Languages: Urul, Common, Proto-language variants of all other Aeldan languages
Government: Tiered Representative Democracy and Noocracy paired with Celestial Monarchy
Ruler: Aeon and Concilum
Also Known As: the First Empire, the Progenitor Empire, The Folding Empire, Olim Imperium, Genitor Imperii, Pax Primus Populi, The Ancient Imperium
Formation: The formation of the Imperium occurred over millenia and marked a path from the chaos of early humanity to the order of the Imperium that was long and arduous, and equal parts blood and ink. Where the origins of the Imperium lie in superstition and fear of the Ayr, the ascendant destination was an edifice of reason and logic that lingers to this day.
The first chain that would eventually bind the Empire was forged by a linguist of particular skill…
Advanced Callings and Factions
Shifters: Arcane linguists with power over biological forms.
- Colonials: Collectivist shifters who focused on blending their wills and federating their intellects.
- Behemoths: Unique and ancient apex shifters, grown so large and complex as to be akin to living biomes.
- Proteans: Ever-changing explorers, diplomats, and warriors who composed the bulk of the Shifter population.
Singers: Arcane linguists with power over emotion and sentiment.
- Ikaelos: Healers focused on treatment through dreams, illusions, and the bridging of experience through empathy.
- Kadai: Quieting ones, an order of guardian companions for Linguists who developed a special ability to interfere with the arcane lingua.
- Vashald: Narrative storytellers, lorekeepers and entertainers with a focus on chronicle, oath, and bond keeping.
Shapers: Arcane linguists with power over fundamental physical reality.
- Matterweavers: Material specialists who focus on matter manipulation and the creation of novel substances and resources.
- Forceweavers: Force specialists who focus on manipulating fundamental forces and the study and exploration of the nature of reality.
- Axisweavers: Axis-sliding Striders that explored beyond the limits of conventional reality and would eventually evolve into the Ujia and then Xia.
- Sige: Silent artisans, a calling which would eventually be embodied in three parts as Artifex, Urangi, and Sibyla.
- Umbrals: The Silent spies who utilized cross-cultural technologies of incredible power.
- Sentinels: The Silent warriors, both mortal and mechanical,, tasked with the internal and external safety of the Empire.
- Altere: The Altered, those who were made or mutated into new forms by Sige and Linguist intervention and would eventually evolve into groups such as the Iyreni, Kholblod, and V’anma,
- Durants: The devoted servants of the Ayr, Aythrin, and Ayrkin, encompassing ascetic mendicants, mystics, and spiritual warriors.
- Exiles: The few who lived on the outside of the Imperium, drawn there by asocial impulse, or driven there by exclusionary forces
The history of Aeldos is poorly maintained. The annals and historical codices are fragmentary and limited and few reliable texts record more than a few hundred years at a time. As a result, the events of the Imperium, occurring over 4,000 years prior to today, exist in a hazy pre-history that spans millenium. With the knowledge of the Urul lost, scattered, or all-too-frequently indecipherable, it is difficult to make specific or even generalized claims about them. Instead the Urul have become mythical rather than historical. The most common incarnations of this mythology characterize the Urul Imperium as a vast and powerful culture that spanned the length and breadth of ancient Aeldos, uniting the thousand disparate tribes of humanity and forging a golden age for all. According to the lore this singular society was structured around four ‘Pillars of Enlightenment’, groups of philosophical and practical distinction with particular prominence in the empire;
The Pillar of Shapers, whose intellect granted the ability to fold the fundamental forces of the world and who studied these forces from their endless manses in the Turning Tower of Hyperion,
- The Shapers of the Imperium were a group of arcane linguists gifted in the manipulation of the fundamental aspects of reality; forces, matter, and dimensional axes. This power permitted them to reshape the world, create new and novel forms of matter, and move across Aeldos nearly instantaneously.
