Lands of Erdos
The Iron Empire
For 1481 years, the Iron Empire reigned supreme over 2/3 of Erdos. It spanned the entirety of the Athanor continent, all of Limoch-Grosgant (save Eranhein) and 1/3 of the continent of Hantaraj.
Officially, it was ruled by the immortal monarch known as Imperium, formerly Khaylen the Great. In reality, Khaylen had passed away centuries ago, instead his children had assumed his identity and pretended they were him; the Dynasty of the Imperiums.
The Empire’s patron deity was Garagom, the god of might. Imperium claimed he was Garagom’s Champion, and was thus granted immortality and absolute power over the Empire. In fact, Imperium was considered the very personification of Authority, and all legal powers and rights the Empire’s citizens and officers had, stemmed from the Iron Monarch.
The Iron Empire was a totalitarian regime at its core, but employed a strange (some would say twisted) kind of meritocracy. All citizens of the empire were born free, and enjoyed the protection of the state until they reached the age of maturity (18), whereupon their position in the social hierarchy would be determined by a complex system called the Merit of Authority; in effect a codified form of social darwinism.
Put simply, the actions of all citizens would gauge their Merit: the higher the merit, the more rights and liberties (and responsibilities) each citizen had. The application of this was brutal, and those not capable of gaining Merit were effectively reduced to little more than slaves (though they had the chance to regain Merit and thus their freedom—furthermore their children were never born into slavery).
The Iron Law was also extremely brutal in its punishment. Death was often the preferred punishment, followed by reduction to slavery. Furthermore, punishment for crimes against the state were leveled not only on the transgressor, but also his or her family. Entire houses were extinguished due to having a single rebellious son.
The Empire included members of practically all races except for draelar who were hunted down on sight (Imperium was after the then-secret location of Akualinor). The race of Tieflings was created during the Iron Empire. The Empire embraced Faustian Pacts in the pursuit of Merit, and the occasional Devil was allowed free passage and operated openly (though the devils were not permitted to harm the citizens without permission).
An extensive cult of personality was formed around Imperium himself, the Source of Authority. His veneration was almost godlike in extent.
Every rebellious attempt was drowned in blood until the Great Rebellion of 1519, when the Black Rose Alliance was formed under the leadership of Kaenus Elang’Draeon and Damian Von Redlore. Finally, in 1526, the Iron Empire officially ceased to exist with the death of the Last Imperium.
Common belief holds that the Age of Imperium was a dark page in Erdos’ history, and while there is a lot of truth in this claim, there are many who hold a less critical view of the Empire. It was a brutal, totalitarian regime, but it had also helped Erdos in a lot of areas.
After the War of the Varn, Erdos was a ruin and it was the Iron Empire that united the fractured world and rebuilt it from its ashes. They brought order back into a largely lawless and chaotic planet. Because most of the world was a single empire, wars of any kind were virtually non-existent. Shadokhan, the Archmage Supreme (and ultimately the second in command of the Empire), was personally responsible for the reinvention of most lost magic—in fact, one of the Empire’s causes was the proliferation of magic for all (always within the confines of the Merit of Authority). It also promoted free education for all its citizens and established the Athanish language as the world’s Common Tongue, something that persists to this day. Lastly, the fact that devils were allowed to operate freely had an ironic positive side effect: devils not only weren’t a direct threat, but they protected Erdos from other extra-planar threats.
Most level-headed historians would say that the Iron Empire originally had a positive impact on the history of Erdos (particularly in the first few centuries of its existence), but it had ultimately overstayed its welcome.
There are still however, those who believe that the Iron Empire should return and establish dominance over the world. The Sons of Imperium is one such organization, recognized as the official remnant of the Iron Empire. The organization operates globally, but is mostly centered on Grosgant. Its current leader is the Oathbreaker Paladin of Garagom, Jeremiah Addus, formerly the Grand Master of the Order of the Black Rose. He is now more known as the Death Adder.