The Glorious Empire:

A Travelers Guide to Ancient Istar:

By John Grubber John.grubber@sympatico.ca February 22nd, 2000

 

The text included here is unofficial, and is based on the Dragonlance game and fiction world, wholly owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Its origins lie in an email from Chris Pierson, one of my fellow Dragonlance authors (and fellow Canadian) searching for information about Istar for a trilogy he was writing. This series of books would eventually become 'The Kingpriest Trilogy', published from 2001-2004 (Chosen of the Gods, Divine Hammer and Sacred Fire). For a fiction world nearing 20 years old, there was a great dearth of information about the greatest empire in its history. After speaking with Chris, I set about to fix this.

Readers familiar with the trilogy will recognize many things in these pages- though there are many changes from the world of the novels as well. This is a natural part of the fiction writing process- some things worked, others did not.

Readers not familiar with the series are advised that **there are significant spoilers** in this document, and it is advised you drop some coin and get the books- they are some of the best fiction I have read, and really bring the empire to life. Then come back and enjoy.

This was written for a friend, to help in his task- it is rough around the edges to be sure, but hopefully it will help you in some way if you are interested in Istar.

Enjoy.

John Grubber, May 2004

Table of Contents

 

Introduction

Part One: History

Before the City-States:

The Foundation Times:

The Heights of Empire:

The End Times:

 

Part Two: Geography of Istar

Technology:

Glass:

Pottery and Clay:

Metals:

Textile-making:

Stone:

Architecture:

Sites and Landmarks:

Fortresses and Garrisons:

Citadels of the Order of the Divine Hammer:

Monasteries:

Monumental Architecture:

Shrines:

The Vaults of the Kingpriest:

The Zephaniah Necropolis:

The Nine Provinces of the Istaran Empire:

Dravinaar (East):

Yandol:

Attrika:

Dravinaar (West):

Losarcum:

Micah:

Falthana:

Karthay:

Beakwere:

Gather:

Tucuri:

Vellas:

Aldhaven:

Ismin:

Edessa:

Jaggana:

Istar:

Calah:

Istar:

Kautilya:

Odacera:

Midrath:

Cuda:

Shiv:

Seldjuk:

Lattakay:

Zaladh:

Taol:

Govinna:

Ideos:

 

Part 3: Peoples of the Empire

Citizens:

Slaves:

Istaran Legions:

Solamnic Knights:

Indigenous Peoples:

Gather:

Dravinaar (East and West):

Falthana:

Ismin:

Istar:

Midrath:

Seldjuk:

Taol:

Clergy:

Religion and the Citizens:

Conclusion

Appendix A: A Timeline of Istar

Appendix B: Products and Resources by Province and Terrain

Appendix C: Encounter Tables

Introduction

The Empire of Istar is a place of legend in Ansalon, maybe even in all of Krynn. It was the pinnacle of mortal civilization- or at least claimed to be. Little written about the actual empire has survived, save that the clergy dominated it, and the Kingpriest doomed it. The people of the land were by no means innocent- indeed the corruption and pride of the Kingpriest merely exemplified the mood of the citizenry.

This article is intended to open ancient Istar to campaigns- to allow adventures within her borders and bring the ancient empire to life. A campaign set in Istar will likely challenge PC’s in new ways, for they will have few friends, especially if they are of certain character classes or races. Many factions vie for scraps of power from the Kingpriests table, and many crimes have been committed to gain the courts favor. Despite its seemingly settled and civilized appearance, there are still wild places in Istar and dangers on her roads. Some of the lands of Istar are heavily policed, others are not, especially in the frontier lands of Gather, Midrath and Falthana. These lands remain untamed, in spite of the best efforts of the Empire to bring them in line. The native groups remain defiant, even in the face of imperial genocide and colonization.

Adventure hooks and Character information can be found in Appendix C, at the end of this piece.

In order to fully understand the status and power Istar held in Pre-Cataclysmic Ansalon, its origins and development must first be discussed. To this, we now turn ourselves.

History:

The history of Istar is driven by economics, as are most nations. From its barbarian tribe origins to its decadent heights, the pursuit of wealth has motivated the powers that be in Istar. The geography of the land caused this, as Istar is ideally suited to agriculture and the making of products that other nations might strongly desire.

The history of Istar is generally divided into four sections. The first portion deals more with the people that would become Istar than the empire itself, but it is important to consider as Istar eventually turns on the indigenous peoples that are similar to her own ancestors. These people, some freed ogre slaves, some nomads that had never worn shackles, banded together millennia ago to survive in a hostile world. The second era of Istaran history deals with the rise of the city states and their banding together into an agricultural empire. The third era focuses on Istar at her mightiest, and empire that dominated trade and culture across a continent. The final era of Istaran history culminates in the Cataclysm, and deals mainly with the final three hundred years before the vengeance of the gods descended. It is the time when Istar’s corruption and pride were widely known, though unopposed- an age of oppression, not simple influence, as the centuries before had been.

Before the City-States:

The indigenous peoples of the Empire of Istar are a skeleton in its closet. Those they work tirelessly to crush are their own distant kin. It is from groups just like these that the first cities formed in the Age of Might. Before the formation of settlements and agriculture, humans lived in tribal states, wandering the plains as nomads and hunter-gatherers. Those that were not of the plains lived as slaves to the fallen Ogres in the mountains, brutish creatures whose own empire had fallen millennia before. Indeed it was in the mountains of Western Istar that the human slaves of the High Ogres first liberated themselves. Little is known of these uncivilized times, for no written histories were kept.

The Foundation Times:

Long ago, almost two thousand years before the Cataclysm, the future empire of Istar began to form. At first little more than a series of city states with a mutual defense pact, the influence of the inner ring grew and expanded out beyond the mountains. The city-states united under the banner of Istar and then began to expand westward, towards the other human realms, in search of trade. They found an ally in Solamnia, a fellow fledgling nation newly released from distant Ergoths thrall. Together these two new nations grew and expanded until they dominated much of the continent. But Istar was not content. Two nations, Seldjuk and Karthay, had refused Istars invitations to join the growing nation, preferring instead to remain independent. The people of the coastal lands remembered well the ancient times when they had been ruled by Ogres, then by their heirs, the Minotaurs. They had no desire to yield their self-determination to another master, and remained separate from Istar until the Eighth century before the Cataclysm. At that time, Istar used its considerable political and economic power to force the smaller nations to capitulate and join the empire.

The die of Istars doom was cast in these foundation times, for the Shamans of the tribes became the priests of the cities, a mysterious elite caste that existed outside of the rulership systems. These men and women bent the ear of the rulers as they and their god’s saw fit, and through it all, the people feared their wrath. Indeed since the days when they had lived as tribes on the savanna, the holy men and their fantastic powers had been both feared and respected. The rise of a political system that might change this was not in the best interests of the new holy caste, and they challenged it at every opportunity. When people saw the priests doing good works that the kings and rulers could not, they began to question the authority of their rulers. While they never toppled a ruler, the faith of the people soon became placed in those who could affect their lives directly- the religious class. So it was that a dual power structure developed as the empire developed, one of kings, viziers and senators, and one of high priests, revered sons and acolytes. One existing in the light, and one in the shadows.

The Heights of Empire:

The Age of Might was an age of great peace and prosperity for Ansalon. The last thousand years before the Cataclysm were dominated by the Empire of Istar, whose clergy wielded ultimate power by the turn of the final century. The peace for some came with a price- freedoms were sacrificed for security and stability for some. Istar was Ansalon’s bread-basket, and so ruled food supplies. Control a mans belly, the scholars say, and you control his life. Istar excelled at this. Using blockades, embargoes and trade sanctions, she subdued any who stood against her, using agents and advisors in foreign governments to sow dissension and confusion. Many of Istars external conquests were undeclared wars, shadowy power plays designed to weaken enemies from within and increase their dependence on Istar. The Kingpriests and their minions even used dark magic to weaken enemies and gain allies,. This tactic was always suspected, but not confirmed until the discovery of a confession manuscript from an Istaran priest. In this document he describes how secret pacts were made with minions of Morgion and Chemosh, to ravage Solamnia’s crops and weaken her people. Once so devastated, Solamnia turned to Istar for aid. The abundance and quality of Istaran food goods reduced Solamnia’s agricultural independence, and increased her need for Istar. So it was that by playing on Solamnic honor, Istar gained the most powerful military force of Ansalon, the Solamnic Knights, as her own army, for no cost. The Solamnics swore protection of the nation that had given aid in Solamnia’s hour of need, though it was Istar that had secretly created that desperate situation.

The End Times:

Though there were no declared wars, Istar and her agents waged campaigns both within the Empires borders and throughout Ansalon. There were bounties on entire races, peoples thoughts were controlled, and any dissenters mysteriously disappeared in the night. Despite the peace and prosperity, it was truly a dark age of oppression for much of Ansalon. The haughty Istarans preferred manipulation to military might, though they were not above using the legions within their borders in police actions to subdue the barbarians in the outlying provinces.

Istars might was initially economic, for its central plains fed and clothed much of the continent. As the empire grew, the clergy grew as a class, and began to exert a deeper control. Istars economic tactics gained momentum after the military alliance with Solamnia. After this treaty, Istar had access to a standing military that it did not have to pay to maintain, yet could control because the Knights served Paladine, the patron God of Good. Whatever Istar, the religious center of Ansalon, deemed a cause worthy of Paladine’s attention, the Knights would turn their interest towards.

Over the centuries, the momentum of Imperialism grew and Istar suppressed first Karthay and later Seldjuk, independent realms that were Istars main rivals in the human realms. Blockades, trade wars and sanctions all worked to isolate the two nations from the rest of Ansalon, and once the military might of Solamnia was brought to bear, the starved lands were easily conquered.

Within her borders, the seemingly peaceful empire is riddled with strife. The conquered realms of the Northeast never lost their hatred for Istar, and the many indigenous peoples of the empire waged constant warfare for their autonomy. Outside of the Inner ring surrounding Lake Istar and the western provinces, so-called savages live, driven there by land-hungry settlers. They exist in tribal states, in all types of terrain, eking out lives that are under constant ideological or cultural assault. The survival of many of these groups in the face of genocide is a testament to their intelligence and tenacity.

Geography of Istar:

The empire is vast, covering almost half of Pre-Cataclysmic Ansalon. The north sits along Krynn’s equator, the lush jungles nourished by frequent rains. Further south the central lands of Istar are a broad grassland, mainly unsettled before the heathen wars. The extreme southern parts of the empire are desert or badland, reaching to the temperate forests of Silvanesti. The western provinces of the empire are similar to parts of Solamnia, the inhabitants being settlers from the far eastern realms of that nation. The eastern coast is extensively cultivated and settled, the remnants of human nations that formed when they broke the shackles of Ogre slavery and later the oppression of the Ogres proteges, the Minotaurs.

In spite of the expansive settlement and infrastructure, the lands of Istar are far from safe. The increased militarism of the police state and is mainly responsible for this, as the persecution of non-human races has made those races that much more desperate in their actions for survival. Unwanted in any land, they live as outlaws, as raiders and nomads, rescuing kin from slave caravans, never staying in an area long lest they be rounded up. Being a human or a proclaimed follower of the Light is no security in this age, for the corruption of the Church means no one is safe from her agents. Those who bow to the empire are safe only so long as they are useful, after which they are exiled or they disappear.

Much of Istars wealth comes from trade. Its agricultural economic base made it important to the rest of Ansalon, while the power of the clergy ensured that it could not be easily conquered. The presence of these two things removed the need for a large military or advanced technology to develop within Istar, though it is imported from other nations. The geography of Istar also prevented the development of metallurgy to the heights employed by dwarves or even other human nations- there are few veins of iron ore and nickel. Consequently, native Istaran metalwork is made of bronze, copper and gold, all soft metals that are easily produced and worked. The advent of the Spice trade brought Istars dominance to its peak. Many of the plants that were so highly prized elsewhere in Ansalon grew only in the jungles of Istar, and later in the Nordmaar Colonies of Ergoth. After the conquering of Tucuri in the north and The Dravinaar in the south, Istar had access to both quarried and sea salt, which further stimulated trade. Other sources of salt and spices existed in Ansalon, but the machinations of Istar shut down those sources, removing their markets by means at times legal and non.

Regardless of the shadowy methods employed to gain and maintain the peace, it did have some beneficial effects. Art and literature attained new heights, driven there by a growing upper class. Exploration flourished, as new lands were contacted and new peoples converted to the ways of the true gods. Rumors persist that at the time of the Cataclysm, the Kingpriest and his inner circle were preparing to mount several huge expeditions to the continent of Taladas, in hopes of establishing an earthly Kingdom of Paladine there. Under Istars rule, the roads of Ansalon were safer, allowing people to travel, with approval and proper documentation, farther than ever before. Huge structures, buildings and statues the likes of which had not been built since the Age of Dreams appeared throughout the Empire. These kept the poor working and helped to unify the people towards a common goal, a tactic every ruler in every race in every time has employed.

Istars dominance of commerce and religion and the sway it held with Solamnia solidified its position as the only superpower in the world. Scholars and philosophers will forever ponder the good Istar might have done, had it not rotted from within, dying slowly over the centuries as its core became more corrupt.

The peace inside the empire was shattered by the wars between rival Kingpriests and by the heathen wars in the last decades before the Cataclysm. From 36-31PC a series of droughts devastated Ismin, the agricultural hub of the Empire, and when opportunity arose, the lands of the unsettled realm of Gather were invaded. The people of Istar, weary of war in their lands did not support the conflict, at least initially. The tragedy at the Vaults of the Kingpriest in 30PC allowed the upper echelons of the clergy to turn the public against the peaceful inhabitants of the untamed lands, and once more stir the people to support more bloodshed.

The wars in Gather spread to other parts of the empire, from the jungles of the Falthana Basin to the sands of the Dravinaar. All across the empire Knights of Solamnia, led by Warrior-Priests of the Order of the Divine Hammer battled the godless heathens in the name of the Kingpriest and all that was unholy.

Technology:

Istar is very crude technologically. It did not need to develop much advanced technology to exploit its rich environment. What it didn’t have, it was able to buy, steal or extort from its neighbors. Whatever food it did not use, it was easily able to sell. Istars location and prosperity ensured that it would rule the world. While much of Ansalon runs on metal-banded spoked wheels, the empires caravans rumble along on solid wooden disks. Their fields are worked with heavy bronze plows, each pulled by massive horses, while in the Vingaard Valley, a comparable agricultural realm, rows of steel plows extend from the sides of ox-driven wagons.

Istar was primarily an agricultural power, as such, much of its technology was developed to increase yield, cultivate those lands too dry or wet, or otherwise prosper in the realm of farming. Though large parts of Ansalon are arable, most of this land fell inside the borders of Istar. As a result, Istar supplies much of the food for the continent. Istar also grows much of the materials used in the making of cloth and basketry, both of these industries being raised to very high levels of sophistication by the skilled citizens of the empire.

The myriad of products Istar generated from its agricultural diversity were highly prized by other races and nations, countries that gladly traded their own expertise and products for them. Consequently, Istar hired the best engineers and miners from human and dwarven lands, having them build or instruct the Istarans in mining, masonry and architecture. The mountains of Istar held little iron, but they did have plenty of copper and other soft metals. As a result, the early Istarans mastered soft-metal extraction and casting, making bronze the alloy of choice for art, armor and weapons. Istar never moved beyond the development of bronze in its metallurgical sciences. As a rapidly growing empire with the power of the clergy behind it, there was no need to. The sheer size of the empire allowed vast armies to be fielded and supported by priests from many gods, placing less numerous enemies at a disadvantage. Once the nation began to expand, alliances with Solamnia and other steel-producing allowed the legions to equip themselves in even better manners.

In engineering Istar was never exceedingly original- accomplishments of this type were more easily made by hiring someone who was properly skilled. Thus, the majority of public works found in the empire were designed by outsiders. Dwarven smiths and Solamnian engineers built the sewers and catacombs of the empire- providing water to even the highest floors of the apartment tenements. The roads of the empire were renowned for their durability and breadth, so large they were that entire caravans could pass each other on bridges and in passes with enough room for horsemen to pass between them. These wonders still stand after the Cataclysm, some claimed by squatter empires that would use the greatness of the past to ensure their greatness in the future. Of course, there are few Istarans left to protest the appropriation.

