Monday, 24 September 2012

Bursia - the Human Empire

In the west of Kaelaross, beyond the ocean that borders the western side of Toutus, there is Bursia, the Empire of Humans. For the most-part this racial monopoly is not intentional - humanoids and demihumans simply have not made it to the Bursian landmass in any great numbers. However, there is a streak of xenophobia that means that those humanoids who do make it to the shores of Bursia will not always find a warm welcome - at best they will find themselves treated as curiosities bombarded with awkward questions, at worst treated as non-sentient animals or invading aliens.

A History of The Empire of Bursia
From around -800 BY, humans established a number of nations and city states along the east coast, and until the Wars between the Empires they were gradually colonising westwards across the continent (a map of which is found here) - the further west you go, the less civilised Bursia gets. Cities have often been more important than wide areas of land (such as kingdoms and provinces) and Bursians will often identify themselves as belonging to a city or town rather than a region or kingdom. Cities have always had a level of government of their own, but in later years the city-states became more of a local government, overseen by the Imperial government.
There had been a few cities that were ruled by kings in the early years, but they were often overthrown by popular uprisings. From -205 BY to 0 BY, Bursia was a republic with elected senators from cities meeting in the capital Thoraxis. However, this was never entirely suitable, and when a crisis arose in BY 0 (several city-states wanted to secede from the Republic, forming a rival), the requirement for strong leadership meant that the first Emperor was chosen. The quality of Emperors has varied considerably - the good ones maintained the Empire and established good laws and financed great public works. The bad ones were notoriously despotic, tyrannical and whimsical and on occasions outright insane. The succession evolved from senators being elected as Emperors by their peers to Emperors making their sons senators and directing the senate to elect their sons, to Emperors choosing a worthy successor and adopting them as a son.
During the Bursian Civil War (BY 482 to BY 497) there was a rapid exchange of Emperors as generals seized the Imperial throne with their armies, and were then bloodily overthrown by rival generals. There were over 30 “Emperors” in this civil war, some of whom were murdered after only months in office.
This ended in the rather strange compromise of the Age of the Tetrarchs (BY497 to BY 561), where Bursia was split into four quarters, each ruled by a Tetrarch (effectively an Emperor of a quarter of the Empire). The Age of Tetrarchs collapsed into the Tetrarch War (BY 561-562) but ended when Aurelius the Great re-established the Empire as a whole once again, this time with the backing of the mages of the academies as well as the Senators.

This Second Empire, with the Emperor being backed up by the Senators and the Academies, proved quite stable and survived even through the Wars between the Empires up until the Summoning. Not even the mighty Bursian Empire could withstand the wrath of Bhael, especially after being weakened by the dreadful wars against the other empires. 

After the Summoning
The Bursian Empire collapsed along with Toutus and Bellenos during the Summoning. The chaotic god Bhael opened up numerous Chaos Portals in the middle of cities, and chaotic monsters flooded out, attacking other nearby settlements. It is interesting that hardly any of the chaotic monsters in Bursia are humanoid. Instead, the portals have connected to Planes of Chaos that include many human Chaotic cultists. Thus even the enemies of the Human Empire are humans, rather than humanoids.
The tendency to form society around a city has re-emerged after the Summoning - surviving settlements have formed into city-states, with smaller towns and villages becoming junior partners or vassals to larger, independent cities.

The Continent of Bursia is more than the Empire of Bursia. The Empire still had not colonised the western half of the landmass, and there are huge stretches of wilderness, particularly in the arid, dusty southwest beyond the Greycap Mountains. Not only are there wild beasts and monsters, but also human barbarians. It is interesting that there are no orcs, goblins, gnolls or other such humanoids in this wilderness - men can be just as brutal and savage, and the tribes of western Bursia were just as much enemies of civilization and order as any ogre or kobold.

The follow-on posts to this are Notes on Bursia and a Map of Bursia

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