Government Style: Monarchy
Ruler: Empress Meadhbh (MAEV) of House Trahaearne (TRAH eer nyuh)
Population: Six Million
Ritualism: Government Restricted, Rare
Inscription: Government Restricted, Rare
Forge Magic: Common
National Symbol: a crown over an Oak Leaf.
Stories say that Uethil was the third primary capital in the history of Endeiras. The first two were, supposedly, destroyed after the mountains on which they built were eroded. That, they claim, was just the start of the empire, not the start of the Firstborn people. Humans scoff at this, being unable to believe that the Firstborn have been around as long as they claim. Yet, here are there are ruins and artifacts, obviously of Firstborn make and design, that have long eroded and been ruined by time. Not to mention the fact that the magic practiced by the Firstborn, what they claim to be their natural magic, is seemingly unable to be reproduced via alchemy, ritualism, or even wholly in forge magic, much to the dismay of the humans. This added magical advantage made it difficult for humans to successfully war with them over the years, and played a large part in the victories of the Empire of Oak over the humans in the Home Wars. The Firstborn claimed to open this magic up to humans who become citizens in their empire, but it is against the law for them to speak of it.
Due to magic being so tightly controlled, many of the common magical practices introduced by the humans, such as inscription and ritualism, were allowable with approval by the empire only. This was seen as the Firstborn oppressing the humans, by the humans. However, the Firstborn that wished to practice these arts also had to request approval, something most humans did not stop and consider, or considered a formality, at best. The creation of homunculi required approval as well, once the art became known. For, indeed, this knowledge was something that came from humans, and the Firstborn did not know. Alchemy, on the other hand, was barely seen as a form of magic and allowed to be practiced by anyone desired. Priests, smiths and magicians all practiced alchemy within the empire, to varying degrees.
During this age, only the smiths of far north Druma rivaled the craftsmanship of the Empire of Oak. The Firstborn were known for their magnificent and powerful armaments. Master smiths were contracted by human nobles and kings throughout the known world in order to gain these weapons. It was rumored that some smiths had ways to create weapons more powerful than even the most potent forge magic crafted weapon. These weapons were whispered to have drives and desires with which their owners must compete. No accounts of these weapons remain, but writings discussing the rumors and legends of them have persisted.
However, the Firstborn were not untouchable. The empire began to face major problems when a wasteland began spreading across their lands. Firstborn began to get sick and die, where humans were unaffected by these plights. Firstborn began to be fearful and fled the safety of the empire, looking for cures and help. Alchemists and mages worked on the problem, with varying degrees of success, trying to use those that were immune to the plague as a way to halt it. Records of the plague and sickness are few and far between, but those few that remain report hideous boils and oozing sores, causing the victim to become violent and filled with an unnatural vitality, before dropping dead. As a result, most of the Firstborn began to leave the heavily populated regions of Endeiras, and most retreated to Tiere-a-Tun, where Sagart Niall and the Empress were preparing a Grand Working to help save their people. Rumors have the Empress falling to the illness or evil forces that were beginning to roam the land prior to this occurring, while others have her participating in the Working.
Not all Firstborn fled, but soon humans were the ones that were left in charge if the vacant empire. The implements and workings of the empire still remained, and the humans that lived there quickly gained in prominence and power with the rest of the humans, who envied and coveted what they now possessed.
The empire itself worked because the nine houses of the empire worked together to sustain it. The nine houses of the empire shared the throne of the empire, and when one emperor or empress died, it shifted to the next house in line. In order of imperial importance, the houses were Tíogair, Alla, Bhfiach, Capall, Nathair, Trehaearne, Taifead, Francach, and Cuileog. The rule of the empire shifted in this way, following from one house to the next. The empire itself was divided into tasks best suited to the houses. The houses, each hoping to gain favor outside of their rule, curried favor with the particular ruling house at that time. Due to the long lifespans of the Firstborn, this caused great shifts in each house from one rule to the next, with the houses taking on aspects of the primary house during that given period. Conflicts between the houses were not unheard of, but the empire was swift to intervene in anything too obvious or overt. Corruption, war, murder and illegal activities abounded in the empire, but as long it wasn't too out of hand, it was permitted. The Empire of Oak was an empire of inertia and stagnation more than anything else. The Firstborn did not care for change, preferring tradition and history.
