Huji is One!
By Anders Sandberg and Håkan Andersson.
A fantasy setting that grew out of an evening of web surfing and discussion about the clichés of fantasy and politics. It is centred on the situation on the Huji peninsula, where a classically evil and expansionist necrocracy provides plenty of adventure fodder. Any similarity to real persons and worlds are entirely accidental.
CFFT, Coalition of the Five Free Truths (“North Huji”)
The first truth is immortality for all.
The second truth is the indestructible unity between the masses and the Leader
The third truth is an independent and sovereign state
The fourth truth is the use of talent and power for the common benefit
The fifth truth is that the inferior organs work under the orders of the superior ones
General information: CFFT is the world’s second necrocracy (the other one is Xhuba south of Megalos), ruled by the Immortal Great Leader Cimmil Zhung IX. Although he passed to lichdom a few years ago his son Cimmil Zhung X, is the Lord Chancellor. Scholars generally agree that the Great leader remains firmly in power despite his undead state, mainly due to his extensive necromantic abilities.
Terrain: Mostly hilly with mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys and canyons. Coastal plains in the west.
Highest point: Nakhleptub-Zah ("Dread Mountain of Power"), 2744 m.
Natural resources: Coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, wizard's silver, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, mithril
Natural hazards: Droughts, floods, regular thunderstorms and hurricanes
Environmental issues: water pollution, inadequate supplies of potable water, water-borne disease, deforestation, soil erosion and degradation
Population: 11,466,481 living, 22,681,937 undead
Ethnic groups: 87% human, 10% dwarf, 3% elf
Legal system: Based on Ni-Chi law and necromantic theory, no judical review of legislative acts
Flag: A red pentagram on black. Most commonly depicted on banners and capes.
Seal: A red pentagram, representing the Five truths and the power of necromancy, surrounded by a snake biting its tail, representing immortality. A red ribbon around the snake depicts the eternity of power and bears the pictogram of the state.
Originally the Huji Peninsula was united under the strong and benevolent rule of the Kalmarian Panarchs. The Huji kingdom was precariously balanced between the Ni-Chi Empire in the west and the dwarven islands of the east. Under the rule of Panarch Kaltherion the Wise necromantics began appearing in the kingdom, supported by the Ni-Chi and their ice elf allies. The necromantics slowly grew in number and gained (or created) a following in the northern provinces. During the Great Cataclysm the Panarch and his mighty host was slain by the dwarven forces as they pushed westwards into Ni-Chi. The necromancers began a guerrilla war against the new overlords and eventually successfully rebelled as the dwarven battle machine began to collapse under the onslaught of the Free People. Cimmil Zhung ruthlessly made himself the chief necromancer of the kingdom. After the fall of the dwarven empire south Huji united under some remaining Kalmarian nobility. Megalos established beachheads in the area and supported South Huji, although they forced the nobility to relinquish some of their traditional privileges.
During the following years tensions grew, as the anti-necromantic Megalese and the pro-necromantic Ni-Chi both supported their respective kingdoms. At a peace banquet one of the North Huji haruspex observed a portentous omen in the dinner. Alerting his colleagues they divined that a war was imminent and their kingdom better had to attack first. Cimmil Zhung agreed, and ordered his armies to strike to reunite Huji under necromantic rule. The undead hordes of the north lade waste to the pitiful fortifications of the south. Only a strip of land remained under the control of the living. At that point Megalos intervened, sending in giant rocs carrying supplies and frigates loaded to the brim with warriors and battle mages. The tide turned and soon the living armies stood before the ramparts of Cimil’s necropolis. Seeing that that their ally was loosing the battle Ni-Chi decided to lend their aid and sent out parts of their massive undead armies as reinforcement. Mainly due to the competence of Ni-Chi embalmers and the sheer size of the host the tide was yet again turned. Finding themselves outnumbered the southern and Megalese forces retreated towards the original boundaries. There, the greatest battle mages erected a ward allowing no unliving thing to pass. They threatened to unleash the rubies of annihilation if any attempt at dispelling the ward was ever made. Grudgingly High Necromanth Cimmil halted his forces before the ward wowing eternal enmity and vengeance on the south and Megalos. Finally he agreed to an armistice.
