The Gallidonian Empire has fallen.
The Emperor and his Court vanished. The social order is breaking down. The farther one gets from the great cities, the more chaos one encounters. Some regions, the Wastelands and Empty Lands, have become completely lawless. The rapid fall of this once omnipresent social order reveals the decay that had grown within the Empire for decades before the Destruction.
The Imperial social Order — Emperor, Greater Noble Houses, Lower Noble Houses, Imperial Administrators, Craftsmen, Farmers, Merchants — remains in place within major cities and towns, but now Kings and Queens have begun to take the place of the Emperor.
After five millennia of peaceful rule, the Emperors and many of the Noble Houses became complacent, retreating within the Imperial City in an ever-increasing sphere of isolation. As the rulers of the Gallidon Empire turned inward and continued to ignore the imperial territories, the Noble Houses’ knives turned towards each other. Jealousies, grudges, and past grievances surfaced. Rival houses tested each others’ weaknesses, and the former solidarity among the Gallidon Empire ruling class, that allowed them to manage such a far-flung empire, crumbled.
Where once it was said a child could safely walk the Emperor’s Road from the cold lands of the North to the Southern tip of the Empire, people now travel in groups and those with the means travel with guards. Individual Noble Houses and city-states are building their own armies. Companies of mercenaries sell their services to the highest bidder. Mystical Arts practitioners of the Lower Noble Houses frequently accompany, if not lead, these mercenary bands. Bandits, some in large groups, strike at the very walls of towns and small cities. Once friendly neighbors now jostle for ownership of common lands and resources.
In the summer, heat waves and drought assault the land. In winter, blizzards and freezing cold. In the spring, rivers, once the friend of farmers and travelers, routinely break their banks. In autumn, thunderstorms and lightning scatter livestock. Runes of Gallidon is a world in flux.
The Empire spanned an entire continent, from the cold reaches of the north to the tropical regions of the south, with the Inner Sea separating the two halves. Some counted the Empire as two continents connected by the Inner Sea.
The Empire That Was
- Imperial Calendar
- The Emperor
- Noble Houses
- Imperial Guard
- The Orders
- Creation Myth
- Standards of Measure
Imperial coins were minted in various forms, pictures and impressions but valuations remained consistent with the metal used (all gold coins carried the same value, regardless of whether the emperor’s seal or a city graced their faces).
Denominations were kept consistent and simple: coins were valued based on the scarcity of the metal and numerically calculated on a base 100 system: 100 copper coins equals 1 silver coin. 100 silver coins equals 1 gold coin. While prices of goods obviously fluctuated across the empire, a gold coin could generally keep a family of four fed for a year. A standard room at a middle-of-the-road inn in a mid-sized city would run between 3 and 5 silver coins.
A Gold coin is referred to as an "Imperial" in common terminology.
A Silver coin is referred to as a "Noble" in common terminology.
A Copper coin is referred to as a "Penny" in common terminology.
Copper coins are often physically cut by merchants & commoners into quarter-pieces, referred to as "bits" in common terminology.
100 pennies = a noble
100 nobles = an imperial
An imperial is two inches in diameter. Nobles and pennies are one inch in diameter.
The Imperial calendar is marked by twelve lunar months, each consisting of 28 days, and two Imperial holidays. This adds up to 338 days in an Imperial year. The full moon occurs mid-month.
Months are referred to as the first month of spring, third month of summer, second month of winter, etc. An Imperial date would read: the 7th day of the first month of winter in the year 5100 AG.
Founding Day - celebration day to commemorate Gallidon's declaration of Empire. This is also the first day of the new year.
The three months of spring.
The three months of summer.
The three months of fall.
Harvest Day - the day to celebrate the last harvest of the season.
The three months of winter.
Individual regions and cities celebrate a myriad of local holidays and festivals, but all honor the two Imperial holidays.
The Empire of Gallidon was ruled by the unbroken line of Gallidon, direct descendant of Na’naat, the Creator. At the time of the Destruction, Emperor Gallidon, thirteenth of his line, was lost along with the Imperial Court. Many of the wise and learned believe the unbroken line of Gallidon was the living embodiment of a powerful Rune set in place by Na'naat. They believe that with Gallidon's disappearance, mystical barriers have fallen. Barriers that protected the Empire from forces both within and without this world.
The Emperor had ruled from the Imperial City, while Noble Houses and Imperial Administrators ruled in the cities and provinces. Fealty was enforced, when necessary, somewhat by threats of military action but mainly through other techniques. The Emperor was credited with possessing both the ability and willingness to use powerful ritualistic magic (magic that, it is said, can wipe out crops, summon devastating natural phenomenon, or even visit populations with fatal illnesses).
There are seventeen Greater Noble Houses who, like Gallidon, possess strong magical powers. There are hundreds of Lower Noble Houses.
