Empire of Maldar
The Black Throne, Realm of Iron
Capital: Theodosia (48,000)
Ruler: His Great and Benevolent Sovereign, Emperor Vasev Gogoyrov, “The Black Dragon”
Major Settlements: Dunyar (13,000), Fort Anastasa (3,500), Fort Mavra (4,250), Gavril (7,500), Kasimer (24,000), Kotenska (11,000), Tjaia (9,000), Valeska (32,000)
State Religion: Bane
Major Exports: Cloth, coal, furs, gold, grains, iron, leather goods, livestock, silver, timber, wool
Major Imports: Ale, beer, copper, oil, pipeweed, slaves, tea, trade goods, wine
Alliances: Mutual trade and defense treaties with Anderland (vassal state).
Hostilities: Ongoing skirmishes with bandit kings in the Cadean Marches; border clashes with Paladanthis; raids by reavers from Uthnal; marauding humanoids from the Anvil Mountains; humanoid raiders from the Goliath Heights; ongoing resistance by goliath tribes in the Goliath Heights; humanoid incursions from the Seraph Hills; raids by nomads from the Crucible Wastes; attacks by creatures dwelling in the Ruzalka Forest.
Ambitions: Considering assimilating Anderland entirely; seeks to control or influence towns along border with the Cadean Marches; desperately wants to control a port on the Sea of the Drowned Gods (preferably in the Cadean Marches); territorial expansions to the west and east whenever possible.
Relics & Artifacts: Hammer of Kord, the Helm of Bane, seven of the nine Tomes of Brutality, the Galean Stone, Moradin’s Anvil of Forging, the legendary two-handed sword Malachai’s Bane, the Shard of Temptation, the Obsidian Throne, the Crown of Immortality, the Longbow of Saral, the Orb of Entropy, Gideon’s Maul, Gideon’s Mighty Mace, two of the four surviving Archon Figurines, the Robes of Divination, Maldar’s Crystalline Spear, the Gauntlet of Bane’s Wrath, and the Apocalypse Stone
Of all the kingdoms and realms in Stormfell, the Empire of Maldar represents one of the gravest threats to peace. While other nations falter or cling desperately to their lands, Maldar’s power continues to grow. The armies of Maldar are now among the largest and most powerful.
The only element missing from Maldar, and the only element standing in its way of greater conquest, is the presence of a seawater port. Maldar is a landlocked kingdom, and that one blessing has helped keep the peace in the region more than anything else.
The people of Maldar live in a state of constant fear and paranoia. Their government is one of the most all encompassing and powerful in existence. The people of Maldar live at the whim of their emperor. They exist in a nation that is well on its way to becoming a true theocracy – a theocracy devoted to the dark god Bane.
The realms and regions along Maldar’s borders can only watch and wait for the inevitable. Maldar has always demonstrated strong territorial ambitions, but of late the empire seems more and more determined to conquer everything in its path. For the people in and around Maldar, it is not a question of if war will come, but only when.
The Maldaran Point of View
The people of Maldar possess a set of unique points of view. They reserve one attitude for when they talk about foreigners, outsiders, or simply the rest of the world. Their other point of view concerns how they feel about their own culture and their place within it.
Maldarans have long held a “us versus them” mentality when thinking about the rest of the world. This nation began with a group of banished nobles and their followers, and the Maldarans have always felt as if they were alone against a cold and uncaring world – a world filled with enemies.
For the most part, Maldarans believe it is their destiny to rule a large portion of the world. They hold tremendous pride in their culture’s accomplishments, and they feel great pride in the strength of the empire, especially in a time when most nations are struggling or dying. The Maldarans see themselves as the toughest, bravest, and cleverest of any culture. Their cities are prime examples of modern technology mingled with ancient magic.
Overall, Maldarans assume that enemies surround their beloved kingdom. They view the Cadeans as brigands and thieves all. They despise the Paladanthans as conceited, arrogant, and devoted to a false god.
Despite all this pride and love of the empire, Maldarans hold an intriguing point of view when discussing their lives and that of their empire. If you were to force the typical Maldaran to tell the truth, he would admit he hates Bane and everything the Black God stands for.
Unfortunately, Maldarans have no choice in the matter – worship of Bane is demanded by law and failure is severely punished.
Likewise, Maldarans distrust and fear their government, their military, the nobles, and most of all, the emperor. They live in a police state that is controlled by the most efficient, ruthless, and effective government in existence. The Maldaran government controls virtually every facet of daily life to an extent impossible or unbelievable in any other realm.
As a result of their living conditions, Maldarans struggle to think “correct” thoughts, to speak only “correct” phrases and beliefs, and to avoid drawing the attention of the Maldaran Hell Hounds (the state police force, infamous for the ability of its domestic spies).
Living as they must, Maldarans are typically dour, grim, and seemingly humorless. Their jokes and stories seem filled with bleak and cynical humor. Without the relief of the gladiatorial games, most Maldarans would likely fall to despondent depression, especially during the long winter montsh.