Then he turned inwards, purging the leadership of the necromantic council he made himself the undisputed master of all things living and dead in the north. The “friendly” Ni-Chi rulers allowed Cimmil Zhung to retain control over their legions of undead; they had realised the tremendous mana costs of maintaining such a standing force and were glad to be rid of them as they set to use their mana for greater thaumaturgical experiments. The rest of the army was left to decompose.
Equipped with words of power to control this vast army none in the north could resist Cimmil. But in order to maintain his military base he needed mana, tremendous amounts of mana. Initially the mana was granted to him by the Ni-Chi, but they soon tired of their ambitious ally and it slowed to a trickle. By this time Cimmil had organised his citizens to a huge machinery to harvest mana and refine it.
As the land was leached of life crops began to fail. A famine stricken people turned to their leader, who only exhorted them to work harder. They had to prepare for the inevitable Megalese attack he explained, and the only way of withstand it was to maintain the undead legions and research into the forbidden arts. Since only part of the legions were animated at any time, large stockpiles of crystallised mana was needed to reanimate them in the case of an attack.
But as Cimmil’s stockpiles grew so did his lust for more, and the more citizens died and joined the legions, the more mana would eventually be needed. Soon it was clear to Cimmil that he had to search for mana elsewhere. He began to send out clandestine missions and diplomats to the netherworlds, far off lands and strange mystical orders. One ally he gained was the Order of the Pillar, an order of battle monks from the Middle Earth seeking revenge against Megalos and their own corrupt rulers. The Order supplied Cimmil with mana from eager young martyrs in exchange for the battle magics produced in the necromantic temples of North Huji.
CFFT SocietySociety is strictly divided into three classes. Serfs till the fields and harvest mana. Craftsmen distil mana, construct armaments and maintain the crumbling kingdom. The magicians rule and perform the necessary magic.
The undead are similarly divided into the mindless skeletons and zombies doing crude labour, the embalmed warrior mummies and the liches and wraiths acting as military officers. Citizens who die are promoted to the ranks of the undead. They generally retain their class, unless they have seriously displeased the authorities.
Among the living social mobility is rare, with the exception of people showing the gift of magic. Magicians on the other hand are closely watched by the feared internal security force – the Order of the Third Truth. Treachery (or incompetence and inability) is punished harshly, and in serious cases can lead to the strongest punishment under the law, permanent death. Such traitors are buried (or most commonly burned) in traitor’s graveyards where reanimation is made impossible.
The basis of the necromantic ideology of CFFT is the five truths. Essentially it is a totalitarian magocracy, with some unique necrocratic twists. In practice the five truths give total power to the Great Leader, but the elaborate theory behind them keeps many citizens busy studying so that they can handle the regular examinations in Truth Theory.
The first truth states that all citizens shall be immortal – that is, after death they will be reanimated to continue their service to society. The Order of the First Truth consists of mortician-magicians who ensure the timely transition of citizens from living to unliving.
The second truth proclaims the unity between the masses and the Leader. He is not just their leader, but embodies society and all its souls. Hence any attack on him is an attack on society, and any attack on society is an attack on him. He encompasses everything and everyone. To be disloyal is to be in contradiction with oneself.
The third truth proclaims CFFTs independence. It implies not only sovereignty but self-sufficiency, self-reliance and that it can achieve anything it sets its mind to if needed. Hence there is no need to appease outside forces, and citizens seeking anything outside the CFFT are mistaken or traitors. The Order of the Third Truth is the security agency instituted to ensure the continued sovereignty of the state, i.e. internal and external security.
The fourth truth is about pragmatism – everyone and their abilities are tools for the furthering of the common benefit, i.e. the CFFT. Since the goals of the state and leader are paramount any means necessary can be used, even when they go against the other truths.
The fifth truth implies meritocracy and loyalty: a more skilled person should be promoted over inferiors, but everyone has to obey the orders from above. All citizens and organisations are organs in the state body.
The great powers at present are Megalos, the Allied Elven Nations and the Ni-Chi empire. Lesser, but important powers are the Dwarven Island Kindom, the Ice Elf Hegemony, the Jahorian Kingdom, the Suvorean Marches and Nibalachtu Khanate.
In the middle of the world lies the Great Sea, its small islands mainly inhabited by the dwarves. Surrounding it are the continents of Suvorea, Havenbara, Adrastea and Kalash. Kalash is the largest continent, stretching from the icy tundra of the north where it touches north Adrastea to the jungles and deserts of Middle Earth in the far south. Middle Earth is the name given to the southern coast of Kalash, said to be the origin of humans and site of many lost civilisations.
