|“|| Hear now, that there was a time before the coming of Yeenu-Thet, the hyena god. When heaven and earth was ruled by the divine pair: Anor-Akim, the falcon god, and Bashu, the panther god. Anor-Akim was the ruler of the day, yes, had the dominion of the sun, but Bashu ruled the night, sometimes hidden, sometimes in full view, like the moon, his symbol and sign. But then came the darkness in the shape of Yeenu-Thet in our land. Some say he is no true god, but some arch-evil from beyond. His priest and cult slaughtered the followers of Anor-Akim and Bashu and the other, lesser gods. At last there seemed to be a peace...
But this so called 'peace' was only a new way that the evil deceived my people. They corrupted the cult of Anor-Akim, some say the very sun god himself. But the cult of Bashu saw what happened. They were not only as skilled in battle in the open field as the honest fighters of Anor-Akim, but were also wise in the way of misinformation and distraction. So they chose to flee into obscurity, content with sending their elite guard, the Moon Knights to slay the false priests one by one. But they were not able to reach the high priest, for in the inner sanctum of Yeenu-Thet's greatest temple even the divine powers of the most faithful faded. But there shall be a Moon Knight one day, a Moon Knight who, while blessed by Bashu, will find power not without, but within. His growth in power will be caged, so he will grow inward and not by reaching farther to the heavens. His fury shall shall one day purge the land from the influence of Yeenu-Thet.
The Rhat'matanis EmpireEdit
Rhat'Matanis is the oldest nation on the eastern continent. It is dominated by a human ethnic group known as the Tesh, a tall and swarthy race known for producing powerful sorcerers. The imperial dynasty that rules Rhat'Matanis is almost a millennium old, and while the fortunes of the nation have waxed and waned the aristocratic families of the Tesh trace their lines nearly as far. These bloodlines produce many powerful sorcerers, and the priesthood has always taken this as evidence of divine favor. The gods blessed these lines above others, it is reasoned, so that the Tesh will be protected.
Rhat'Matanis ranges from salt marshes in the west to low, rolling hills in the east. The lands are poor in many ways, offering little mineral wealth and few forests worthy of the name. Iron is in particularly short supply, with and the few mines within the empire's borders cannot meet the demands of the people. While the bulk of the Rhat'Matanis military is armed with steel, it is too expensive for most applications and bronze remains the most common metal for agriculture and industry and even for some poorer fighting units.
The land’s only real wealth lies in agriculture, and Rhat'Matanis exports grain, dried fruit and other agricultural products to the rest of the continent. These food surpluses have led to a high population density, and the Rhat'Matanis Empire may be the largest on the continent by population.
Its society is also heavily regimented, with a caste system and a highly competent civil service overseeing the nation’s infrastructure and its network of aristocrats maintaining order. Relatively few non-humans live in these lands, having been driven away by pogroms in the distant past, though the current generation of the aristocracy seems to bear them no special malice. The Rhat'Matanis bureaucracy is capable of remarkable feats of civil engineering, ranging from an extensive and well-planned network of canals to awe-inspiring stone monuments and palaces.
The southern border of the Empire encompasses the Living Sands, one of the largest deserts on the Eastern Continent. The nomads of the Living Sands nominally swear fealty to the Emperor, though they have little of interest to the Empire and so are largely left to fend for themselves. The priesthood maintains a network of temples and trading posts at oases without the desert, ministering to the tribes and insuring their loyalty through religion rather than politics.
The nation's poverty and shortage of iron have led many to underestimate Rhat'Matanis' armies, but experienced campaigners know to respect them. The nation’s vast population, food surplus and well-organized social structure make it possible for them to support enormous armies, and their careful grooming of sorcerers and wizards means they can field more arcane spellcasters than any other nation. These often ride into battle on the backs of war chariots, calling down arcane fire and spreading chaos among enemy forces. The nation's chief military rival is Rorn, though the careful diplomatic machinations of Irthos have kept the two nations at peace for more than a generation.
It is impossible to understand the culture of Rhat'Matanis without understanding the role of religion. The backbone of society is the priesthood, and large, elaborately-built stone temples dot the land. The perceived link between the divine ordination of the emperors and their sorcerous power has made the study of arcane magic the province of the priesthood, and their places of worship often double as libraries and academies. Those showing the talent for sorcery or the mind for wizardry are brought into the temples at a young age. Those of noble birth are given the broad education suitable for a ruler, while those of more humble origins are taught to use their arts in service to the empire.
Traditionally, the largest cults within the Empire have been those of Anor-Akim, the god of the sun, and Bashu, the moon god. The two priesthoods have maintained a benign rivalry for generations, holding each other accountable and thereby limiting the potential for corruption and abuse of power. The Imperial family traditionally follows Anor-Akim, but in practice the two religions have always been given a voice in the court.
In addition to their association with the sun and moon, Anor-Akim and Bashu, as well as the other gods of Rhat'Matanis pantheon, are associated with specific animals. Anor-Akim is often depicted as possessing the head of a falcon, while Bashu is seen as a panther god. The priests of each deity possess secret rituals that allow them to permanently transform devout followers to take on the head of the appropriate deity. The holy warriors who volunteer to undergo such rituals do so to prove their perfect devotion to their god, and are held in the highest esteem. It is said that to disobey the command of such a warrior in battle is to doom one's soul to eternal torment.