The Pillar of Shifters, whose wisdom granted the ability to fold the myriad forms of life and biology and who cultivated their many forms in the incalculable cenotes and hibernacula of Hellioth,
- The Shifters of the Imperium were a group of arcane linguists gifted in the manipulation of the natural and artificial anatomies and biologies of Aeldos. Using this power they crafted myriad forms for themselves and others, from unique humanoid shapes to titanic living biological habitats for other species, to biological federations composed of multiple distinct intellects meshed into a single swarm intelligence.
The Pillar of Singers, whose empathy granted the ability to fold the emotive landscape of the human mind and who crafted their symphony in the eternal auditoria of Astraeos,
- The Singers of the Imperium were a group of arcane linguists gifted in the creation of illusions and manipulation of emotions. This power allowed them to educate, entertain, and motivate others, heal those ailments beyond the material, and even silence other arcanists whose control of their own occult lingua wavered.
The Pillar of Silent, whose elite, the Sige, are able to use ingenuity and intellect to fold the mundane into wondrous new inventions and who forged their creations in the sleepless foundry of Selene.
- The Silent of the Imperium represented the vast majority of humanity who were unable to, or chose not to utilize the arcane languages. Instead, the Silent were known for their incredible inventiveness and ability to learn from and synthesize the abilities of the other pillars. The Sige, a subgroup of elite engineers of the Silent culture, rose to equal the Shapers, Shifters, and Singers on this basis. Though sometimes characterized as a lower class of the Urul society in stories, the Silent are the only culture known to have survive the fall of the Imperium, evolving into the many cultures of modern Aeldos, but most specifically and directly in the city of Selene.
According to the stories, the unified empire of humanity lasted for millennia, and in its course tamed the untrammelled chaos left behind from the age of Amth, the One. At its height this singular human empire ruled all of Aeldos, building on a mix of arcane and technological genius and power to create wonder and plenty unlike any before or since. Despite the lack of knowledge about the age of the Imperium, physical evidence of the Genitor Imperii can be found across the continent from relic roads, ruined cities, and ageless artefacts to the majestic Fengyras Mountains that are home to the Silent city of Selene and even the Badlands and Chillwaste which are believed to be the scars of the war that ended the Imperium.
Even from its ancient grave, the Imperium exerts considerable influence on modern Aeldos. The incredible technological prowess of the Imperium left remnants which endure thousands of years later, sometimes in impossibly pristine condition, and countless adventurers pursue every half-baked rumour of Urul ruins, vaults, and caches in the hopes of recovering legendary artefacts. Though such aspirations are often cut violently short by the realities of exploring the modern world, there are enough examples of Urul technology changing the very course of a culture to maintain the ceaseless flow of brave or foolhardy explorers. Such figures readily point to the agricultural freedom of the Tollam, the might of Victran firearms and Granden lightcasters, or the enduring and seemingly invincible majesty of Selene to support their expeditions.
While the truth of Urul power and dominion is rarely disputed, nature and role of this ancient culture in the making of the modern world is a topic of fierce debate across cultures.
For many, the Urul were mythic wardens who tamed a broken world eradicating the torments of aging, disease and madness, building monuments to the potential and achievements of humanity, diving the wild aberrations of the Ayr to the edges. In this view, the dismal state of the world in the absence of the Imperial power was the inevitable vengeance of nature on humanity. Others posit a different theory however; that the Urul themselves were the midwives of their own destruction. That they fell at the hands of self-made horrors. For many among the former, it is enough to say that they existed and fell, and no greater truth is relevant, save that if it could happen to them it could happen again, but for the latter the fall of the Urul is evidence of their human frailty, of their mortal fallibility, and the essential corruptibility of the species.