Megalos is the most powerful and expansive empire in the world. Originally of humble beginnings, at present it overshadows even the Ni-Chi Empire and Jahorian Kingdom.
Megalos was originally a small settlement from Tirdinium on the east coast of Havenbara. The Tiridinian elves used it as a practical place to deport criminals, especially human criminals. It was a hard land and often raided by the orc nations of the inland. During the reign of Prince Erlyid III a large war of extermination was started. The elf-orc wars made the eastern ports more important and helped the local economy grow. Merchants selling weapons and mercenaries seeking adventure started arriving of their own free will. As Megalos grew and became an economically important colony the old resentment against the overlords slowly undermined the colonist respect. Finally, after Prince Erlyid IV had ordered lowered pay for the colonial army it rebelled and broke free from Tiridinium (secretly helped by other elven nations and even some of the orc leaders).
After becoming independent the military leader of the revolutionary army crowned himself Imperator Keorg. An republican-imperial system was set up, with a senate and non-hereditary imperatorship. The war against the orcs continued and did not end until the orcs were thoroughly crushed and forced into menial positions in society. After gaining the mountains with their strategic roc bird nests and rich mineral veins, Megalos turned outwards. Over the next century it expanded across Havenbara, uniting it under the banner of the imperators. Then it began to expand into the sea.
When the Great Cataclysm occurred the Megalese senate was evenly balanced between attempting to intervene against the emerging shadow and just letting the elves sort out their own mess. But the news that the dwarves had joined forces with Illter swinged the decision; under Imperator Elkan of the Rose Megalos joined the League of Free Nations and began to aid Tirdinium in its struggle. Over the next years Megalos grew to a military superpower – arming the Suvoreans, attacking the outlying dwarven islands, sending rocs with battle mages to the burning forests of Adrastea. After the battle was won Megalos continued to throw its power around, becoming involved in the wars of Middle Earth, Huji, Kanutria and Valaskos. While it gained allies and power, it also gained many dangerous enemies.
The megalese deeply distrust magocracies. Partially this was due to the experience of Tiridinian rule, but the horrors of the Great Cataclysm and tales of refugees from the Way of Harmony truly convinced Megalos that magicians cannot be trusted to run the government. Hence in Megalos magicians and other users of the arcane arts are banned from public office, but otherwise highly regarded. The firm anti-magocratic politics of Megalos made it the opponent to the Ice Elf Hegemony, Ni-Chi and the CFFT, and it has often criticised the AEN for their reliance on the Council of Seers.
Allied Elven Nations (AEN)
Ancient and glorious, the elven nations of Adrastea have an age-old history of internecine warfare. That nearly proved their undoing as a cabal of elven sorcerers in Jekatria tried to summon and use Illter, a dark deity promising control over destiny itself. The sorcerers’ control over Illter soon faltered. Unbound it set out to engulf the world into eternal darkness, corrupting or taking control over the elven nations and using their enslaved people to conquer yet more of the world. The few remaining uncorrupted elven nations sought help among humans and dwarves, forming the League of Free Nations to fight the shadow. The League was dominated by Megalos, Suvorea and the elven nation of Tirdinium, allying themselves with the sinister Ice Elf Hegemony.
Eventually, after great trials and sacrifices, the League prevailed and Illter was banished into the outer darkness. While the League soon disbanded the elves had learned the lesson. To rebuild their shattered cities and burned forests they formed the Allied Elven Nations to make sure no war would ever devastate their lands again. Although the AEN had a rough beginning with many old rivalries and bitter struggles, the traditional elvish respect of the old and wise helped the AEN Council of Seers gain the influence it needed. The Council set and example of peaceful contemplation and contentedness that enabled the elven nations to recapture their harmony with nature and history.
The most ancient nation in the world, said to be older than even the Xadr. It is located in the centre of Kalash. The empire has been ruled by the Unknown Emperors since time immemorial. The emperors and their government reside within the Column of Splendour and only communicate with the outside world through senior messengers. Few dare oppose them, since they wield fearsome magics and control the massive undead and golem armies of the empire. To a large extent the rulers do not care what the citizens do as long as they pay tribute and act respectfully; this has given rise to a large merchant class and a diverse society.