Maldarans firmly believe that life is outside their control or influence (with the exception of the nobles and high clergy of the Church of Bane; they firmly believe in their control and influence, and rightfully so). These folk have little to no choice in how they live, where they live, and what they do with their lives. Everything they own, everything they believe, and everything they are belongs to their emperor and to the god known as Bane.
The emperor of Maldar is the government. He shares power with no one, asks permission or advice from no one, and controls the fate of every last citizen in his domain. The Maldaran Emperor enjoys a level of power and domination that rivals anything held by Ahûn-Nakt or Aeddon in times past.
The emperor chooses his successor; for the past several generations, the throne has remained with the Gogoyrov bloodline, and likely will for some time. When a new emperor ascends the throne, he essentially becomes god on earth.
Although the Church of Bane dominates religious life in the empire, its clergy hold relatively limited political power. The emperor also holds title as High Priest of the Church of Bane; the accepted (and required) belief is that the emperor is the son of Bane, descended from the blood of that god, and thus he is truly divine. Not surprisingly, most emperors fully accept and promote this belief.
The nobles of the realm hold little true political power, but they do hold considerable wealth and the love of the common folk. Whereas the emperor, the clergy of Bane, and the state enforcers are typically cruel and aloof to the public, the nobles have become the “protectors of the people.” Although this claim barely stands up to scrutiny, it remains a popular belief. Thus, the nobles possess a measure of power of keeping the commoners in line. The nobility must walk a fine line between appeasing the emperor and upholding the interests of the common folk.
The government of Maldar is unique in the world. It is the most efficient and the most powerful. It operates a highly regimented and professional bureaucracy, it excels at garnering revenue, and it possesses tremendous power to spy on the populace. No other realm in the world is as well equipped to grow and propser like Maldar. The Maldaran government operates as the stern authoritarian to the populace, keeping people in line and destroying any rebellious sentiment or dissension.
The Maldaran armed forces are professional, well trained, disciplined, and well equipped. They have considerable experience in suppressing popular unrest, and they have tremendous experience in fighting bandits and humanoids. Although they have not fought a full-scale war in a long time, many people believe such an event is forthcoming and soon.
The Maldaran military is quite large, which is not surprising given the empire’s size and expanse. The military includes active forces as well as reserve militia organized at the town level.
In combat, Maldaran forces are not noted for quick thinking or remarkable skill. Instead, they rely on numbers and relentless attacks. Maldaran officers have little regard for their soldiers; high casualty rates are acceptable in accomplishing worthy objectives.
Faith & Religion
There is but one accepted faith in Maldar: the Church of Bane. All households must maintain a shrine devoted to the Black God, and all temples or shrines must be devoted solely to Bane. The Maldarans must worship Bane or suffer tremendous punishments.
Few Maldarans actively want to worship Bane, but they have no real choice. The state has become ruthlessly efficient at locating nonbelievers and heathens. The Maldarans must demonstrate their faith towards Bane or risk losing property, family, and their lives.
Although numerous underground religious movements exist in the empire, these survive only through secrecy and by remaning insignificant. As mentioned, the state has demonstrated tremendous ability in rooting out opponents of the officially sanctioned religion.
Worship of other gods is permitted, but only in small ways. A household shrine must be dedicted to Bane first, with all other gods secondary at best. Temples dedicated to other gods cannot advertise their presence and must remain in small, out of the way locations. These churches are heavily taxes and often must suffer repeated raids by the Hell Hounds. Clergy of other faiths are routinely arrested and tortured into leaving or converting.
The Church of Bane is tightly interwoven with the government of Maldar; indeed, the Emperor of Maldar is considered part man and part god, the “Son of Bane.” Bane’s clergy enjoy wide freedom and latitude in daily life, far more so than any other social class. All state ceremonies, rituals, and functions pay homage to Bane. His church is the only one that enjoys freedom from state taxation or harassment.
Appearance & Lifestyle
The typical Maldaran has somewhat pale skin tones with light brown, blond, or red hair. Maldarans dress in gray and browns, with emphasis on drab colors – it never pays for a common citizen to draw attention to his clothing or his person.
For most Maldarans, daily life is a relentless ritual of work and tribute to Bane. Maldarans are expected to work to benefit the empire. When at home, they are expected to devote their prayers and thoughts to Bane’s power. Those with strength and will are granted the blessing of serving in the army or, better yet, in the Hell Hounds. Not surprisingly, military service ranks high in respect and prestige in Maldar.
Life in Maldar is difficult, although starvation and abject poverty are relatively uncommon. The greatest challenges come in obeying all the laws, paying all the taxes, and making the proper donations to Bane, all without demonstrating rebellious sentiment or any form of dissension. Individuality is discouraged. Conformity is the best way to survive and avoid punishment. Generations of this lifestyle have taught Maldarans to obey orders, keep silent, and serve the good of the empire without question.