Facing the Faceless
The Grand Empire of Thyatis was founded over three hundred years ago when nine feudal duchies united under the Thyatian banner. It is easily the largest present-day human civilization, and enjoys a rich martial tradition of discipline, honor, and courage.
Geography: The vast empire of Thyatis extends from the Frozen Wastes to the north to the tropical seas of the south, from the forbidding peaks of Novskaya to the west to the Middenmurk to the east. As such, its borders contain a wide variety of terrain. Western Thyatis ranges from hilly to downright mountainous, Northern Thyatis is covered with pines and rich in ore, Eastern Thyatis has many rivers and wetlands, and Southern Thyatis ranges from lush tropical lands to vast deserts, depending on one’s proximity to the seas and a vast river which runs from north to south straight through the middle of the Thyatian Empire. The proximity of the river to the capital is no accident; the floodplains of the mighty river are the breadbasket of the Thyatian Empire and, prior to the rise of the empire, were hotly contested territories.
Political System: Empress Andrea of Thorn (formal address: Her Imperial Highness) leads the Imperial Guard from her throne in the Fortress, and while she legally commands the entire empire, the legislative affairs are handled by the Council of Nine. The Council consists of representatives from each of the Inner Duchies chosen by the Duke, who is simply the recognized head of that duchy’s noble house. The Dukes in turn rule over the rulers of the Middle Baronies, who in turn rule over the scattered farms and villages of the Outer Rim. A fealty system instills loyalty and provides a clear chain of command:
- A Knight (formal address: Sir or Madam), who can be a noble or landed gentry (someone who purchases or is otherwise awarded their station), controls a fief in the Outer Rim or a garrison of troops. They swear fealty to a Baron.
- A Baron (formal address: Lord or Lady), who can be a noble of the same house as the Duke or married to the same, controls one of the Middle Baronies between the noble house’s Inner Duchy and the Outer Rim. The Baron swears fealty to the Duke of the house.
- A Duke (formal address: Duke or Duchess), who is always a noble of the same house as the name of the Duchy, controls one of the Inner Duchies, the land between the Middle Baronies and the Fortress. The Duke swears fealty to the Empress.
The original lands of the duchies remain largely as they were during their independence, and retain much of their cultural traditions and even legal power. The Dukes of Thyatis are given a free hand in ruling their own lands, so long as they offer regular tribute to the Imperial Throne. This tribute can consist of nearly anything of value to the Empire: Gold is most common, but less wealthy duchies often substitute manpower in the form of conscripts for the Imperial Guard or even raw materials and foodstuffs.