 

Glass:

Glass-making has been raised to an art form in Istar. Several cities in the southern provinces are known continent-wide for their artistry. The expansion of the empire allowed this trade to flourish, as the new provinces had access to pigments that allowed even more beautiful creations to be made. In addition to a burgeoning trade in completed works, Istar’s glassworks also deal in raw ingots of many colors, that are used in other nations glass industries. The products of the city of Micah in West Dravinaar are particularly prized by mages and priests, their artistry and quality lending themselves well to enchantment.

Pottery and Clay:

The many deltas and rivers of the empire provided clays that ensured that Istar developed pottery early, and raised it to the most advanced level ever achieved on Ansalon. This clay finds use in all aspects of Istaran life, from vessels and tiles to wall-plaster and artwork. The river deltas provide ample amounts and varieties of clays, in fact the finest wares of this type in all Ansalon come from Istar. Red, white, brown and even blue clays come from all across the empire, wrapped in wet sackcloth to be sold to artists, while finished works are found throughout the continent. Several royal houses of Ansalon, including those of the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms, have commissioned entire sets of flatware to be made by the pottery-houses of the empire. As with the mining industry, the clays of Istar provide several pigments used by artists and textile-houses across the continent.

Metals:

Though numerous ranges of mountains crossed the empire at its height, they were poor in metals. Copper and tin were common, as was gold, but iron or nickel, essential for steel-making were not. Nickel was not available until the annexation of Falthana and Seldjuk to the empire in about 800PC. Consequently, Istar has developed a thriving soft-metal economy but imports most steel or iron it requires. The metal mining also allowed Istar to develop a lucrative dye and pigment-making industry, which flourished even further after the new provinces began to provide iron and nickel. The domineering trade agreements Istar had already established ensured that in short order, the only pigments easily available were those created by Istarans.

Textile-making:

The ample grasslands and arable plains of Istar encouraged development of cloth-making, as did the presence of sheep. Flax, hemp and cotton grew naturally in various provinces, and were transplanted even further as the empire grew. The textile-houses of Istar are almost as feared as the quarries, many a slave has been boiled alive in the pigment vats, or crushed in the linen presses. Those that are lucky enough to survive those lowest ranking tasks risk dismemberment in the machinery of the animal powered looms. They, along with the theft laws, are the source of many of the arm- or hand-less beggars found in the empire. Istars clothier guilds greedily eye the silks of Silvanesti, but no amount of money has been enough to loosen the elves tongues on this secret industry. Since it has not been able to control the silk trade, Istar has instead sought to destroy it. Through her agents, Istars guilds spread lies, raided shipments and murdered many traders, all to encourage people to ‘buy Istaran.’

Stone:

The mountain ranges of Istar are rich in all manner of stone, from granites and marbles to gems and decorative stone. These are sold across Ansalon, hauled in massive carts or by ship finding homes in all manner of extravagant architecture. The quarries of Istar are renowned for their quality but feared for their conditions. They are the destination of many of the empires slaves- often a final destination. Mass graves dot the mountainsides, though they are unmarked and never spoken of. The dead are thrown in like cordwood, the tailings and unsellable stone dumped over them, and they are soon forgotten. There are always more slaves. The law-makers see to that.

Architecture:

Istaran architecture did not achieve a unified style until the last two centuries before the Cataclysm. Prior to this time, the varying cultures that had united to form the empire each had a distinctive building style. Temples to various gods had specific forms that were common regardless of the area, but in general, structures varied widely. The western portions of the empire were heavily influenced by Dwarven and Solamnic architecture, favoring heavy stone structures, thatch and plastered wood upper stories. The eastern empire, by contrast, favors airy structures that can make use of sea breezes to cool their interiors in the tropical sun. Eastern buildings also favor pillars and lofty arches, structures that would be later adopted by the Minotaur nations, who had built them while enslaved by Istar. The southern empire is a vast desert, the Dravinaar, and as such is sparsely populated. There are only a few towns, built by the nomads as trade centers around oases, and one city, Losarcum- the jewel of the desert princes. It is a mysterious place, of soaring minarets and domes, of buildings carved into the bedrock, all nestled within a mazelike canyon. The province of Gather, in the northern coastal reaches of Istar, is largely unsettled, being the domain of nomads, barbarians and savages. The exception to this is the province of Falthana and the land surrounding Karthay, a city that had once rivaled Istar before being subjugated by it in about 800PC. This area is filled with hostile natives, but the cities themselves thrive on their natural resources. The mountains make masonry buildings the most common, their brick walls plastered and whitewashed.

Sites and Landmarks:

Pilgrimages are common in Istar, it is a nation with a lengthy and turbulent history, so there are many places where significant events took place. Battle sites, visited by veterans or pilgrims of the warrior gods, dot the frontiers, while the sites of religious hierophanies, places where a god made contact with mortals, are also commemorated.

Fortresses and Garrisons:

Throughout the empire the Istaran Legions and the Solamnic Knights established garrisons and fortresses to protect the local citizenry. The forts range in size from small keeps with less than a score of soldiers up to huge citadels with hundreds of guards. They patrol the countryside, dealing with raiders, monsters and any other dangers. In certain cases, they are called upon to aid the local constabularies, in law enforcement or investigation of crimes. The commander of a given fort also acts as lawgiver when the town is too small to have magistrates and imperial advocates of its own. In larger centers, the soldiers are also employed in the building of roads, fortifications and bridges. During an invasion or civil war, these forts are the first line of defense, holding key bridges and passes until reinforcements arrive. Some provinces resent the presence of imperial forces or their allies, as they tend to meddle where they are not wanted. The troubles caused by the bored soldiers are extensive, ranging from corruption among the Istaran Legionnaires to dogmatism and rigidity among the Solamnics. The Eastern provinces in particular revile the intrusions of both military groups, they see the presence of them as Istars way of trying to suppress their independence. Along the frontiers, the soldiers often abuse the locals without fear of reprisal, as their distant commanders sit idly in comfortable offices in the cities of the inner ring. The many peaceful indigenous groups in Istar bear the brunt of this oppression, those that do not languish in dungeons are sold to slavers or end up decorating the walls of the forts as warnings. The citizens of Istar have an uneasy relationship with their protectors that alternates between fear and fanatical loyalty- people tread lightly lest they anger some petty soldier and invite disaster. Mounted and on foot they travel the roads of the empire, protecting the travelers- though they are more dangerous than any highwaymen- for they are above the law.

Citadels of the Order of the Divine Hammer:

The Order of the Divine Hammer spread rapidly throughout Ansalon in its brief history. As servants of the Kingpriest, it was their holy duty to protect pilgrims who were travelling to Istar. Consequently, they built countless forts along the roads of Istar, many with their own funds or donations. Many of the early members of the Order were wealthy landowners seeking to gain favor with the church, or landless second sons with inheritances to squander. Regardless of their origins, they would build a citadel and garrison it, watching over a section of road and the lands around it. In this way, they gained a petty barony of sorts within the empire that ruled the world. The warrior-priests of a given fort would often ride with pilgrims, offering them hospitality at the citadel in exchange for whatever the pilgrims could afford as a donation to keep the citadel open. The donations were usually very small, if any were given, but in exchange, the names of the pilgrims were often inscribed on the wall of the citadels chapel, as a list of the blessed and generous. While they traveled in the lands of a given fort, the pilgrims were requested to wear medallions bearing the name of the warrior-priest and the fort where he was stationed. This served as a warning to raiders and as a message of the warrior-priests good work in the kingpriests services. At the edge of a forts protectorate, the medallions were sometimes turned over, sometimes kept, and the pilgrims were turned over to representatives of the next fort for continued escort on their pilgrimage. Often times, a monastery will be part of a fortress, or close to it, the two groups providing each other with company and essential services.

The forts themselves are often small, housing only ten to fifteen men. Life within the forts is quiet and spartan, dedicated to prayer, patrol and the labors required to keep the fort running. The central feature of the citadel is a chapel to Paladine and Kiri-Jolith, where daily prayer services are held. Within the walls there are also stables, a barracks for the men, quarters for their leader and a hostel for travelers. The buildings simple and the fortifications heavy, but the chapels are often heavily decorated. The members of the Order stationed there often dedicate much of their private time to beautifying their forts chapel, so that in the event clergy, or the Kingpriest himself visit the chapel, they will see the piety of the men who are there, and reward them.

Monasteries:

Istar is the center of the religious world on Ansalon. Consequently, there are homes to followers of most gods within its borders. This changed in the last half-century before the Cataclysm, but prior to that enclaves dedicated to almost any god could be found in secluded, private places. Often time the monasteries are several hours outside of a town, high in the mountains, deep with the humid jungles or in other areas where people tend to not settle. The life of a monk often requires great time alone or away from the influences of society. This isolation often makes monasteries towns in themselves, with smithies, gardens, granaries and stable facilities. All are run by monks, many of whom gave up professions and careers to dedicate themselves to study and worship. Their unique skills allow them to serve their god by serving their fellow devotees.

Some monasteries welcome travelers, pilgrims and seekers of wisdom, while others guard their privacy jealously, directing visitors to shabby hostel facilities just outside the monastery walls if not turning them away completely. As mentioned above, some monasteries are attached or close to fortresses belonging to the Order of the Divine Hammer. In the last decades before the Cataclysm, when the Kingpriest and his minions turned on other clergy of the True Gods, these groups had strained relations at best, open hostility at worst. In many cases though, the opposing groups grudgingly accepted the other as necessary for survival of their own group.

Monumental Architecture:

The heights of Istars might led her to build many works of colossal architecture- monuments to achievements, might and ominous arrogance. Massive statues of bronze stand over roadways, images of legionnaires and kingpriests, symbolic guardians of the empire itself. The pride of Istar is even found on the waterways, for the river canyon that guards the mouth of Lake Istar is flanked by massive stone carvings. They stand against the walls of the canyon, holding it open as though mortals themselves could keep the planet in its place. Huge archways and walls are found in the cities of the empire, monuments of past achievement both peaceful and marshal. They are most common in the inner ring, in the wealthy cities surrounding Lake Istar. The decadence of ornamentation is found everywhere, from fountains to bridge pylons- all depict the glories of Istar and her mortal creators.

Shrines:

In addition to temples, the faithful often build shrines to the Gods along the roads of Istar. In many cases the builder claimed to have received a vision in a particular spot and directives to build a shrine there, though their placement along established roads leads one to suspect otherwise. They are usually simple in structure- grottos, caves, cliff walls or roofed wooden structures, and the builder often lives close to the site, to clean and care for it. They usually disdain material comforts, living as hermits or on handouts from pilgrims. The hermits are rarely priests, but always hold their faiths dear, seeing themselves as having an integral place in the gods’ plans. The nature of the site depends on the god it venerates and the capabilities of the worshipper. The wealthy and constructionally competent build lavish and complex shrines, while the poorer faithful rely on hand-carved wood or stone statues. These sites are also rumored to be able to cause miracles and give visions of the gods.

Throughout the empire’s core there are also shrines commemorating the birthplaces of the various Kingpriests. They are common pilgrimage sites in the empire, some people travelling to at least one every year. Some pilgrims follow a specific route, travelling to the sites in a certain order.

The Vaults of the Kingpriest:

High in the Usiah Mountains, west of the inner ring, is the home of the Daughters of the Light. This semi-secret sect is devoted to the worship of Paladine, though they slowly were manipulated and deceived until they became little more than a private harem for the Kingpriests. Their citadel was ancient in the days before Istar, a relic of the fallen High Ogre civilization, though is so heavily modified as to be almost unrecognizable. The remains of many famous religious figures in Istars history, including many kingpriests, are entombed within the catacombs. Deeper below these are secret chambers where there is confiscated artwork and texts deemed offensive to the gods. There are even rumors that arcane magical artifacts are held there-bound by powerful magic and fearsome guardians. Thankfully, the mercenaries that slaughtered the female occupants of the citadel did not discover these chambers, for they might have unleashed unspeakable horrors upon Ansalon in their blind greed.

Understanding the significance of the fall of the Vaults to mercenaries in 30PC is instrumental to understanding the final chapter of Istars history. The blood spilled there was used by the last Kingpriest to manipulate the people of the empire- to make them believe they were all threatened by the barbarians within their borders. After the anger of the people was stoked, the ranks of the military swelled. Under the banners of the Order of the Divine Hammer, the wars to cleanse Istar of Heretics began.

The Vaults were reclaimed, but became a private retreat for the Kingpriest, manned by warrior-priests of the Divine Hammer, who maintain a penitential vigil upon its walls, payment for their failure to stop the slaughter.

The Zephaniah Necropolis:

South of the Vaults of the Kingpriest, on a windswept mountain plateau is the Zephaniah Necropolis. Built in the earliest days of Istar, it contains the remains of all manner of people- from chieftains and commoners to the first kingpriests. It is a sprawling complex, a true city, for thousands are entombed in its mounts and crypts. It is patrolled by soldiers constantly, for the rich tombs are tempting to looters. Robberies still occur however, usually by corrupt guards or by those who have paid them to look the other way. A small fort sits outsides the gates, the home to the legionnaires who walk the silent streets.

The Nine Provinces of the Istaran Empire

 

Dravinaar (East):

This province is equal parts sandy desert and rugged badlands. There is little water, except during the spring rains, when the dry riverbeds overflow their banks, turning the desert green for a few short weeks. The plants that survive in the dry valleys are scrub grasses and cacti. The very southern tip of the province that surrounds Yandol is a grassy plain, though much has been cultivated by the residents of the area.

East Dravinaar experiences frequent storms, tempests blown in from the Skeleton Coast and the Eastern Courrain Ocean. The vast stretches of flatlands turn seaborne hurricanes into huge dust storms that can bury caravans and small towns in their wake.

Cities:

Yandol

Population: 30000 Resources and Industries: Shipping, Grain Farming

This city lies at the confluence of the Lumogra River and the Sartiel River. From its vantage point on the northern river bank, Yandol controls most of the southern trade that leaves the Istaran Empire. Though it is classified as being part of the backwater of the empire, the city remains important because of its proximity to Silvanesti and other realms. As such, the walled town appears nondescript, but is actually filled with agents from various nations seeking information from and about each other. Yandol is an ancient city, founded long before the empire, and its addition was the result of border treaties, not warfare or referendum. Consequently, its citizens care little for the affairs of empire, though they often unknowingly play host to those who determine it.

Yandols role as a trade city ensures that it has a large upper class, who frequent the many social clubs of the city. It is on this neutral territory that emissaries and ambassadors, spies and saboteurs all ply their trade. All of them know why they are there, and they revel in their tasks, playing one against another, using information to buy more information. Yandol is a vital link in the security chain of Istar, and of many other nations as well. The decadent role-playing and deal-making of the city nobles rivals that of Istar or Silvanost, there is little role for men of arms in the aristocratic city- to resort to violence would invite disaster in ones future dealings. Interestingly enough, people in Yandol seem to have a habit of stabbing themselves in the back or cutting their own throats before they fall into the river in their alcoholic stupor. Coincidentally, agents of the various nations also have a habit of leaving the town at night.

Attrika

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Glassmaking, sand mining, quarrying, shipping, salt mining

Perched on a mesa at the edge of the Dravinaar Barrens, Attrika overlooks the Western Lumogra River. Along with Losarcum, It is responsible for much of the transport of Istaran goods south into Silvanesti and to the Ansalon coast. The base of the mesa is riddled with caves, the squalid homes for the thousands of slaves who work the sand and stone quarries surrounding the city. Raw glass ingots and quarried sandstone are Attrika’s main sources of income, although shipping has raised its prominence as Istar grew.

