Details about the Prime Material plane in and around The Outpost.
The Outpost consists of the partially rebuilt ruins of Castle Vuzuvaan on the eastern fringes of The Empire. Now under the control of Archdruid Taron and his detachment of irregulars from each of the Empire's Electors, The Outpost is responsible for the protection of The Empire from extraplanar threats.
Castle Vuzuvaan was constructed at the confluence of two rivers feeding the sea. Prior to Sareen's Folly, The Empire merchants engaged in commerce with the northern Greenskin Hordes and with the southern Scaled Alliance. From Castle Vuzuvaan, cargo would be safely brought from the merchant ships into guarded caravans. The caravans would then make the month-long overland journey directly to the Capital of The Empire.
After Archmage Sareen Gendarv's disastrous ritual, The Empire's merchants abandoned the eastern fortification. The turmoil amongst the northern Greenskins and the anarchy of the southern Alliance completely precluded commerce. It was only Archdruid Taron's efforts to expel the roving bands of extraplanar marauders that restored a vague semblance of peace to the region.
When Archdruid Taron received a commission from the Electors, the construction of The Outpost began. Centered around an imported Lifetree, the Outpost prevents outsiders from causing trouble for The Empire. As a metaphysical nexus of the planes, The Outpost now serves as a burgeoning economic trading hub for creatures from across the multiverse.
Archdruid Taron's governance of The Outpost is enforced by irregulars sent by the Empire's Electors. Additionally, competing extraplanar factions supply the Archdruid with detachments and materiel in order to stop external influence on the Prime from competing factions across the planes. While tensions across these detachments can sometimes run high, large scale violence among Archdruid Taron's forces is a rarity. When the Blood War spills through the Rift, these detachments are deployed to rout whatever Tanar'ri or Baatezu forces invade the Prime.
On the Prime itself, the remnants of the Greenskin Hordes and the Scaled Alliance only periodically present problems for The Outpost. The shattered tribes to the North currently battle each other for dominance as they eek out a meager existence in the eternal winters brought about by Orcus' passing. The demise of the dragons to the South has left the Kobolds leaderless and afraid in their burrows to the deserted deserts in the south. Despite the internecine strife of these shattered nations, there are ambitious souls who assault The Outpost in the hopes of reclaiming it for their fallen empires. The extraplanar detachments almost never get involved in these struggles, watching as the Empire's Irregulars battle "primal threats" without the assistance of their outsider allies.
There are three meaningful cultures in the vicinity of The Outpost.
To the west, The Empire is the most diverse and largest of the cultures. The Empire is governed by Empress Galatea Morbandi, a half-elf of the Morbandi Elector family. Chosen by the Electors a mere seven years ago, Empress Galatea focuses her efforts on consolidating her support and preventing political turmoil in the area around the Capital.
The various Churches in and around The Empire also struggle with upheaval. With the introduction of Outsiders to The Empire's society, it became manifestly obvious that none of the churches had representation in the pantheons of the great wheel. There is no Metropolis pantheon in Mount Celestia, nor is there a Feudalism pantheon in Carceri. The Churches of The Empire, built around the philosophies of society, found no manifestations of divine power in the Outer Planes. Faced with new gods, the Churches around The Empire were all gripped with existential crises.
While the Elector Aristocracy rules the day in The Empire, several heretical political movements are finding themselves increasingly popular. The Order of Democracy, the Magocratic Legion, even the Worker's Union are slowly spreading. For now, the Elector Aristocracy has a solid grasp on The Empire, but their control is slowly slipping.
To the north, the Greenskin tribes recover from the devastation wrought by Mammon and his draconic allies. Prior to Sareen's Folly, the Greenskin tribes mostly wandered the snows. They battled monsters beyond the imagining of the relatively peaceful Empire. When Mammon rallied the wyrms from the south and crushed the old paths of the Greenskins, the tribes were fractured. Now, disorganized bands of goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, and bugbears stalk the wintry wastes and spread havoc among the snow elves, the ice gnomes, and the white dwarves with the temerity to live outside The Empire.
Eternally faithful to the Elements, the shamans of the Greenskins rejoiced at the creation of the Rift. With no planar scholars among the shamans prior to Sareen's Folly, the Shamans had no way to commune with the primordial elements. Now, some shamans among the Greenskins believe that the Rift is a literal path to communion.
Tribes of Greenskins are typically led by warlords who lead by the assent of the more prominent warriors in the tribe. Cunning and tactical brilliance are as valued among the Greenskins as physical prowess, meaning some tribes are even led by particularly honored goblins. Tribes generally only revere one element, however, and conflicts between tribes based on the elements are commonplace.
To the south, blasted ruins and fossils liter the sands. Orcus and his undying armies brought down wyrm after wyrm, draping entire dunes with the discarded scales from the draconic victims. The devastation wrought by Orcus may have lead to the extinction of the mighty Dragons. Even the wyverns, pale reflections of the great wyrms, were massacred. When Mammon returned from the north, it is said that the devil sacrificed the remaining wyrms in order to smite Orcus. When Orcus fell, the only survivors of the Scaled Alliance were the kobolds.
