"Magic was once something people prayed to the gods for. It could also be acquired by studying at special magical colleges. The Clerics in the former instance dominated while the Wizards created by the colleges were few and rarely a concern. A Mage, a person of any class born with inherent magical prowess, was an abomination to the gods and most perished after birth or hid away their abilities.
Magic had crept back into the blood of the common man and reduced the importance of the major religions. The vicious Mage Wars fought only a century ago still scar Lacour and Kalousa, with the Clerics of Fire fighting themselves, the Clerics of Earth and the common folk, who created the ‘Storm Kingdoms’ to escape the slaughter. Peace arrived with the end of the Three Queens’ Reign of Terror in Lacour and the victory of the Red Mages over the Golden Phalanx in the Kalousan Civil War. People with the Mage gene have equality in the eyes of the law, but still face a lot of discrimination.
Kalousa is at peace. She recently defeated their ancient enemy, the Dwarves of Fork, and used their engineering skills to enhance the defences throughout her empire. Ruled by the Empress-Elect and her powerful female-dominated Red Magi Party, Kalousa begins to look outwards for new conquests. The all-male Golden Phalanx Party wish to continue the old Emperor’s ‘hold the line’ policy and wish to keep the trading within the empire and end the dependence on silver and foreign markets.
The fabulous wealth of the colonies across the ocean stems mainly from the fur trade, but all world trade has come to depend on Teranese silver. Most of the silver caravans pass safely through the Zont Empire, a vast land of First and Second Humans, Elves, Lizards, pirates, cannibals, Orcs and even the walking dead. Zont has provided stability to the troubled continent across the ocean but has allowed the Black Fleets to raid the world and abduct people, animals and even entire villages for his infamous Zoo. Bored of peace, hungry for loot and tired of Zont’s antics, Lacour, Kalousa, the Elves and the other Maritime Powers are sharpening their swords for the largest and most dangerous war ever fought, against the largest empire the world has ever known".
Setting (click map to enlarge)
The setting for the campaign is Kalousa, specifically Kalousa City though ye may travel around the region a bit. Its sort of a combination of the Roman, Ottoman and British Empires. It is mainly populated by humans with light to dark skin tones. Yuad in the west is rich in gold and is the site of border clashes with the Omeran Theocracy and the tribes to the south. Ankhara is the second most important region of the empire, growing a lot of the food and having the second largest city, Chakram. Sunderstone or Sunder across the ocean is an important colony as its trades with the Lizards for furs and with Teranese via the Zont Empire for silver.
Lacour is the most populous country in the world and is mainly populated by dark-skinned humans. Laccai is an important ally of Kalousa while Omera is the world's only Fire Theocracy and often puts pressure on Kalousa to become one too. The Elven Republic is very powerful and are more friendly with Kalousa than Lacour. Elves are hated and loved in equal measure by many; they have an entirely different civilisation to the rest of the world. The Triad Chiefdoms north of Lacour are a collection of very powerful tribes who have frequently warred with each other and their neighbours and pose a constant threat to civilisation. It is a popular site of crusades by the churches.
Together, Lacour, Kalousa and the Elves are called the 'Maritime Powers' especially across the ocean, where they all have colonies. The Eastern Hemisphere across the sea is much more primitive in the south (like the Americas) but becomes more civilised the further north one goes; the Zont Empire is almost on par with the Maritime Powers while further north they are more advanced in some ways, especially in weaponry. Posia is one such country and competes with them for colonies and influence, though also trades with them for furs in exchange for weapons.
