Xansai is mostly composed of desolate Badlands. There are, however, fifteen oases located within Xansai, and each of these fifteen green areas are host to a city-state.
City-states are ruled by a warlord. A charismatic individual who has somehow managed to gain power and dominion over said city-state. A warlord’s power can last years, or it can last minutes. Few warlords have truly stable reigns, as they are constantly beset by strife both inside and outside of their chosen land.
The ethnic mixture of a city-state, its form of currency, and its laws vary from one to the other. Such things are generally determined by a warlord, though, depending upon the strength of the warlord, and the stability of his rule, custom can also dictate many things. Warlords come and go frequently, but customs and habits are likely to linger.
One common feature in all city states is a stronghold. While individual strongholds vary in size, and construction, the warlord of every city-state always rules from one of these places. It is here that power is consolidated, and where a warlord can find relative peace against the constant storm of life in Xansai.
Standing Warlord: Talyn Brood
Xansai’s southernmost city state
Xansai has but two viable seaports. That of Kelath’seram to the north, which is overseen by the Minotaur navy, and the port in Argos. Thus, Argos is of strategic importance to the other continents of Zhurin, for what little trade there is between Xansai and the outside lands is done here in Argos, without the constant threat of the danger inherent in dealing with the Minotaur League.
As such, Argos is one of the richer city-states of Xansai, and benefits from outside trade. While that trade is often meager, it does mean that Argos’ citizens have greater access to goods that are otherwise scarce within Xansai.
Of course, that relative wealth makes it a target for greedy warlords of other city-states, and avaricious men and women within Argos’ city walls.
Argos is by far the most cosmpolitan of the city-states. All races are welcomed here. It is here that races from Zhurin’s other lands can also congregate. Furthermore, it is also the location of the portal that leads Zakitron’s other inhabitants to Xansai. So, for those traveling from other lands, Argos will be their first stop.
As is the case in most lands, slavery is legal in Argos. Laws, however, regulate the proper treatment of slaves. Slaves are to be treated as a valued commodity, not to be killed, or beaten too harshly. Slaves are not free, but their lives are at least more comfortable within Argos than outside of it.
For many years, Argos was ruled by a consortium of rebel Scolani, from the neighboring land of Sorth. However, recently, these Scolani were overcome and defeated by the warrior Talyn Brood, who now holds power as Argos’ warlord.
Owing to their port, Argos has a navy, and the seamen, called privateers, are the only force than can match Kelath’Seram’s minotaur navy.
In the northern quarter of the city, far from the open port, is a great ziggurat made of black granite. The structure is massive, striding well above the rest of the city’s skyline. All the doors of the ziggurat are located at the topmost levels, which are accessible only via three long, upwardly sloping staircases. All around these staircases are slits to conceal archers. This makes the ziggurat more or less impregnable by attackers, providing a good deal of security for the reigning warlord.
Standing Warlord: Serin Nerioxin – Alias: Sanguine
In the south, not far from the city of Argos, sits a city-state that is avoided at all costs. For Burgos holds the race of the Xhaur, and these twisted beings, with their foul experiments and continual atrocities strike fear into the hearts of even the most ferocious minotaur.
For an oases, Argos is nearly dead. It has even scarcer resources than Halzak. But while Halzak was made lesser by nature, it is the depredations of the Xhaur that have brought Burgos to the brink of natural disaster.
It is here that the Xhaur practice their defiling magic, stripping their home of what few resources remain.
All races can be found in Burgos, but only the Xhaur exist in a state of freedom. Other races exist either as slaves, or, more frequently, as the subject of experiments.
Of the slave races, muls are the most common, for they are bred here. Humans are also kept as slaves. Other races exist, but are generally fodder for experiments, rather than put to the more mundane tasks required of slave labor.
