Re: Stygian Empire in the First Age

From: Peter Metcalfe <metcalph_at_gGshoxDSrIIpu3ORoHA5zjChB_bnOQREx6CmXVkb2vVDYhC8cyqhjfcjrpSMaw1yBcy>
Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 18:12:28 +1200

At 04:48 a.m. 4/07/2007, you wrote:
>I'm running a game set in Ralios during the 2nd Age. I was curious
>about the Stygian Empire that was there before in the 1st Age and
>details on the 1st Age in general. Are there any sources I can check
>out on the 1st Age?

Well the Autarchy (the Stygian Empire) doesn't get established until 450 and is conquered by 740 so it's really an early Imperial Age Empire. It's not clear whether you were asking for what was before the Autarchy or on details on the Autarchy itself.

Because details on the Autarchy largely rests upon what came before, I'll answer both.

THE ARKATI The spiritual philosophy of the Autarchy rests upon the epic deeds of its founding hero. In the Third Age, I largely described the Arkati as being similar in style to the Knights Templars, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Rosicrusians, the Elders of Zion and the Assassins. The Autarchy's leaders were magical knights that fought the Deceiver time and again. Most of their conflicts were fought on the Other Side with the result that Safelstran civilization, freed from its demons, truly bloomed during this period. The skill that the Arkati acquired during these distant conflicts made them terrifying foes when they troubled to fight on worldly battlefields.

Because Arkat fought the Deceiver in so many guises, there are a number of different styles of Arkati knights. Originally they were united but the Trolls drifted away from the Autarchy and the Boristi were suppressed. Fraticidal wars between among the remaining Arkati orders destroyed whatever chance it had of repelling the God Learners.

As far as I can make out there are three human orders and two inhuman orders.

The _Humakti_ follow the path that Arkat trod when he was in Slontos. Although Humakti, they differ from the Heortling and Carmanian cults as much as the latter differ from each other.

The _Knights_ follow the path of Arkat when he was a Malkioni. There are three factions within this order, all of whom hate each other: Brithini, Seshnegi and Safelstran. The third is the most popular while the other two are suspected of being stooges for Seshnela and Arolanit.

The _Martyrs_ follow the defeated Arkat. Arkat lost many times and suffered dearly for it but in the end, help from an unexpected source arrived and transformed him. This is a popular cult for lay people seeking to become Arkati as well as a cult for Arkati in spiritual turmoil. As such, it is not a fighting cult but rather a cult of suffering (flagellation, torture, mutilation) in order to cause a psychic transformation.

The _Trolls_ include not only the Guhan trolls learning sorcery but also the humans that worship Zorak Zoran. Since the unravelling of ties with Guhan, the violent humans have been politically sidelined and are no longer a formal part of the Autarchy establishment.

The _Boristi_ follow Arkat when he was a chaos monster. They are currently in hiding due to brutally repression over their use of chaos early during the Autarchy. Near its end, they begin collaborating with the God Learners in order to destroy their fellow Arkati along with a promise of religious toleration when the Autarchy is overthrown. The head of their creed is the City of Belstos in the County of Borin.

THE AUTARCHY Leading the Empire is the Autarch, the strongest Arkati in the area. Since he only follows one of Arkat's paths, he rules in consultation with the heads of the recognized Arkati orders.

Beneath the Autarch are regional potentates known as Exarchs and Archons. These are simply the strongest Arkati in their regions.

There are two weaknesses in the governance of the Autarchy. The first is that they prefer to concentrate on otherworldly conflicts rather than pressing political issues. Heroquesting every time there's a bread riot is hardly conducive to responsible government.

The second weakness is that the Arkati have become sensitive to weaknesses and imperfections within each other. For a tradition that prides itself on combatting the Deceiver, the usual practice is accuse flawed Arkati of being servants of the Deceiver that must be terminated forthwith. As the Autarchy ages, the resources of the Arkati orders are increasingly diverted to magical warfare against each other while occult assassination starts to become the main method of advancement within an Arkati order..

THE SUBJECTS The _Galanini_ have become transformed from nomadic pony-riders to four professional cavalry armies (the historical parallel here is the Manchu). Each of the armies have a colour and equine beast associated with them. The Nas or Black Horse Troop are associated with demonic horses while the Sur or White Horse Troop have winged horses attached to them. I think the select warriors of the Wes or Green Horse Troop can turn into Centaurs while the Ot or Blue Horse Troop have riverhorses instead.

The _Felstrans_ are a native Malkioni people that have been here since before the Great Darkness and are closely related to the Janubians and more distantly to the Waertagi. Most of the people living in the cities of Safelster are Fesltrans. They are considered shifty and heterodox by the Orthodox Malkioni to the west. They avidly follow the Lightbringers whom they consider to be their ancient deities although their interpretation is different than the Heortlings. Instead of a Trickster, they have a traitor and in the place of Flesh Man, they have a deranged Prophetic figure. The role of Ginna Jar is replaced with a blue-skinned deity who lives in a city beneath the Felster. Even recognizable deities have exotic quirks - Orlanth's marriage with the Earth is shunned in favour of a union with the Sea.

The _Hykimi_ are a collection of savage beast people that live on the southern shores of the Felster. They have a mythic greivance against the Galanini and are ruled by a select group of magical flutists.

--Peter Metcalfe            

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