Recent History and Themes
Kalousa is a very tolerant society but has recently fought against itself and is scarred by its past. The Civil War in the 1700's erupted as the Emperor Kolher massacred the rising mage population, forcing the families of mages to rise up. Though he won every battle, his choice to ally with the hated Dwarves of Fork and the tyrannical Three Queens of Lacour saw the whole empire revolt. In a bid to recover territory, Kolher travelled to Yuad but was ambushed by the Magi Army and captured. The Diet in Kalousa City conceded to the rebels' demands and ended the predominance of hereditary nobles in government. Empress Doshan took the throne and was a popular leader. The Red Magi in the Imperial Diet has upset the Church, the hereditary nobles and even some countries like Lacour and Omera. In the 1800's wars were fought with Lacour and Omera and in the 1900's the colonisation of Sunder began by Emperor Oelock and flourished. The war with Fork in the 2000's was done to increase the popularity of the Red Magi and was hugely successful, ending the threat of the Dwarves. Empress Corina and her Vizier, Shaekra, were commanders in the war and swept into power afterward. Kalousa was greatly enriched from loot and by the access to the rich river valley of Fork which grew immense amounts of food.
Concern has grown lately with the activities of the Zont Empire, which include the alleged funding of piracy, sponsoring unaligned tribes to raid the colonies of the Maritime Powers among other offences. Two issues are of major concern: the Black Fleets which raid the shores of Kalousa itself and the 'silver road' passing through the Zont Empire.
The Black Fleets are believed to have been built in the 1900's as Lacour and Kalousa settled to the south-west of Zont and reports of raiding by fleets of supposedly unaligned ships have come from all over the eastern half of the empire. Entire villages have disappeared and survivors have reported that the raiders seem to gather animals and plants as well as various peoples (the rest they kill). Initially the Maritime Powers blamed each other but now the evidence seems to point toward Zont.
The 'silver road' was created after the Zont Empire gobbled up the last few independent lands and enforced peace, allowing Teranese caravans loaded with silver to travel to the Sunderstone to trade. The immense amounts of silver traded between East and West has allowed for the emergence of a worldwide silver market, with a cash economy replacing barter and allowing the cities to flourish. The world has become so dependent on Teranese silver that fluctuations in the Eastern Hemisphere affect the West too. There is a prevailing fear that either Posia could close its straits or Zont will block the 'silver road' affecting a major chunk of world trade. Thus, both sides of the Diet have voiced their desire to invade Zont and take control of the 'silver road'.
A final point is the rumour that Zont is a Lich, an undead with terrific magical powers. While the evidence is strong (there have been several mentions of a certain Zont over the last 2000 years of history) and some of his subjects will attest to it, it cannot be confirmed for certain but if it is definitely true the Six Gods Church would be obliged to crusade against such an abomination.
Races and Languages in the Setting
Humans are the staple across the board, with many different skin colours and sub-languages. All speak some derivative of Myrnan-Lacrene or Common, the lingua franca of the world. They have all the standard rules detailed in 3.5 plus the +2 to any attribute from 3.75. Their very predominance is a strength in itself; while tolerant, other races still suffer for their differences everywhere. Ankhs, Yuads, Candils, Sunder... all are humans, including Kalousans and Lacrenes, though this latter group consider themselves a cut above the rest.
Dwarves are fairly common in Kalousa, especially after the Conquest of Fork. They come to the Kalousan cities to find work and are treated fairly well, just like the conquered peoples of Yuad, Ankhara and Sunderstone. They are appreciated for their engineering and mining skills and their belief in the Earth God is respected. They speak Dwarven and Common. Same rules as in the books.
Elves are rare in much of the empire except in Kalousa City and other major towns, where they can be frequently found trading in the harbour or markets and the embassy in the capital has spawned Elftown around it. They are generally given a wide berth by many in the streets and are ogled in equal measure. Same rules apply as in the books while Half-elves are rare but accepted game-wise (though may face discrimination!).
Omerans are the Fire race, created by Passiet to be his agents on Necut. They are numerous and strong and mostly reside within the Omeran Theocracy, though some venture out to spread the faith or go on a pilgrimage to the Fire Node or Shrine, located near Kalousa. They are generally respected in Kalousa though may feel entitled to more - Omerans are an Elder Race AND the Children of the Fire God, surely the Kalousans know their place? Often clerics or paladins, I'm willing to give more info to anyone interested in playing one or including some in their background.