The Basilica, a cathedral topped by a golden dome, serves as Burgos’ stronghold. The Basilica is also the central hub of Xhaurian research, and so can be located easily by the sound of the screams emanating from within its whitewashed walls
The home of the Shadow Born, Candra sits in northeastern Xansai, and is the smallest of Xansai’s oases.
A small city, it is still a city that contains considerable pride. It is the only permanent residence of the Shadow Born, one of the races unique to Xansai. Here, the Changing People reside, making their plans to one day control all of Xansai.
Of the city-states, Candra is the most ethnically pure. The Shadow Born are not apt to allow other races to reside within their city limits. As such, there are never more than a handful of other races to be found within Candra.
In addition, Candra is one of Xansai’s few free city-states. Slavery is illegal here. The Shadow Born have a strong sense of racial harmony, and so would never consider making slaves of their own king.
Candra alone has rules and laws of succession. It is taboo in Shadow Born society for those of the blood to make war upon one another, and so Candra enjoys relative stability and peace.
Candra’s stronghold is a palatial manor, called Shadowheart, located in the center of the city.
Sprawling across Xansai’s interior, Halzak is the home of the Hobgoblin Overlordship. A ruthless military dictatorship whose brutality and thirst for conquest stands above even the rest of Xansai’s brutal denizens.
Halzak occupies the poorest of Xansai’s oases, and so the Overlordship is constantly seeking to expand its holdings. Because of the stability of Overlordship power, there are few internal struggles, so the Overlordship is constantly looking to expand beyond their borders, to conquer other city states and exploit their resources.
The Overlordship keeps only humans and muls as slaves. Constantly at war with the Minotaur League, Minotaur are killed on sight. Other races are considered to be valueless as slaves, and so they too are killed without regard to ownership.
The Overlordship is, as the name implies, ruled by Hobgoblins. But these Hobgoblins are not the mindless, slavering beasts you might believe them to be. The Hobgoblins of Xansai are ruthless, intelligent, and have a mind for organization. The Hobgoblins are obsessed with conquering, they continually seek new lands to control and people to exploit.
Hobgoblins adhere to a strict code of might makes right. There is no room for weakness in their society. Anyone who is not in perfect condition is ruthlessly killed, unless of course, they are smart enough to make themselves useful.
Society here is strictly militaristic and caste based. Life is knowing the chain of command, and working one’s way to the top. And no one can ever leave their caste for a higher caste (though downward movement is possible). The ruler of the Overlordship is known as the Grand Khar. Beneath him are a series of Khars, sub-Khars, arch-Khars, etc. The Hobgoblins fill the ranks of these Khar positions, providing the leadership of the Overlordship.
Beneath the Hobgoblins are the ogres. Ogres serve as special bodyguards to the Khar, and. as well, elite attack units. Their size and viciousness makes them perfectly suited to this role.
Below them are the orcs. Orcs are the sergeants of the Overlordship. While they can never be Khars, they can ascend to this mid-level of leadership.
And next come the goblins. The goblins are the rank and file of the army, read: cannon fodder. A goblin’s life is miserable, their only use is the fact that they are so populous that you can send thousands of them to die and not notice their absence.
Bugbears serve as scouts, their stealthiness proving to be quite adept at this role.
And, lastly, kobolds serve the Overlordship as assassins. The sight of a kobold is a fearsome thing, because anyone who sees one knows they have been targeted for death, and that death is just seconds away.
Life is determined by birth. No one ever transcends their caste. Half breeds like half orcs are not allowed to live past their first day of life, they have no place in the Overlordship.
The stronghold of Halzak is a great bunker made of grey stone. It sits along Halzak’s southern border, and is guarded, day and night, by a large force of the Overlorship’s elite.
Kelath’Seram is most notable for having one of Xansai’s only two viable ports. However, unlike Argos, the minotaurs of Kelath’Seram are not interested in trade, nor are they open to the other lands of Zhurin.