The windswept plateau is virtually impregnable, the only route in is a long spiraling road that loops around the mountain twice before it reaches the top. All along the route landslides can be triggered to block the path for invaders. Massive cisterns and storehouses lay underneath the city, protection against the threat of sieges. The Northern edge of the mesa overlooks the river, and a huge water-worn shallow cave serves as the city’s docks. On the banks of the river, terraced fields fed by slave-powered irrigation systems provide much of the food the city needs. What isn’t grown is bought from ports further upriver, sent to Attrika on massive log barges.

The buildings of the city are squat and sprawling, the smooth, squared walls of one providing support for its neighbors. Rarely more than three stories, the stone and mud-brick buildings have tiny windows but their roofs are dotted with skylights and openings, allowing sunlight and air into the central courtyards of the homes.

Dravinaar (West):

The Sea of Shifting Sands dominates this western half of this province, its barren sands providing a natural defense against those who would invade Istar. The Devatas River valley, which runs along the western border, is green year-round, its lush riverside fields renewed annually by the flooding river. It is here that many rare fruits and vegetables, prized in the cities of Ansalon, are grown. The eastern portion, the region surrounding Losarcum, is a red-stone badland, full of deep canyons and rugged plateaus. Little grows here naturally, except after the rainy season. Nomads and raiders stalk the cliffs and mesas, while the camel-riding desert princes traverse the caravan routes across the sandy wastes.

Cities:

Losarcum

Population: 25000 Resources and Industries: salt mining, quarrying, trade center

Losarcum is a city with a pivotal role in the history of Istar and of Ansalon as a whole. Though it was originally nothing more than a secure trading point for the desert nomads, it assumed importance when the Wizards Conclave built its fifth Tower of High Sorcery there. The trade port was always important regionally, but the construction of the tower and its subsequent destruction placed the city at the center of Istaran politics for a time.

The desert princes rule from Losarcum, nestled safely in its maze-like canyons, controlling all trade that enters or leaves Istar for points south. Traders are usually loathe to risk the perils of the Sea of Shifting Sands, and instead opt to travel on the rivers that lead past Losarcum. The rulers of the city recognize this, and exact tolls, sell supplies and trade goods with al who pass through. The Sartiel River is steep-sided over much of its passage through Dravinaar, offering few spots for safe anchorings or the transfer of supplies. Thus, the rulers of Losarcum can exact whatever price they desire from their customers.

The citizens of the city are very friendly, viewing every traveler as a potential customer. As such, the region around the docks is filled with stalls, carts and wandering merchants, all hawking their wares to sailors and travelling merchants.

The city itself sits on a plateau within a canyon, accessible only by water and through winding paths through the narrow canyon. This only affords access to the outer gates. Beyond these portals, grand facades carved into the rock of the cliff faces, high tunnels lead the traveler up a spiraling road towards the city. Upon exiting the tunnel, the visitor is treated with a breathtaking vista. The canyon walls rise all around, within them sits the city itself, its winding streets and closely crowded buildings slowly rising away from the entryway in a series of terraces. The reddish stone of the desert badlands is carved into all manner of shapes, revering the gods as the desert princes know them, ornamenting every face of their small city. Beyond the furthest rise, where sits the tower of High Sorcery, the land drops into a steep ravine that leads to the docks and the river far below. Those who would seek to invade the city must come through the ravine or the tunnel, both sites that are easily defended. Losarcum has never fallen to outside invaders, its only troubles come from those that dwell within.

The tower sits on the highest point of land in the city, built there by the Conclave at the invitation of an ancient cheiftain of the desert dwellers who came from a long line of magic users. Though his skills were modest, the Omir Muirtal held wizards in the highest regard, and granted them a haven within his city. Wizards dwell throughout the city, even outside of the tower, tolerated, though still somewhat mistrusted by the citizens.

Micah

Population: 15000 Resources and Industries: Glassworks, river trade

Micah is geographically isolated from much of the rest of Istar. Sitting in an alluvial valley along the Devatas River, it tends to deal with outsiders only rarely. It is the largest of many settlements along the river, all of whom subsist on the crops they grow in the rich soils of the river banks. The other major industry in Micah is the glassworks. The abundance of greenery provides ample fuel, and the Sea of Shifting Sands provides the medium for the artisans. Their delicate work is known across Ansalon, and has made the city’s Glass Blowers guild very wealthy. Though not highly prized in Istar itself, the delicate crystal and glass objects the make are very popular among the elves of Silvanesti to the south, who are their main customers.

The buildings are low and usually only single storied, but the wealthier merchants and glassblowers sometimes build larger homes. Entry to the dwellings is typically through the roofs, access to these being by ladders or stairways. The city is small and unwalled, the desert around the valley being protection enough from invaders by land.

Other Cities:

Felthum

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Spices, Corn

Rionis

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Corn, Pottery

 

Falthana:

Falthana is made up of several different types of geography, from the rugged mountains and green hills of the north to the misty jungles of the south and the thin band of arable soil that runs between them. The coats are heavily populated, but the superstitious people avoid the jungles and mountains. The peaks of the Worldscap Mountains, they say, are wandered by the ghosts of the fallen ogres who once ruled there, while the savages of the jungles eat any who wander into their domains. The disappearance of caravans along the roads through the jungles has only added to the fear. Consequently, most traffic into or out of the settled regions of Falthana is by boat. Interestingly enough, it was the presence of the jungle barrier that saved Falthana from complete dominance by Istar. Unknown to Karthay, Istar sent two entire legions by land to subjugate the cities. The armies marched through the jungle, hacking and burning the foliage to build a road for supply convoys. They foolishly destroyed the homes and desecrated burial sites of the jungle dwellers, and for that transgression, they paid a terrible price. The fierce indigenous people of the region attacked them savagely, slaughtering them with poison, traps and nighttime assaults. Weighed down in their heavy armor, the legionnaires were no match for the fury of the natives. Legends persist that some of the soldiers survived, and were adopted into the tribes of jungle dwellers, but on one has ever confirmed this.

Rain falls frequently throughout the region; savage storms are swept in from the seas the that surround it and funneled south into the jungle. The mountains and the Northern regions are otherwise bathed in sunshine, making the air hot and humid much of the time. By contrast, in the south only rarely does the sun break through the clouds for more than a few hours, cooling the air and making it heavy with fog. The rains make the lands very fertile. Even in the high mountains, there is enough pasture for intensive alpine herding. The rains also make the jungles incredibly lush, with the green canopy sometimes rising two hundred feet or more above the jungle floor. There are many secrets buried in the jungle depths, hidden there for millennia.

The rugged northern mountains of the Worldscap Range are among the highest peaks on Ansalon, jutting up out of the seas in a crescent that crosses the peninsula. This was the earliest home of the Ogres, the lofty peaks where they built their kingdoms to reach their parent gods. They were the last of the kingdoms to fall to the human rebellions, forces of change that swept east and west from the Khalkists, toppling the ancient race. The bones of empire sit upon the peaks, abandoned or destroyed, empty of all life. Even animals shy away from them. Some tribes of Ogres still live high in the mountains, though they are hunted occasionally by humans and Minotaurs alike. The Ogres avoid harassing the humans with an almost fanatical paranoia, but they fearful of raising more organized hatred. Thus, the herders and miners of the region enjoy relatively safe lives, though they are always aware of the shadows of the past looming over them.

Cities:

Karthay

Population: 50000 Resources and Industries: Mining, Dye-making, Quarrying, Logging, Overland Shipping, Alpine Herding

The capital of Falthana, Istars most reluctant province, Karthay is distant enough from its sovereign city that it remains outside of most Imperial politics. This is exactly how its rulers prefer it. After its capitulation in 800PC, the Istarans installed several governors, none of whom served for more than a year. Their terms in office were usually ended by untimely deaths, public disgraces or civil disorder. In the end, the Istarans allowed the Karthayans, and by extension all the cities of Falthana, self-rule, though they must pay heavy tribute to the empire and allow the presence of Istaran Military, lest rebellions brew. The cities agreed to the terms, and consequently, if there is a home for those who would topple Istar, it is probably to be found in Falthana.

Karthay is heavily industrialized; smelters, forgehouses, stockyards and sawmills surround it, the smoke and smells form these sites drifting across the city as the winds shift. There are no human slaves in Karthay, nor in any of Falthana- the citizens of the region know all too well the feeling of being under the heel of another, though they do shackle the minotaurs that inhabit the region. This is more retribution than necessity, for they seek vengeance on their former masters. Farmland surrounds the city as does a vast network of roads into the mountains and jungles. In this way, the Karthayans can rapidly and efficiently exploit their environments. From their clay and metal deposits, Karthay controls the only supplies of the rich royal-blue pigment prized by artisans across Ansalon. Textilemaking and dye-making was another industry Istar had partial control over, but wanted to dominate- thus, Karthay had to be ‘persuaded’ that to become part of the empire was in its best interests.

The buildings are a blend of High Ogre austerity and human ingenuity. The walls are flat and featureless, plastered and whitewashed against the blazing heat of the sun. The roofs are covered in a blue slate common to the region, though this is augmented with painted clay tiles. The end result is that the steeply pitched roofs of the Karthayan style of architecture become intricately patterned works of art, full of geometric designs and symbols.

The city is ruled by a Lord Mayor, who is advised by counselors from industry and the clergy. As a result, sessions of the Karthayan council are never dull, for each counselor tries to bring about misfortune for the others, and profit from it. Their agents live at every level of society, working to fill their masters desires.

Beakwere

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Shipping, Spice Trade, Fishing/Whaling, Mining, Shipbuilding

The legendary ships of Karthay are actually built in Beakwere, though the title refers to a time when Karthay was the name of the independent land. The city occupies a long stretch of shoreline, though it in itself is not very broad. As the desire for ships grew, the city spread along the coast, but not further inland. The southernmost quarters of the city are filled with wharves for fishermen and whalers, while the northern reaches are crowded with woodworkers shops and dry-docks, cavernous buildings to build the massive hulls of the Karthayan ships. Most of the shipwrights are Sakai, a group of natives that live along the coasts of northern Falthana. They came to the cities seeking wealth and prestige, given to them by their proficiency with sailcraft of all types. They are secretive about the design principles of their craft, forming a mysterious guild that shipwrights from cities across Ansalon would greatly like to infiltrate. There are many other groups in Beakwere, other guilds and associations, brotherhoods and orders that wield great influence in the halls of power. The fishermen and whalers are one of them. Beakwere is a large city, but has little arable land around it, what does exist is claimed by the spice barons, wealthy aristocrats that would fatten their coffers before their countrymen. Consequently, the majority of Beakwere’s food is imported or caught at sea. This control of food gives the guild, Habbakuk’s Sons, great leverage in pricing and import of other food goods. The spice barons were poor farmers once, peasants that tried to eke out a living on the soils around the city. Their lives were plagued by a weed that grew quickly and infiltrated their fields, usually overtaking and choking out other crops. The weed was pepper. The world of the farmers changed quickly once a desire for pepper was found. Some bought more land, forcing out neighbors and even family, until only four families remained to dominate the trade. Selective breeding allowed each plantation to develop several different types of pepper, all of which fetch high prices across Ansalon. The secrets of the spice trade are well kept, many a Mill-Master has died for too a loose tongue. Istar wanted to gain access to the trade, but without access to Falthana, they had to establish their own trade port. Thus, they built Vellas. The spice barons live on huge estates that virtually surround the city, as well as maintaining apartments or manors within it. Secrecy is paramount to them, their warehouses and mills walled and guarded like small keeps. People disappear in these places, or suffer death under mysterious circumstances, but the town guard, their purses full, turn a blind eye to it.

Other Cities:

Maeloon

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Logging, Fishing/Whaling

Pesaro

Population: 30000 Resources and Industries: Spice Trade, Salt, Fishing/Whaling

Yerasa

Population: 25000 Resources and Industries: Shipping, Shipbuilding, Logging, Fishing, Spice Trade

 

Gather:

Virgin grassland makes up most of Gather, with the exception of the northwestern shore, the eastern jungles and the Vulpinea Marsh. All manner of animals wandered the unspoiled savanna before the wars of conquest. Prior to the barbarian wars, the lands were largely uncultivated, although the wars in the last decades before the Cataclysm resulted in a huge rush for land in the new province. The western coastal region is a huge marsh, a vast wetland criss-crossed by rivers. The culture of the northwestern coast is very different than the rest of Imperial culture, due mainly to its isolation and colonial origins. The province is hot and dry during most of the year, but spring brings renewal to the dry grasslands, in the form of floods and torrential rains. Hurricanes and cyclones sweep in from the Northern Courrain Ocean raising tall grasses along the northern coastal lands and giving birth to the dense rainforests of Eastern Gather.

Cities:

Tucuri

Population: 60000 Resources and Industries: Salt, Rice, Fishing, Spice Trade, Mud-Brick Making, Clayworks

Tucuri sits on the shores of the Northern Courrain Ocean, the unofficial capital of the region. The city’s origins are lost to antiquity, though its inhabitants are physically very different from the people of the rest of the empire, which hints at a colonial history. It was only the subjugation of the natives and the conquering of Gather in the Heretic Wars that brought it into the Empire. Built of mud-bricks and wattle and daub plaster, the city is low and sprawling, its narrow winding avenues filled with all manner of stalls and vendors carts.

The flat-roofed buildings vary widely in design, some square, some domed, pyramidal and tiered. All are united by their red-brown walls and white, geometrically-painted designs. The people of this city have not developed the arch, instead using post and lintel structures in their buildings. As a result of the limitations of their construction methods, buildings in the region are only two or three stories tall. The city and its residents do not use glass for windows, instead relying on ornate wood lattices to fill the rounded openings. This allows ventilation and light, while providing protection and privacy as well. The lattices themselves are works of art, their elaborate designs fetching high prices in the decadent inner ring cities.

Over time, as the area surrounding it was explored and the barbarians of the area contacted, the city became a center for sea trade and exchange of ivory. Little organized industry occurs in the city, it is mainly a trade and storage center for raw materials.

The coastal regions east and west of the city are extensively irrigated and cultivated. Rice paddies surround the city to the west, while cornfields stretch out to the east. Along both coasts are salt fields, where tidal pools evaporate into thick cakes of sea salt. Beyond these fields, the land expands into the plains of Gather, vast savanna doted with small clusters of trees and water holes. Caravans constantly travel to and from the city, along the coast to other cities, and deeper into the untamed heart of Gather to do business with barbarians.

The major feature of Tucuri is the university. Founded by one of the first kings, it is a center for philosophy and learning known throughout Ansalon, and is a popular destination for intellectual pilgrims. Despite its simple surroundings, the university is home to some of the finest minds, who produce many works of metaphysical and spiritual philosophy. The nature of the learning was one of the reasons the Kingpriest sought to acquire the city. Branded as heretics for their studies, the scholars were supposedly deeply involved with forms of magic derived not from the gods or the moons, but from within the wielder themselves. The Kingpriest and his minions, both fearing this power and coveting it, decided to destroy the university and spirit many of the holdings away to the Vaults of the Kingpriest. The siege of Tucuri and the fall of the university in 25PC was one of the darkest days in the intellectual history of Ansalon, second only to the Lost Battles and the persecution of the Wizards Conclave. In that battle, the scholars and students of the university resisted the besiegers using means both magical and martial, but eventually, they surrendered and the survivors were marched out of the city, never to be seen again. The ruins of the campus sprawl across the western end of the city, the lands never resettled- the superstitious residents of the city are loathe to approach the walled and gated site.

