Drifting Sands, Drifting Souls
Population: 623,450,300 (estimated)
Racial Breakdown: 95% Human, 3% Halfling, 1% Elf, 1% Dwarf
Capital: The City
Major Cities: The City; Velidos; Coelin; Lyrisa; Terith; Quali; Giala
Provinces: Iaque; Abrua; Ah’strein; Zeji; Ulstya; Sulor; Ostilan; Ugar; Joca; Udana; Adrani; Eclia; Kassau; Sei’aya
Resources Imported: Fruits; Vegetables; Meat; Alchemical Supplies; Uncommon Ores (Adamantine, Mithril, Viridium, Umbrite)
Resources Exported: Common Ores (iron, tin, coal, copper); Millet; Rice; Finished Goods; Weapons; Blackpowder; Incense
Religion: Orthodox Se’hari
Government: Theocratic Autocracy
Head of State: Emperor Assad Bashar XII
Born in the tumultuous years of the human exodus from the eastern islands, the Holy Empire of Aritika began as a grand experiment and has morphed into a horror that — in many nations’ opinions — threatens the tenuous peace between all people. Most of Aritika’s history is both religious and historical fact at the same time. While the religious aspects of its history cannot truly be verified, some of its aspects can be measured against the way the country operates as a form of historical accuracy.
While not directly at war with any nation, the Holy Empire of Aritika maintains a cold war with two nations: The Kingdom of Valinos and The Rhikari Confederacy. Both nations have not expanded as rapidly as Aritika, and tend to have a more stable homeland than the much larger Empire. Both nations, however, followed Aritika into the birth of Imperialism and colonialism, creating colonies throughout the various islands and continents of Thirajin. Aritika saw this as Divine Right, whereas the Rhikarish and Valinosians attempted to live in harmony with the residents of their colonial lands as much as possible. Some displacement was inevitable.
One cannot discuss Aritika without examining its extreme racism and prejudice against non-Humans. Aritika was originally an escape for a group of religious converts that were being persecuted in their homeland. When they arrived in Visari, they claimed the continent for themselves, as well as for their religion. The fact that others had already made their home there (and had for centuries, if not at least a full millennium) did not dissuade them from believing that Divine Right indicated that they should be the masters of the continent. The main inhabitants of the super-continent of Visari — the Elves and Dwarves — were consistently attacked and most of their cities were burnt, razed, or otherwise destroyed (or occupied in some instances). These racial tensions exist today, and Elves have been relocated to a reservation in the south-eastern part of Visari called the Tal-i-Basir swamp glades. Many of them were forced off the continent to the Elven colonies of Velyria. The Dwarves have been integrated as best as possible into various Aritikan cities, but many of them have retreated deep underground, and still operate within Aritika’s borders. No other race could potentially beat the Human nation, so Aritikan primacy on Visari is all but assured.
Click here for a deeper history of Aritika.
What follows is a list of important cities in Aritika. This is based primarily on both cultural importance to the Empire, as well as general strategic location. Each city includes specific features that are considered important, as well as demographics.
- The City – Capital of the Holy Empire
- The border city of Coelin
- The most ancient port town of the Empire, the city of Velidos
- The mountain city of Lyrisa, home to the most important holy site of Se’hari
Of all the aspects of the Holy Empire of Aritika, perhaps the most contradictory is its military force. Aritikan military forces employ a series of generals from patrician families who are members of the Imperial Legislature, known as Legates. These Legates lead a force of men mustered from their home towns or cities nearby – if they happen to be country-bound nobility. The first Imperial Legion came as a result of the original Aritikan Triumvirate – the body politic of the nation before it sprawled across all of the super-continent of Visari. Since then, Aritika’s military has bloated up to fifty separate legions of ten thousand men each, with ten irregular corps that host anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand men. The Aritikan military prevents women from serving in any capacity, and the military officers that lead the Legions under the Legates are typically members of the Legate’s family – or very close family friends.
Mystery cults are an open secret about the Legion. While all legionnaires serve the Emperor and follow Se’harism as a general rule, each Legion has its own patron saint which is treated with a kind of reverence that is generally only reserved for the legionnaire’s religious duties. The mystery cults of any given Legion can vary, but are often formed from the Imperial Legate’s family in some fashion – whether the focus of the cult is an ancient, long-deceased ancestor, or a Pagan deity dressed up with a new name and face. Some Legions have even been known to give prayers to Mioris, the Human goddess of battle, before entering combat. No legionnaire would ever profess to worshiping or even paying any sort of fealty to a deity other than Istikar, but the cults tend to prevail – especially when the Legion is fighting in the field.
