Tales From the Fallen Empire
Description: It can be said that Kesh is the second most powerful nation on the face of Urd with its origin closely tied to the former empire of Ithmyrr and the powerful Atevan race. During the First Age in the midst of the Atevan conquest, warlords (and brothers) Nekheny, Asari, and Setesh took to constructing strongholds in the deserts to the south to fortify the land from possible attacks from the southern jungles. Over time, these strongholds (Neter-Aaru, Akert, and Khertet) began to grow into cities, and by the time the Atevans were finally defeated by the armies of the Dragons, Kesh was already a nation unto itself. In the months to come, the brothers were gifted the lands and proclaimed Sorcerer Kings and, in turn, declared themselves gods. Kesh took advantage of its location along the River of Sails and close proximity to the island of Mahajanna (a theocracy controlled by the Dragon Anu) and nation of Zhou by creating major trade ports and forming several merchant guilds to control commerce and trade on a global level. This became a bit of a struggle as Queen Nythura pushed against its borders with armies from Dol Minor, but the Sorcerer Kings of Kesh held their own. With the eventual fall of the Sorcerer Kings at the end of the Second Age, Kesh fell into the hands of the merchant guilds who turned control of the nation over to several trade princes. These princes are said to still take orders from the Sorcerer Kings from beyond the grave, but this rumor holds little truth… or does it?
Kesh is a thriving land of trade, commerce, and mysticism. Anything from fine food, narcotic spice, exotic treasures, and slaves can all be bought for a price. What Kesh lacks in morality, it makes up for in being a land of finery and pleasure. The city streets bustle with visitors from all over Urd, buying and selling items that can only be found in the heart of the great desert markets. Thieves’ guilds fight petty wars against the others that would take up residence in the city and not show them respect by offering tithe. Emirs make dealings with otherworldly djinn to maintain control over the great cities with powerful magic, while artifacts from the First Age still make their ways into the hands of those wise enough to make use of such items. The scorching daytime sun can be deadly to those who walk underneath its intense heat, and the freezing nights of the desert are unbearable. The natives of Kesh are an average-sized people (5’5 to 6’0) with dark hair, eyes, and are swarthy of skin. Most dress in flowing cotton robes or simple togas. Sandals are preferred over shoes and boots, and none leave their dwellings without a headdress or hat to protect them from the sun. Men and women favor shaved heads over hair, but in recent years, women have begun fashioning their hair into the popular styles of the northerners.
Culture: Keshites all share a rich cultural heritage that dates back to when the First Men ruled the world. Each citizen shares in the wealth and fortune of the merchant princes; from slave all the way to guild noble enjoys his share of food, drink, and creature comfort. Any pleasure, temptation, or distraction can be bought in the great marketplaces of the major cities, and what cannot be found there can still be purchased for a price. In every city, merchant houses sit beside guild masters on the great councils to decide the order in which business is conducted. Nothing goes on without the knowledge and approval of the houses or guilds, and those who attempt to work without their blessing find themselves wishing for a quick death. With the collapse of the former caste system of the Sorcerer Kings and the implantation of an oligarchy, the people have found the lifting of the social and wealth restrictions to be uplifting. While there has been a lot of positive change in the past 100 years, most of the major cities of Kesh have become centers of crime and seedy activities. While guilds such as the thieves’ guild or guild of assassins has no shame as to the nature of their business, such activities tend to be surrounded with dark dealings and hostile intent. Even the slaves walk the streets with a form of protection.
Religion: The people of Kesh tend to be devout worshipers of the Sorcerer Kings who ruled the land from the time of the Second Age. Many temples dedicated to Kesh’s rulers (Nekheny, Asari, Anup, Ubasti, Nebthet, etc.) can be found through the cities and in remote villages throughout the desert landscape. In the major cities, one can find smaller places of worship constructed by emissaries from the other countries, but the worship of others than the great Sorcerer Kings is looked at with much distaste by the native people. Cults to various dark gods have hidden themselves in the cities and meet in secret to offer sacrifice and prayer. One of the most common is to the Sorcerer King Setesh who was banished by his brothers for heresy in the First Age. In recent times, cults revering the Black Mother Kishari and the demonic six-armed God Mahesha have been becoming more common; this is thought to be due to the influence of traders from the island of Mahajanna.
Shift Like the Sands: Human Keshites start with +1 AGI or PER, player’s choice.
Common Male Names: Ahmose, Amenakht, Bakenmut, Bakenptah, Djhutmose, Genubath, Hapimen, Haremsat, Imhotep, Inarus-Amun, Jarha, Kahma, Mekhu, Menmet-Ra, Nebnefer, Pakhneter, Ptahhemakhet, Senemut, Setep, Tetisheri, Userhet, Wepmose
Common Female Names: Amenirdis, Asenath, Hehenhit, Ipip, Isetnefret, Khutenptah-Maharet, Meresankh, Naunakhte, Neferu, Rai, Sebtitis, Shesh, Sit-Hathor, Tabes, Taheret, Takhat, Tetisherit
Cultural Traits: Enlightened, Sorcery, Incorruptible, Savvy, Literate, Guildsman
Idiosyncrasies: Shifty, Silver-Tongued
Language: The Keshites speak in Keshtic, a variant language of the Atevans.
Restricted Classes: Cleric, Barbarian