The Realm is the single greatest empire in all of Creation, and has dominated the world for centuries. Under the guidance of the Scarlet Empress, the Realm forces its will on the Threshold, smashing all opposition and
bending conquered nations to the demands of its satraps. The Realm’s legions are the greatest military force on the face of the world, led by ten thousand Dragon-Blooded commanding countless mortal soldiers in both the legions themselves and the armies of subjugated client-states. Its economic might rivals the Guild, and tons of goods travel through Realm-controlled ports each day, taxed by bureaucrats of the Thousand Scales.
Finally, its state religion the Immaculate Order is the largest religion in Creation, commanding millions of adherents and coordinating the worship of countless gods via the Immaculate Calendar and its carefully
managed holidays. The Immaculate Order preaches a social hierarchy which elevates the Dragon-Blooded, and specifically the Dragon-Blooded of the Realm, as the living, deadly saints of a glorious faith.
Pennants embroidered with the mon of the Scarlet Dynasty fly above capitals in countless lands. Soldiers in the red-trimmed armor of the Realm’s legions march in lockstep across thousands of miles of foreign road, enforcing the Empress’s will. In the lands that border the Inland Sea, the Realm has near-unquestioned dominance, and it is only the Lunar Anathema and the rag-tag principalities of the Scavenger Lands who oppose its relentless spread.
The Realm has accomplished all this through a policy of ruthless expansion and unhesitating force aimed at any who would gainsay it. The Wyld Hunt pursues any hint of the Anathema in the Realm’s holdings. The Legions crush any organized military resistance to the Empress’s will. Immaculate monks cast those who would speak against the Dragon-Blooded as heretics. Though the lands under the Realm are too vast to control absolutely, any movement from dissent to rebellion is quashed quickly, brutally, and publicly.
All of this occurs in pursuit of an economic and social policy which puts the Dragon-Blooded, and specifically those Dragon-Blooded who have pledged obeisance to the Realm, at the top of the social order in countless lands, and which feeds thousands of talents of jade into the coffers of the Empress and her Great Houses. The Realm’s power stems from its tireless pursuit of economic supremacy, a great predator opening wide its jaws to devour all the wealth of the world.
The Great Houses
THE GREAT HOUSES
The Great Houses (officially numbering ten) are now the powers behind the Realm. For centuries, the Empress played the houses against one another and kept them in check through her own cunning and skill, but now that she’s gone, they’re torn between cooperating long enough to administrate the Realm and warring for control of the Imperial Manse and Scarlet Throne.
The current front-runners for the throne are Houses Mnemon, Sesus, and Ragara, with V’neef, Peleps, and Cynis as potential spoilers.
HOUSE MNEMON: Strict traditionalists, whose religious devotion provides them power in the Immaculate Order while skillful manipulation in the Deliberative and the Thousand Scales affords them political clout. Mnemon herself is the most prominent surviving child of the Empress and much like her mother in political savvy.
HOUSE CATHAK: The strongest military house remaining in the Realm, Cathak can field the largest number of legions of any house and uses its military might to keep jade funneling into their coffers from their Threshold satrapies. House Cathak is famous for its heroes.
HOUSE RAGARA: Ragara is the chief economic powerhouse of Great Houses and a rival to the Guild in many Realm satrapies. It controls banks, insurance brokerages, and innumerable markets within and without the Realm, giving it leverage which was checked only by the Empress herself while she ruled.
HOUSE PELEPS: The Realm navy belongs to the disciplined Peleps, granting it enormous power. The other houses are torn between attempting to stymie them and allying with them.
HOUSE SESUS: Derided by the other Great Houses as brutes and thugs, the ruthless and savage Sesus are the second-most powerful military house in the Realm and deeply allied with House Cynis. What the Sesus lack in subtlety they make up for in brutality, and those who challenge them regret it more often than not.
HOUSE V’NEEF: The youngest Great House and most favored by the Empress before her disappearance, the eager and clever V’neef managed the mercantile navy for the Empress along the Inland Sea—the Empress was grooming them to keep House Peleps in check. Without the Empress’s favor, they are struggling to exploit opportunities for themselves while avoiding open warfare with Peleps.
HOUSE CYNIS: A mighty economic force, the decadent Cynis trail Ragara in raw economic power but make up for it because of their ties to the Guild (giving them access to markets in the middle and deep Threshold) and their stranglehold on the Blessed Isle’s slave trade.
HOUSE LEDAAL: Famous for its staunch support of the Immaculate faith, House Ledaal has eyes on the swelling unrest in the Threshold rather than the Throne, dividing the House’s attention in the face of looming civil war.
HOUSE NELLENS: House Nellens is widely derided for its weak blood, but makes up for it with political and economic influence within the Realm’s ministries. Nellens is popular house with the patrician and peasant classes, and grooms its few Dragon-Blooded scions very carefully indeed.
HOUSE TEPET: Formerly one of the most powerful and honorable military houses in the Realm, House Tepet’s legions and many of its Dragon-Blooded heirs were slaughtered on a doomed campaign in the North. Now, House Tepet is a dark horse struggling to climb back to power.
HOUSE ISELSI: In disgrace and officially dissolved, the Iselsi maneuvered against the Empress in a doomed power-play generations ago and now survive by her sufferance. Disregarded by the other houses, Iselsi has spent decades cultivating a massive intelligence and assassination network both in the Realm and abroad in the Threshold.