The majority of citizens in Endeiras belonged to House Cuileog (KOO lyok), which were mostly servants, farmers, workers, and what would normally be considered peasants. However, membership in even this lowly house afforded them the right to work the magic of the Firstborn, or the right to request to work the human magics. Members of House Cuileog did not often question or complain about their station, happy they were beneath the notice of most and could just go about their lives.
House Trehaearne was known as the house of grace, beauty, and diplomacy, though they were known for their skill in one-to-one armed conflicts as well, being some of the most skilled duelists in the world. The Empress was a member of House Trehaearne, it being their turn to rule the Empire of Oak. Members of House Trehaearne often served as seneschals, advisors, and diplomats for people within the empire.
Tíogair (TEE gayr) was the house of high nobles. They were great warriors and known to be fearless. Many of them worshiped Doileag, the goddess of war, battle, valor, death, and inspiration. Even though they were a house of high nobility, they were strange among their peers for allowing humans to join their ranks, provided they worshiped Doileag and were without peer in battle. They were known for their strong tactical mind, and for being great generals.
Nathair (NAH hayr) accepted humans as well, and was one of the houses in which titles were easily purchased. Nathair cared little for motives, only for coin, and opportunities that presented ways to make coin. Other houses looked down on Nathair for their greed and their less-than-moral activities. The leaders of the house, known as the Board, governed Nathair tightly, lest they attract the attention of the empire.
House Capall (KAH pull) served as merchants throughout the empire, and were often some of the greatest craftsmen as well. No humans were known to have joined this house.
House Francach (FRAN kach) were the priests, scouts, and wardens of much of the empire. They felt at home away from people, serving the gods and goddesses of the Firstborn. Humans were known to join this house, as they cared more for skill than propriety. Members of this house were often blunt to the point of insult. They often served as the local militia and guards for the major cities, for those that did not want to be out in the wild. Some who spurned the traditional callings of the house were investigators for hire.
Bhfiach (VEECH) was the house of high magic and Workings. Their skills were unparalleled anywhere else in the empire, and their work with forge magic produced some of the most exquisite weapons the world had ever seen. No humans were known to be in this house. Bhfiach members constantly scrutinized, observed, and learned all they could from a situation.
House Taifead (TAY feet) were the record-keepers, loremasters, historians, and judges of the empire. They were amongst the smaller houses, and accepted almost no one outside of the other noble houses. Tradition meant more to them than to anyone else.
Alla (A luh) was the smallest house, and one of the most feared. Little is known about them, but when something unsavory needed to happen, or just happened on its own, they were likely involved. They were difficult to join as an outsider, but after passing their tests, woe to the person that insulted a human of that house.
Humans that were members of houses could expect better lives and treatment, from their own house at the very least. While they might be treated as weak and insignificant, belonging to a house afforded many privileges that couldn't be denied. From formal access to magic, to being able to collect a portion of taxes, to having leverage in certain groups and organizations within the empire. Once a human joined a house, they were protected and treated the same as any other citizen in the empire, though some prejudices remained. However, if physical harm was done to a human citizen, the full extent of the empire's weight was brought down on the perpetrator. It afforded less tangible advantages as well, such as permission to carry the exquisitely crafted weapons and armor of the Firstborn. Further, the wealth of knowledge and history stored in the Firstborn libraries and vaults was enough to occupy an entire nation of human scholars for several lifetimes. This was extremely attractive to human scholars and magicians.
