View Full Version : The Many Provinces

Cecil Grey
2007-08-31, 11:29 AM
This is the campaign setting for my latest game here on the board. More info will be added daily, so what you see here now is not the finished version. This is posted here mostly for the reference of my players, but anyone else who wish to comment or suggest things are welcome to! Keep in mind though that historical or linguistic correctness is not what I'm after... merely an eastern flavor.



Gevranna is the northernmost province of the East, and is the smallest. Much of the valed and rolling lowlands of the province (which comprise a little more than half of its lands), are inhabited by rustic rice farmers, Mezhi nomads and ox-herders. The lowlands have short, blazing summers and long, bitter winters, with exceedingly short planting and harvesting seasons. The northernmost areas of Gevranna are largely unsullied by mainland politics. This is due to both the minimal population and the fact that the northern part of the province in made up entirely of mountains and rocky plateaus, dotted here and there by an odd village or temple devoted to an ancient form of the Tao Leu-Kami faith.

Lowlands, each farming community is ruled over by a minor lord (only sometimes officially recognized under Imperial Charter) or a temple devoted to the Tao Quilung (the official imperial religion). Gevranna’s capital is a small trading town called Gerakai, known for its booming horse trade, Mezhi mercenaries, and a surprising lack of School influence. Although several Schools have small followings in the town, none hold much sway over local politics. The lord of Gerakai is a cruel man named Jakan Keigi, and is officially a Samurai and Daimyo under imperial charter. He uses this recognition inherited from his noble father to bully the outlying lords of the province, and has an eye to perhaps expand the town’s holdings throughout the province, beyond just the southern borderlands.

A major point of contention within Gerakai is the growing resentment of the ancient faith of Tao Leu-Kami and that of the imperial religion, the Tao Quilung. The bald, rustic priests and monks of the old faith (mostly spirit shamans and monks) are quite pacifistic in their dealings, but the aggressive and haughty Tau Quilung faith (represented by shugenja, monks and “samurai” of the crusader class) resents such ancient traditions as the Tao Leu-Kami, and have made several political attacks against the older faith. Daimyo Jakan Keigi has yet to make his position on this matter known…


The rolling Mezhi Steppes lie south and east of Gevranna, and stretch for thousands of miles. The only province that matches Mezhi for land is newly-captured Moraen, far to the south. The people of Mezhi are semi-nomadic, having in recent decades taken more to the feudal ways of the Lai-Shi (people of the provinces of Lai-Shoun, Lai-Beo and Lai-Shundo) and to some extent that of the Ji-Shi (the people of Ji Mai and Ji Ondai). Although more fortified and militarily organized than in past centuries, Mezhi is still largely rustic and home to many tribes of horse-nomads who reject the ways of the south, instead taking to the life of the mercenary or raider to survive, herding wild horses when necessary.

The more progressive settlements of Mezhi are still largely isolated from the rest of imperial society, due to both cultural differences and a lack of a reliable system of roads. There is no imperial capital as of yet in Mezhi, but the largest power center seems to be the town of Noni-Mezhi, a once-small village that grew in size after becoming home to a large campus of the Gaosai School of Blades, one of the most powerful independent martial Schools in the East. Having grown as a point of civilization in the northern provinces, Noni-Mezhi has also become host to a Tao Quilung temple, a small School of ninja called the Scarlet Moon Clan, and a haven for natural-born wilders who would have otherwise been killed by their superstitious nomad brethren. Noni-Mezhi is ruled by a standard Collegiate Council, meaning that each powerful School in the area has a voting and legislative representative, each Daimyo has a voting seat, while other power groups (such as the Tao Quilung) have but token seats, and, should they wish to do so, must cultivate power in… other ways.


Lai-Beo is the current spiritual capital of the Many Provinces. The Temple of Four Dragons – the heart of the Tao Quilung, is located in the city of Bethai, which serves as the province’s capital. Much like most of the Lai-Shi and Ji-Shi lands, Lai-Beo is subject to hot summers, plentiful rainy seasons, and long, bitter winters. Its cities are neat and orderly, laid out precisely by imperial architects under the long-dead Vondo Dynasty, while the people of Lai-Beo are primarily of Lai-Shi heritage, although Ji-Shi and folks from the southern provinces are also quite common in the larger cities.