Greater Houses were granted areas to rule over. They and their families were required to spend alternating periods each year at the Imperial City (usually with the head of the house coming to the city while their family stayed home, then reversing the arrangement). Authority over the Nobles Houses was sufficient to ensure that the Houses used their own military might to enforce the Emperor’s will. Over the millennia, many of the Greater Noble Houses lost all interest in governing, abandoning their responsibilities to Administrators and other functionaries.
Most marriages among the Noble Houses were arranged. Official succession generally followed the line of the first-born child, regardless of gender.
The Imperial Guard was responsible for the protection of the Emperor, his Empire and its people. The Imperial Guard Commander was in charge of the Guardsmen. He reported only to the Emperor. More than once, a Guardsman entered, uninvited, into a Noble mansion or fortress and arrested a member of the House.
Though relatively few in number, Imperial Guardsmen were feared and respected, it being generally acknowledged that one Guardsman was the equal of four highly skilled warriors. However, this fear extends beyond the physical threat of harm, as Guardsmen were believed to be able to discern the thoughts and desires found in the hearts of others. Runes of power were engraved upon the flesh of Imperial Guardsmen, granting them mysterious protections. While the runes on Guardsmen were magical, Guardsmen themselves were incapable of using/casting magic.
Potential Guardsmen were picked by Imperial officials and current Guardsmen at an early age (9 to 14 years old) strictly from among commoners who showed above-average athletic and intellectual abilities. Unlike Imperial Rune-weavers, there was no place to apply to become a Guardsmen. They trained extensively on the Imperial Isle for over a decade before seeing their first assignment in the Empire.
No one of Noble Blood was allowed in the Imperial Guard.
Guardsmen traditionally wore black-washed armor and garb, trimmed with the Emperor's rune wrought in gold.
The Empire excelled at making much of the lands it controlled consistent in many aspects, including language. While dialects varied from region to region, there is one and only one language spoken across the continent. Heavy trade and the strict enforcement of the Orders made sure this remained consistent. Other languages pre-existed the Empire, but knowledge of them has been forgotten or lost.
The Orders are a collection of laws and rules that span the Age of Gallidon and document a wide range of topics regarding the lives of Imperial Citizens: legal, political, ethical, and societal obligations are covered, as well as historical aspects of the world, the Emperor, the Greater Nobles, and the Empire.
The First Order
Gallidon the Third laid down the first volume to be written. It became known as The First Order, recording the creation of the world, Gallidon and his Empire. Subsequent entries were simply named based on their sequence, although many became known by a more meaningful name or were grouped into logical subsets. Individual Orders are normally referred to as volumes, and groups of related Orders are normally referred to as a collection. For example, The First Order is also referred to as “The Foundation Order,” and a group of dozens of Orders that dictate the consequences of crime is a collection called “The Civil Orders.”
While primarily historical in nature to begin with, over five thousand years The Orders expanded to include aspects necessary for the building and maintaining of a sprawling, growing civilization. These included Orders that documented many aspects of life at all levels of society.
- The roles and associated responsibilities for various administrative seats within each Noble House's respective lands are detailed in several Orders collectively referred to as The Administrative Orders.
- Two collections of Orders outlined the civil and ethical strictures citizens are expected to follow (and the possible consequences of not doing so): The Civil Orders and The Ethics Orders, respectively.
- Summaries of roles citizens should assume in the Empire (e.g., craftsmen, farmers, traders, etc.), as well as the terms by which they should interact: The Profession Orders.
- The written language, as codified in The Inscription Order, proved a turning point in the Empire, as it provided a standard form of written communication across the continent.
- The standards of weights and measures, as codified in The Standards Order, greatly facilitated trade and commerce.
The enforcement of The Orders starts at the local level of government or ruler and works its way up the ladder, ultimately reaching to the Emperor.
The sheer breadth and depth of The Orders has made it a work almost incomprehensible by a single individual, as well as unwieldy. To date, there is no mention of an Order being rescinded or revised. Typically a new Order is written if it becomes necessary to make adjustments to existing Orders, resulting in a series of never-ending amendments.
As The Orders became more extensive (and convoluted), the need arose for someone to interpret them and provide insight. Initially, these were local individuals that administrators turned to for help when considering civil disputes or discerning the historical nature of a particular aspect of the Empire. Gallidon the Eighth recognized the value of standardizing a role to interpret The Orders, and he commanded a body of scholars to oversee the education, training, and management of these interpreters across the Empire.
The Society of Orders
The body of scholars set up the Society of Orders and provided that individuals who successfully completed training under the Society's guidance would be called a Scholar of the Orders (there is no gender restriction). The Society has a top-down, command-and-control structure, with formal edicts and rulings being handed down from the ruling body within the Society (a group of ten individuals referred to as “The Council” that resides on the Imperial Isle) to mid-level members across the Empire who, in turn, ensure the communication and enforcement of the edicts at the lower levels of the Society.
