Exploring the Halls of Arden Vul: Archontean Empire
Peoples seen in Archontean lands
(Ar-KON-tee-ehns) Properly the term refers to the humans from the city of Archontos, capital of the empire on the island of Mithruin, but it has come to refer to any citizen of the empire, regardless of where they reside. Archonteans are typically medium height (5’4” to 5’7”), with black or dark brown hair and olive-colored skin. Those from Imperial families can be arrogant when dealing with others, even while deferring to the myriad social hierarchies that govern diverse Archontean society. That Archontean society is highly ordered, with a strong belief in the ‘city’ as the natural building block of civilization.
Archonteans are modeled on the ancient Romans and Byzantines. In antiquity, their names were Latinate, typically with two names (e.g., Priscus Pulcher, Marius Tricotor). About a millennium ago, however, their names shifted to a more Greek, or Byzantine, style. Hence, the names of the powerful clans Basileus and Ligareus shifted to become Basileon and Ligareon; similarly personal names have ceased to favor names like Priscus, Marius, Julia, and Licinia and instead favor names such as Alexios, Georgios, Marcion, and Theodora.
Modern Archontean male names typically end in -on, -ion, -os, or -ios, while female names typically end in -a or -is.
- Modern male Archontean names: Alexios, Anaximander, Basil, Belisarios, Hector, Heraclion, Iskander, Kallion, Lukon, Marcion, Melchior, Paullor, Teodor, Uriel, Valerian
- Modern female Archontean names: Alexia, Basina, Berenice, Callista, Eudocia, Helena, Megaris, Petronia, Sarabel, Syagria, Theodora
The humans of Archontos enslaved the goblins of Mithruin in antiquity and put them to work as miners and as laborers on the vast imperial latifundia of Mithruin. More than a millennium of exposure to the Archontean empire has created a distinct racial subgroup, culturally distinct from their native origins. Imperial goblins were freed from slavery a thousand years ago.
Imperial goblins are short, long-armed, and bandy legged, with yellow to orange skin, yellow eyes, and orange to yellow hair. While comfortable wearing minimal clothing, they possess their own standards for fine dress (these include tall conical caps, colorful vests, and jodhpurs tucked into beautiful leather boots). They reach a maximum of 3'8" in height. Goblins are known for their wiry strength and tough constitutions.
Imperial goblin names combine two radicals, and usually describe a profession or task that the goblin (or their ancestors) practiced.
- Male imperial goblin names: Capdoffer, Lamplighter, Seamfinder, Wicktrimmer.
- Female imperial goblin name: Hearthminder, Kettlelifter, Threadspinner, Warplifter.
Halflings are uncommon, and largely found in segregated agricultural communities. Most halflings known to the Empire live on the Grain Islands to the east of Archontea, where their agricultural prowess provides important food supplies to Archontos itself.
Although most halflings are content with their rural lives, a few end up traveling ‘across the water’ to Archontos. These halflings are seen as rustic, and they tend to suffer some general paternalistic patronizing from Imperial citizens. Imperial officials treat halflings in a genial but patronizing way, and will assume them to be political naïfs.
Halflings aren't much larger than 3'6" in height, are brown-skinned, and are generally athletic in build.
Halflings have given and family names. Family names are typically derived from botanical or agricultural features. Given names vary widely, but are typically English in origin.
- Male halfling names: Harry Berrymash, Jenks Pipeweed, Phlebotomas Plumthorn, Rosco Barleystalk, Williston Appleroot
- Female halfling names: Alice Goldengrain, Gail Winebottom, Livinia Greenthumb, Lucy Rosepetal, Petunia Turnstile
(thor-KING-ga) Inhabitants of the western continent of Irthuin, physically the Thorcinga range in size and coloring, a fact that outsiders use to claim that they are a hybrid people.
Although the Thorcinga occupied the old Archontean cities and maintained them as trading depots, the Thorcinga prefer a rural life. A hereditary aristocracy (the thegns) holds title to most of the cultivated land and other rights of wealth; lesser folk living in villages or manors owe taxes (in kind) and service to their local thegn. Since the return of the Archonteans to Irthuin 350 years ago, and the re-establishment of imperial exarchates at Narsileon and Arcturos, many Thorcinga have chafed at the reappearance of imperial law and bureaucracy. A Thorcin Recovery League (TRL) has sprung up, led by a possibly mythical figure known as Eadric Strigona, with the purpose of permanently driving the Archonteans from Irthuin.
Thorcinga is the collective noun; Thorcin (THOR-kin) is the substantive noun and adjective. Their names are loosely derived from the stock of English names of the Anglo-Saxon period.