Vellas

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Spice Trade, Logging, Shipping

Istarans founded Vellas in the sixth century before the Cataclysm to compete with the cities of Karthay as the source for Ansalonian spices. At the time, the region that was to become the province of Falthana was not yet part of the empire, and any sea-bound trade to Istar’s inner ring had to pass through Karthay’s territorial waters. The site, initially chosen for its location, proved unwise as the city floods yearly and is slowly sinking. In their desire to create a stable and secure port, the Istarans brought tons of stone north, stone that proved too heavy for the soft soils of the peninsula. Huge sections of the heavy city walls sank, to such a point that in the last century before the Cataclysm, they became breakwaters for the city harbor. Erosion from logging, the weight of the stone and the overuse of wells have collapsed the ground, the city slowly sinking until the streets themselves flooded in some districts. The subduction of the land proved fortuitous for shipping, as larger ships were able to be towed in closer to the city to offload their wares and take on freight. Much of the lower levels of the city, the basements and first floors of the buildings, are now deep under water, lost to time. The dirty water of the port stains the white stucco walls, marking the tides as accurately as any clock. As the residents adapted to the slowly sinking city and the occasional collapsing building, they built graceful bridges of stone, wood and metal over the canals. Larger ships can access the western position of the city, while skiffs, gondolas and barges of shallow draught ply the canals throughout the rest. Some of the trading grounds are on these barges, huge floating platforms anchored together as movable marketplaces. As in other cities along the spice routes, the merchants control the city, even blocking access to certain parts of the city to foreigners lest they spy on the spice merchants. Small plantations have sprung up in the cleared countryside around the city, where crops of various spices are grown, adding to the city’s wealth. The other major source of income for the city is timber. The jungle hardwoods are cut and floated down the many jungle rivers to the city. The southernmost portion of the city’s harbor is surrounded by sawmills, their products filling caravans bound for all across Ansalon. The logging camps continue to push further and further inland, encroaching on the lands of the jungle natives. They have reacted violently in response to the Istarans actions, attacking caravans and logging camps with savage fury. The Istarans responded by bringing a much heavier military presence into the region. For the time being, this has stopped most attacks by the natives.

Aldhaven

Population: 25000 Resources and Industries: Slaving, Overland Shipping, Quarrying, Bounty Center

Aldhaven has a dubious place in the history of the empire. Sitting among the foothills of the Usiah mountains, it is the final city most people city before they enter the inner ring, the cities that surround lake Istar. It is in these cities that the wealth of the empire is concentrated. Aldhaven acquired its prominence in 94PC, when the Kingpriest placed a bounty on the heads of those races he deemed evil. When a member of any of those races was found they, or their heads, were taken to Aldhaven, and turned in for the bounty. It was not uncommon in the last century before the cataclysm to see caravans headed toward this city, trains of wagons, filled with the living or with the remains of the dead. The grisly trophies were mounted in great cage racks along the central avenue, a testament to the power of the kingpriest, while the living were sent to the inner ring, to the slave markets of the cities there. Aldhaven is known and feared by non-humans, especially its prisons, where the captured await their fate. As mentioned, some are enslaved, while others found unsuitable for work are executed publicly and their remains added to the racks.

The city is small and walled, the buildings inside having red tile roofs and white plastered walls. Fully half of the city, everything west of the racks, is prisons, slave markets and holding pens, heavily patrolled by Warrior-Priests, Solamnic Knights and Istaran Clergy. The remainder of the city, east of the avenue of the racks, holds the temples, and apartments of the bureaucrats and administrators that run the gruesome industry.

Other Cities:

Ghuth

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Corn, Salt, Fishing, Ivory

Samekh

Population: 15000 Resources and Industries: Salt, Fishing, Rice

 

Ismin:

Ismin is mostly broad plains, huge grain and grazing fields that feed the empire. The mountains of the eastern fringes support extensive gem mining, for both precious and semi-precious stones. This wealth gives Ismin more political leverage than a province with its population should have. The senators from Ismin were also the chief opponents to the Heretic Wars, not because they were worried about the tribal dwellers there- rather they were concerned that the presence of another mainly agricultural province would usurp their power. The presence of a usable coast for fishing and shipping was another potential threat to Ismin’s dominance among the provinces outside the inner ring. The roads of Ismin are not as heavily patrolled as Istars, especially when one reaches the mountains. Many a caravan has disappeared over the cliffs or in a blind canyon, its occupants never seen again. Traders and Pilgrims alike travel with weapons exposed in this part of Istar, for the servants of the Kingpriest that are encountered are often servants in name only. A traveler is as likely to be ‘taxed’ or forced to pay a ‘toll’ as they are to be robbed or attacked by raiders. Consequently, most elect to travel unescorted, and take their chances with whoever or whatever they encounter.

Cities:

Edessa

Population: Base of 10000, varies by season (Trading and War Campaigns) Resources and Industries: Water, Overland Shipping, Trading, Mercenaries

Edessa is an ancient city, and was originally a trade camp for the plains dwellers. The city, known as being the site of the military musters during the wars against the barbarians, sits inside the caldera of a dead volcano. The cone of the volcano itself never formed, instead the volcano burst open on the plains like an open sore, its burning contents spilling out its western edge. It was this natural eruption process that created one of the best-fortified cities in the empire. The lava flow was eventually carved into the grand entryway, while the cauldrons edge was modified into a natural wall, complete with spire towers. Over the centuries the fortifications have been improved, stone being quarried away from the outer walls to steepen them, and brought inside to build the structures of the city. The cyclopean walls are the most prominent feature to the first-time visitor, but by no means are they the only one. The Duapara aqueduct, built in 623PC, runs about forty miles east until it reaches the Devatas River. The aqueduct is a marvel of engineering, made up of several separate pipes, pump stations, reservoirs and catchbasins, all capped with a flagstone road. The entire structure stands forty feet tall and thirty wide, broad enough for caravans to pass in either direction. In the center of Edessa sits the grand reservoir, a heavily guarded man-made lake to fulfill the cities water needs. Catacombs and sewers are linked to the water system, and the excess and wastes of both are pumped outside the city walls where they have formed a lush field plot west of the city. On both sides of the grand entryway there are camps, where mercenaries, caravans and traders offer their services. Few outsiders are let into the city proper, beyond the massive bronze Setebo Gates.

Those that are allowed entry are ushered into the warehouse quarter and have a ‘guide’ permanently assigned to them during their stay. They are never allowed to remain overnight, for there are no inns in Edessa, only whatever is available outside the walls.

The city is small, but is densely populated, its people crowded into stone tenements five and six stories tall. From a distance, the upper reaches of these structures can be seen over the city walls, and those closest to them often maintain rooftop siege platforms by order of the city rulers. In its long history Edessa has never fallen, even when the aqueduct has been blocked. Its freedom has been maintained by secret tunnels, built into the underground foundations of the aqueduct, that carry water, and in dire times, all manner of supplies, in submerged containers. The existence of this network is known only by the rulers of the city, the grand council. The secrecy maintained by the city on matters such as this is a cornerstone of its security.

All types of goods come to Edessa, as it is one of the few cities on the central plains of Istar that are safe from raiders. Massive warehouses fill one section of the city, close to the entryway, so that trade goods can enter and leave without foreigners seeing much of the city or its defenses.

Edessa was chosen by the Order of the Divine Hammer as a muster site because it is centrally located in the empire, and easily accessible by foreign mercenaries seeking work. From its walls were launched the wars to cleanse the lands of Gather of the heathen barbarians and their false gods. From its walls were hung the bodies of slain chieftains, grisly prizes in a misguided war.

Jaggana

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Ivory, Exotic Animal Trade

Laying on the edge of the frontier of Gather, Jaggana is a city populated by the seediest folk. Nowhere else in the empire does lawlessness rule as it does in Jaggana. The city is the center of the empires ivory trade, as well as the hub of the exotic fur trade for eastern Ansalon, industries which make it famous and infamous, depending on who is discussing it. Escaped slaves, mercenaries, disgraced soldiers and poachers call Jaggana home, and this is exactly how the Imperial Court likes it. By leaving the town untouched and its inhabitants unhindered, the Court has created a home for the unwanted. The place has drawn others of its dwellers ilk from elsewhere in the empire, for they know their lifestyles are accepted there, and thus, the undesirables leave ‘better places.’

There are few law-abiding citizens in Jaggana, and even fewer law enforcers. This is exactly how the citizens like it. They live by a harsh code, but it is a code that works. Few live to violate it twice, regardless of their position. Even bureaucrats sent from Istar have fallen victim to Jaggana’s swift ‘justice,’ when they have overstepped the bounds of their power. After a certain point, Istar stopped sending tax collectors out, and started sending caravans full of the unwanted. Turned out on its outskirts, the wretches of the rest of the empire were given what Istar termed a ‘choice:’ freedom in Jaggana, slavery in Aldhaven, or death in the arena. Not surprisingly, the first option was the most popular. The newer citizens quickly find a place in the maze-like criminal city, or just as quickly end up in a shallow grave outside it. Among Kiri-Jolith’s followers, to be given a ‘Jaggana posting’ is slang for an assignment likely to end ones life. They are the only law enforcers of the city, though they are unofficial in their duties. They are not sent there by the Kingpriest or his minions, but rather as a punishment by their own superiors for transgressions and atonement quests. There are a lot of holes in the grasslands, say the priests of Kiri-Jolith. They fill some of them.

Originally a farming community, Jaggana later became the staging ground for many of the land rushes that occurred when Gather was conquered. As the land around it was tamed, hunters began to populate the city, building a thriving and grisly industry. Expeditions now leave the city almost daily, caravans of slaves and wagons, mercenaries and the idle rich, all seeking prize kills or quarry to sell. The animals that are captured are held in massive stockades that surround the city, before finding homes in private menageries, travelling circuses, as work animals, or in the arenas. The huge cages and pens are mazelike, the pitiful cries of their occupants audible even over the city walls at night. The city quickly outgrew its walls when the Kingpriest decreed it as asylum for the unlawful in 84PC. Slums and shantytowns exist alongside the pens, to the wealthy of the city, the occupants of each are little different.

Architecturally the city is similar to distant Tucuri, but its expansions are Istaran in style. Squat, square, mud-brick buildings give way to plastered walls and tiled roofs at random, built for the wealthy when mysterious fires cleared land in the crowded walled city. Tenements and warehouses, built hastily for the rapidly growing population, fill much of the city, sitting on the former estates of the affluent of the former town.

Jaggana is ruled by several groups, bodies that constantly war against each other, forming alliances and breaking them as daily routine. The hunters, mostly former mercenaries who fashion themselves aristocrats, control the outer portions of the city, while the rest is controlled to varying degrees by crime families, street gangs and smugglers, though the three often overlap. Any business done in Jaggana is done with one of these groups, making every citizen an accessory to some type of crime on an almost daily basis.

The seedy den is also home to cults of Morgion and Chemosh, and a flamboyant temple of Hiddukel. The criminals and rogues are always working to ingratiate themselves with these groups, hoping that the potentially powerful aid they might provide could help influence dealings.

The market quarter is the only place in the city where there is some element of order, placed there by Istaran soldiers to ensure that at least marginally fair business dealings are practiced. They care little for the rest of the city, but the market is where outsiders travel when seeking goods, and so they maintain a heavy presence during trading season to ensure economic stability. A buyer can find many things in Jaggana besides animals and ivory- slaves, textiles and other products from across the empire find their way there, usually as part of a raiders plunder. Few of the businessmen in Jaggana’s market come by their stock in an honest way.

Other Cities:

Bael

Population: 5000 Resources and Industries: Mining, Grain Agriculture

Mithra

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Grain Agriculture, Herding

 

Istar:

The inner ring is Istars manufacturing and mercantile hub. There is a great deal of farming done here, but the mountains are also mined for precious metals. Each of the cities of the inner ring is famous for dealing with specific raw materials, their industrial complex being built around this specialization.

As it was the original nation of Istar, the province is very similar throughout, especially in aspects such as architecture, language dialects and customs. This is also the most heavily policed province and the most densely populated- its population is more than that of all the other provinces combined. Istaran legionnaires, Solamnic Knights and Warrior-Priests of the Divine Hammer patrol the cobbled highways, protecting the many pilgrims and citizens that travel them. The delta lands around the Southern Gulf of Asapha grow many edible plants, their rarity elsewheremaking them highly prized.

Cities:

Calah

Population: 20000 (15000 (Island), 5000 on mainland and tidal flats) Resources and Industries: Fishing, Aquatic Plant Harvesting, Clayworks

Calah is one of the oldest cities in the Empire, built on an island in Lake Istar. The island sits on a tidal flat, which lays exposed during low tide. At high tide, the waters around the city are filled with Calah outriggers, boats with broad pontoons for stability. Some of the city’s overflowing population live on these craft, which settle into the mud at low tide. The flats are filled with edible plants and aquatic life, which provide a large portion of the city’s wealth, in year-round trading.

The city itself is small, mainly due to its island confines. The narrow cobblestone streets twist and turn up the steep slopes, weaving between the labyrinthine buildings. Built in traditional Istaran style, the gleaming white walls and red tile roofs of the buildings are visible from miles away. The island city is accessible by road and water, though the tidal fluctuations hamper traffic from larger lake craft. Most water-borne cargo is brought first to dock facilities on the mainland, known as the Low City, before being sent on to the High City by wagons. Taverns and seedier structures have appeared around the dockyards, havens for a criminal element that the city guard does not let onto the road to the High City. Thieves and their ilk do operate in the High City though, smuggled there by fisherman or in secret panels under trade wagons.

Rumors persist that the island is riddled with catacombs and tunnels, home to entire communities, but no one has ever returned from the sewers to tell the tale, though their bodies, have eaten by something, do turn up in the tidal flats around the island.

Istar

Population: 150000 Resources and Industries: Slave Trading, Clayworks, Textile-making, Leatherworks, Grain Mills, Fishing, Lake Shipping, Bronze Foundries, Religious Bureaucracy, Publishing

The lordcity of the world’s mightiest empire is a place of many wonders and many terrors. Visitors are rarely treated to the same city that the slaves and servants regularly see. The clergy rule this city above all others, sending innocents to the slave pens for the slightest transgression. The streets are the cleanest of the empire, as befits the city of the Gods. Its broad cobbled avenues are empty of beggars and panhandlers, they are rounded up regularly and taken to shelters where they are fed and their ills healed. Then they are turned over to landowners to work off their debt to the empire. Consequently, few are foolish enough to try to make a living on the streets of Istar.

The Knights of Solamnia make their Eastern Headquarters here, to supplement the Fortress in Taol. It is largely a ceremonial site, more of an embassy than a garrison or fortress- the buildings behind its ornamental wall have no fortifications or defenses, for they rightly believe that none would dare to attack the Knights of Solamnia inside the Holy City. The Order of the Divine Hammer make their home in the eastern end of the city, close to the Gates of Elodor. Their headquarters, the Edificum Justae, sits close to the street, welcoming all that seek justice and wisdom.

Kautilya

Population: 60000 Resources and Industries: Foundries, Mining, Trading Center, Herding

The bronze city is perched on a cliff overlooking the grasslands east of Lake Istar. The site was chosen for protection, as at the time of its founding, the Falthana Giants still lived in the once-forested region. In the last century before the Cataclysm, the rolling grasslands are used for sheep and cattle farming, while the mountains south of the city are mined extensively. Tin and copper are dug out of the mountains and dredged from the nearby rivers to feed the empires thirst for bronze. Consequently, the foundries and smelters of the eastern city belch smoke during the day, and cast a fiery glow into the night. Their fires are so large that they are visible for miles, the herdsman able to use the light of the city as beacon for their returning charges. The refuse from the smelters is cast into clay molds, which create a glassy black stone the Kautilyans use for the roofs of their bathhouse water-tanks. The baths of Kautilya are legendary across Ansalon, their mists obscuring an entire district of the southern city as their waters are heated by the foundries nearby before being piped into the communal pools. There are few class distinctions in Kautilya, the baths have been responsible for their removal. After disease ran rampant through the city in the seventh century PC, it was mandated that all citizens would bathe daily or face expulsion. The overall result was that the miners and the herders rubbed shoulders with the merchants and the nobles in a substitute agora. In time, city life came to revolve around the baths, entertainers performing there, even marketplaces setting up outside them.

Kautilya is known for its bronze foundries, their products sought after throughout Ansalon. The city is built in the Istaran architectural style or red tile roofs and whitewashed walls, these augmented by ornate bronze castings typical to the city. Most buildings have only one or two floors, the pall of smoke from the foundries and smelters hanging just above the roofs. At the foot of the windswept cliffs, a large trade camp sits on the river edge, to receive products from Lattakay and Karthay and send them on to the inner ring. All manner of goods pass through this trading yard, from rock to livestock, silk to slate tiles.