Much of the eastern half of the province is still rebuilding after a rather bloody conflict involving militant followers of the Way of Mahandril (a faith started in the southern province of Moraen by the prophet Mahandril), started when one of the Seven White Wyrms of the Tao Quilung openly insulted and disgraced a Moraeni emissary at the Imperial Court in the capital. Although most believe that it was the collected provincial forces led by Tao Quilung samurai who won the battle, there was heavy losses on both sides, and between the powerful magics called upon by the Temple’s shugenja and the psionics of the Way’s divine minds, the war has definitely left its mark on the countryside.


Lai-Shundo is the imperial province, containing the ancient city of Shundo and the formidable Xondai Palace, the seat of imperial power in the East. Lai-Shundo is all ancient forests, unimaginably tall cliffs, powerful waterfalls, rolling rice fields, samurai keeps, and typically grand and well-planned Lai-Shi cities. The people of the imperial province, while predominantly Lai-Shi, live alongside an exceptional number of other provincial ethnic groups, including a large number of newly arrived Moraeni southfolk.

Lai-Shundo and the other Lai-Shi provinces are the only provinces under direct and absolute control of the Imperial House, meaning that there are no Collegiate (School) governments or governments run by merchant clans or Circles. Instead, Daimyos of provincial holdings report to an Imperial Governor, who in turn reports directly to the imperial court either in person or through a trusted chancellor.

The capital city of both the province and the empire is Shundo, a bustling metropolis that straddles the Xemodo River, allowing merchant ships from the Ukemi Ocean (with the proper papers) to sail through the city’s river gates and dock directly along the market district in the center of the city. It is also the home of the Great Academy, housing the three Imperial Academies (the Academy of the Sun, the Academy of Night, and the Academy of Stars), all of which act as training facilities for warriors (Sun), ninja (Night) and psions (stars) loyal to the Imperial House. The Warblades of Sun are seen at the head of the most powerful imperial armies, while the Ninja of Night are seen (or not) at the forefront of many of the empire’s more subtle wars. The Psions of Stars aid members of the other two imperial schools with their powers, and are sometimes recruited into the Circle of Ojora, an elite and secretive group of imperial psions. The Psions of Stars are also known to form cells of specifically trained individuals known as Oni Hunters, who travel the imperial lands in search of rampant or disruptive Kami.

The Imperial Palace complex of Xondai takes up about a quarter of the city’s considerable size, including expansive parade grounds, garden courtyards, the quarters of the Imperial Household, their guards, retainers, servants, courtiers, guests and political prisoners etc. Also within the complex’s mighty walls is the headquarters of the powerful Circle of Ojora and the barracks of the Kinshi-No-Dato: the Imperial Bodyguards; samurai, warblades, swordsages, crusaders, ninja and even soulknives of the highest caliber, all bedecked in featureless porcelain masks that are the badges of their ancient office.

Major Factions:

The most common power groups throughout the provinces are: noble houses, ruled by imperially ratified Daimyos and backed by forces of conscripts and samurai; warlord houses ruled by often unofficial warlords called Shoguns; merchant houses ruled by a patriarch or matriarch of the family, backed by a network of spies, agents and mercenaries; Schools led either by a council of teachers called “sensei” or by a grand-master depending on internal politics; Circles, groups joined together through psionic power, often organized into covens or cabals, each one led by the most experience psion who in turn reports to a council of elders or an individual of equivalent rank; and religious organizations, led often by a prophet or council of high priests.

The Imperial House
Members: Blood-members of the imperial family.
Portfolio: Ruling the Many Provinces… or at least trying to regain the level of control they exercised before the War of the Bleeding Sun.
Alignment: Any.
Power Base: The province of Lai-Shundo and the imperial capital of Shundo, although widespread political marriages have landed blood-members of the Imperial House in places of power throughout the provinces.
Presence: Wherever the Imperial Agents or the Imperial Army can be found, the gravity of the Imperial House can be felt. The House’s base is massive and labyrinthine Xondai Palace in the center of the city of Shundo.

