Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I is for Sleeping Beauty

So, long ago I was running a game and my wife asked if she could play "sleeping beauty" as her character. I shrugged, agreed, and tweaked the first adventure to have an extra room on the ancient castle-cum-dungeon. I was very pleased when the "sleeping beauty" character turned out to be a domineering Elan telepath who claimed to be the rightful heir to an empire buried a thousand years in the campaign's history. "Sleeping Beauty" was in turn woken up by a acolyte of the demon lord Graz'zt and a crazed artificer who were all too happy to help her on her quest to restore her long-dead empire (by conquering all the kingdoms that had been set up since).

That campaign ended too soon. Years passed, campaigns passed, but the legacy of "Sleeping Beauty the Conqueror" lives on in most of my campaigns. Here is the end-result (a bit of lore from my home campaign world).


The Immortal Infanta, Diaspora Incendar bint Dharien

The child Empress rules Saexe with a velvet glove. Despite having lived for several millennia, the Infanta still appears as a young human girl. She is ageless and timeless.

The Infanta, ruler of the Saexe Empire, makes her home in Jzadirune. She is the savior of her people, protecting from the evils of gnomes and the depredations of outside countries that would try to enslave Saexons. In her great wisdom, the Infanta welcomed the inventor Glix Gadgetzan and his elven fellows displaced from the Misty Blue Mountains. A wise and benevolent ruler, the Infanta is beloved by all her people.


The Saexe Empire

Founded in the volcano-riddled plains west of the Great Abyss, the Saexe Empire spread very quickly after its founding by the Immortal Infanta Diaspora Incendar bint Dharien nearly five centuries ago, and now encompasses the entirety of western Maanosan, the grain-rich continent of Frejsa, and numerous smaller islands in the western sea.

Saexe is a militaristic and expansionist psiocracy, ruled since its founding by the Infanta Disapora. The capital of Saexe is the mechanized metropolis of Jzadirune, built by mountian elf expatriates from the Misty Blue Mountains on Cyfandir, the first people to join the Infanta’s cause to build her empire and the major financial backing for her first campaign. Since they first left their mountain holdfasts, the elves have integrated almost entirely into the empire — their advanced weaponry and new research into volcanicly-powered constructs contributing greatly to Saexe’s rapid expansion.

During its early founding, the Infanta’s major political backing came from her ties to the cults of the, now-deceased, demon-lords Grazzt and Adimarchus of the Great Abyss, who were quick to throw their support behind the immortal empress-to-be. Since the loss of their demonic patrons, the cultists have been hunted and purged from the empire as a show the Infanta’s supremacy, or else have converted to worship of the Infanta herself, founding the Imperial Cult which is now popular in the major urban centers of the empire. However, the demonic influences on the early founding of the empire have not been lost or forgotten and a great many citizens can trace at least a hint of demonic blood in their heritage.

With the violently expansionist policies of the Infanta and the technological backing of the elves, the Saexe Empire has quickly become recognized as the largest, most stable, and most well run political power in the world. It’s ships ply the great sea, bringing goods of all kinds to ports near and far. Its slaves work day and night expanding the system of rails that carry the magnificent magma-driven carriages that ferry its citizens from city to city. Forts perched along every border disappear and reappear where ever they are needed, bearing entire brigades of warriors, transported by the Infanta’s strange mental powers. And, from the capital in Jzadirune, it is understood, the Infanta sees all and passes her decrees instantly to the minds of the waiting masses…

The Imperial Cult

The Imperial cult of the Saexe Empire identifies the Immortal Infanta Diaspora Incendar bint Dharien and some members of her family and court with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Saexe State. The framework for Imperial cult was formulated after the fall of the demon-lord Grazzt, and was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces, with marked local variations in its reception and expression.

The Infanta’s conquest transformed the former Yigden theocratic system of government in the nation of Sax to the absolute monarchy of the Saexe Empire, couched in “traditional Yigden practices and Yigden values”. The Empress is expected to balance the interests of the Saexe military, church, and people, and to maintain peace, security and prosperity throughout an ethnically diverse empire. The official offer of cult to the living Empress acknowledged her office and rule as divinely approved by YGO.

The Yigden church which is dominant throughout the empire officially recognizes the Infanta’s rule, but there has been no word from YGO as to whether the Cult has his actual backing. In truth, many of the founders of the Imperial Cult were former cultists to the demons Grazzt and Adimarchus who backed the Infanta’s ascension, and it is secretly believed that the demons of the Great Abyss are the source of the cult’s powers.

Races and Alignments: Like the Saexe Empire itself, the Imperial Cult accepts members of all races, so long as they are citizens of the Empire. In keeping with the totalitarian rule of the Infanta, all members of the Imperial Cult must be Lawful in alignment, though both good and evil members exist. A surprisingly large number of Imperial Cultists are sorcerers.

Most public officials of the Empire are at least nominally members of the Imperial Cult.

Rituals: According to the Imperial Cultists, religion is a matter of transactional reciprocity (“I give, that you may give”), and piety is a system of offering honors and receiving benefactions. State religion provides a bridge between the divine will and the ordering of human affairs, with the city as earthly home to the gods and the center of Saexe order. The religions and offices of the state are entwined: its senior priesthoods were held by its senior magistrates. This represented a continuous strand in Saexe’s religious, social and political life.

Sacrifices form the contract of public and private religion, from oaths of office, treaty and loyalty, to business contracts and marriage. Participation in sacrifices acknowledges personal commitment to the broader community and its values, and is generally a compulsory observance. Imperial Cultists believe that military and civil disasters are the consequence of neglect of due and proper sacrifices to the Infanta. The Imperial priesthood sacrifices to the Infanta at various temples for the continued welfare of Her Immortal Highness on her birthday, accession anniversary, and to mark extraordinary events such as the quashing of conspiracy or revolt.

The genius of the Living Empress is typically offered a bull, though lesser offerings of wine, cakes and incense are also given.

Domains: Clerics, Inquisitors, and Druids of the Imperial Cult can choose from the Leadership, Slavery, Tactics, or Thought domains. Inquisitors of the Imperial Cult may choose from the Black Powder, Conversion, or Order inquisitions.

Holy Symbols: Worshipers of the Infanta wear simple iron amulets in the shape of an unblinking eye to represent the Omnipercipience believed to be possessed by the Empress. Additionally, depictions of the Empress herself and the flag of the Saexe Empire are often used as holy symbols of the faith.

Restrictions: Divine spells and powers granted by the Imperial Cult suffer the normal effects of diminishment that other religions suffer. This diminishment is occurs anywhere outside of the borders of the Saexe Empire.