Scholar of the Orders
It is common for even small towns to have a resident Scholar of the Orders in residence, and larger cities often have a multitude of them. Noble houses typically have at least one family member receive formal training from the Society of Orders.
Gallidon is the name of an Emperor and the name of his Empire.
As laid down in The Orders:
“Before the arrival, before the world, before thought, before time, there was Na’naat.
Na’naat opened her mouth. Na’naat breathed. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat split the skies.
Na’naat cut her hand. Na’naat bled. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat formed the seas.
Na’naat reached down. Na’naat stirred the seas. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat formed the land.
Na’naat looked down. Na’naat saw the spirits. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat fashioned the spirits.
Na’naat bent down. Na’naat touched the spirits. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat created mortals.
The world was beautiful, the spirits were happy, and the mortals were prosperous.
Na’naat was pleased. Na’naat looked away. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat was no more.
After Na’naat, the spirits and mortals did not share the skies and the seas and the land. The spirits became discontent, and the mortals became fearful. The world was no longer beautiful.
Na’naat returned. Na’naat viewed her world. Na’naat was no longer pleased.
Na’naat thought. Na’naat motioned. Na’naat bent her will, and Na’naat was no longer alone.
Na’naat called her sisters and brothers together. They wept, and their tears formed a new sea in the middle of the land. They bent their will, and they created an island in the vast sea, and on that island, they built a city, and in that city, they placed the Nobility, and within that Nobility, they named an Emperor to rule over the world.
After the Emperor, the spirits and mortals shared the skies and the seas and the land. The spirits heard the Nobility, and they became content. The mortals listened to the Nobility, and they became prosperous. The world was beautiful once more.
Na’naat and her sisters and brothers smiled, bent their will, and were no more.
Thus did the Nobility come to bring light, hope, and wisdom to the world. And so shall the Emperor and his Nobility protect the world until the return of Na’naat and her sisters and brothers.”
The Orders state Gallidon was imbued with the ability to control the Spirits. In the Age of Disorder, before Gallidon, the spirits very nearly brought about the extinction of the people before Na'naat returned to set the world in order once again. The commonly held belief is that the Spirits became envious of the people's enjoyment of the world, while the people slowly stopped appreciating all the Spirits did to make their world inhabitable, safe, and satisfying. Na'naat placed Gallidon in charge of the world, and gave him the ability to keep the Spirits in line to ensure the people were able to flourish.
The Orders state that Na'naat had her brothers and sisters place their own agents in the world to assist Gallidon (these agents became the founders of the Greater Noble Houses). The Emperor and the Greater Noble families were given gifts of extended life spans, an increased resistance to death, and an innate and heightened ability to use various schools of magic to enable them to keep the world safe for the people.
The Emperors had five times the life-span of common man. They always chose a wife from among the Greater Noble Houses. Each Emperor had only one son, called the Childe of the Isle until he ascended the throne. The Childe is always named Gallidon. In the 5,108 years of the Empire, there have been thirteen Emperors Gallidon.
Imperial temples and houses of worship exist for the purpose of providing solace, religious instruction/guidance, and places of refuge. In rural areas, citizens often offer prayers not just to the Emperor, but also to the local spirits who inhabit the land. These spirits are said to coexist with and within the land, dwelling in natural structures or areas (rivers, lakes, mountains, groves, fields, trees, rocks, the sky, rain, etc.).
When people die, their souls return to dwell with Na'naat. The Orders allow various interpretations of this, provided those interpretations don't endanger or conflict with the status quo. Mortal souls are not the same as Spirits.
The Emperor's Art. The magical discipline given to Gallidon by Na'naat to make the effects of other mystical disciplines permanent.
A single child from each generation of a Greater Noble Household (Lower Noble Houses often send child-candidates, also) is sent to the Imperial Isle as a Rune-weaving candidate. These children, if accepted, embark on a life of study to master the discipline of Rune-weaving. They are ultimately overseen by Emperor Gallidon. Very few learn to use the Runes Major to full effect. At any given time, there are known to be less than fifty Rune-weavers, with three of them said to have been trained as Rune-weaving Masters, second only to Gallidon himself in their abilities. These Masters seldom leave the Imperial Isle.
Standards of Measure
Standards of measure: distance (inches, feet, yards, miles), weight (ounces, pounds), and time (seconds, minutes, hours).
Gallidon has evolved to roughly the equivalent of the early European Renaissance. For centuries, the Empire flourished on many levels: artistic expression, “scientific” advancements, better understanding of the world, greater knowledge of magic and its uses, more efficient economies, better standards of living, etc.
There is no gunpowder, dynamite, cannon, steam-powered engine or the like in Gallidon.
Trade and commerce flourished under the Empire, helped in no small part by the fact that the entire continent remained at peace for millennia. Barter exists in the more remote regions, but Imperial coinage is accepted in even the most backwater areas.