Lizards are the Water Race, created by Caman and mainly dwelling on the Eastern Hemisphere. They are very technologically backward but are the most devoted followers of their god and perhaps his most beloved children. They are divided into two sets - the savage, aggressive northerners and the more modest, calm southerners. The southerners mainly interact with Kalousa and trade furs for essential goods. Though a sin, they sometimes trade for manufactures like steel which are infinitely stronger than obsidian. Some have travelled to Kalousa and have a mixed relationship with the small Water Churches. They are often barbarians and clerics. Rules for Lizardfolk can be found in the Monster Manual.
Barbarians are common in the Kalousan Empire. On Kalousa Prime, they often drift in from the highlands to the city to become mercenaries or to be sent abroad to fight. In the colonies, they are members of friendly tribes within the colony or from just outside it. They may also be hostile to Kalousa, as is the case with the savage Ijssel in the west (Yuad) or the cannibals east of Sunderstone. Some may even come from as far away as the Triad Chiefdoms. The vanquished Kingdom of Fork has produced some less civilised Dwarven barbarians too.
Bards make a great living in Kalousa, especially in the cities rich with silver. The flourishing of the arts in Kalousa has created many great artists wishing to share their talenst with many as opposed to the few court nobles who could afford them. They often travel the world to find inspiration and to record what they see in writing, painting or song.
Clerics are the principal members of the various Churches. They heal the sick and preach the words of the gods. Some may travel abroad and spread the faith or undertake pilgrimages to expand their wisdom or to visit holy sites. The most common clerics are those who worship the Six Gods or one in particular. In Kalousa, the Fire Church is the most prominent and powerful. Their holy site is within the Kalousan Empire - the Fire Node - but the government of Kalousa is quite secular, to the annoyance of some Fire clerics.
Druids are part of a universal druidic society dedicated to the protection of nature. They are quite numbered in Kalousa, yet they are very active in the south-east, where the last major forest is under threat of extinction. They generally operate on the fringes of the empire, especially in stark or inhospitable places such as the Ankharan Fire Desert and the frozen Trappers Bay to the south. Someone has to protect those innocent foxes!
Fighters make up the elite guards of the Diet, the cream of the town guards everywhere and the commanders of the edges of the empire. Some have set up academies which produce ideal recruits for the army or for private hire - the Rockshields of Slate City and the Forwardmen of Kalousa being two such places. Others are come from various backgrounds but generally join the army, offer their services to wealthy nobles and merchants or adventure on the frontier.
Monks are quite rare in Kalousa but some have set up cloisters and monasteries in secluded regions. The largest monastery is aligned with the Fire Church in Kalousa City and spreads the philosophy of passions while another large monastery in Berm has a more stoic philosophy.
Paladins are the swords of the Churches. They may serve the Six Gods together by joining the Grand Cathedral in Kalousa City and being assigned a task (usually hunting down heretics or guard duty) or may join a specific Church brotherhood. The Fire Church has the most paladins and they use them to spread the faith on the frontiers, sometimes by the fire and sword but often protect the clerics as they work. During the Mage Wars many independent brotherhoods of the sword have spawned and operate within the empire and beyond it, though they often become a nuisance and some of their beliefs do not correlate with the Churches.
Ranger units exist in the army and are used on the borders as scouts and on patrol. They are highly valued in unknown or difficult terrain and are frequently called in by the army to help in Yuad, Ankhara or Sunderstone. They were used to great effect in the war with Fork. Many independent rangers operate in the Kalousan highlands to subdue rebel activity or hunt for furs and game on the south coast or in Sunderstone.
Rogues can be diplomats, tricksters, spies, thieves and assassins and so much more. In Kalousa City, the Assassin Guild was destroyed in the Civil War but has made a small comeback. Thieves operate in all cities and the Thieves Guild centered in Kalousa has cells across the empire. The Scarlettas and the elite police are drawn from rogue backgrounds.
Sorcerers are better known as Mages in this setting. They are born with magical ability and with the right training can enhances their abilities as they grow. They do not need to pray or train to have access to magic, and as such were and still largely are loathed by clerics and the churches. They were persecuted before the Mage Wars and the Civil War but now enjoy equal status, though they still face discrimination. Every tenth person in Kalousa has the mage gene and over half of these are women. Properly nurtured and allowed to flourish, their powers grow throughout their lives and become stronger with use.