Odacera

Population: 70000 Resources and Industries: Trading Center, Clayworks, Shipping, Rice, Mud-Brick making

Sprawling along the southern coast of Lake Istar, the walled city of Odacera is renowned for its fine porcelain and clayware, as well as the rice harvested in the lakeside paddies around the city. Ferries or cargo and passengers cross the lake daily for Istar and Calah’s trade port, and for the riverside trade camp of Kautilya. Ground cargo from Losarcum and the Dravinaar passes through Odacera, as well as from Micah. Much of Odacera is marketplace or factories, the heat from their giant kilns wafting through the city like a dry desert wind. The city also makes some mud bricks, but the prices are usually better for flatware than masonry, so this remains a small industry.

In the western part of the city, the newer part, people make their homes in crowded tenements, while the remainder of the city’s residences are houses of various sizes. The poor make their homes along the walls of the port, though some have even taken to the waters, living in small boats anchored together along the breakwater. The town guard in turn regularly threaten the areas, burning hovels, sinking boats and arresting people. It is their hope that the harassment will eventually drive the urchins to Jaggana and away from their betters in Odacera.

Other Cities:

Biyerones

Population: 25000 Resources and Industries: Logging, Shipbuilding, Shipping, Rice, Flax and Cotton, Textilemaking

Chidell

Population: 50000 Resources and Industries: Trade Center, Shipping, Fishing, Sugarcane, Quarrying, Dye-making

Gamesh

Population: 40000 Resources and Industries: Trade Center, Herding, Cheese-making, Wool, Weaving

 

Midrath:

Istars least populous province is mainly grassy hills, misty forest, and jagged mountains. In the Northern tip is the Dragonsmoor Swamp, where the Falthana giants harvest fruits and tubers for trade, while the southern lands are mined and used for pastoralism. Logging was extensive in the area in the past, until the lands of the Falthana began to be encroached upon. The normally peaceful jungle dwellers attacked the logging crews viciously when ancient burial grounds were disturbed, before melting back into the foggy jungles. In response, Istar sent several companies of mercenaries and soldiers, these were found weeks later, their broken bodies hanging from the giant trees along the logging roads. The attacks intensified when the Istarans began to send miners in to explore the mountains, among them the giants sacred pathway to the heavens. These men were never found. In the south, around the cities, the land is covered in rolling hills, cleared for fruit orchards, where much of Istars produce comes from.

Cities:

Cuda

Population: 15000 Resources and Industries: Alpine Herding, Cheese-making, Fruit Orchards

The city of Cuda is one of only three large settlements in Midrath. Others exist, but they are all in the south, far from the jungles and their fearsome denizens. The city sits upon a rise at the foot of the mountains, walled-in to protect itself from raids. Throughout its history, Cuda has faced threats from all around, be it Ogres in the mountains, or the natives in the Jungles. Long ago, before the walls were built, the jungles were much closer to the city, and it was plagued by the various jungle dwellers, who raided and killed seemingly for the sheer joy of it. As intense logging continued, the homeland of the Falthana Giants was pushed back, allowing the small town some element of safety-at least for a while. With the natives withdrawn, the Ogres of the mountains capitalized on an unsuspecting populace and began a reign of terror. Istar finally dispatched legions to protect the city and deal with the threat, which resulted in the building of walls. Several hundred years after its founding, Cuda is surrounded by miles of rolling orchards, all belonging to the wealthy families of the city. Once the Ogres were driven out of the mountains, the lush plateaus were found ideal for grazing several different types of livestock, which led to a thriving cheese-making industry among the Cudans. The lands around the city are heavily patrolled by a private army, paid for by the barons that own the orchards, while the city guard patrols the streets within. An Istaran garrison sits on the road between Cuda and Shiv, a sentinel between the two that protects them both, though Shiv needs the aid much more than Cuda.

The city was built on the ruins of an even older site, possibly an Ogre estate or colony, judging by the catacombs that run beneath it. The chambers are far taller than a human, and continue upwards into the mountains, though no one has ever ventured there and returned to tell of it. Architecturally, the city is built in the Istaran style of white walls and red-tiled roofs, though the roof designs are similar to those of Seldjuk, not the cities of the Inner Ring. Even the cyclopean walls are whitewashed, giving their smooth surfaces brightness visible miles away across the rolling hills of southern Midrath.

Shiv

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Alpine Herding, Cheese-making, Herding, Quarrying, Logging

Sitting at the foot of the mountains, Shiv is a city under siege. Its people are attacked by the jungle dwellers, mountain monsters, and creatures from the caves beneath the peaks, with frightening regularity. Try as they might, the city rulers have been powerless to stop the attacks. Even the presence of the garrison to the south has not stopped the assaults, and there are those that believe the soldiers presence has intensified them.

Shiv sits upon sacred burial grounds, a fact that continues to anger the jungle dwellers around it. They want nothing less than the destruction of the city, but they lack the technology to do it. Without siege machinery or ladders to scale the walls, the giants cannot gain access to the wood-and-stone palisaded city. Yet they are seen charging down the darkened city streets bellowing war cries and lighting fires, slaying those that try to stop them. Town guards say that they fight the savages, but their weapons do no harm, the giants have powerful magic to protect them. There are those who say they cannot be killed, that the living do not war with them, for they never make it inside the city. It is the vengeful spirits of the dead, they say, that set the fires and attack the guards of those who desecrate their graves and disturb their rest.

The miners and loggers venturing out of Shiv are under constant guard, even still, arrows and spears hurtle out of the jungle depths to claim them, and it is a common site for ore and lumber wagons to have several shrouded bodies atop them when they return to town. Their palisaded camps are heavily fortified towns in themselves, for they never know when a savage raid could occur. Mercenaries patrol around them constantly and the mining companies pay priests well to remain among the rugged workers and provide their skills in times of need. Novice workers often break under the claustrophobic conditions, and visitors marvel at the grim determination of the workers in the face of the native torment. Drums and horns split the silence of the night, flaming arrows whistle into the camps unprovoked, but the assaults only strengthen the workers resolve to remain.

In the mountains, the goatherders are constantly threatened by goblins, ogres and their ilk, who would just as soon steal a shepherd to eat as their sheep. The shepherds of Shiv are not the solitary herders of other lands- the presence of the monsters prevents that lifestyle. Instead they travel in groups, heavily armed and armored, on sure-footed ponies to flee attack if need be. Sheep dogs and attack dogs, some times as many as five or six for each herder, travel with them, prowling the hillsides and plateaus, their keen senses warning of hidden attackers. The watchful atmosphere extends to their mills in the mountains, which resemble small keeps with their fortifications and guards. Midrath is second only to Gather in its untamed wildness, but it is only a matter of time before the legions come to drive the raiders out. Until then the herdsmen remain vigilant.

Other Cities:

Marl

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Nuts, Tubers, Logging, Gem Mining, Quarrying

 

Seldjuk:

Istars easternmost province features a variety of environments, ranging from desert in the south to coastal rainforest in the north and east. The grassy plains are a result of extensive logging, the majority of Istars softwood lumber coming from this region. The mountains are also quarried for granite, the foundations of the Kingpriests Great Temple being taken from here. Around Lattakay, vast irrigation projects feed the cotton and flax plantations that provide raw materials for Istars huge textile industry.

The province is ravaged occasionally by hideous creatures that surge out of the surf to wreak havoc on the coastal villages. The Istarans are powerless to prevent these raids, for the monsters attack at night and disappear back beneath the waves, beyond the reach of the servants of the empire. The rare survivors give raving accounts of sickle-clawed monsters and fish-headed men with rows of razor teeth, but there are never bodies to support their stories.

Vast barrier reefs run the length of the coast, chewing the bones of ships fed to them by the terrible gales of the Courrain Ocean. The youths of the coastal villages frequent the shallows in outrigger canoes, diving for pearls, harvesting corals and hunting the exotic sea game of the reefs.

Cities:

 

Lattakay

Population: 70000 Resources and Industries: Fishing/Whaling, Flax, Cotton, Textile-making, Dye-making, Pearl Harvesting

Lattakay has a long history, being built in the Age of Might by Minotaurs, before being captured by freed human slaves when they rebelled against their Minotaur masters.

One of the largest cities of the empire, Lattakay is also one of the largest cities of Ansalon, and has a vastly diverse economy. This is one of the primary reasons Istar sought to annex the nation of Seldjuk in 730PC.

The plains surrounding the city were clear-cut and plowed millennia ago, and now the forests to the north support Lattakay’s massive shipbuilding industry, the largest in Ansalon. This too was a product of Minotaur influence. These ships ply the seas around Ansalon, fishing, whaling and trading with the people of all nations and races. The warships of Lattakay are second only to Falthana’s in sophistication, placing both former independent nations in direct competition with Ergoth for domination of the seas. The mines of the region swear fealty to Lattakay in return for her protection from raiders, which further enriches the city. Its mints and treasuries haven proven tempting prizes to pirates for centuries, but the city has never fallen to a siege. It came close in 34PC, when a Minotaur fleet blockaded the harbor and troops surrounded the land approaches. Solamnic Knights and warrior-priests of the Order of the Divine Hammer broke the siege, driving the Minotaurs off with their attack.

The shorelines and low fields around the city are extensively irrigated and cultivated, growing primarily rice and other moisture-dwelling crops. As the land slopes gently up away from the shore, the crops turn to fields of grains, corn, and flax. All of the small communities of the area bring their produce to Lattakay for trade, swelling it population in the trading seasons. This overflow population lives in campgrounds to the west of the city, on a broad, raised plot of land surrounded by a moat. The moat occurs naturally, a result of the extensive irrigation in the area, and functions well to both keep traders in and thieves out of the camp. Marketplaces exist in the city, squares and bazaars that the merchants travel to from the guarded camp to ply their trade each day.

One of Lattakays most prized products is salt. From its docks, huge cakes of sea salt travel all over Ansalon, bringing great wealth to the saltmakers and their families. The salt is collected from huge fields along the shores of the Eastern Courrain Ocean, where it is made in large squared pans several inches deep. When the waves enter, the clay, brick, and stone pans fill with water through several channels along the shore-side. Once full of water, the shoreward drains are blocked, and the water allowed to evaporate. This leaves behind thick plates of sea salt that the saltmakers break up with hammers and picks, and load onto wagons and take it into the city. Some companies sell raw salt in large chunks, while others grind it into granules for sale. Regardless of what type is sold, caravans and shiploads of salt leave Lattakay almost daily, bound for many different distant ports.

The city is built in a similar style to Karthay and the cities of Falthana, a legacy of the Ogre and then Minotaur control of both areas. The layout of the buildings was originally very rigid, of squares and rectangles, the curves of domes and arches being almost non-existent prior to the human liberation. After the former slaves took over, they began to experiment with architecture, creating buttresses, vaults, arches and domes on new and old buildings alike. The walls are whitewashed plaster, many of them being decorated with geometric patterns painted in blue or bas-relief, while the roofs are crowned with blue-glazed tiles or plastered domes and cupolas. Awnings and shutters, in patterns to match the rest of the structure, shield the interiors from the tropical sun, while allowing breezes in to cool the air.

In its past, the city was ruled by a lord mayor, who oversaw a council of representatives from the different districts of the city. After the siege in 34PC, the government was never reinstated. Lattakay is an occupied city, ruled by the Istaran clergy, the Knights of Solamnia and the Order of the Divine Hammer. The Governor of Lattakay, rules both city and province, and attempts to control the guilds that operate within the city.

The trade guilds and some types of clergy are the true powers in the city. In particular, the priests of Habbakuk and Zeboim as well the priesthoods of Reorx and Shinare hold great sway with the populace. They control access to the city and the products she transports, giving these groups great leverage that the minions of the Kingpriest would like to control. Though the occupying forces have tried to control trade, their excessive taxes and monitoring have only encouraged the already burgeoning black market economy of Lattakay. Through the cities catacombs and sewers goods travel by hand or floating pallet, skirting the dockmasters and port authorities and the taxes they levy. Smugglers, when they are caught, are treated harshly, their bodies dangling from gibbets throughout the dock quarter and outside the cities gates. The dungeons of Lattakay, once renowned for being empty of all save the most heinous of murderers or miscreants, are now overflowing with all those the oppressive occupiers deem criminal. Often times these so-called unsavory characters will be hauled away in the dead of night for questioning, their shops and homes confiscated. Soon after, these same homes are burned or become dwellings for agents of Istar, both public and secret. The powers of Istar are slowly working to infiltrate the city and control it, but have had little success in breaking into the close-knit groups.

Zaladh

Population: 10000 Resources and Industries: Gem Mining, Grain Agriculture, Mercenaries

This city is perched on a rise overlooking Huttamay Pass, the only southern overland route into Midrath and the rest of the empire. Most trade into or out of Seldjuk comes through the pass, and heavy protection tariffs are levied on any caravans and travelers. Consequently, this high-walled trading fortress is very wealthy. A thriving gem mining industry and vast grain fields south of the city add to its riches. The dwellings of the citizens have spilled out of the confines of the walled city, causing much tension as arable land is used up for new dwellings and farmers have to travel further from the city to do their work.

Zaladh was built upon and in the style of the High Ogre cities in the ruins around it, though over time the human occupants and their Minotaur slaves have embellished the stark architecture. The gray stone walls are decorated with white-painted geometric patterns and the human added tile roofs are glazed in blue, matching the style of Lattakay.

Other Cities:

Tailyon

Population: 15000 Resources and Industries: Logging, Spices, Fishing/Whaling, Shipbuilding, Dye-Making

 

Taol:

The hills of Taol are famous for the wines they produce, while the mountains are known for the wool and meat produced by the Taoli herders. Many crops are grown throughout the province, the lush soils being suitable for numerous varieties of grapes, olives and dry climate fruits. The southern portions of the province, around the Devatas River, produce abundant amounts of coarse clays in a variety of grays, whites and reds, depending on their exact locations. They are less expensive and of a more robust quality than those made in Odacera, but are very popular due to their affordability. The cities of Ideos and Kriath are known for their clayworks, for they produce highly durable objects for the transportatoin and storage markets, not just home use.

The people of this land speak a mixture of Solamnic and Istaran, indicators of their heritage as colonists and eventual subjects. Their mixed backgrounds often causes tension with other Istarans, who regard them as half-breeds and potential traitors to the empire. It was the rich Solamnic heritage of the area and its Istaran ties that made the Knights of Solamnia choose it as their Eastern Headquarters.

Cities:

Govinna

Population: 80000 Resources and Industries: Grapes, Wineries, Olives, Olive Oil, Quarries, Grain Agriculture, Dye-Making, Clayworks

The cities of Taol are heavily influenced by Solamnia in their style, of stone lower levels and whitewashedupper levels, originally brought to the area by immigrants after the Rose Rebellion and the War of Ice Tears. Govinna is the oldest of these cities, founded in about 2000PC, even before Istar became a single nation. The city is roughly circular, the Hizarbin River running through its heart, leading south to its sister city, Ideos. It is renowned for its wineries and vineyards, their vintages fetching high prices throughout Ansalon. Even the Silvanesti purchase the high quality wines from this region. In the mountains north of the city stone is quarried for use in construction and paving. The gray stone of the mountains has little in the way of aesthetic appeal, thus it is used mainly for functional architecture. Stone from Govinna is used throughout the western empire as building foundations, for fortifications and in industrial construction. Govinna’s place in Istaran history would be secure just through its industrial capacity, however, its role in the religious history of Ansalon is also significant. In the last century and a half before the Cataclysm, Govinna was the home of Puscenkyn and his successor, Theorollyn III, self-declared Kingpriests. The presence of the two kingpriests, regardless of their veracity, resulted in many temples being built in the region. Churches and temples of Paladine dot the city, the green copper of their roofs standing out against the somber slate and thatch of the other buildings. The temples rise higher than most buildings, their roofs kept low to conserve heat in the sometimes cooler province. Taol is the only Istaran province to receive snow, a result of the close mountains and their effect on climate. The other important building of the city is the pantheon, an ancient temple dedicated to all the gods, regardless of their nature. Candle-lit religious processions fill the narrow streets of Govinna at night, leading alternately to the temples, the tombs of the Kingpriests or the pantheon itself. The eastern city is used mainly for commerce and industry, the artisans and craftsmen making their homes there, while the western city, across the river, is filled with temples, estates and homes, the gated dwelling place of the wine barons that run the city. Much of the employment comes from working their fields or their quarries, or in the massive wineries they maintain. The gap between poor and rich is never more evident than at sunset, when the exhausted workers shuffle home from the vineyards and their masters ride past them in coaches.

