It was the Glory of Civilization!
The heartlands of the Erisian vales had long been divided amongst feuding city states united only loosely by the culture propagated by Jermaine the Conqueror over three hundred years ago. But Jermaine’s dreams of conquest had been cut short, and the old rivalries resurfaced.
A century ago, the nation of Drae, a coastal city state with a representative government began a campaign of expansion against its neighbors. One by one they fell, until only the dwarven warlords of the Icepeak Mountains and the island nation of Cathay stood against them. Cathay invaded, but the Draean military genius Augustus Hadrian Philodus held them off. Cathay was then sacked in turn and forced to become a slave state to Drae.
When Philodus returned to Drae, the Senate denied his soldiers the lands and glories promised them on campaign. A brief but bloody civil war ensued, and Philodus was slain in the fighting. His supporter Julian Caesar took the city in a series of retributive purges, and crowned himself Emperor of Drae.
Caesar proved himself a military genius at least on par if not surpassing Philodus, and conquered new lands. Even reaching as far as the mythic island of Concordia, where dwelt druids and savage halfling folk, and deep into the rich and ancient land of Lysia, where Pharaohs ruled. He built a great wall to keep the halfling hordes at bay, and traded with the Lysian queen Hamasphuret for gold and spice. Cathay became the new Empire’s breadbasket. Many gods and cultures were tolerated and accepted, though Draean culture reigned supreme. Subsequent emperors, with little new to conquer, turned their attention to building roads and great civic works. Relative prosperity reigned for many years, interrupted only by occasional skirmish with the dwarfs of Icepeak, or the elven horse lords of the Tiba.
But now a new Emperor, a new Caesar has taken the throne and Gaius Pontus Octavius has declared himself a living god. All secular magical practice has been deemed heresy, all demi-humans are spies for foreign nations, and all who do not accept slavery or death as punishment shall be exiled.
Forsaken in a Savage Land
“A dark and terrible wilderness, is this. It reminds me of the jungles of Emir Vultan’s sultanate. But this fetid place fills me with a terrible apprehension, and I know not why. Inhuman cries come from somewhere inland; some beasts or monsters I do not recognize. Sentries often vanish, and sometimes their remains turn up days later… made with precision into something grotesque. I will be well quit of this place.” —Jermaine the Conqueror, upon discovering the Isle of Darkness.
By Imperial edict, all exiles are taken to the Isle of Exile, once known as the Isle of Darkness. They shall be branded as Exiles and shall disembark Imperial galley at the fort of Lost Hope. They then shall be taken to the edge of the jungle, whereupon they shall fend for themselves. If ever they return to lands claimed by the Draean Empire, they will be killed on sight.
Fantastic Adventure in an Ancient World
Exiles of the Empire is a game of Rules Compendium Dungeons & Dragons taking place in a fantasy world reminiscent of ancient Imperial Rome. The Draean Empire is a decadent, primarily iron age nation (though steel exists, weapons forged from it are quite rare and of exceptional value) that is synonymous with civilization. It has conquered much of the known world, and created a vast trade network with paved roads and civic works. At the same time, it threatens to engulf everything in its mono-culture, and its lack of a sensible succession policy creates an inherently unstable regime. The current Emperor is by all accounts a megalomaniac, and may actually be insane.
Player Characters are once-citizens of the Draean Empire, now exiled to the legendary Island of Darkness. The Island is a savage and unknown wilderness that even Jermaine the Conqueror, an ancient hero who explored fearlessly into many unknown lands and faced down kings and generals alike, avoided with dread. Players may choose to play a Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Magic-User, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, or even a Mystic, so long as they meet the prime requisites for the particular class. Attributes are rolled via 3d6 in order. Certain equipment is restricted due to the Rome-like nature of the setting. Broad and bastard swords are normally only used by cavalry, barding is unknown, and armor heavier than splint mail is unheard of outside of the dwarfish kingdoms. Stirrups have not yet been invented, so cavalry is not nearly as effective as it would be otherwise, and is used primarily to shore up the flanks of infantry. An exception is the elven cavalry, which rides as well without stirrups as men would with them. All of this will be covered in the house rules.