The Tao Quilung
Members: Shugenja and monks devoted to the Tao Quilung, known also as the Way of Four Dragons.
Portfolio: Bureaucratic and spiritual universalism within the provinces, united under the Temples of the Tao Quilung.
Alignment: Any lawful.
Power Base: The province of Lai-Beo and its capital, Bethai, are almost completely under the control of the priesthood, with official imperial sanctions backing them. The religion has a presence in all provinces and expands aggressively, suppressing other spiritualities it finds threatening in some way. While many of the Temple’s highest officials (including the ruling council, known as the Seven White Wyrms) can seem as cold-hearted bureocrats, many of the minor, parish-level priests and monks are well-meaning pillars of society.
Presence: In most of the inner provinces, the Tao Quilung is an unavoidable fact of life, holding say over many aspects of day-to-day life, including festivals, sacred holidays, and public events (often held in temple courtyards and grounds). Politically, some members of the Temple’s upper echelon seek only to spread their faith to the unenlightened, while others have other plans. Since the end of the War of the Crying Sun almost ninety years ago and the subsequent dramatic recession in imperial political power, some elements of the Tao Quilung have set their sights on gaining control of not only the Imperial House (who are already converts), but also the last remnants of imperial military and administrative might.

The Imperial Agents
Members: Anyone under direct control of the Imperial House and its military.
Portfolio: Anything from infiltrating and putting an end to dissident groups, to being a bodyguard to a member of the Imperial Household.
Alignment: Any, but usually non-chaotic.
Power Base: Imperial agents are found most commonly in the capital city and the imperial province of Lai-Shundo, however their influence spreads to wherever imperial Daimyos hold court.
Presence: Depending on the nature of the task given to the individual agent, they are not necessarily easy to spot in a crowd. Some blend into the worker and farmer caste with ease, while others are highly appointed samurai in gleaming armor, bearing the symbol of the Imperial House with pride.

The Imperial Academy of the Sun
Members: Martial characters being trained in the art of the Warblade, having been trained from youth.
Portfolio: Serving as a school for officers and military leaders of imperial forces.
Alignment: Usually non-chaotic.
Power Base: The academy has a presence in almost every major city with imperial ties, although the Great Academy in Shundo is the largest, most famous, and most powerful.
Presence: Graduates of the Academy of the Sun can be seen leading both the Imperial Army as well as the forces of many Daimyo lords with money enough to receive training there. Politically, the School claims neutrality, but is in fact engaged in a feud with the Academy of Night that dates back to the most heated days of the War of the Bleeding Sun. The nature and cause of this feud is known only to graduates and instructors of the academies, but has already cost the lives of several innocent novices on either side…

The School of the Crescent Moon
Members: Ninjas, rogues and monks, specially trained as Ninjas of the Crescent Moon.
Portfolio: Hired assassins specializing in political maneuverings, with a knack for staying neutral.
Alignment: Non-chaotic.
Power Base: Based in the capital city of Shundo, with an unknown number of highly mobile cells in any given city. Unknown leadership.
Presence: From the outside, it seems the School of the Crescent Moon has no ulterior motives aside from killing those thought to be invincible, and making vast sums of money in the process. Although effective, the services of the School are hard to obtain, as the locations of their training facilities and safe houses are not widely known. If one looks hard enough, and spends enough coin doing so, the Ninjas of the Crescent Moon make themselves known…
Other: The Ninja of the Crescent Moon prestige class from “Sword and Fist” is used for this faction. For ninja characters wishing to take this class, they must take levels in either monk or rogue to obtain the evasion special ability.

The Circle of Ojora
Members: Psions (many of whom are seers) loyal to the Imperial House
Portfolio: Spying and carrying out special missions for the Imperial Household when called upon to do so. Sinda-Ojora is the Rin-Shi Grand Master of the circle, and she reports directly to Emperor Dojikahn Xondai.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral (usually)
Power Base: The Circle of Ojora has its base in the city of Shundo within the ancient walls of Xondai Palace.
Presence: The Ojora rarely make themselves known outside the halls of Xondai and other courts securely under imperial control, adopting a certain stealth when not in the presence of their fellows, aided by their potent psionic abilities.

The Circle of the Seven Spheres
Members: Psions and scholars.
Portfolio: The scientific study of the planes and Kami.
Alignment: Any, although many are lawful-neutral, claiming devotion only to their lore.
Power Base: Covens throughout the Ji-Shi provinces and Moraen, with a small presence in the Lai-Shi provinces and Rin-Po.
Presence: The Circle of the Seven Spheres generally steers clear of political conflict, but, depending on local Temple leaders, are commonly the victims of religious persecution at the hands of the Tao Quilung, who see their cold view of the mystical as blasphemous. The Circle maintains a certain degree of power by selling their psionic items on the open market for cheaper than individual non-members are able, and use funds generated from their businesses to mount expeditions into Kami-haunted areas.