Ideos

Population: 50000 Resources and Industries: Trade Center, Grapes, Wineries, River Trade, Herding, Dye-Making, Clayworks

Situated at the source of the Hizarbin River, Ideos is a large city of wineries and clayworks. The hills around it are heavily cultivated, filled with row upon row of grapevines, all the product of selective breeding. The riches generated by the wines has made the city disproportionately wealthy. The poor of Ideos are the middle-class in the rest of the empire. The banks of the river provide a rich white clay, used extensively in ornate pottery, flatware and paint pigments. These industries are small compared to other cities, but are in gaining in popularity because of their affordability. The city outgrew its walls ages ago, but being part of the empire, its citizens had little fear of invasion and never built new ones. The wineries and warehouses fill walled districts, one for each of the five large families, guarded by mercenaries that have served the houses for generations.

Guilds control this city. They in turn are controlled by the priesthood of Shinare, who control much of the transportation of goods on Ansalon. The wineries are held by differing families who founded the city in about 500PC as a center for herding. The rich soils quickly induced the change from sheep herding to agriculture, which flourished after the clergy of Paladine made the Ideon vintages the official sacramental wine in their ceremonies. The families each maintain fields and wineries, along with private bands of soldiers to provide security. The rivalry is so heated between the houses that raids on each others fields, caravans and wineries are common. The workers of Ideos are treated much better than in Govinna, with good reason. The workers in Ideos are part of a guild, as such, if they are mistreated by employers, they are free to quit and seek employment with another house. The busy harvesting and pressing seasons ensure that workers are always employable, so everyone constantly tries to lure workers away from each other in hopes of sabotaging or slowing production of a rival. There is little open conflict in Ideos, but there are many shadowy deeds done in the dark of night.

Ideos is home to the auxiliary headquarters of the Solamnic Knights, the Citadel of Bohemund. From this huge fortress- rivaling Vingaard Keep in size, the Knights administer their forces in Eastern Ansalon. The Fortress itself is not part of the city, but is rather a city unto itself, with its own gates and entryways. The portals to the city stand open much of the time, allowing the citizens and knights unobstructed passage. Consequently, many of the senior Knights maintain manors within the city or estates around it, and the Solamnics can be found throughout the city. There is already a great deal of tension in the city between the Knights and the Istaran Legions in their Bastion. The Legion resented the status granted the Solamnics by the Kingpriests, while the Solamnics look down on the career soldiers as little more than mercenaries. They waged constant public and private campaigns of slander and disrepute against each other, factionalizing the city and its residents.

The tension between the two groups was only compounded by the arrival of the Order of the Divine Hammer and the Warrior-Priests of Kiri-Jolith. Though the Knights also worship the Horned God, they do not share the warrior-priests philosophies or holy abilities. Differences of opinion at political functions have more than once boiled over into armed confrontations. The Legion welcomed the arrival of the warrior-priests, hoping that they would equalize the power base in the city and the empire as a whole, but soon found that the Order of the Divine Hammer was even more fanatical than the Solamnics. The Sons of Kiri-Jolith were granted even greater power by the Kingpriest, who placed them at the head of both the Legions and the Solamnics Knights stationed in the Empire. All three groups eye each other with suspicion, though the public favors the dedication to service that the priests display. This displeases the Solamnics who worry that they are losing their heroic status in the eyes of the people.

Other Cities:

Kriath

Population: 15000 Resources and Industries: Coal-Mining, Grain Agriculture, River Trade, Clayworks

Strath

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Alpine Herding, Copper Mining, Cheese-making

Tamesh

Population: 20000 Resources and Industries: Coal-Mining, Herding, Cheese-making, Dye-making

Peoples of the Empire:

 

Citizens:

The people of the empire are not evil in the true sense of the word. Rather, they are infected with a dangerous sense of manifest destiny, that Istar should rule the continent and eventually the lands beyond. This misguided righteousness clouds their collective judgement, resulting in the characteristic Istaran arrogance. The population of the empire is exceedingly racist- they believe that the problems of Ansalon’s past have been brought on by the other, lesser, races. This attitude is also fostered by the politicians and clergy, who see themselves as the most favored of the Paladine, the most entitled to work his will and establish a heavenly kingdom in the realm of mortals. Dissenters to this view are quickly silenced.

Through careful manipulation and propaganda, the upper echelons of Istaran power have molded the people into zealous patriots, willing to die for Istar and her leaders. In their religious fervor, the Istarans have come to believe that they have a gods-given task of saving a flawed world from itself, that theirs is the duty to wipe away the darkness that stains the mortal world, leaving only a realm of light and goodness.

 

Slaves:

The slaves of Istar are a myriad lot. They come from many races and many cultures, but they have one thing in common- they have wronged the mightiest empire of Ansalon. Accidents of birth, crimes against the state; in some cases, even presence within her borders is enough to earn an unfortunate their shackles. They perform the majority of the labor in the empire, giving them a decidedly short life span. Istars slaves work at all levels of society, some living lives so privileged that they almost forget that their lives belong to another. Some live on estates with their masters, while others huddle together in shantytowns outside of the cities’ walls. In this way, the unsightly slaves are kept from the view of the more civilized people. They are overlooked in society, their presence forgotten- consequently, the slaves of the upper houses hear much, far more than they let on, while those of the lowest levels are little more than vermin.

 

Istaran Legions:

The military arm of Istar is her legions, soldiers armed and armored in bronze, stationed throughout the empire. Once the proud domain of career soldiers and future politicians, the legions of Istar have descended to little more than organized banditry. In the last two centuries before the Cataclysm, the power-hungry Kingpriests worked to swell the ranks of the legions, emphasizing quantity over quality. The training of the soldiers remains the same, but no longer do they have the same ethos of duty and honor. This is typically earned over years of service, from officers and colleagues that exemplify it. Individuals of this type became fewer and fewer as manipulation placed the greedy in the positions of power; not those who were best suited for the tasks. The Knights of Solamnia trained the Istaran legions and lead them in battle, though this changed with the advent of the Order of the Divine Hammer. As the Solamnics began to voice opposition to the will of the Kingpriest, Istar needed stronger armed forces of its own. Under the command of the warrior-priests, the legion’s ranks grew further, swelled with less than ideal members. The quality of character declined over centuries, playing into the hands of the powers of Istar, for the soldiers were obedient, but not particularly moral, both highly desired for the wars that were to come. They were mercenaries acting as career soldiers, and behaved as such. In the last century, wars between the rival Kingpriests had slain many of the young legionnaires and their most capable commanders, leaving a depleted, fragmented army of mediocrity. This trend of weaker military personnel rotted the army from within, and by the time of the last Kingpriest, the legions are havens for the lazy and inept, the vicious and the cunning- all looking out for themselves. The camaraderie so typical in an effective force is absent in the armies of Istar.

 

Solamnic Knights:

The Knights of Solamnia are generally highly regarded in Istar. Leading groups of Legionnaires, they have patrolled the roads and borders of the empire for centuries. They provided leadership and training where Istar provided troops; consequently, the tactics of the Istarans are very similar to those of Solamnia. The powers of Istar are more than willing to tap the skills of the pompous Knights, learning from them what they desire, while discarding the constricting codes of conduct. The Knights fail to see this, instead believing that the Istarans will see the wisdom of Solamnus’ teachings in time.

The Knights speak highly of their own history, their present reputation standing on the accomplishments of the past. Many of the senior knights hold titles in Istar, as petty lords or barons, maintaining estates given in recognition of centuries of service. Some Solamnic families have been split or been transplanted to Istar, having not visited the lands of Solamnia in decades. They still speak fondly of Solamnia, quoting poetic epics of old though many have likely never seen their ancestral homeland.

The Knights held their position of privilege for several centuries, but as the leaders in Solamnia voiced disapproval of the Kingpriests methods, the status of the Knights subtly changed. The rise of the Order of the Divine Hammer brought the changing military structure of Istar to the fore. The warrior-priests assumed a role of public service and heroism previously held only by the Knights, and as the members of the order spread into other lands, the Knights began to grow alarmed at the loss of their prestige. Pride roused the jealousy of the Knights, and tensions between the two group’s rose.

In the last three decades before the Cataclysm, the Knights are no longer proud and boastful, instead, they are suspicious and aloof, impatient with the flippant Istarans who disregard their centuries of work and laud the efforts of the fledging warrior-priest order. The resentment only grew as the Knights were displaced as the commanders of Istars armies and the people of the empire began to forget them. As young Solamnics began to leave the Knighthood for the Order of the Divine Hammer, the distrust and resentment turned to anger. The stage was set for violent clashes between the two orders.

 

Indigenous Peoples:

Aside from the city-dwellers and other citizens of the empire, there are numerous groups of humans that live throughout Istars provinces. These groups are geographically specific to the areas they are found in, as they are products of their environments. Their technology and social systems vary wildly, but there are similarities between groups that were once more closely related. Generally they make use of bone, stone, horn, and teeth in creating tools, supplementing this with wood or metal that is traded or taken from ruins. They practice Shamanism, a form of spirituality that seems crude to outsiders, but is in fact as complex as the priesthoods of the cities. Their gods and otherworldly powers are no different, except in that natives often worship beings that combine two gods traditionally known as separate entities or divide one being into multiple aspects. Their practices are at times distasteful to outsiders, a misunderstanding that the Kingpriests and their agents have used to turn public sympathy against the ‘heathen barbarians.’ Their families and social structures are very different from traditional Ansalonian cultures, often comprising several generations, confusing rules regarding descent and marriage and strange customs concerning the roles of men and women within the cultures. Simply put, the indigenous peoples of Istar are different from the city-dwellers. The Kingpriest however, would have the city-dwellers believe that they are better than the natives, that they are the chosen of the Gods and that they should ‘save the wayward children from themselves’ by enlightening them. Failing that, the heathen beliefs are an affront to the gods and should be wiped out.

 

Dravinaar (East and West):

The desert and badlands of this region are mainly uninhabited. Where people do gather, it is at oases to trade. The Dravinaar Desert is ruled by the desert princes, the chieftains of camel herders and horsemen that traverse it. They are wealthy by any standards, clothing themselves in voluminous fine silks and adorning themselves in ornate jewelry. The harshness of their realm tans them permanently at a young age, giving even children wizened appearances. The age and status of an individual is evident from the tattoos on their face and forearms, each denoting accomplishments and titles. The groups are family based, and comprised of roughly forty to sixty individuals.

While the sandy deserts are home to the desert princes, the rocky badlands are ruled by the Dravina, fierce bands of raiders that live high in the cliffs and canyons, disdaining cities or constructed dwellings. Their groups are small, containing no more than thirty individuals, and each group has a fierce allegiance to its animal totem. Little is known of their social structure, the scribes of Gilean from the Great Library who attempted to make contact with the group were never seen again once their caravan left Losarcum. Dravina raiders supposedly have numerous divinatory and sacrificial practices that they engage in frequently. The residents of Losarcum and other settlements of the badlands tell stories of these gruesome acts, of night fires atop distant mesas and chanting echoing through the canyons and gorges.

The raiders typically attack settlements at night, although daytime strikes on caravans are not unheard of. Wearing sand-colored hooded fur robes and wood masks of their totems, the Dravina seem to appear from thin air, and fade away almost instantly when they finish an attack. Any wounded raiders that cannot escape commit suicide by weapon or hunger strike, preventing questioning. Try as they might, the Istarans, desert nomads and residents of Losarcum have never been able to locate the raider groups current homes, only abandoned dwellings.

The totems that the groups revere are of many types- some reptilian, some avian, some elemental and even a few supernatural patrons. Regardless of the type, the groups have many shamans among them, beings that appear to wield potent magical abilities. The masks they wear are very ornate, evidence of a high degree of manufacturing skills, which makes the absence of permanent dwelling sites all the more puzzling. Weapons of the raiders vary, but typically they wield a stout staff with several spikes at one end. This is used varyingly as a club, quarter-staff and spear, as well as an acrobatic aid when the agile bandits mount a settlements fortifications.

 

Falthana:

There are many types of terrain in Falthana, including semi-temperate rainforest, jungle, mountains, plateaus and coastal lands. The size of the province and its distance from the imperial core and other civilized lands have allowed a variety of native cultures to form and flourish, though they, their homes and their ways of life are under constant pressure from the expanding sedentary population.

The forests of the Northern coast are home to the Sakai, native fishermen and whalers renowned for their skill and their sailcraft. The Sakai live in raised longhouses that run parallel to the seashore, their roofs standing strong against the winds and storms of the Courrain Ocean. Sitting four to five feet off the ground, the longhouses hold as many as seventy people, and so a village usually has no more than three or four of the structures. As they use no metal, the Sakai build their homes with lashings of wood and skins. The longhouse frames are made from the hardwoods of the deeper forest, cut into planks and beams, while the longhouse walls and roofs are woven from the abundant grasses and split-bamboo of the coastal regions. They are sophisticated in design, with shuttered windows, roof drains, and stone fireplaces to drive out the dampness. There are other structures in the villages, most importantly, the gathering hall. In this massive domed hall, fifty to sixty feet high at its center, the group gathers around the chief to resolve disputes, receive blessings for upcoming hunts and trips to sea. Only the portion behind the throne has walls, which are decorated with relics and treasures of the kings- the remainder of the hall is wall-less, open to the sea breezes. In the center of the dome hang great images of sea creatures, stylized whales, fish and creatures of the deep. They are made of reed frames and animal skins, painted into the desired patterns. To the Sakai, the sea is all, the sea is their home, though for sins in their past, they were cast out upon the lands to survive. The huge figures that hang over the court of the king represent the gods and powers of the sea, as well as their children. The Sakai ships are small and high-prowed, with stabilizing pontoons extending on both sides. The lateen-rigged crafts hulls are dug out of massive tree trunks, as are the pontoons. On top of this they use reed and bamboo to construct high forecastles for harpooners and covered oar-banks for the rowers that help propel the ship in whalehunts. Captains of ships and harpooners have prominent roles in the Sakai culture, their tattooed bodies describing the glories of past hunts and their lineage. The Sakai belief is that they come from the sea and shall one day return to it- as such, they associate family totems and lineage’s with the creatures of the sea. A member of a particular totem is forbidden from harvesting members of its own totem animal, for it is seen as eating ones own kin. The punishment for breaking this or any of the major Sakai laws is expulsion from the totemic group and the attachment of a land animal totem to a person. When this happens, their tattoos are defaced and a land animals image is scarred onto them, marking them permanently. These individuals become second class citizens of the society, serving as slaves or servants to the true people. They eat only after all others have eaten, they may never again enter the longhouse of the totems, but more importantly, they are forbidden from ever again putting to sea. To the Sakai, this is a fate worse than death, for it means that when one dies, they will never return to the lands of their ancestors, never reach the afterlife and must wander the earthly forever. Only when a great quest, set out by the king, is completed, will they be allowed burial at sea, though the prohibition in life still stands. These outcasts live in small lean-to’s at the villages edge, the closest they are allowed to come during the night. In the daylight, they have freedom of movement, except entry to the longhouses, but they can never make eye contact with members of their former home totem.