Instead, the Minotaur League seeks to rule the waves. They launch attacks, not only upon other Xansai settlements, but upon the other continents of Zhurin. Aggressive and constantly pursuing conquests, the Minotaur League is one of the primary sources of Xansai’s fearsome reputation.
Minotaur keep only humans as slaves, finding the other races too contentious and difficult to break. Human slaves serve as the oar pullers on great galleys, or do other menial work, suffering under the viciousness of their masters, always held in contempt for being weak.
The white halls of the Grand Arena function as the central part of Minotaur society, acting as a court, a gathering place, and, within the grand palace built below ground, as the seat of minotaur power, serving as subterranean stronghold.
Meria sits in the west, surrounded by large walls. It is a city with a well earned reputation for decadence and one of the few places on Xansai dedicated to pleasure and sensual delight.
Ethnically diverse, Meria is a city of commerce. The warlord is the wealthiest merchant of the city. Meria is a place where Xansai’s citizenry, if they survive the journey, can wallow in pleasure. A place where, for a price, nearly anything can be had.
This comes with a price, of course. Meria is built upon the back of slave labor, and life is especially debased here, in a city-state where everything is for sale. For those who can purchase its delights, it is a wonderful haven. But for those exploited by the system, it is a harsh, inescapable prison.
The warlord, who is a merchant rather than a warrior, rules Meria from the confines of a sprawling pleasure dome, enjoying the rarest of all treats within Xansai – pools of water.
Merikos is a militarized city state in Xansai’s interior, notable for the Academy of War, a place for warriors to gather and train.
Ruled by a military junta, Merikos’ society is given over completely to the study of war and combat. Warriors are the ruling class, while those who cannot fight serve as slaves. Racially diverse, Merikos is a meritocracy. One’s ability to fight is the sole determinant of one’s status as free or slave.
The Iron Barracks serve as Merikos’ stronghold.
Merikos is chiefly known, however, for the Academy of War.
Long ago, a man named Savitar, having mastered every form of killing then known, built his school atop a plateau, dedicating the structure to martial perfection. And millennia later, it is still a place of death and fear. A place that produces Xansai’s most ruthless warriors.
Students who wish to enter the Academy are not subject to any restrictions on social class. All are considered equal inside the Academy, be they slaves or warlords. Anyone can petition for entrance, though only the truly skilled can make their way through the process of becoming a student, much less survive the training.
Students coming to the Academy find themselves at the base of the plateau the Academy is located upon. At the base of the plateau is the entrance to a cave. The plateau itself is not solid, but instead honeycombed with a maze of interconnected caverns and passageways that must be negotiated to the top of the plateau.
Some have attempted to climb the plateau itself, but they are invariably picked off by Academy students who are practicing their archery. None have been known to survive the climb.
There is but one true route through the maze of caverns to the top of the plateau. There are numerous dead ends, and lost applicants must find their way through the darkness to the correct path. This trek is complicated by the numerous booby traps that litter the maze, waiting to kill unwary travelers.
Once an applicant emerges from the underground maze of death, they find themselves atop a plateau. In the center of the plateau is the nine storied Academy proper. The Academy is surrounded by a large rock and sand garden, carefully arranged over the course of centuries by enslaved artisans. A single path, strewn with thorns, leads into the Academy.
Once inside the Academy, the initiation is simple. A student must challenge, and kill, the first Academy student they encounter. They can do so using any weapon they have brought to the Academy with them. Once the applicant has passed this initiation, a Master at the Academy welcomes them. And then proceeds to beat them within a hair’s breadth of death.
When they awaken, the student finds they have been stripped of all personal belongings, have been subject to a full body shave, and are now dressed in white robes. Students might then discover that they have been tattooed in a manner that distinguishes them as students of the Academy: matching tattoos on the underside of each wrist in the shape of a lion. They are then told to begin their training.