However, all of this has been turned on its ear in recent decades. A new influence -- perhaps a god, perhaps some other form of evil force -- has secretly begun working its will in Rhat'Matanis. The being known as Yeenu-Thet, the Hyena God, has usurped Bashu as the consort of Anor-Akim. The cult of Anor-Akim -- and perhaps even the god himself -- has been corrupted, and its role as a balancing force in Tesh society replaced by a push for complete control of the minds and souls of the peoples of the empire. Those members of Anor-Akim's priesthood who found the power to resist this evil influence were slain, while most others were seduced into following their deranged god into his madness. The followers of Yeenu-Thet now openly sit in the hierarchy of the cult of Anor-Akim, and their "Blessed Servants," known elsewhere as gnolls, serve as enforcers of their will.
The followers of Bashu, more skilled in the arts of deceit, have resisted the influence of Yeenu-Thet. But they have been driven underground, and can do little more than slow the rising power of Anor-Akim. The servants of Bashu are well-organized, with cells in major Teshari cities and an extensive network of contacts provding aid from abroad. But the new orthodoxy is so rigidly enforced that few speak openly of it, and the vast majority of the population -- While knowing that something is desperately wrong -- do not fully understand the changes in Anor-Akim amd the nature of Yeenu-Thet's influence. In the wider world, conflicting stories and a longstanding mistrust of the Empire serve to confuse the issue still further.
But it is becoming harder to disguise. The influence of Yeenu-Thet seems to be tainting the very church of Anor-Akim. Priests and holy warriors have begun to lose their divine powers, or manifest abilities that are profoundly warped from what they were. A growing number of the nobility have been arrested on ill-defined charges of treason, and the commoners have found the predictable patterns of life disrupted by strange decisions from the priesthood and bureaucracy. Even ruling families loyal to Anor-Akim sense that they are on the verge of losing something irreplaceable, and those on the streets of Rhat'Matanis sense the darkness rising ever more palpably. For the moment these fears are held in check by ruthless repression, but only just.
The Rhat'matanis PantheonEdit
Special: All Teshari deities can also choose an appropriate Animal subdomain that fits their animal aspect.
Anor-Akim, the falcon god (The Ruler): Anor-Akim is the sun god and the nominal ruler of the Rhat'Matanis pantheon.
Before his corruption by Yeenu-Thet, he was Lawful Neutral with good tendencies. Both Anor-Akim and Bashu are depicted as male and female. They have no fixed gender.
- Alignment: Lawful Evil
- Domains: Evil, Magic, Law, Sun, War
- Favored Weapon: Light Khopesh (Scimitar)
Note: Despite being an evil deity, clerics of Anor-Akim channel positive energy because of their close connection to the sun.
Bashu, the panther god (The Consort, but becoming more like the Wanderer): Bashu is the moon god and former consort of Anor-Akim, before his corruption by Yeenu-Thet. He is Chaotic Neutral with good tendencies. Both Anor-Akim and Bashu are depicted as male and female. They have no fixed gender.
- Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
- Domains: Chaos, Darkness, Liberation, Luck, Trickery
- Favored Weapon: Panther Claw (Brass knuckles which inflict slashing damage)
Yeenu-Thet, the hyena god (The Stranger): A foreign demon lord who attained godhood and corrupted Anor-Akim. He is acting as his consort, but de facto rules Teshari with his blightening touch. He is also known as the 'Father of Gnolls'.
- Alignment: Neutral Evil
- Domains: Death, Evil, Madness, Strength, Trickery
- Favored Weapon: Long Talon (Spear)
Sabok, the crocodile god (The Destroyer): The original evil god of the Teshari Pantheon. He is the lurking danger and consumes all souls not saved by the other gods.
- Alignment: Chaotic Evil
- Domains: Destruction, Evil, Repose, Strength, Water
- Favored Weapon: Great Khopesh (Falchion)
Power is shared by the priestly hierarchy, the imperial bureaucracy, and the aristocratic families. Each has certain duties, privileges and powers, and enforce different aspects of the law of the land. To an outsider, the system often appears opaque, and unraveling the responsibilities of each institution is a challenge. But even the lowliest citizen of Rhat'Matanis seems able to navigate the system, and indeed the citizenry defends it as both effective and divinely ordained. And its success in maintaining nearly 1,000 years of stability makes it unique among the governments of the Eestern Continent.
The current Emperor, a corrupted vessel of Yeenu-Thet's will, is known for his ambition, and frequently led his armies to the field. He had some success, notably against the centaur tribes across the nation's southern border, some of whom still pay tribute to the empire. But his campaigns against the Dwarves of the Seithr mountains ended in humiliating defeat, and his attempts to expand into the lands of the Landandel Baronies were rebuffed when the baronies acted with uncharacteristic unity to repel the Empire.
Since then, the emperor has attempted no further military adventures abroad, and has invested heavily in diplomatic missions (some say 'shadow war'). Rumors abound that he has hatched plots to set the Landandel Baronies feuding with each other, or to goad the horse clans into making war on the city states of the Ouhm River and the baronies in hopes of weakening them. The truth of these accusations is hard to judge. The baronies have never needed help finding reasons to feud, and the horse clans seem to be perpetually massing for yet another horrific invasion. But it is clear that should an opportunity present itself, either by chance or design, the Empire would seize the opportunity.
The Rhat'Matanis Empire is a vast land ruled by a sorcerer-priest king (vessel of Yeenu-Thet) bent on conquest. The Rhat'Matanis are sophisticated users of magic and seek to promote chaos among their rivals, making them the ideal bad guys for plots involving espionage. If they can start a war by drugging, enchanting, kidnapping or assassinating someone, you should assume they are planning to do it. Also a large campaign, trying to break the hold of Yeenu-Thet over the land is possible. NPC supporting the players goals could be find in the hidden resistance cults of Bashu.