Cultural Cues: Illumin nobility are modeled after Baroque French styles; the peasantry, government and military takes more after the Roman Empire.
Costuming: Illumin nobles will prefer doublets and fine jackets with tailored trousers; citizenry or workers will wear tunics or togas. Some nobles, attempting to show their affinity with the common people, may also affect a toga.
The Nobles: Decadent city-dwellers; favorlayered, multi-colored clothing, glittering jewelry, decorative overshifts and accents. Real world reference: 18th Century France
The Commoners: Togas, sandals and loricas. Real world reference: Ancient Rome.
Illumin is a nation central to most others – it shares borders with Ikhten, Culberon, Bech and Tugha, as well as the Waste. Circadia is directly south of Albeira, and Verrakis sits on formerly Illumin lands.
The land itself tends to be flat and warm, with soil well-suited to agriculture of all kinds.
Currently, there are five provinces of the Illumin empire, each with it’s own sub-culture. These are:
- Caminus: Albeira, the capital of the empire, is located in Caminus and is the political and social heart of the empire. Currently ruled by Count William of Ravenskar and his wife, Countess Anisee Ravenskar nee d’Hiver. Because several important rivers run through Caminus, and Albeira sits on the coastline, Caminus is also an important center for trade.
- Fiarel: A hot, desolate province, Fiarel can nonetheless lay claim to the gold mine and mint which flood the world with the Illumin solarum. Formerly ruled by Archcountess Audrey Wischard, no replacement has yet been named since she was stripped of her lands for treason.
- Judicandus: Strong in military might, Judicandus can also boast the famous Scrollbearer Abbey. Significantly weakened by Bech several years ago, both Judicandus and the Abbey have since been rebuilt. Currently ruled by Archcount Jean-Sebastien Beaufort, and Senator Sempronia Nasica is from Judicandus.
- Phrygus: A province with variable geography, Phrygus touches both Ikhten and Culberon. Formerly ruled by Guillame Zalaon, home to Senators Sebastian Chaussinaud and Pinaria Natta
- Tralus: The breadbasket of the Empire, Tralus’ Golden Leagues are responsible for feeding most Illumin people. Ruled by Archcount Geffroi Lambert, home to Senators Calpurnia Piso and Aurelius Venatrix.
Settlers of a diaspora from a more ancient empire, the villages along the central plains became the backbone for the future Empire. Approximately four hundred years ago, a warlord named Aerta Nicosa rose to unite all the villages of the Middle March through martial skill and personal charisma. Also of critical importance to his success was his Ikhten wife, a necromancer named Rassema, and the mamluke warriors she brought with her. Soon, most of what is now central Illumin came under Nicosa’s control, and he founded the first dynasty of Illumin emperors.
Implemented under the rule of Aerta’s son Tritas was the idea of citizenship – a reward for service to the Empire. Though out of reach for many of the conquered peasantry, Tritas promised that any man or woman who served an honorable seven years in the Illumin military would be granted citizenship and land upon discharge. This was an attractive offer to many, and one of the main reasons for the size and dedication of the Illumin legions. Eventually Bech, Culberon and Ikhten were conquered, each with varying degrees of success. The empire called itself ‘Illumin’, believing it brought the light of civilization to backwards and barbaric peoples.
The empire lasted at full strength for two and a half centuries before decline set in. Internal rivalry and decadence had caused the military might of Illumin to decline. Bech, Culberon and Ikhten each won their freedom. Verrakis, a thriving port town, simply bought it’s freedom. Emperors began to succumb to assassination – the corrupt Emperor Halos was killed by his own Praetorian Guard, who could no longer abide his excesses.
Currently, Illumin is ruled by Emperor Antonious Vespasian, a war hero from the Battle of Hieratis; he has an elven woman as his consort, a matter which has caused great gossip among the nobility.
The Illumin people are sharply divided into three distinct classes: peasantry, citizenry and nobility.
Nobility are not always citizens, but their titles are inherited and earning (or buying) citizenship is an easy matter for most noble families. Nobles usually have large grants of land, which they are charged with administering and privileged to tax. Family fortunes are usually inherited by the eldest child, though provisions can be made for younger siblings.
Citizenry form a middle class of retired or active soldiers, tradesmen, farmers and artisans. Though they may not enjoy the wealth and privilege of rank, they nevertheless have generally comfortable lives. Citizens may vote, own property and even run for office.
Peasantry are those too poor or disadvantaged to become citizens. They have few rights in Illumin and usually own little to nothing. The slums of Albeira are famous for their wretchedness, and the immense number of people living there.
Chattel slavery was practiced in the Empire until very recently, when a compromise was drafted. Instead of chattel slaves, citizens may now hire indentured servants – either prisoners of war or criminals convicted of various crimes. An indentured servant is obligated to obey his or her master’s wishes for the duration of service, though a few protections against abuse are afforded them under the law. An indentured servant who has a child may expect that child to be taken care of by the servant’s master, though the master is entitled to count the cost of raising the child against the term of service.
Illumin tend not to be hospitable to strangers, though they will gladly host their own family or friends. Nobles are expected to host lavish parties for their fellows, however, and some maintain guest houses on their estates to keep visitors in style.
Elemental invocation is quite common in the Empire, and every noble house who can afford it has a house magician on the payroll. Though the common folk and citizenry abhor necromancy, both that art and mesmerism enjoy high status amongst the nobles. Sun acolytes are rare in the cities, being seen as a rustic custom of the common folk and usually only called upon by nobles to perform weddings. Naturae invokers are even more uncomfortable in the great cities, and are rarely seen in Illumin.
Most disturbing are the demonologists – though technically illegal, many noble families secretly hire a demonologist or engage in demonology themselves, the better to gain an edge over their opponent. Perhaps as a result of this, the Fiendspawn bloodline occurs more frequently in Illumin than elsewhere.
When it comes to other cultures, the Illumin tend to maintain their sense of arrogance and superiority – an attitude which does not often make them friends in foreign lands. They view other nations as barely educated and on the brink of savagery, almost universally. Only Verrakis was spared – resented for it’s independence, depended upon for the luxuries it provided the noble class. In light of recent events, however, many Illumin have warmed to Verrakin survivors – some even going so far as to open orphanages, where these lost children can receive a good, Illumin education.
The Illumin tend to think less of the other races – sauren are complete savages, and trolls are dumb brutes, fit ony for manual labor. The only exception to this rule are elves – with a new elven Empress, it would seem that elves are currently in fashion.