The Academy is composed of nine levels, called chamber. Each chamber is devoted to a particular weapon or style of combat. The chambers have numerous rooms, each of them devoted to a specific type of weapon in the chamber’s category. For instance, the Chamber of Severed Limbs, devoted to the sword, has rooms training students in the use of long swords, short swords, broad swords, and so on. A student goes from room to room, mastering the weapon, and not progressing to the next room until given leave by the master instructing them. Once all rooms have been mastered, the student ascends to the next chamber. Once the student reaches the ninth chamber, they meet the Grandmaster (whose name is always Savitar). Students fight the Grandmaster until one of the following occurs, the student is killed, or the Grandmaster deems them graduated, at which point they themselves are given the rank of Master.
Students who have attained the rank of master are given the option of staying on and training students, or leaving and using their hard earned skills in the outside world. Masters are free to leave and enter the Academy at will, and often do so.
When the current Grandmaster dies, all Masters presently in the Academy select a new Grandmaster through a non lethal combat tournament. When the new Grandmaster is selected, he or she takes the name Savitar, thus providing a link to the school’s founder.
The chambers, and the weapons they teach are listed below:
•The Chamber of Severed Limbs – swords, daggers, and their ilk.
•The Chamber of Decapitation – axes and pole arms
•The Chamber of Pulverized Bodies – war hammers, clubs, and other blunt weapons
•The Chamber of Elegant Death – staves and other non-bladed pole weapons
•The Chamber of Death’s Rain – bows, crossbows and other distance weapons
•The Chamber of Death’s Dance – unarmed combat
•The Chamber of Unseen Doom – poison
•The Chamber of Eloquence – philosophy, rhetoric, and psychology
•The Chamber of Hell’s Pit – The Grandmaster’s quarters.
Each chamber contains rooms full of cots and thin blankets for students to sleep in. Slaves also move freely through the chambers (though they often face death themselves) to serve water and gruel to starving, exhausted students.
Merindíen is open, ready to be developed by a player, should he or she choose. Please message Talyn if you are interested.
The city of Midrin is also known as the Iron City. It is the seat of the fearsome race called the Gath.
Midrin sits in Xansai’s east, a city built against the Razorspine Mountains. The Razorspine range is notable for being Xansai’s only native source of iron ore, and thus, of steel. Because of the rarity of iron, and thus the importance of it, Midrin is a significant city state, and one that all other warlords must deal with, for the trade of metal is vital.
The gath are the race of power within Midrin, their warlord selected from among their ranks. But the gath make slaves of all races, and so, within Midrin’s great iron walls, all races can be found, collared and brutalized. Midrin’s mines are always hungry, and so many an unlucky soul has found himself forced into the dank, brutal darkness of those mountain passages.
Midrin is the least natural, and most industrialized land of Xansai. The skies are often choked with black soot, and the air is filled with the sound of metalwork. Midrin is a place as hard and unyielding as its central resource, and life is lived among the industrial waste produced by the constant mining of ore.
Midrin’s stronghold is the fearsome Castle Black. Crafted out of iron, instead of clay, bricks, the place is a fearsome sight in the center of the city.
Composed of several spires connected by long passageways, the place radiates gloom and fear. It is designed to be frightening, and generally achieves its effect. There is a great courtyard leading into the palace, a garden of cactus and spiky, crimson colored bloodgrass. Large trees dot the garden, and from each tree hangs dead or dying men and women, victims imported for the sole purpose of being displayed, their gruesome deaths made works of art.
Namarëis open, ready to be developed by a player, should he or she choose. Please message Talyn if you are interested.
Once a city of religious faith, when the gods abandoned Xansai, Orestia fell into extreme evil. It became a land of false piety and obsession with an unattainable ideal of perfection.
Orestia is a human only city. Other races are either driven out or killed. It is racially pure in this way, though it means that man preys upon his fellow man.
Once piously religions knights, the paladins of Orestia are now keepers of Orestia’s laws, and they ruthlessly enforce them with what passes for religious zeal inside of Xansai. The laws in this land are harsh, and ruthlessly enforced by the paladins, who answer directly to the Templar.