Despite this, all Legions have a veritable army of clerics and clergy of Se’hari. These clerics tend to be more flexible and forgiving in their beliefs than other Orthodoxy Se’harists, but will keep watch over any Centurion or other officer-of-rank that might be too obsequious toward the mystery cult’s beliefs. The typical rites performed in a Legion before a battle tend to go as such: rites performed in the name of the cult the night before, followed by Se’hari prayers on the morning of the battle.
Every Legion is broken into ten divisions of one thousand men each, led by a Tribune. Each division is broken into ten regiments of one hundred men each, led by a Centurion. Each regiment is broken into ten squads of ten men each, led by a Decune. In between the ranks of leadership, every squad, regiment and division has its own Prefect (who manages the personnel on a day-to-day basis), a Quartermaster (who commands the armory and ensures the weapons and armor of the unit[s] are in top condition), a Standard Bearer (who carries the unit or legion’s personal standard – and indeed, each division, regiment, and squad has its own banner), a Chirurgeon (who tends to the wounds of fallen soldiers and performs non-magical medical duties), an Arcanus (a battle-mage and typically a Wizard, though occasionally a Sorcerer), an Engineer (someone well-versed in battlefield engineering and architecture – generally an Alchemist), and a Chaplain (who ministers the faith to the men and is often a Cleric or Oracle). These officers are known as Pillars, as they are considered the primary support of the Legion’s military might.
Each Pillar – regardless of their duties – has its own rank based on the level at which they lead. A Chaplain at the head of the Legion, for example, holds rank similar to the Legate in regards to the other Chaplains of the Legion. The only exception to this are Standard Bearers. These are usually soldiers who were rewarded with the rank and are not given any specific privilege, save for an increase in pay. The Standard Bearer of the Legion-entire is often considered to be an officer in his own right, however, as he is tasked with one of the most important duties of the Legion: carrying the blessed (and often magical) banner denoting the name and loyalty of the fighting force as a whole.
When the Imperial Legate falls, the ranking son (or other family member if the Legate has no sons) is named Legate. This can sometimes be an incredible jump in rank, with Centurions being named Legate after the death of their father. Typically, Legions travel through direct descent, although it’s not unheard of for Legions to pass to a Legate’s brother, nephew or uncle. Far more rarer is a Legion that is given to the son of a close family friend. While this has happened (and even recently, in the case of Ja’asir Khan), most of the men are hesitant to follow another patrician’s son. This is often less due to loyalty and more due to payment. A legionnaire’s wages do not come from the Empire – they come from the Legate leading them. As such, a Legion is almost constantly on the move, attempting to supplement the enormous cost of keeping a force of fighting men with treasures and coin found in ruins, or in the hands of enemy armies. Despite that, every Legion has its own base. The creation of a new Legion is colored by this, and each Legion is given its own fortress-garrison that usually sits outside of a major city, trade hub, colony, or border. The construction of the fortress-garrison is left to the Legion’s Engineers, but it is often paid for by the Empire, as it is considered a public works project.
Aritika is unique in that it is one of the few nations that uses gunpowder weapons in high volume. Each Legion contains two full divisions of soldiers utilizing an iconic Aritikan weapon: the scytheshot. This weapon is a breech-loading firearm that uses cartridge ammunition and often requires at least a full year for a soldier to learn how to use effectively. It has a built-in bayonet that is a curved blade descending from the barrel of the weapon. The slide that ejects the casing of the bullet can fold out quickly and be used as a handle, allowing riflemen to engage the enemy at close-range. Some Centurions and Tribunes specifically use these weapons – often trained in the regiments that utilize them more often, and as such are very accomplished marksmen. The volley of a regiment of Aritikan riflemen has stopped entire armies in their advance.
Most officers are given a falcata, a cartridge-loading pistol, and a weapon of their choice. All Aritikan legionnaires are dressed by their duties. Riflemen typically wear armor that does not restrict their movement, and often will wear leather or studded leather armor – sometimes even padded armor. Heavy, front-line infantry will be dressed in lamellar armor or scale mail. The Legate’s guard will be outfitted in plate mail, heavier weapons such as falchions and great axes, or will be given falcatas and tower shields.
Cavalry will be dressed in chain mail if considered light cavalry, or brigandine armor or banded mail if heavy cavalry. Aritikan cavalry seldom uses lance-weapons; most of their cavalry forces typically utilize short bows or a brace of pistols and fight quickly and at range. Heavy cavalry will be given a long spear and light cavalry will be given a scimitar. These are rarely used except in dire situations. Cavalry will first attempt to escape from combat, and if they cannot, they will attempt to engage their enemy from horseback. Every cavalryman in the Aritikan military knows that engaging a foe at close range almost ensures their unit’s demise, as they are specifically trained to fight from a distance. There is typically at least one full division of cavalry in each Legion.
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