The kobold clans, frightened and alone, retreated into their ruins and the hovels. The kobolds dug deep into the earth and studied the fallen bodies of their draconic lords. From these studies, the kobolds developed horrible inventions to equalize their relative weakness in battle. To protect their laboratories, the kobolds spread their traps far and wide, turning the southern sands into fields of death.
There are very few faithful among the kobolds. However, there are very many theories among the kobolds that other dragons and draconic beings may exist on the other side of the Rift. While bravery is not common among the kobolds, some kobold clans believe that finding the other dragons in the multiverse is a cause worth dying for.
Religions of The Empire
There are three types of faiths in The Empire. The established faiths comport with the traditional societal structures. These faiths include the Autocratic Order, the Dictatorial Creed, the Feudal Order, the Church of the Monarch, and the Satrapy of Faith. All of the established faiths share similar beliefs in a regimented structure to life, and espouse variations on the proper structure of the "Mandate of Heaven" - a belief that spiritual enlightenment is built on the acceptance of and dedication to the support of the nation-state and it's central government. While adherents of the various established faiths may argue, sometimes bitterly, regarding the conduct of the upper echelons of society, all of the established faiths agree that the middle and lower classes should endeavor to live a "virtuous life" that involves skillfully performing the assigned tasks from their betters. Clerics of the established faiths may choose from the following domains:
The nascent cults have a variety of beliefs about the power of the self, rather than the power of the centralized government. Instead of the top down view of the established faiths, the nascent cults start from the bottom and look up. While tolerated within The Empire, the nascent cults have few followers and tend to be socially stigmatized and ostracized. The Meritoriously Blessed, the Church of Confederacy, the Fraternal Republicans, and the Theologians are all nascent cults within the Empire. Clerics of the nascent cults may choose from the following domains:
The heretics in the Empire do not focus on societal organizations as a source of power. Instead, the heretical organized religions focus on the means by which power can be usurped. The Church of the Communist Revolution, the Kleptocratics, the Dogma of the Military Coup, and the Vile Servants of Anarchy are all heretical organizations that meet in secret and seek to destabilize the established faiths. So deeply are these faiths despised that, in some parts of the Empire, it isn't a crime to kill a member of one of the heretical religions. Clerics of the heretical churches may take one of the following domains:
Separate and apart from the various religious beliefs in The Empire, religious martial orders exist that exist for the sole purpose of thwarting apathy and agnosticism. These martial orders focus on promoting faithfulness and fidelity to any religion instead of to a particular religion. While somewhat marginalized for their unusual beliefs, the religious martial orders (separate and apart from the secular martial orders) focus on practical applications of faith in everyday life rather than various aspects of the Mandate of Heaven.
The Metropolitan martial orders focus on those issues that are most important to city dwellers. Living in a city requires a strong division of labor and a belief that other denizens of the city must be relied upon in order to continue living. Metropolitans are strong advocates for commerce and logistics and can often be found promoting the benefits of those creeds which allow for the transit of goods and services in an orderly fashion. Clerics of the Metropolitan orders can take any of the following domains, regardless of their faith:
The Countryside martial orders focus on self-sufficiency. Regardless of the religious affiliation of the martial order, religious followers of the Countryside believe that everyone should be capable of sustaining themselves in Summer and through Winter. The dual belief of "Feast or Famine" governs all aspects of Countryside martial orders, teaching that diligence in both Feast and Famine is required to not just to survive, but to thrive. Clerics of the Countryside orders can take any of the following domains, regardless of their faith:
The Nomadic martial orders are fairly unpopular in The Empire. Unlike the organized religions and the other martial orders, the Nomadic martial orders are not very diverse and are overwhelmingly human, half-orc, and orcish. The Nomadic martial orders believe that a virtuous life is one that is less reliant on the land and more reliant on the bonds that the individual develops with others. Members of Nomadic martial orders tend to develop very strong relationships that supplant the need for currency. Instead, members of Nomadic martial orders tend to provide any requested service for those who they trust, and members of Nomadic martial orders tend to reject any requested service for those they do not trust. Clerics of the Nomadic martial orders can take any of the following domains, regardless of their faith:
Faith and politics are very tightly intertwined in The Empire. However, the students of Arcane lore (Arcanologists) and the constructors of Arcane principles (Thaumgineers) tend to be affiliated with the various Guilds. While the majority of Guilds consist of between 12 and 50 experts, there are a few firms of professionals with over 100 and a handful of firms with over 1000 artisans.
Allsome Allied is one of the largest guilds in The Empire. Primarily focused on the construction of infrastructure projects and large scale endeavors that require a great deal of manual labor, Allsome Allied are the premier necromancers among the Guilds. Allsome is credited with the construction of The Grand Arena, a marvelous building which was completed by dedicated craftsmen who never stopped working for six years. Allsome also is highly regarded for the salvaging of the Seabridge Yudmilla, a cargo ship which ran aground on a sandbar and started to sink. Allsome maneuvered enough resources to the Yudmilla to save the majority of the cargo and several members of the crew. Allsome is happy to train new Thaumgineers and even waive the customary fees in exchange for postmortem employment. Allsome is much more discerning with its Arcanologist schools. An Arcanologist education with Allsome can cost several thousand gold pieces in tuition alone. It is said that Allsome accepts fewer than one percent of applicants to the Arcanologist program.