Instead of a warlord, the ruler of Orestia is the Templar. The templar pursues an agenda that is ruthlessly xenophobic, and racist, and cleansing Orestia of any who dare dissent.
Non humans are regarded as nothing more than savages. Superstition and ignorance are spread about other races, which keeps the citizenry ignorant and afraid.
Only humans are accepted in Orestian society. And, the definition of human is very strictly defined. The Templars are obsessed with thoughts of purity. They routinely conduct purges, where they weed out anyone who does not meet their strict standards. The elderly, the infirm, and some times, even the ill, are rounded up, and slaughtered, in the name of purity. And, as well, the Templars have become obsessed with breeding a superior stock of human. Thus, marriages are arranged, and anyone who does not meet the strict standards for reproduction are involuntarily sterilized.
As can be expected, Orestia is often at war. The Templars routinely launch crusades in the name of their holy zeal. All of the non human lands are subject to these wars.
The people of Orestia live in a constant state of ignorance, and fear. And, in many ways, life is preferable in the Badlands, where at least toleration is the rule.
Orestia’s stronghold is the Red Cathedral. Once a place of worship, now the center of a paranoid, and utterly evil society that might one day destroy what little good is left in Xansai.
Standing Warlord: Revin Saerth
Rathim is a city state built on the ancient ideology of “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” This however only holds true if done within the same social class. When wrongdoing from a higher ranking member of the society is done to a lower ranking one the punishment becomes less severe to almost negligible thus making the ruling warrior class almost untouchable when it comes to the law. This also means that slaves basically only have justice among themselves and occasionally with the working and merchant classes, but have none with the warrior class.
The city itself is situated by a small, dye rich, oasis and a ravine filled with rich obsidian deposits. Seeing as the currency of the land require one or the other, the city keeps itself open to trade with the other city states however those not from the city caught breaking the law are punished more harshly than slaves. Rathim and its people are filled with a strong nationalist fervor, and while they may not be all the same race as the city, they do see themselves as a people united. This usually makes dealings with other city-states tense affairs as outsiders do not care at how poorly they are treated. This keeps Rathim always at war with one city state or another, but during war time they close their gates to all outsiders. They will however make exceptions for those wishing to ally themselves with the city-state until the current war dispute has ended, and that is how it has survived for so long.
Within the city as mentioned before it is racially diverse. It is not uncommon to see any race of people living within its walls, however most start of as workers or slaves. There is very little need of additional merchants, so most of those who desire to move up the social ladder go the way of the warrior. To do so however is a harrowing trial as one must pick three members of the Warrior class and defeat them one after the other without any stops or breaks. Most die during the trial, but those who live are welcomed among the fold and are allowed the luxury of being apart of Rathim’s ruling class.
The man who sits atop the the warrior class is the half-elf, Revin Saerth. Once saw as weak and nothing more than a dye harvesters, Revin found himself a lucky man working in the oasis one day. Finding the scarce ingredients to make the drug known as Black Rush, he slowly began to distribute what little he made to the small resident populace of Scolani. Little by little they all began to follow him from worker to warrior all for another taste of the drug. Using their addiction to his advantage he staged a coup and killed the former leader of the city-state in one on one combat. Since that time he has sat attop all of those who reside in Rathim. It is said he still uses the drug to influence Scolani that come to the city seeking the drug and placing the natural warriors within his ranks, but with the Scolani populous within the city scarce at best it is likely he simply sells them the drug and sends them on their way as to assure they don’t band together and overthrow him.
Strachmar was once ruled by humans, but in recent decades, has been remade. In that sense, it is a relatively new city-state. And unlike city-states, Strachmar seems to be dedicated to an honorable ideal. Or, at least, an ideal that is not outwardly evil.