Wizards are normal people with the resources or determination to train themselves in magic. Sorcerers have a particular gene that makes them especially magical while clerics must pray for magic. Wizards go to special universities to acquire magic via study. There are two such universities in the region: the Wizards' College in Laccai and the Spire in Eastside, Lacour. Kalousa does not have one but many of its people return when they graduate to offer their services to the empire. Graduate wizards often join the civil service and help administrate towns while others join the military. Some rise through the ranks and have joined the Diet. They are widely accepted in the region yet compete a bit with Clerics and Sorcerers. The Church look down on their secularised form of magic while sorcerers often compete with them in the army and elsewhere.
Additional Kalousa Information:
The most commonly spoken language is Myrnan-Lacrene, better known as Common. It is the lingua franca of the region and most people can get by speaking this alone. Other languages include Dwarven, spoken by the people of Fork and Omeran, spoken by many of the pilgrims, missionaries and merchants passing through Kalousa. Lizard-tongue might be useful to those who deal with the Far Eastern colonies. People who worship may speak the holy/elder languages, which include Omeran, Dwarven, Staar, Lizard, Illustri and Scou.
Kalousa is very multicultural. All manner of races and creeds pass through the city, if even just to stop on their way elsewhere. Every town has a public space and monuments to foster a sense of belonging to the Kalousan nation. Centuries of warfare make it so society cannot be neatly divided into classes, but three classes roughly encompass Kalousan society: Upper, Middle and Low class. Upper class people are mostly nobles and high-ranking members of the Church. The middle class are the townsfolk and are much more important in Kalousa today. The lower classes are quite small in number: not many farms exist in Kalousa Prime but there are plenty in the colonies. Low class people may benefit from Kalousa's high social mobility; there are plenty of self-made men and women across the empire.
Women in the upper classes may be the property of their father or their husband, but can become members of the Diet and run their own estates. Middle class women have no such restrictions and many have become successful merchants and run their own businesses or practice a craft. Low born women often defer to their husbands or fathers but have plenty of opportunities to elevate themselves but often perform traditional roles. The prominence of women in recent events such as the Civil War have inspired many to look beyond tradition and empower themselves.
Slaves do exist in Kalousa and are an ancient institution: it always had a small population compared to Lacour so needed more labour power. The advent of machinery such as the water mill and the prominence of workshops producing manufacture has reduced the importance of slaves at home but they are still used abroad, especially in the gold mines of Yuad and the plantations around Sunderstone.
Government and Military
Kalousa is ruled by Empress Karina elected by the Grand Diet. There are 54 'nobles' in the Diet, from each of the provinces, of whom about half a dozen became the Council of the Empress-Elect. One of these is the Vizier, the Lady Shaekra. Admiral Neevis controls the Imperial Fleet and Yevon is the Commander of the City Guard. The Chief Magister, responsible for justice and internal affairs, is called Valaine. He also controls the elite police force. Spymaster Vorq is responsible for external affairs, intelligence-gathering and commands the mythical Scarlettas.
Administration of the colonies and the 50+ provinces fall to the nobles primarily. Many were pushed out of control by the Red Magi, who control the majority of provinces now. Generally the governor of a province has a small staff and makes himself available to the local populace. He might also mediate conflicts, but regional courts and the high court in Kalousa City could resolve cases they cannot.
Kalousa's strength lies in its navy. It has over 400 ships, one of the largest in the world. Around half are always in the Brothers' Channel. The Kalousan Marines are one of the world's elite. A small terrestrial army guards Kalousa Prime, with about 10,000 guards in Kalousa City and another 2000 or so guarding the Diet members. Larger forces exist along troublesome borders, namely the Yuad-Omera border and in Sunderstone.
Barter was common in the region after the collapse of the world gold market, but the creation of a world silver market in the last two centuries has created unbelievable wealth. Kalousa mints its own currency in silver and it is easily traded with Lacour and the far north. The market economy has allowed the cities to flourish while the specialisation of agriculture in Ankhara and Fork has allowed for the growth in population over the last century.
Architecture and engineering