Into the Ashlands
History: Praetoria is the oldest kingdom on the continent. In ancient days, the Praetorian kingdom established itself in the fertile soil on the south of the continent and became a center of shipping and trade. Its disciplined and skilled fighting force, led by the brilliant general and tactician Metrodorus, allowed it to become dominant and expand its borders against the barbaric tribes surrounding it. The term Praetorian at first only applied to members of the organized army, but as their fame grew on the continent it came to be widely used to refer to anyone from the kingdom. As Praetoria grew in wealth and power it began to establish large cities and build roads, connecting distant villages and making travel and trade between towns easier. Praetorian forces were able to secure their borders and drive barbarians and violent and wild creatures out of their lands, ensuring the safety of the citizens. In the cities, wealthy Praetorians led lives of luxury and leisure, and many began to pursue the study of philosophy, history, art, magic, and religion in their spare time. Praetorian cities became centers of scholarship and the arts, and Praetoria shone as a beacon of culture and civilization in the dark and wild lands of Equabar. Praetorian magicians and scholars experimented with arcane energy, developing many amazing feats of technology and magic. The Praetorian kingdom continued to expand until many villages were willingly absorbed, seeking safety and a higher standard of living. The Praetorians abundant resources and trade with the surrounding kingdoms as well as the Jin Waishu kingdom across the Southern Sea assured their prosperity and dominance for hundreds of years. Though largely peaceful, Praetorian forces did not hesitate to crush perceived threats to the kingdom. The Praetorian kingdom expanded and grew to unmatched levels of wealth and power on the continent, truly becoming an Empire without peer. Praetoria was ruled by an Emperor who ceded some of his power to a senate made up of noble landholders, assuring some balance of power within the empire. This age of relative peace and prosperity lasted for hundreds of years, with Praetorian forces rarely skirmishing with other kingdoms and open borders assuring the exchange of ideas and wealth.
Recent Years: In the year of consul Postumius Albinus a great white falling star, said to be so bright as to light up the night sky like a sun, was sighted over Dominatus, the capitol of the empire. In the months following the sighting, a new religion arose in Praetoria, devoted to the star and its significance as a portent of the times to come. The religion’s disciples claimed that the star was a god, a powerful being sent to lead Praetoria to its divine and rightful place as the keepers and rulers of the continent. This religion made some Praetorians nervous, as most Praetorians had lived for centuries as worshippers of the gods of civilization, magic, and the arts. Other Praetorians dismissed the followers of the white star as fools who would soon see the falsehood of their newfound religion and return to the fold. Followers of the white star were unusually zealous and evangelical in their convictions, and many claimed that any who opposed them were heathens…servants of demons and other foul creatures and enemies of the glorious Praetorian empire.
Over time the ranks of the followers of the white star swelled, and they began to exhibit power and influence in all aspects of Praetorian society. Their god had a name, Ordul, and the followers claimed he had been sent to lead the Praetorian empire to divine glory and rule, and that millennia of peace would come to the continent during his reign. The followers of Ordul claimed he was a living god who walked the streets of Dominatus in the form of a magnificent white lion, and stories were told by converted citizens of encountering Ordul and being awed and cowed by his divine majesty and power. As the followers of Ordul gained in number and influence, some began to exhibit strange powers. Many Praetorian scholars and magicians sensed a dangerous shift in the public mind and fled their beloved home for other lands.
In the year Ordul 1, the senate and emperor were slain and a new Holy Emperor was instated to guide Praetoria to its supreme destiny. Holy Emperor Septimus is the seventh son of a great general, and is said to be blessed with Ordul’s holy power. Septimus is said to consult directly with Ordul, who now resides in the Temple of Ordul, and Septimus serves as a direct conduit of Ordul’s will to the people of the Empire. His authority is absolute and unchallenged.
In recent years Praetoria has become increasingly aggressive, conquering the neighboring kingdom of Sennado in the name of divine domain. Conscription in the legion is mandatory for all citizens, and Praetoria’s increasingly militaristic and warlike stance threatens surrounding nations and tribes. Praetorian forces are feared throughout the continent for their superior training, equipment, ruthlessness, and zeal. Praetorian violation of the borders of other kingdoms is common, and little is done to challenge them for fear of retaliation. The Praetorians have not invaded another kingdom for the last 5 years, but nations bordering Praetoria fear the day when Septimus issues a divine decree to convert the heathen nations and take Praetoria’s rightful place as rulers of all Equabar.
Order of the White Lion: An elite group of the followers of Ordul, the Order of the White Lion serve as the royal guard to Septimus and the highest caste in Praetorian society. Members of the order are often rulers and are commonly instated as Governors in other lands. Their decrees are never questioned by the common people of Praetoria, and most look to them as leaders and ideal citizens. Membership in the order is not hereditary, but rather earned by demonstrating ambition, power, and unwavering devotion to Ordul.
Appearance: The Praetorian empire is made up of many different races, with Dragonborn often serving as commanders and generals and Eladrin filling the role of priests and seers. Praetorian humans are often tall, with tan skin and angular features, and hair ranging in color from dark blonde to white. The traditional casual dress is white cloth draped over the shoulder and tied about the waist, with many variations. Opulent displays of wealth and power are common and often take the form of jewelry or gilded and bejeweled weaponry.
Praetorian exiles that fled their nation have made small communities in other lands or gone into hiding for fear that they may be sought out. Praetorian exiles live in fear of their own people, and are often distrusted or hated by the people in the lands they have tried to make their home. Praetorian exile PCs must have a starting Will defense of at least 13 in order to have had the strength of mind to resist the pull of religion and Praetorian nationalism and flee the empire.
Praetorians were the most educated and culturally advanced people on the continent before the rise of Ordul, and many who fled the empire were scholars or magicians who took their books and scrolls with them. Praetorian PCs add History, Insight, or Religion to their class skill list and gain +2 on History, Insight, or Religion checks.
Praetorian warriors are the most highly trained and well-equipped on the continent. Praetorian martial PCs gain +1 to damage with shortswords, longswords, doubleswords, and fullblades. Praetorians gain +1 to damage with longbows and all crossbows.
Praetoria was formerly the center of arcane study and knowledge. Praetorian Arcane PCs gain +1 damage with a damage type (acid, fire, thunder etc.) of their choice.
Praetorians are the wealthiest people on the continent, and many who fled their lands secreted away as much of their wealth as they could carry. Praetorian starting characters begin the game with 150 GP.