Strachmar is a nation of muls. Before the founding of Strachmar, muls were bred as a slave race. Muls are the muscular result of Xhaurian experimentation, the offspring of human and the now extinct race of dwarves. Though sterile, they are strong, resilient and cunning. They make the perfect slave soldiers, and many city-states utilized them.
Muls have an inborn desire to be free, and only the strongest masters could keep them under their thumb. Over the years, many muls had fled to the Badlands. And in the wilds of the Badlands, an army began to take shape. An army of muls.
After a time, this army of determined mules turned their eyes towards the city-state of Silvant. They conquered it, expelling the former citizens, and making it a home for themselves.
And so, Strachmar was formed. A free nation, dedicated to the ideal that no mul shall ever be enslaved again.
Strachmar is, not surprisingly, predominantly mul. However, there are other races represented. Because most muls were born in captivity, they lack the knowledge of many vital skills, and so, talented people of all races are welcomed, so long as they agree to adhere to mul law.
Chief among those laws is that Strachmar is, like Candra, a free city-state. Slavery is outlawed. And though Strachmar is overseen by a warlord, the society is far more democratic than others, the warlord serving more as a prime minister than a military strongman.
Strachmar society is communal. Everything is shared equally, and the notion of exploiting another is taboo, and strictly forbidden by law. It is a place where the memories of slavery runs deep.
As more and more mul slaves escape to Strachmar, the nation’s numbers swell. Many warlords are worried about the presence of so many former slaves massing together.
Because muls are born sterile, they rely, in a strange symbiosis, upon the constant influx of escaped slaves to swell their population. Should the Zhaur ever cease breeding muls, Strachmar would be effectively a ghost city within a generation.
Strachmar’s stronghold is a single tower made of stone, that sits in the southern edge of the city-state.
In east sits the lushest of Xansai’s city states. The land of Thenaegyr. Home of the Symians.
Thenaegyr is ruled by the race of Symians. Symians are tall, muscular creatures who resemble apes. However, they walk fully erect, just as humans do. Tall and powerful, Symians are equally adept with forged weapons and their teeth and claws. Though they wear clothing and armor, and carry swords and axes, even a naked Symian, with his strength and natural weapons, is a formidable opponent.
Symian society is hierarchal and obsessed with advancement. However, there is a communal element to it as well. Symians group themselves into collectives that form the basic unit of society, and it is these units, rather than particular individuals, who vie for power within the larger society.
These collectives, called the La-Trek, are organized around a particular leader, or Gro-oudd. That leader then recruits, either through negotiations or conquest, the other members of his La-Trek. La-Treks can be small or large, and will include families, slaves, servants, and soldiers. Wars between La-Treks are common and accepted, as they are the means by which groups gain power and influence.
The Great Gro-oudd is, obviously, the commander of the largest and most powerful La-trek, and holds sway until his position is overtaken by a more powerful grouping.
The Symians make slaves of any they encounter. Human slaves are common, but slaves of all races have been bred for, meaning that there is great diversity among Thenaegyr’s slaves.
Owing to the constant in-fighting, Thenaegyr poses less of a threat to other city-states than might be imagined. They can rarely organize well enough to actually move outside the region that composes the city-state, They are a constant threat, but one that seems to be eating itself, rather than expanding outward.
Because of this, Symian society has grown both decadent and corrupt. It has the signs of a society in decline, a kingdom whose influence is steadily waning. Thenaegyr, it could be said, is slowly poisoning itself to death.
Thenaegyr’s stronghold is, like Argos’ a ziggurat, this one made of red brick. The stairs are large enough to accommodate a Symian’s greater bulk, which also creates an obstacle, should a smaller race try to attack.
***If there are any questions about any part of Xansai please feel free to message or memo it’s creator under his more well known handles Talyn, Caladan and Garrick. He will handle any questions you might have including permissions to play any of Xansai’s native races and if you’d like to become one of Xansai’s warlords.***