The Sakai are short and lean, their nut-brown skin covered in tattoos regardless of gender. While the men spend their time whaling and fishing, the women tend massive kelp-beds and harvest aquatic plants close to shore in flat-bottom skiffs. Both wear little more than loincloths in the tropical heat, these made from woven plant fibers and decorated with shells. Some of the women also spend their time diving for pearls, harvesting coral and shells, and prying loose shellfish for food, except if they are of a totem that prohibits it. The king of a Sakai village has many wives, though they are married in title only. The women generally choose who they will marry, which is subject to the approval of the males mothers and sisters. Once married, the couple moves into the longhouse of the male, taking status as the lowest ranking female of the groom’s family. During the marriage ceremony, the king and the groom are both married to the woman, giving every married woman in the village the status of queen. The eldest females are also the only shamans of the group, and act as advisors to the king on all matters. He has a council of warriors to advise him also, and in matters of great import, he will hear the words of both in the audience hall, then put to sea to hear the words of the gods and ancestors, then return to the village to render a decision.

Some groups of Sakai venture inland to harvest foods from the forest, but in general, they avoid the depths of the rainforest and the denizens that dwell there.

The jungles of the Falthana Basin extend into Midrath, and are home to the Falthana giants, a race of nomadic eight-foot tall humans. They are described in detail below in the section on the indigenous people of Midrath. They once ranged across both provinces, but their numbers have dwindled.

 

Gather:

Gather has one of the most diverse environments in the empire, ranging from coastal forest and swamp, to rainforests and grasslands, all of which are inhabited by so-called barbarians. The jungles of Eastern Gather are home to the Ishana, scattered tribes of matrilineal hunter-gathers and occasional plot farmers. The olive-skinned tribesmen live in groups of about thirty people, all of common ancestry. Upon reaching marriageable age, the males leave the group to find a mate in a neighboring tribe. In this way all the females of a social group are interrelated, it is the adult males that are migratory. The loincloth-clad Ishana live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, clearing a jungle plot to build crude huts and plant their crops. Within a few years, the soil is exhausted and the group abandons the site to find another. In addition to hunting, gathering and crops, the Ishana also fish on the many rivers in the jungle, and harvest waterside plants. The increase in trade between Vellas, Aldhaven and Biyerones resulted in two roads being carved through the jungle, which greatly altered the lives of the jungle dwellers. With the coming of the city-dwellers, there also came occasional slavery. The Ishana responded to the abductions with raids on trade caravans. Their wooden spears and blowgun darts are coated in various poisons, some lethal, some merely to incapacitate. The objects stolen from caravans have done much damage to traditional Ishana culture, especially the use of metal tools. Elaborate rituals had formed around finding the right tree for specific tools and the fabrication of these items. As metal tools tend not to wear out or break as often as wooden tools, entire areas of the Ishana belief system are disappearing. Some have even left their groups, travelling to the cities around the jungle, offering themselves as guides and harvesters of the jungles exotic plants. While some have been hired, many are also enslaved. As a group, the Ishana are generally peaceful, except when it comes to the Tessawi, another native group that they call ‘the night demons’. These groups fight often, over land, food, and water.

The other threat that faces the lifestyle of the Ishana is the growing presence of Istaran loggers, who clear-cut areas, which allows the soils to wash away. The logging reduces the area where the Ishana can potentially live, a fact that the natives are not happy about. They respond to the presence of the loggers in various ways, ranging from nuisance harassment and theft to outright attacks. Sometimes they steal workers’ food, sometimes they take saws and axes, and in rare cases they kidnap workers and deposit them near towns at the jungles’ edge. The loggers respond in similar non-lethal ways, though deaths have occurred on both sides when tempers have flared. Emissaries from the Ishana have made some efforts to teach the loggers about better ways to harvest the trees, methods that allow forest regeneration, but so far their lessons have fallen on deaf ears. A sense of urgency builds in their messages, for they fear the consequences if the loggers anger the capricious spirits of the rainforests.

The Ishana share their jungle home with the Tessawi, a group of tree-dwelling, albino hunter-gathers, all of whom are under four feet tall. They are a group of nocturnal, nomadic humans, who live mainly off small animals, fruit and insects. A highly social and friendly people, they are shy when dealing with outsiders and prone to rapid exits. They spend much of their time in the dense jungle canopy, sleeping on leaf and grass beds high in the boughs of trees. Their weapons are simple, consisting of blowguns, throwing sticks, bolos and long thrusting spears, which also double as balance sticks when they run along tree-limbs. Clothing is of little use to the Tessawi, they tend to wear only a string belt or harness for weapons over their painted bodies. Their groups are kin-based, but are led by males- unlike the Ishana, it is the females who leave the group. Raiding is common between Tessawi groups, to steal food, talismans, religious artifacts and women. By the later stages of their lives, some women have lived in five or six groups and borne children in each. The Tessawi were the first peoples encountered by the road-building crews, who reacted violently to the strange little people who dropped into their work camp in the middle of the night. The agile Tessawi are popular as slaves, especially in the mines of the empire and consequently their numbers are in decline.

They are age-old enemies of the Ishana, though the two groups will rarely attack each other. Confrontations or wars usually consist of shouting matches, taunts and object throwing, where the ‘armies’ line up across from each other and take turns in an orderly fashion. Scribes of Gilean describe the process as more of a symbolic ritual performance than a war or a battle, for the display often ceases if an individual from either side is hurt. When it is not a time of war, the tree-dwelling Tessawi torment the Ishana by throwing things down upon their villages, to collapse the roofs of the thatch huts. The Ishana react by aggressively hunting and killing any Tessawi they can find. Their heads are often tied in trees surrounding Ishana villages as warnings.

The plains of Gather are home to groups of horsemen, nomadic hunters that follow the herds during the dry seasons. During the wet seasons, they retreat to high ground and build semi-permanent dwellings. By the beginning of the last century before the Cataclysm, some have begun to engage in pastoralism and limited agriculture. Their homes are seasonal though the sites are permanent, and they migrate from one site to the next as the season changes. In the areas closer to Aldhaven, Tucuri and Jaggana, some have made settlements, wood-palisaded villages with wattle and daub houses. They are a patriarchal society, though a members lineage is traced through their female relatives. The women of the tribe rarely ride into battle, though they are responsible for breaking, breeding and training the horses the group rides. While the males are hunting the myriad of game the savanna offers, the women are also engaged in the gathering of roots, tubers and the harvest of termites from the giant hives that dot the grasslands. The acts of the women are generally social tasks performed in groups. Consequently, the women of the tribes are the storytellers and shamans, the makers of tools and the raisers of children.

Along the northern coast, the Vulpinea Marsh is home to the Nauru, a migrant group of dark-skinned hunter-gatherers who live almost exclusively on the waters in flat-bottomed skiffs and barges. Over the time they have been in the swamp the group has fissioned several times. Consequently, the groups are loosely structured, the young males and females migrating between groups to find suitable mates. There are only four or five groups of Nauru, each numbering no more than fifty individuals, as once a group reaches about one hundred people, it splits into two. A headman or chief controls the group, determining the route taken throughout the swamp. The name given to him, Lofanga, bears a strong resemblance to ancient Ergothian, specifically the title of captain. This lends further credence to the theory that the group is descended from survivors of a wrecked Ergothian colony ship from ancient times. A Lofanga is advised by a shaman, Rotuma, who consults the stars and the natural world for wisdom about which way is best to go. He performs elaborate rituals involving liquid-filled bowls, and ceremonial maps, all to advise the Lofanga well. The people of the group respect the Rotuma’s knowledge, but do not like the authority he wields with the Lofanga.

The rarity of dry land makes it necessary for them to wander the rivers of the marsh, sleeping, gathering and hunting from their watercraft. Their finely built barges are often seen traveling down the coast to Tucuri, where they take part in the great bazaar on the waterfront. Once there they sell the exotic animals they capture, sometimes as food, sometimes as pets or menagerie creatures. They also trade herbals and medicinal plants, procuring supplies for their families in the swamp. Many sailors who see the barges they build try to buy them, recognizing the quality and skill of their construction, but it is forbidden for a Nauru to sell one. The barges, or Tumotu, are dwelling places for ancestral spirits, the ashes of whom are mixed into the paints they cover them with. The Nauru believe that their ancestors protect the craft- and the destruction of one is an occasion of great sorrow, commemorated with a funeral and a sacrificial fire. In this fire, the craft is burned, and the ashes mixed with the paint destined for new craft, that the ancestors might steer the new craft as well as they did the old. Sometimes the Nauru build platforms in the trees of the swamp, but these are mainly religious structures, where sacrifices can be left for the spirits that rule the swamp.

 

Ismin:

Much like the province of the capital, Ismin is empty of ethnic groups, likely because it was the two central provinces that allied together to form the heart of the future empire. The grasslands are cultivated almost completely, and are dotted with towns and farms across their great breadth.

 

Istar:

Much of the province of Istar is empty of indigenous peoples, they have long since been assimilated into the general population. However, the jungle that sits across the bay from the Jungles of Sadrahka is home to the Epushi, a group that long ago split form the Ishana of Sadrahka. Their family structures are almost identical, as are their technologies, though the Epushi take to the waters more often, poling along in their dugout rafts seeking trade from passing ships and to spearfish in the bountiful rivers of their jungle. The also make forays into the swamp to the northwest of their homeland, traversing the great lake to harvest the exotic swamp fruits and herbs. They practice the same migratory subsistence farming as the Ishana, though their family groups are smaller, making the compounds cleared for planting smaller as well. The Epushi have the same troubles with loggers and other industries that the Ishana have had, although the Falthana giants have proven to be valuable allies. Between them, the two groups have proved to be very troublesome opponents for the forces of Istar to subdue.

 

Midrath:

The province of Midrath is the least settled of the Eastern provinces. The resistance of the various native groups, as well as the hardiness of the jungles themselves have made the process of ‘civilizing’ Midrath long and difficult.

The expansive jungles of Northern Midrath are home to the Falthana Giants, a race of eight-foot tall humans, living in tribes of several hundred individuals. They defy the laws of the empire, crossing the provincial borders into Falthana and back into Midrath regularly. Feared throughout the eastern empire, the fierce jungle dwellers are one of the few groups that have stood against Istars armies and emerged victorious. They subsist on fruits and tubers harvested from the jungle, as well as numerous types of small game.

The giants live in wood palisaded villages, of tall, cylindrical mud-brick homes. The secretive Falthana’s villages are well guarded, the only non-tribe members who have ever been inside one are scribes from the Library of Palanthas. In their ethnographies they describe that the Falthana live in a patrilineal society, though they have strong matrilocality marriage practices. This tradition of sons going to live with the tribe of their wife leads to frequent alliances of villages, as several intermarriages will bind the groups together at multiple levels. Even stranger is their practice of polygamy, which means that a male spends much of his time travelling to the tribes of his wives. The beads worn in their hair indicate the number of children they have sired, and it is not uncommon for a man to have dozens hanging in his long black hair. While the men are responsible for all food-getting, the women of the tribe spend much of their time weaving clothing and crafting the long spears the tribesmen wield. The presentation of one of these spears is a significant event in a males life- he receives one from his mother upon entering manhood, one from his wife upon marriage and at the time of his death, one is made for him by his eldest daughter. In a Falthana male’s funeral, the body is wrapped and placed high in the trees, while for females the body is wrapped and placed within a hollow tree. Once the bodies have decomposed, the remains are buried in long mounds that crisscross the jungle floor. The Falthana defend these burial grounds vigorously, attacking trespassers on sight.

The center of Falthana religious belief is Magani-kuto, a sacred mountain, which in their click-tongue translates to ‘souls stairway.’ It is here they say that the souls of the departed leave for their journey into the afterlife, and the souls of the newborn travel down into the mortal realm. Their beliefs in reincarnation and an afterlife are a result of the high mortality rate their children have, four of five dying before age ten from disease, animals, or injury. For every child that dies, a mother ties a white bead into her single long braid. Elderly woman often loop their grayed braid about their shoulders, its white beads clicking as they walk. Mourning is brief for the Falthana know that a soul only enters the other realms to consult with the spirits upon their failings and to be instructed in the mysteries of life. When they re-enter the world, this knowledge is buried deep within them, being released only if the time and conditions are right. In this way, any person of greatness is seen as the rebirth of a past person of import, while those who are not heroes or leaders are revered as people of great wisdom at their death. No one in Falthana society leads a life of insignificance- a mundane life of peace is lived obviously by one who did not lead that life before, and were instructed to change when they descended from the realms beyond.

The tribes’ villages are led by an elected chief, though only the women of the tribe may vote. Their selection is based on who has provided the most for the village, as well as who can perform the greatest song of ancestry. An intensely musical people, the Falthana use mainly percussive rhythm in their music, created by slamming spear-butts into the ground or an empty log, clacking spear-shafts together or slapping their leg with the flat of the broad spearhead. Foot stomping and clapping compliment the spear music, which accompanies all aspects of daily life, giving rhythm to every activity. The giants have two distinct languages. One, the language of song, is rich and lyrical, and bears some similarities to very ancient Elven, while the other, the language of conversation, consists mainly of staccato clicks and sounds, as yet undeciphered. Their size gives the Falthana deep voices, which they can project with incredible power and distance, allowing news and information to travel between villages rapidly. Guardians perch high in the trees above the villages and throughout the jungle, as both questing hermits and sentries. Before manhood, a young male must spend a month living high among the great trees, the elders, as the Falthana know them. In this time he must reflect and meditate, making contact with the natural, spiritual world around him. For young females, they must spend a month living on the waters, their feet never touching dry land, and complete the same tasks as a male. Both must find their own food and shelter, and at the same time observe the world around them for incursions and foreign trespassers.

The powers of Istar see the noble jungle dwellers as little more than animals, as they do all the indigenous peoples of the empire. Consequently, they regularly try to capture giants for domestication as slaves and servants. When this inevitably fails, the proud beings are sent to the arenas where they fight animals, the only creatures that prove a match for them. On rare occasions, a Minotaur and a Falthana giant enter the arena to do battle, and event that usually draws capacity crowds. The skilled Minotaur and the savage giant are even matches for each other, providing great entertainment for the bloodthirsty citizens. Those that are sent to the arena must be watched carefully, lest the commit suicide. They see the body as a shell, and if the shell dies in an Istaran prison, its soul will still travel up the stair and back down it, to be reborn into their homeland.

That homeland is under constant attack from Istar, in the form of loggers, miners and those who would seek to destroy the great jungles where they make their homes. In the last decades before the Cataclysm, leaders have arisen among the groups of Falthana and led them in attacks on all manner of groups that have invaded the jungles. The wealthy elite of the inner ring would like nothing more than to crush the resistance of the savages, but so far, as in Gather to the north, the armies of the Kingpriest have met strong resistance.

Seldjuk:

Containing some of the highest mountains on Ansalon, Seldjuk is a region of many climes. The mountains are barren and windswept, their crags and bluffs broken up by scrub plateaus and rolling valleys. The sea level coasts are hot and humid, the frequent storms giving birth to rich rainforest of hardwoods and fertile grassland. The jungle is heavily logged, while the grasslands are both harvested and cultivated, and mining takes place in the lowest foothills of the steep mountains.

Istar’s easternmost province is heavily settled, especially on the coast. Consequently, the only indigenous peoples of the area that remain are the Kreso, a group of alpine herders that live on the high mountain plateaus. Their large clans are scattered throughout the Name mountain chain, so there is no real account of their numbers. Living in extended families of thirty or forty people, the Kreso build rough, walled villages from the shale and sod of the highlands. Over decades the crofts settle and the grass roofs and all chinking turn them into hollow hills, the only evidence of their habitation the smoke from the peat-fire hearths within. The age of a home can generally be discerned in this way, for the older the home, the more hill like it appears. The Kreso subsist by herding a relative of the giant mountain sheep that the Taoli of Western Istar herd. Other occupations include the gathering of peat fuel from the alpine bogs, acting as travel guides and the making of clothing and blankets from their flocks wool.

The villages of the Kreso are simple stone and thatch crofts, containing often only a few dozen structures and the pens around them for their flocks.

 

Taol:

This province is heavily cultivated, consequently, there are few indigenous peoples in it. Most were assimilated into the settler culture in ages long past. The mountains in the northern tip are home to groups of Taoli, men and women that live on the high plateaus with herds of long-haired mountain animals. The fiercely independent Taoli live in circular tents raised around a center pole, the entire extended family dwelling within. Groups are small, no more than twelve to fifteen people, but they meet with other groups often, to share stories, news and trade. They have resisted all offers to join the people of the plains below them, preferring instead to remain in their mountains where they are closest to the gods.