Aeon = Celestial Emperor
Concilium = Council
Administrare = Administration
Kathari = Martial Service (literally ‘Pure Ones’)
Kathari Asibel = Military
Kathari Skeyal = Constabulary
Rough Work / Potential Spoilers
Though the Imperium is easy to characterize as monolithic in nature for the most part this is simply a useful fiction; while the Empire was politically united under a representative democracy, it was culturally diverse, with each region, city, and town boasting its own local patterns and traditions. Nowhere is this trait more obvious than in the four main ‘factions’ of the Imperium, which were in reality their own distinct cultures, diffuse and expansive, but each possessing a dense centre of power. Moreover, these so-called “four pillars” were not alone and there were other regional factions and groups that exercised power and influence across the Imperium.
The political structure of the Imperium is relatively simple by most terms.
– Ostensibly, the summit of Imperial power was the Aeon. Also known as the Arkhein Rex, Arkhein Kerhon Rex, or most simply as the Emanant Emperor, the Aeon was a figure said to be chosen by the Ayr themselves to represent their celestial will and guidance of humanity, and whose judgements and declarations carried singular weight.
– Below the Aeon was the Assembly of Twelve, also known as the Concilium, composed of three elected representatives from each faction, intended to represent the interests of their people and regions.
– Below the Concilium was the vast apparatus of the Administrare whose sole function was to execute the civil commands of the Concilium and the Aeon.
– Also below the Concilium was the Kathari, which encompassed two distinct bodies; the Kathari Asi who fulfilled the role of military and the Kathari Skey who fulfilled the role of constabulary.
Though the Aeon was the highest ranking figure of the Imperium by title, by account, the true power of the Urul lay in the Concilium, upon whose shoulders rested the direction of the Imperium. These twelve figures, chosen to represent the myriad factions and organizations of their pillars, were responsible for temporal affairs such as law and governance. Conversely, the Aeon’s role was the provide a celestial perspective on mortal affairs and act as tie breaker during the exceedingly rare event of a deadlock. Though the Aeon could, if it so chose, override the concilium or direct them to some specific end, this was done only a handful of times in the span of millenia.
Regardless of the precise nature of power, for most of the Urul, the experience of the Imperium was neither the Concilium or the Aeon; it was the Administrare, the omnipresent civil service who saw to the mundane tasks of the Imperium, and the Kathari, the martial arm of the Imperium.
While modern cultures are typically homogenous in sapient composition, by most accounts the Imperium was composed of humans, artilects, and quasihumans alike. These species were welcome in the Imperium but as Silent by default, they only ever ascended to political power as members of the Silent faction, unable to rise to leadership in the other factions of the Imperium.
- Bellator: The Bellator were viewed with great awe and respect by the early Imperials, in no small part due to their role as allies and friends of humanity, guardians of many of the early tribes of humanity. As a result, during the ascendency and unification of the Imperium, the chosen of Oto were left largely unchallenged, retaining their own culture and politics on ancient land claimed by them. Despite this, many Bellatori chose to integrate with the Imperium, becoming a relatively common sight in many of the great cities.
- Oneiri and Tamaa: The intrinsically symbiotic social and biological relationship between the Tamaa and Oneiri and humanity was established long before the rise of the Imperium . Often seen as possessing intrinsic celestial authority and wisdom, many attained considerable power and prestige in broader Urul society. Across the Imperium, in Singer, Shifter, and Silent cities, enclaves and communities of Tamaa and Oneiri were treated with considerable deference. The exception was the Shapers of Hyperion who often held these species in low esteem, preferring the company of Kaeki and Artilects instead. By all accounts the only separation between the Imperium and these species was a Tamaa city on the western fringe of the Imperium.
- Kaeki: The Kaeki were highly valued members of the Imperium, treated with an almost religious deference by the Urul in general, but the arcane linguists specifically. Granted access to both spiritual and temporal power, few Kaeki ever sought to establish any power outside of the Imperium, and they never formed a distinct dominion or territory.
- Tollam: The Tollam were a creation of the Sige during the fall of the empire and as such do not appear at all in the early records of the Imperium. It was only after the fall that the Tollam were able to obtain freedom and establish their own domains.
- Heliar: The Heliar are the result of a dark act committed in secret during the rise of the Imperium; the shattering.