One important exception is the banishment of all dwarves that occurred in the reign of the Grey Emperor. Giving no cause, he exiled all dwarves from the empire and forbade any of their descendants to enter. This caused great anger and a great deal of economic problems for the Dwarven Islands. In turn, during the Great Cataclysm they invaded Ni-Chi using the power of Illter. While they were eventually defeated as Illter vanished it caused the empire a serious loss of face. Since then the governors recruited to the Column of Splendour have shifted from the traditional majority of magicians to military leaders and merchant princes, possibly suggesting a change in leadership style.
In its foreign affairs it is often quite aloof, usually ignoring young nations. One important exception is the CFFT, which has been greatly aided in the Ni-Chi’s attempts to get Megalos out of the region. Ni-Chi apparently sees Megalos as a competitor and often criticises its actions. Its relations to the Jahorian kingdom are cordial despite the naval war. While Ni-Chi has possibly the greatest armies of the world, its fleets are weak. The main reason is the dwarven exile, which removed much competency from naval matters. Had the fleets been as powerful as their armies they would easily have defeated the Jahorian fleet.
Dwarven Island Kindom
The dwarves of the islands of the Great Sea are traditionally the greatest sailors of the world. Over history the political structure of the Great Sea has varied tremendously and mostly been independent. Gradually the Island Kingdom emerged as the rulers of the Parlen Islands gained the upper hand over the rest of the islands and eventually themselves were forcibly unified by Grand Warmaster Rising Wind. Rising Wind crowned herself king of the dwarfs and founded a dynasty.
During the Great Cataclysm the then king Illustrious Spirit turned to the dark forces of Illter. His devoted people followed him as he set out to conquer all lands where the dwarves had ever lived. At first he pushed deeply into the ancient enemy the Ni-Chi Empire and seemed on the verge of toppling it. But at the crucial moment the power of Illter faltered and the full power of the Ni-Chi emperor was unleashed. Few dwarves present retained their sanity or lives. At the same time the Rubies of Annihilation rained down on the capital, destroying it and the king utterly. Leaderless, with their armies retreating in panic the kingdom surrendered to the League of Free Nations. Megalos stepped in to counter the Ni-Chi influence, setting in motion a complex power game in the entire region. The dwarves decided against electing a new king and instead formed a kindom – a polity based on their shared racial identity. The Dwarven Kindom soon grew to become one of Megalos greatest allies.
In the current era the dwarven sailors and merchants are a major economic force, often mediating or getting involved in the trade wars between Ni-Chi and Jahore. The dwarven ships make heavy use of weather controlling magic, making them dependent on importing mana-gems from Middle Earth through their megalese allies.
Ice Elf Hegemony
The ice elves of northern Adrastea were just as involved in plotting and war as their southwestern brethren, if not more so. The leaders, out of touch with nature and their citizens, became increasingly remote and unpopular. Magicians following the Way of Harmony had been present in the region for ages but never gained much power. But when High Queen Serinakia III was found to have consorted with incubi and worse revolution broke out. The Way of Harmony led the purge of the decadent nobility and then set out to create a truly harmonious society based on magical precepts. The social structure was completely remade. However, some regional nobles took up arms to defend their old way of living. The Way of Harmony pronounced them supporters of the dark and led a campaign of eradication. Initially public support was strong, but the purgings against the dark kept on intensifying.
At the time of the Great Cataclysm the Way of Harmony was attempting methods of magically scanning the entire population of evil thoughts. But the rise of shadow in the west changed the priorities totally, and the leaders lunged westwards to put an end on the evil. Unfortunately the military hierarchy had not fared well in the purges, and Illter was more than ready for the onslaught and easily deflected it. Instead Illter’s forces began to conquer the Hegemony and would have defeated it had not Megalos come to its aid. As the League of Free Nations banished Illter the hegemony retained control over a large part of Adrastea. Over the next decades the Hegemony attempted to spread the Way of Harmony world-wide, sometimes gaining unsavoury allies such as CFFT. Megalos and Ni-Chi did their best to counter its influence, especially within the AEN.