- Male Thorcin names: Aelfric, Aethelred, Colmund, Edric, Godric, Horsa, Swithun
- Female Thorcin names: Aethelflad, Cyneburga, Eadgithu, Ebbe, Thalia
(wis-KING-ga) Inhabitants of Borealios, the Wiskinga are typically tall (5'10" to over 6'), blonde or red-haired, and fair-skinned. Their society is more tribal than that of the Archonteans, being based on small matriarchal kinship groupings clustered around a chieftain’s hall. Wiskin society values physical skills and ability, and reaving is an ancient and well-respected tradition among young Wiskinga. It is also common for young Wiskinga to journey within the Archontean empire, seeking glory, adventure, and wealth before returning to the ancestral steading.
Wiskinga is the collective noun, Wiskin (WIS-kin) is the sub-stantive noun and adjective. Their names are loosely based on Old Norse naming conventions.
- Female Wiskin names: Birte, Freya, Gudrun, Gunhild, Hallgerd
- Male Wiskin names: Bjorn, Hjalti, Njal, Olaf, Thorvald
People of Stone
The society of the People of Stone is two-tiered. The upper tier is composed of the established clans, most named after a type of rock or similar substance (e.g. Malachite); members of these clans are the elites, and enjoy special privileges within stoneholds. It is said that members of a clan will go to any end to rescue a clansperson, or at least to recover their body and life-stone. The lower tier of Stone-person society is composed of the clanless. Some of the clanless were born that way, others were exiled from their clans for misdeeds, while still others are survivors of clans that imploded or were eliminated in factional politics.
The clanless do much of the mining and shaping, usually under the supervision of a Stone-person from an established clan. When Stone People die, they are said to ‘take to the stone’; whether this is literal or figurative is an open question among human sages, for Stone People are particularly tight-lipped about such intensely intimate practices.
The Archonteans know of only two Stone People settlements, although its sages suspect that other holds exist on Irthuin and in the southern jungles. One known settlement is Durildor, or Deephold to humans; this small settlement is set in the mountains of Mithruin. The Children of Durildor are technically citizens of the Archontean Empire, although they are quite reclusive. It is said that ancient Emperors swore oaths of support to persuade the Stone People to come to Archontea, and that the price of their arrival was near immunity from imperial rule and law.
The other known settlement is Kazildor (Stonehome to humans), a major hold lying beneath the mountains north and west of Narsileon. The Stone People of Kazildor have refused all requests on the part of the empire to exchange ambassadors, so little is known of Kazildor itself. Perhaps to fend off more such requests, the Stone People of Kazildor have recently established a small permanent embassy in Narsileon. In return for certain advice and smithy work, the exarch has allowed them to operate their own trading factor in Narsileon, and has granted them certain monopolies.
Stone People are generally around 4' tall, are hairless, and decorate their grey skin with intricate scarification patterns. Their society is cooperative and ruled by council, though the clanless are not represented.
Stone People names are usually derived from types of rock or stone, and/or stone-related crafting, mining or related skills. Given names vary widely, but clan names are relatively few in number, and are of great antiquity.
- People of Stone clan names: Gest, Granite, Jade, Malachite, Obsidian, Tapper
- People of Stone male given names: Etsil, Gedric, Grist, Jasper, Scoria, Utor, Zhorak
- People of Stone female given names: Bressia, Dunita, Grishia, Hergist, Norita, Sable
The Sylvari are rare in the human-dominated areas of Magae. The largest and best-known sylvari enclave is the realm of Ellagel and Gallador, located deep within the central forests of Irthuin, separated from Archontean territory by a vast mountain range. Those sylvari that travel in human society frequently do so for highly specific, temporary reasons (searching for a specific object or piece of knowledge); on occasion, they reside as advisors in the courts of human lords. Most humans have never seen a Sylvar, and will treat them with fear and caution.
Sylvari society is broadly collective, with younger sylvari associating themselves with seniors who have established reputations for great deeds, excellent craftsmanship, or particular wisdom. The Sylvari prize core balance in all things. Those who are able to blend their emotions, magical sensibilities, knowledge, and connections with nature are held as paragons. Sylvari are curious and inquisitive, but do not care to reveal themselves before strangers (and especially non-sylvari). Most pursue a highly specific intellectual interest, as well as a specific interest in natural magic. Sylvari are particularly attracted by wisdom, by knowledge, by beauty, and by natural lore.
Sylvari have two names, their given name followed by the name of their mentor, to whom they are linking their future. Given names vary widely. Only the most venerable and powerful of sylvari dispense with their mentor's name.
Sylvari are gender-fluid, willowy, and tall (over 6'), and of varying skin tone and hair color.
- Sylvari names: Erist Ellagel, Gallador, Gelanchian Gellis, Jiltorin Trillissa, Lellagalon Begels, Nagellor Bellador, Nisdis Jerons, Seldorin Seldors, Aelin Gilleslad, Ellagel, Gilleslad, Noredden Gales, Pelissa Halbest