Their tents are highly prized by the military, as they are suitable for large groups of men in all manner of conditions. Their construction has thus far remained a secret of the Taoli, despite bribes and threats. Whenever emissaries have broached the subject, the short, stocky Taoli simply pack up and leave, regardless of the time or weather. Scholars from the Library of Palanthas have spent much time with the Taoli, as they have remained successfully sovereign against a tide of opposition. These scribes believe that the Taoli are descendants of High Ogre slaves, humans that the ancient mountain dwellers used to mind their flocks. The creatures they herd do bear a more than passing resemblance to those depicted in mosaics found in High Ogre ruins. Once the High Ogre civilization collapsed, the slaves remained in the mountains. They had long enjoyed the relative freedom alpine herding requires, and as such the collapse of the Ogre Kingdoms affected them minimally. Traditional Taoli folklore includes stories of the herders actually aiding Ogres after the collapse, and given that they continue to trade peacefully with the savage fallen Ogres, this may be true.

 

The Clergy of Istar:

Holypersons of Istar can be divided up into three main categories: Priests of Darkness, Priests of Neutrality and Priests of Light. The attitude of the individuals varies depending on this, as well as the placement of ones own god within a pantheon’s hierarchy.

Clergy of Darkness are almost non-existent by the time of the Cataclysm. In the last century before the Cataclysm, the people of Istar and most of Ansalon’s nations began to unofficially persecute the followers of the shadow gods. The Kingpriest brought the persecution to prominence in 27PC, when he declared the worship of the gods of darkness an act of heresy. Consequently, most followers converted, fled the empire or hid their beliefs. The priests did the same, their temples burned or destroyed, their holiest artifacts confiscated or destroyed by the minions of the Kingpriest. Those brave enough or foolish enough to remain in Istar practice their faiths in secret, meeting in abandoned warehouses or basements- priests who once gathered their flocks in grand cathedrals reduced to hushed service held in tiny apartments or barns outside of towns. They are a fearful lot, always looking over their shoulders, expecting to be arrested at any time. Their faith gives them comfort though, as does the whispered warnings that the Kingpriest upsets the balance at his and the worlds peril. The clergy of darkness exist in secret at many levels of society, in some of the least likely places. Though they are persecuted, the faithful are content to watch and wait for their opportunity to restrike the balance, and then shift it in their favor.

Those beings that choose to spread the teachings of the gods of neutrality are in a precarious position. Long expelled from certain societies, they find themselves facing growing distrust and antipathy from the populace. Some have brought their faiths underground, practicing them in much the same way as the clergy of darkness, while others have worn them even more proudly, flaunting their faith in the faces of the zealous Istarans. They are tempting targets, but prior to 9PC had not yet faced the full anger and pious fury of the citizens. After this date, the Kingpriest began to openly voice distrust of those who followed the gods of neutrality. This was enough to hasten the departure or hiding of followers and their beliefs. These priests vary widely in terms of personality, though a general sense of unease and distrust pervades them. They remember well the fate of the temples of darkness and their priests, and how they did nothing to stop that from happening, and are now fearful of facing the same fate. The Kingpriest faced no threat from the neutral priesthoods, and it is likely he knew this- he did however lose a great deal of wealth to them, for they and their guilds controlled much of Ansalon’s industry and trade. Some argue that this is the true reason that the followers of the gods of neutrality were persecuted- it is given credence by the fact that the priesthoods of Reorx and Shinare, the priesthoods that controlled industry, wealth and shipping, were attacked so relentlessly. Some priests have chosen to aid the followers of the gods of light in their tasks, but they are typically shunned by their peers.

The clergy of the Light are renowned and feared throughout the continent, especially the followers of Paladine, for they are the direct servants of the Kingpriest. Regardless of their deity, they walk the streets proud and defiant, sure in their knowledge that the shields of Istars name will protect them. They tend to travel in groups, dedicated to a single god or the gods of light, and preach to all they encounter. They hunt mages and priests of darkness tirelessly, driving them out of Istar, enslaving them, or executing them outright. Priests of neutrality have not yet faced the same difficulties- they are merely harassed, their homes and temples vandalize. In some outlying areas, they are even run out of town, but the people of Istar still have enough grudging respect for the gods of neutrality to not harm their followers. People lear a path for the priests, who are often escorted by legionnaires, for they are fearful of angering one and inviting visitation of their wrath. Consequently, the priests rule Istar through intimidation and fear, though for the most part, the citizens do not seem to mind. They know their own place, and the place of the clergy, and seem quite happy with the hierarchical relationship. A priest of the light is usually a proud, haughty individual, full of zealous rage and xenophobic anger, intensely intelligent, yet fully unaware of the manipulation to which they have been subjected.

 

Religion and the Citizens:

The people of Istar are exceedingly religious, at least in public. All pay homage to the Kingpriest and his benevolence, though there are those who worship different gods in secret. Public rituals are heavily attended, though it is not mandatory, there are those who will notice absences. Consequently, attendance is high at all levels of society. Businesses and homes maintain shrines and prayer chapels where the gods are praised according to each faith, though in the last decades before the Cataclysm, these shrines are focused more on the Kingpriest and the worship of Paladine. Priests of the Light travel the cities of Istar constantly, seeking to bring the word of Light to people in their homes. This is what they claim to do, but what they are really doing is checking up on the citizens. Only a fool would dare to deny entry to the priests, to do so invites disaster. Many are the people who have found their reputations, both personal and professional, ruined and their livelihoods destroyed by the power-mad clergy of Istar. They are the lucky ones. Those who publicly oppose Istar or worship the gods of darkness usually disappear in the dead of night. Their neighbors know what happens, they hear the screams as families are hauled from their beds. When the morning comes, the priests of Istar denounce the former dwellers as cowards who have fled the Light of Goodness under cover of darkness.

Worship is performed throughout the day, according to the beliefs and practices of each god, though the structure and nature of the services has changed somewhat. Instead of teaching about a particular God, the central topic of worship is devoted more to how that particular god relates to Paladine as the supreme god of good. The manipulations and oppression of the Kingpriest and his minions has resulted in a trend towards monotheism, where Paladine is supreme, and the other gods are very subordinate to him. The perceived cosmic order is played out in society, for the priests of Paladine hold the places of highest prestige, while the servants of the other gods are their lessers. Though people worship Paladine and the Kingpriest, religion is rarely discussed outside of closed quarters and trusted friends, and in Istar there are few of these, for everyone has their price. The truly faithful of Istar have learned the hard way to trust no one.

Conclusion:

A campaign set during the Age of Might is very different than those in other ages. There are two main routes a campaign can take in this age. In the first, Players will likely find their characters on the side of the Empires enemies, with allies they would normally see as monsters or outlaws. If however the PC’s take the side of the establishment, as its servants they will be charged with furthering the goals of Istar without question. If they have lived in the Empire all their lives, these goals will likely be their characters own, since they will be products of the Clergy’s propaganda and enculturation.

A central theme of campaigns in this period would be that of change, both from the character’s point of view and in the world itself. The events of the empires history will affect characters fates, regardless of their class, and witnessing the events should change the outlook of the characters themselves. In spite of the laws and decrees of the Kingpriest, the lines between good and evil, light and darkness are very blurred, and characters’ realization of this will likely come at a hefty price.

If DM’s opt for a less epic style of campaign, the lawlessness of some parts of the empire is very suitable for adventure campaigns. Outlaws and bandits exist throughout the empire, as do dangerous tribes of savages, and wandering monsters. The reach of the military in Istar is long, but even it cannot be everywhere at once.

Istar is also built upon the bones of earlier civilizations, specifically the Bakali, Minotaur and High Ogre cultures, thus, there are ample ruins to explore and ancient secrets to find.

Appendix A: Timeline of Istar

 

Before the City-States:

2400PC The minotaurs, slaves of the fallen ogres, rebel and drive their former masters into the mountains and into central Ansalon. The minotaurs enslave the humans that the ogres used as food and slaves.

2400PC-1750PC Unknown times. During this period the natives of Istar existed in a tribal state. Towards the end of this period the city-states formed around Lake Istar's fertile shores.

 

The Foundation Times:

1750PC Istar, comprised of the cities of the inner ring, forms and expands over several centuries.

1480PC Istar grows as a trade center

1270 PC The human slaves of the Minotaur kingdoms rebel, overwhelming the less numerous Minotaurs. They enslave their masters, not heeding the lessons of the past. The Minotaur cities are renamed by their liberators. The free humans form free nations, Seldjuk and Karthay.

1100-800PC Istar Dominant

850-727PC Istaran Trade Wars

800PC Ever greedy for land and power, Istar wars with Seldjuk and Falthana. After 70 years of sporadic

fighting the Istarans finally manage to subdue the fiercely independent lands.

673-630PC Istar and Silvanesti Clash

 

The Heights of Empire:

600-280PC Union of Istar and Solamnia solidifies

573PC Salius Ruven attacks Istar with an undead army, Solamnic Knights come to Istars aid after Istaran Legion wiped out, laying the groundwork for

Solamnia to be the defacto military superpower on Ansalon

530-522PC Ogre Wars and the Dwarfmeld

490-476PC Solamnic Dependence on Istar grows

480-470PC Environmental destruction in Solamnia forces greater dependence on Istaran products (caused by the cult of Morgion, under the direction of

far-seeing Elven high priests in Istar)

460PC Istar is the center of commerce and culture

280 Istar declares world righteousness, and status as center of world religion

Eusymmachus is crowned first Kingpriest with the Crown of Power

260-212 Temple of Paladine built at Istar

255 Eusymmachus I dies, Eusymmachus II crowned

    1. Istar grows Corrupt; the elves withdraw to Silvanesti
  1. Eusymmachus II dies, Theorollyn crowned
  1. Theorollyn I assassinated, Theorollyn II crowned

215 Theorollyn II deposed by Ardosean I; establishes rival church in Losarcum

197 Ardosean I abdicates, becomes advisor to Ardosean II

191 Theorollyn II dies in exile, surrounded by followers who proclaim he is the true Kingpriest

188 Ardosean II dies suddenly from illness; Ardosean resumes the mantle of power

186 Ardosean I dies; Ardosean III crowned

182 Ardosean III dies suddenly; Revered Children unable to decide on a successor

182-180 Interregnum- no reigning Kingpriest

180 Hysolar chosen as new Kingpriest

171 Hysolar dies; Sularis, a Solamnian and the first non-Istaran Kingpriest, crowned

149 Sularis dies; succeeded by Giusecchio, the son of an Istaran merchant family

138 Giusecchio assassinated; Quenndorus succeeds him after one of Istars Merchant Guilds is found responsible

132 Quenndorus dies of old age; Vasari I crowned

  1. Vasari I dies mysteriously; Vasari II chosen as successor. Crown of Power stolen before coronation; in the ensuing confusion, Puscenkyn also

declares himself Kingpriest. No further Kingpriests have holy powers until Beldinas.

120-118 Battles between the followers of the two Kingpriests; Istaran legions factionalized

  1. Factional stalemate ends; Puscenkyn and followers leave Istar and choose Govinna as their holy city. Vasari II declares Manifest Virtue. Priests

of Istar begin to lose access to the most powerful gifts of their gods.

118-100 Relative peace as Istaran and Govinnese factions vie against each other; neither gains an advantage.

104 Puscenkyn dies; Theorollyn III crowned in Govinna

102 Ardosean IV declares himself Kingpriest in Losarcum, forming third faction

100 Vasari II dies of old age; Vasari III crowned in Istar

100-98 Vasari III clashes with Theorollyn III and Ardosean IV

98 (summer) Ardosean IV lays siege to Istar; Vasari III given up by the people of the city, executed. Ardosean IV becomes new Kingpriest.

98 (autumn) Theorollyn III attacks Istar. Ardosean IV repels him.

98 (winter) Ardosean IV grows ill, abdicates. Eusymmachus III crowned.

  1. Theorollyn III attacks again, the armies wipe each other out. Knights of Solamnia declare Theorollyn III a false Kingpriest; he is imprisoned in

the High Clerist’s Tower. Eusymmachus reasserts authority as the one true Kingpriest, reigns for nearly 50 years.

96 Silvanesti send Loralon to Istar as emissary to help keep the peace. Elven presence established in Istar

94 Genocide of evil races Sanctioned.

80-20 Dominance of the Istaran Clergy

Istaran Clergy controls most areas of Social Life

Priests of Istar lose access to much of their god’s gifts

Elven influence of the Kingpriests inner circle grows.

73 A schism forms within the Wizards’ Conclave, develops, led by Muscyndis Alipha. Based on his writings, the Moon Priests Sect Forms

47 Eusymmachus III dies; Eusymmachus IV crowned.

44 Minor revolts in the border provinces; put down by Knights of Solamnia. Unrest continues.

40 Eusymmachus IV falls ill. Search for new Kingpriest begins

  1. The Order of the Divine Hammer is formed, under the leadership of Radulpho diSiyan. The Divine Hammer is a militant order of the priesthood

of Kiri-Jolith. They are created as the Kingpriest’s personal guard and defenders of the faith

34 The Minotaur siege of Lattakay is broken by the Order of the Divine Hammer, who are assisted by Solamnic Knights.

    1. The Order of the Divine Hammer supplants the Solamnic Knights in Istar as the heroes of the people; many low-ranking Knights leave the

knighthood for the new order

    1. The Order of the Divine Hammer, leading the Solamnic Knights and the remnants of the Istaran Legions, embarks on crusades to cleanse the

barbarian lands of Evil and heathen worship.

30 The slaughter of the Daughters of the Light and the looting of the Vaults of the Kingpriest. diSiyan commits suicide in his grief and guilt.

27 Beginning of the Persecution and the expulsion of the Clergy of Darkness

  1. Tucuri falls to the forces of Istar

23 Beginning of the persecution of Wizards by the Priests of the Moons and the Divine Hammer

21 Loralon quits Istar; Quarath becomes Beldinas’s chief advisor. Beginning of the persecution of good races.

 

The End Times:

19 The Lost Battles

The Kingpriest enters the Tower of Istar

The Conclave destroys the towers of Daltigoth and the Ruins.

The Clergy grants them safe passage to flee to Wayreth if they will destroy no more of the towers. Tower of Palanthas cursed.

15 Growing tension between the Knights of Solamnia and the Divine Hammer as the warrior priests become heroes to the populace.

9 Beginning of the persecution of Neutral priesthoods

  1. The destruction of the Pantheon of Karthay by the Order of the Divine Hammer. As a result, a wave of iconoclasm sweeps through Ansalon,

destroying images of the gods and replacing them with images of the Kingpriest.

7 The Order of the Divine Hammer begins raiding warehouses and businesses of the followers of Shinare and Reorx.

6 Edict of Thought Control

3 The destruction of the Edificum Justae in Istar. The Order of the Divine Hammer begins to collapse without a leader.

2 Divine Hammer falls into disrepute.

Beginning of the persecution and expulsion of the Priests of the Light.

1 Beldinas declares his intent to invoke the gods directly.

Divine Hammer declared anathema, disbanded. Knights of Solamnia return to prominence

0 Loralon summons the last true priests to Godshome

Beldinas invokes the gods, causing the Cataclysm. Istar destroyed.

 

Appendix B: Products and Resources by Province and Terrain

Jungle: (Falthana, Midrath, Seldjuk, Gather)

 

Oceans, Rivers and Lakes: (All)

 

Savannah: (Dravinaar, Istar, Ismin, Taol, Gather)

 

Plantations and Farmlands: (Ismin, Seldjuk, Istar, Taol, Gather)

 

Mountains: (Istar, Ismin, Midrath, Falthana, Taol, Seldjuk)

 

Desert: (Dravinaar, Seldjuk)

Appendix C: Encounter Tables

The following Encounter Tables are appropriate for use throughout the Istaran Empire.

Tropical or Subtropical:

Waterborne: