
Clerics, Wizards, Warlocks, Paladins, Druids
The Rathsia are the ruling caste, branded with the symbol of an eye with a star pupil. They govern, preach, and use magic. The Priests of Rathsia worship Reyen the god of magic, and teach their followers to obey those that hold the ability to cast spells as long as they hold the mark of the Rathsia. Many prominent members of this caste make pacts with creatures of arcane and forbidden influence in order to gain power.
Fighters, Monks, Barbarians, and Rogues
The Pridech are the Warrior caste, branded with the symbol of a heart with a triangle at its center. They were given such a high standing in the hierarchy in order to incentivize the warrior tribes from uprising during periods of peace. They enforce law, protect the Menchati at a price, and govern in remote tribal areas that Rathsia deem unworthy of their watchful eye. There are many different kinds of warriors in this caste all hailing from different tribal traditions, Wild Barbarians of the Western Badlands(Barbarians and Fighters), Tranquil Monks of the Deep Desert(Monks and Rogues), and Wind Knights of the Gilded Sea(Rouges and Fighters). Very few prominent members of this caste travel North to test their skill at arms with Lotharian Knights.
The Menchati are the merchant caste branded with three small circles making a triangle with a line dividing the top circle from the bottom two. They are survivalists and pacifists by nature, though no strangers to intrigue, half-truth, and manipulation. They are the glue of the Rathsian Empire conducting business between the tribes, islands and kingdoms of the north. They hold no governing power, but are influential amongst those who do. They are allowed to own land and employ and punish Gruken. They are not allowed to posses weapons and therefore must hire Pridech for protection.
The Gruken are the workmen caste, branded with a square with three wavy lines inside. These are the children of rebels who did not join the Empire when their tribes did. They are not slaves, but barely. Gruken work for trade and thus can not amass wealth, though amassing wealth would be an unlikely possibility even if they were paid in coin. Gruken are not bound to any one employer, they may seek work amongst any offering it. Gruken are offered more food and goods if they are supporting children under the age of 13. The work life of a Gruken begins at 13. They are not allowed to own land, weapons, or learn to read or write. A Gruken may allowed to learn how to read and become a scribe if they receive a letter of literacy from a Rathsia, usually at the urging of an apprentice-less Menchati. These scribes are given a line crossing through the wavy lines on their brand and are castrated so they have no children to teach they ways of the written word, the title of scribe grants the Gruken a wealth of food all manner of loftier accommodations.
Otchnaar are the unofficial fifth caste of thieves, pirates and treasure hunters, branded usually as Gruken, though sometimes as disgraced Menchati or Pridech, and if they are caught and allowed to live are given ‘X’ brands underneath their caste brand. These Otchnaar act as mercenaries undercutting Pridech protection prices, steal cargo from Menchati and for Menchati. Some steal occult secrets from Rathsia and sell them to other Rathsia. They form crime syndicates, and some act independently. They are an accepted part of the Empire’s existence, though officially they are condemned by the Emperor’s decree. Some become folk heroes providing food and goods to needy Gruken, while others are looking out for their own desire to rise above the fate their caste gave them.
Military and Wars
The true size of the Empire’s army is unknown, being spread across the vast Loveletter Desert. Though the Army available to the Emperor at his palace on the Bay of Lost Blades is over twenty thousand. This is a mixture of all types of Pridech warriors though most would be Wind Knights trained with sword and armor and captaining of ships. The Rathsian Navy is powerful, though not as great as Lothar’s. Their main military strength is the desert itself, none but one raised int he empire and contend with its deadly power.
The most notable war raged by Rathsia was the one that solidified the Empire as its own entity. The Starshah Emperor led the Rathsia Tribe to an alliance with the Monks of Deep Sand and the Nomads of Menchati Tribe in order to broker fair trade and sharing of resources. With this coalition they attempted to add the Pridech Warrior Tribes and the Coastal Wind Tribe to their cause.
The Pridech, being hostile and undiplomatic, fought back against what they viewed as an encroachment on their territory. They were defeated within a few short months, mostly through a lack of resources. The quality of their defeat was appropriate in showing them the value of unification. Seeing the overwhelming odds standing against them, the Wind Tribe surrendered.
After the unification of the five tribe, old rivalries and slights threatened to break it apart. There was a rebellion creating the Gruken Tribe. “Gruken” translating to “free one” in common. This rebellion was easily quashed, and they surviving gruken were forced into labor. Dissent still thrived amongst tribal lines, The Emperor needed something to truly forge them into one Nation.Gilded Sea War
Using the Wind tribe’s knowledge of seafaring, the new Empire struck out against their neighbors of the Island Nations. As a response the Island Nations banded together to create the Island Confederacy. This war lasted for three years, eventually the magic of the Empire was more than the kender nations could cope with and they signed their confederacy over to The Starshah Emperor, King of Wind and Glass.
When they Human Exodus came from the Eastern continent to Serrade, Crastic Tribes established themselves in the riverlands on the North shore of the Gilded Sea across from the Rathsian Empire. These lands, while not occupied by the Empire were always believed by the then living Emperor to belong to his nation. And so they set out to battle these newcomers. There were a few weeks of skirmishes before Lords of Riverhold realized that the Rathsians were not pirates and sought to treat with them.
The Starshah was a curious man and a scholar, and he found the Rivermen to be exotic. He saw that they lacked the resources to fight a war and so made a bet with them. If their brightest citizen could defeat him in a single game of Kact out of six, he would give them an alliance, if however they could not defeat him, they would join the Empire. The Lords of Riverhold thought him insane, but had no choice but to take the deal. They sent a Knight, the rebellious son of a Lotharian lord (who had taken sides with the Tribes and defected with them), the most educated amongst them to play. Though the boy was young he had been trained in military strategy since he learned to walk. Kact is a complicated game of strategy mixing a board with pieces and a special deck of cards based on the Rathsian caste system (Including the Otchaar). The Knight took three games just to understand the rules, and then in the fourth and fifth he lost badly. The sixth game he won by luck. To this day Kact is a favorite way to pass the time in Riverhold.
Cities, Strongholds, and Towns of Rathsia
- Sheathe Harbor – This is the capital city of the Empire, it sits on the Bay of Lost Blades feeding into the Gilded Sea. All trade in and out of the Desert comes through is port. The Emperor’s Palace sits at its center. The Salt Palace is huge, and holds a massive bazaar. The city is home to many exotic pleasures and occult items. Many who wish to disappear from the Northern Kingdoms come here.
- Glass Island – The old kender seat of power, a large island where the Empire grows most of its food. The Island boasts a formidable keep, though sized for a kender. The Second Starshah Emperor had it expanded using rare giant crystals mined from a neighboring island. This is where The Emperor spends his summers.