Faith and Religion
The Firstborn, and the humans that lived with them, had a complicated and diverse variety of gods and goddess that they worshiped. Their ceremonies involved the natural world, sacrifice of some sort, symbolic or actual, and working with the spirits of a given area or desire. Gods and goddesses were seen as a part of everyday life, and were a matter-of-fact part of society. Priests were respected as those that communed with the gods, and it was their duty to do so. Powerful magicians believed they spoke with the gods as well, and there were few who disputed that fact. Ceremonies and celebrations of the gods were held regularly, and even the name Empire of Oak can be traced to Dair (Tayr), the god of nature, healing, and the forest. Though no one god held dominance over the others, many worshiped Dair, Doileag, and Folaigh.
What makes Endeiras great?
The Empire of Oak was the first known empire. It spanned across the sea and far to the East before the coming of man. The Empire gauged history based on the erosion of the mountains upon which its homes were made. The Firstborn ruled this Empire, and allowed humans amongst them, even after the humans of Tharicia attacked them. These humans so honored were able to bear witness to wondrous magics only otherwise seen in battle against their kind. The arts of crafting, particularly arms and armor, were especially advanced in the Empire, and this edge in combat was clear when they were driven to battle. Though unwilling to engage in conflict, when pressed, the nation of Endeiras was without parallel, and only rarely beaten. The Firstborn sometimes shared their arts with their human subjects, a rare and blessed gift indeed.
The Empire of Oak was at home with nature and the world in a way that no others were. The history and knowledge in the Empire surpassed that in most of the world at the time, and many humans flocked to the Empire to learn these knowledge and skills. Endeiras was a nation of culture and civility, if not equality. To be part of Endeiras was to be part of the aloof elite of the world, and to strive to learn all that that elite had to offer. Endeiras had a religion all their own, one that has been forgotten in most texts in the modern world, but one that helped drive the Empire. The Empress and High Priest were figures of guidance, strength, and love in the Empire, and the people supported their rulers absolutely. Endeiras was a land of high fantasy, romance, house intrigue and knowledge, as unseen elsewhere in the world.
What makes Endeiras less than desirable?
To not be a Firstborn in the Empire was to be a second class citizen, or to not be accepted at all. Not all houses permitted human membership, and the government tightly controlled what the people were allowed to do. Although this was true for all subjects of the Empire, these restrictions were even worse for the humans. Not only were these humans not accepted by the Firstborn in many cases, but they lost respect in the eyes of their human kin outside of Endeiras, who saw this as a betrayal. House conflict was subtle and humans were often used a bait and fodder in the politics of the Houses. In war and battle, humans were expected to show their loyalty by fighting with zeal, and always against their own kind. While many were rewarded with teaching, acceptance and money, they rarely were afforded respect on any large level. It was a constant struggle to gain prominence and respect in the world of the Firstborn. As the Great War of Shadow progressed,the Empire began to sicken and die. Much of the land was ruined, and the Firstborn citizens became sick and crazed. By the end of the First Age, it was a land of dominance, terror, and fading hope.
Theme & Costuming
Endeiras was a nation of social mores, communion with the spirits of nature, and high magic. Endeiras was a nation convinced of its superiority, perfection, and favor amongst the gods. Endeiras draws from the druidic groups in Northern Europe, particularly the white-clad druids, the elves in the work of Tolkien, and the Dragaeran Empire in the works of Steven Brust.
We encourage Returned players to wear tattered, stained, or dusty clothes when they rise out of the Grim Prison. However, Returned wear whatever clothing they can come across thereafter, possibly recreating the styles of their forgotten homelands. Enderias's style was very druidic. Colors were woodsy greens, browns, blues, and greys. House symbols featured heavily in ornamentation, so many heron, tiger, cobra, horse, rat, hawk, tortoise, and black widow images might be seen. Magic users wore loose robes, usually trimmed with leaf patterns. Intricate and filigreed jewelry was very common.
Returned may only be Humans from this culture, without the express consent of the plot committee.
Returned hailing from Endeiras pay two fewer points for Medium, the first level of Weaponsmith, or the first level of Armorsmith, though they only receive the price break once, regardless of how many skills they purchase.