Layette is a medium sized guild headquartered in The Capital. Employing over 120 Arcanologists in various fields of study, Layette primarily focuses on providing expert insight on Arcane matters to politicians and Electors. While The Empire has several laws governing the application of Arcane matters, the various municipalities and regions enact their own arcane jurisprudence. Layette Arcanologists assist these public sector decision makers with a thorough understanding of the implications of proposed regulation and the studied impact of existing regulations on the health of The Empire's denizens and economy. Layette has an undeserved reputation for corruption and malfeasance among the lower class denizens who care about arcane matters due to their intimate relationships with several politicans and the guilt by association that comes with such an unsavory clientele. However, Layette also keeps its facilities and its employees extremely well protected with mercenaries.
Hilde, Illitar, Lok'ten, and Associates is a small Thaumgineer firm in Wet Rocks. Hilde died seven years ago, but Illitar, Lok'ten, and three of their apprentices still practice transmutation services in the village. Primarily specializing in material manufacture and processing, Kersten Illitar is reputable for extracting impurities from sandstone purifying liquids in and around Wet Rocks. Lok'ten doesn't possess half of Kersten's talent, but is responsible for managing the client base among the half-orc community of Wet Rocks and some of the Greenskin tribes that are still friendly beyond the city limits. Some of the product from Hilde, Illitar, Lok'ten and Associates is sent downriver as far as The Outpost, although such shipments are increasingly rare as The Outpost is predominantly relying on overland shipments from Elder Moot for material construction. Kersten Illitar is said to be looking for additional products to reclaim some of Archdruid Taron's business, but the community in and around Wet Rocks is not overly supportive and the village council is said to be looking for new business for the town. It is an open secret that if Lok'ten is able to find a position elsewhere, Illitar may simply retire.
The Fraternal Order of Virturivian Guides is a nomadic martial order from the small province of Virtura in The Empire. Originally founded by Johanna Wesana, an Autocratic arcanist with delusions of grandeur, the FOVG has shifted its mission from installing the long dead Wesana into power to providing assistance for pilgrims of any faith to and from notable pilgrimage sites. While Virtura is not a large province, it is host to two important religious landmarks - the Sepulchre of the Faceless Bureaucrat and the Throne of Prayer. Members of the FOVG roam around The Empire looking for would-be pilgrims that intend on travelling to either of the landmarks and then helping those pilgrims make the journey. FOVG members are easily identifiable by their wide-brimmed hats, green cloaks, and their peculiar walking sticks. FOVG walking sticks tend to be half again as tall as the FOVG member, as thick around as a grown man's forearm, and painted in spiraled viridian green and sea-blue designs. It is not uncommon for taverns, inns, and other hospitality businesses to offer free room and board to members of the FOVG in the hopes that the FOVG will encourage more pilgrims to travel through. While it is officially banned by the FOVG leadership in Virtura, it is still routinely accepted by FOVG members in the field.
Atop Mt. Huy, where the Bellirant mountain range meets the Ul'gor wastes, The Smiling Monks practice their violent craft. After years of greenskin predations on the hamlets and the villages in the Bellirant region, The Smiling Monks were founded to identify, isolate, and eradicate greenskin encroachment. This countryside martial order is unusual in that its members are exclusively followers of the Satrapy of Faith. Furthermore, The Smiling Monks adopt unusual tactics that put them at odds not merely with the greenskin raiders, but also with the local law enforcement. Members of The Smiling Monks routinely conduct raids exactly as the Greenskins do, pillaging and burning Imperial settlements in the area. They then return the next day with all the seized valuables and help rebuild the settlements, chastising the civilians for not properly defending themselves. The Bellirant elector, Harkin Bloodstone, has put out a 100 gold piece bounty for the capture of any Smiling Monk raider, but most of the villagers live in homes built and fortified by The Smiling Monks, and most Imperials have seen The Smiling Monks engage greenskin raiding parties that would not return valuables and help rebuild. As a result, Elector Bloodstone's bounties go unclaimed.
Unified Stevedores is a metropolitan martial order that seeks to limit violence by working with shipping merchants in metropolitan areas and provide job opportunities for children who are otherwise unoccupied. Members of Unified Stevedores tend to be members of the Feudal Order, the Satrapy of Faith, and the Fraternal Republicans, but some enemies of the Unified Stevedores accuse them of harboring Communists among their ranks. When members of the Unified Stevedores walk through the harbor district at night, they tend to be scrutinized not just by their political opponents, but also by neer-do-wells that intend to incite violence in the shipping quarters. Despite their uneven political situation, the Unified Stevedores still support local politicians and police officers as best they can.