Recently, the Hegemony leadership underwent a great shift. Great omens had begun appearing, foretelling that a new ruler would arise. The Way of Harmony tried to interpret them as signs of their impending final victory against the darkness, but the population did not believe them. Then a child was discovered, bearing the signs and sigils of being a true descendant of the High Queen. He passed the ten trials set by the Council of Harmony to prove his royalty. This put them in a bind; they had no choice but to relinquish power to the boy, but did not trust him and his supporters. Their worst fears were proven when it became clear that the prince was not a follower of the Way.
At present the Hegemony is shaky. Several districts have been racked by conflicts between the Way and royalists, or different elven nationalities. The Council has to obey the dictates of the prince, but does its best to undermine his influence. Adventurers and opportunistic nobles are flocking to the Hegemony.
The most populous of the human kingdoms in Kalash, located southeast of Middle Earth. It has an ancient and enormous feudal system, organised along rigid hierarchical and religious lines. To feed the huge population and immense cities the kingdom employs a complex administration of nobles that maintain the infrastructure. Quite moribund it played no part in the Great Cataclysm other than giving lip service to the winners once Illter was vanquished. It is currently engaged in a small and lazily implemented naval war against the Ni-Chi Empire regarding trade routes. In the north, barbarians raid outlying settlements, providing an excellent way for nobles to get rid of young sons.
The Suvorean Marches
A harsh and unforgiving land that has nevertheless managed to achieve a shaky central government. Politics tend to be frank, straightforward and violent. The warrior-king is selected by the simple expedient of being the most astute swordfighter. In the past this made most reigns short and brutal, but over the last centuries a system of formal duels has evolved allowing a somewhat more planned succession (and quite commonly the survival of the ex-king).
The inhabitants are viewed as charming (and not so charming) barbarians by the other nations. A traditional ally of Megalos, it has supplied the megalese army with many mercenaries.
Traditionally a part of poor and war torn Middle Earth, Nibalachtu has been propelled to power and influence by the discovery of the ruins of the lost Xadr civilization. The Xadr had mastered the channelling of mana and pooled it within their great city Ty within the Nibalachtu jungle. A poor hunter discovered Ty and made great use of its wealth to make himself Khan of Nibalachtu. The nearly unlimited mana made the Khanate rich, and by selling mana gems to Megalos and AEN it gained powerful military protection.
The price of the wealth and power is that by using the Xadr power other old powers are awakened. The Middle Earth region is again erupting in war and chaos, and many occult orders are seeking ways of attacking the Khanate. So far it has remained a island of calm in the otherwise turbulent region, but how long it will last is unknown.
It is clear to most strategists that CFFT either will collapse or embark on a frighteningly destructive war. But Cimmil Zhung will never allow his kingdom to go away quietly; he is bound to unleash disaster. He already possess devastating war-magic and mana stockpiles, and the Huji peninsula is a key strategic position right between Ni-Chi, the Dwarf Kindom and the Great Sea.
To make matters worse Megalos is currently getting ever more entangled in Middle Earth and has to send its navy and army to quell rebellions and warlords that threaten Nibalachtu. Recently Imperator Georgius II vanquished his father’s old arch-enemy Macerabatur in Valaskos, which has embroiled him in a persistent guerrilla war. The warrior-monks from the Order of the Pillar are striking from the shadows and even managed to summon a winged demon of destruction in the Megalese capital, killing thousands before it could be dispelled. Despite the efforts of the imperial inquisition the Order remains elusive.Merchants are worried about the damage done to trade and priests warn that dark powers are afoot.
The elven nations and Jahorian kingdom see the whole Huji situation as something remote. They are glad to be left out of it, although some elves loudly criticise the power hunger of the megalese (or humans in general) in Middle Earth. Ni-Chi remains quietly inscrutable, perhaps hoping for CFFT to bring exploitable chaos and loss of face to Megalos and the dwarves.
South Huji is doing its outmost to gather brave warriors, mages and other adventurers to deal with the threat from the north. Some nobles are gathering armies to resist the shadow, others are looking for diplomatic solutions or ways of infiltrating the necrocracy. Some hope an assassination (or more properly, exorcism) of Cimmil Zhung would break it, but others point out that there are plenty of power-hungry ghosts and an heir to deal with. If somebody could find the words of power used to control the undead armies or the mana stockpiles and destroy them the threat could be dismantled before it is too late. But many already fear that the Second Great Cataclysm is about to begin – especially if the Great Leader manages to learn the secret of the Rubies of Annihilation.