Empire of the Dead
“These, my children of the night, what beautiful music they make for their dread lord…” - Dalve Carul, Lord of Omerta, at the Obeisance Ritual

Capital: Genhva
Settlements: Digirn (10,000), Garme (8,000), Genhva (9,000), Ghiz (6,600), Omerta (4,500),
Nod (7,500), Ryehk (3,100), Summa (8,000), Zhule (6,200)
Ruler: The Gallery of Lords
Government: Federation
Races: Aasimar, Avoodim, Dhampir, Living Ghoul, Obitu, Skulk, Tiefling
Faiths: Eshsalqua, Fenris Kul, Myketa, Rajuk Amon-Gore, Shade, Toma Thule (Digirn only)
Resources: Drugs (vitae sangua, vitae luce)
Languages: Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Infernal, Necril, Undercommon
Border Conditions: Restricted (Border with the Clockwork Lands; Digirn fully enclosed)

History
There are fairytale lands that reflect nightmares or childhood stories told to frighten one into obedience; then there are the lands where one may find these horrors given substance -the Empire of the Dead. Located on the Cold Peninsula, the walls between reality and the Negative Material plane grow very thin here, among the collection of city-states that vie for control of the twisted and broken land between them, in a shadow war. This ‘war’ is in the shadows, for after the coming of the Celestial Bastion of Digirn and the creation of the Scroll of Jus upon the Baelorian Rise, open warfare between the races and factions within the Empire has been forbidden.

In the centuries before The Calling, those within the Empire raged against one another, and at the seeming peak of these conflicts, as these wars grew in scope and brutality, the coming of the NewGods shattered the world. The waves of positive energy wreaked havoc on the dark beings of the land for years, enough time for the righteous godling Toma Thule to come into being and will the Celestial Bastion to descend from the heavens, in the midst of the blackened ruins of the Empire. This burning pyre of righteousness opened its walls, and from it poured the aasimar legions, purging the broken hordes of living ghouls and undead alike, and bringing to heel the warbands of the dhampir lords in what has come to be recorded as the Illumination Crusades. Careful negotiation and the allowance of regular crusades are the accepted rule of the day, or else soul-searing war will take place.

The denizens of the Nightlands had been playing the game of war for centuries, however, and the coming of the crusades only served to escalate the conflicts, as both ancients rites and new deist pacts were called. Daemonsmiths unleashed new terrors, bands of cambion mercenaries corrupted the very ground they trod upon, while Necrarchs released the fallen to fight again and again in endless waves that threatened to destroy the very land itself. The coming of the gods was a two-bladed sword, for certain, for Toma Thule’s dark twin Rajuk Amon- Gore, also born after The Calling, delighted in the new dance floor of death.

It was then that the Architect came. He brought with him a single and decisive message- the war would end now. He left upon the Baelorian Rise the Scroll of Jus, upon which are written the Laws of Discord. These laws state that open warfare is forbidden in the Empire of the Dead. There is one simple penalty for violation: utter annihilation. To illustrate his point, the Architect blew one short note on the Balehorn, and the demon-city of Bhaal-aak ceased to be.

The following day, in the shadow of the Scroll of Jus, the Aecryptian Summit gave birth to the Empire as it is today. The Architect has not been seen since, and fear of his return, even to those who are already dead or as good as, is still strong, after all of the decades that have passed.

Current Events
The Empire of the Dead is a Federation of city states each holds sway over the lands that surround it. The borders of these lands are often contested, but open warfare is never sought. Instead, an invisible war is constantly waged within the Empire. Assassination, betrayal and intimidation are the daily bread upon the tables of the powers that be. Borders, however, are only part of the bounty to be had. Trade with other lands of Porphyra and the control of the commodities of export and import alike are as valuable as the land which provides them. The Empire specializes in the exotic and decadent, chief among these are Vitae Sangua and Vitae Luce, drugs created from the blood of the living dead and the life force of those who possess celestial birthright. The greatest import are slaves, most of which are used as labor or fuel for the Nether Engines of the greater city states. The amazing presence of Digirn, the celestial bastion, has forced many of the dark lords to actually negotiate with the sickeningly powerful paladins and clerics, which makes for truly strange politics in such a death-dominated land.

Settlements
The major settlements of the Empire of the Dead are:

  • Digirn is known as the Celestial Bastion, a piece of the heavenly plane, within a porphyrite border- a jewel of good within one of the darkest places on Porphyra. The rule of Toma Thule here is reputedly total, and paladins are found in the same quantity as archers are elsewhere. Entry is not easy; strong proof of one’s dedication to good and the rule of law is required, by various means. If Digirn were more cooperative with the outside world, their sphere of influence might expand further.
  • Garme, Omerta, Ryehk and Zhule form the city states of the Dhampir Lords, the nations of the shadowy cross-breeds of vampire and man. Human visitors must have certain documents and charms boldly displayed to walk safely in these cities, outside of the Embassy and Trade zones, designated by continual flame of sacred blue. Omerta actually contains a strong human mortal crime syndicate that has fingers throughout Porphyra, and is often home to the Magpies thieving competition.
  • Genvha sits as the capital of the Empire, though it holds no single seat of power, but the Gallery of Lords, which can convene to receive and settle grievances. It is worth noting that though each of the Great City States holds an embassy here, little if anything is accomplished besides political pandering.
  • Ghiz and Summa are the home bases of the twin Lich Lords of the same names, and both lightly-ruled, tower-filled cities are havens for magical practitioners of the black arts. The Concert Hall of the Black Dance is infamously found in Summa, high cathedral of Rajuk Amon-Gore.
  • Nod is nominally under control of the Dhampir Lords, but this island port is highly cosmopolitan and independent, sending the Silent Ships with their cargoes of Vitae all over the world. The presence of normal mortals is almost tolerated here.

Intrigues

  • A powerful stranger has been seen in the shadows of the ruling halls of Genvha- rumors abound that the Architect has returned! Whether it is an impostor or the frighteningly return High One must be immediately determined.
  • The Scrolls of Jus have vanished from their altar on the Baelorian Rise, and tensions are high for war to resume. Both sides have factions that are keen on interfering with their reinstatement-they must be found!
  • Vitae addicts to a new ‘cut’ product have spread into bordering realms and overseas, and producers wish to eliminate the ‘illicit’ dealers. The PCs must decide whose side they are on, to support this strange trade, or prevent deaths and sickness from adulterated product.

See Also