The Emperor's Champions
Population: 4,950,000 (33% of Fartha-Kor)
- Racial makeup: 80% Human, 15% Elven, 5% Dwarf, <1% Dragonborn
- Elven and Dwarven populations are primarily based in the eastern forests and the northern mountains, respectively. Although they may live within the region, they are usually not subject to the laws or authority of the region.
Economy: Primarily agricultural
- Large fishing based economy on the southern border.
- Growing number of laborers, merchants, and artisans.
- Headed by Tao Fang with a clique of lords and bureaucrats drawn from the Imperial Court and local populace.
- Local lords hold a limited amount of power that is curtailed by Tao Fang’s increasingly centralized government.
- Merit based bureaucracy that is vigorously controlled by Tao Fang.
Military: Professional and growing force
- Historically a mixture of Imperial soldiers sent to defend the border along with a large number of militia, known to be the best in all of Fartha-Kor.
- Shang Fa has a long history of warfare and being forced to defend the empire with or without support or acknowledgement. Consequently, the people are exceptional warriors though they learn because they must, not because they relish warfare.
- Tao Fang went to great lengths to absorb the finest bandits and forces of the local lords into his own army. Some lords have retained their own personal forces, but these forces are limited or have men loyal to Tao Fang in leadership positions.
- Currently in the process of recruiting and training additional men.
Shang Fa is a varied land. Jagged, frozen mountains cover the north, marking the border between the empire and the barbarian areas beyond. Dotting these mountains are ancient, fortress cities; once impressive, but now little more than crumbling ruins. Many are abandoned and forgotten, but some remain inhabited and have even seen some revitalization under Tao Fang’s leadership.
The east gives way to thick and untamed forests that house Wild Elves, including the feared Manhunters. Thousands of years of warfare and neglect have been to the boon to these now magnificent forests, which have steadily and increasingly encroached westward. Many abandoned villages have been devoured, and some whisper that the forests growth has been encouraged by the magic of the Wild Elves.
The heart of the country can be found in the central region, which is home to the area’s fertile valleys and plains. Peppered with lakes, rivers, and streams – most of which feed into the mighty Kodlak River that marks the region’s southern border – this area stands in stark contrast to the harsh north and wild east, and it is here that the majority of the population lives. Although largely similar to the central region, the western portion of the region is also home to a few swamps.
History and Overview:
Perched in the north, the ancient cultural heartland of Fartha-Kor, Shang Fa is the place where man and Dragon first struck their balance and came to create the empire. Though once a glorious region, time has not been kind to Shang Fa. With the constant threat of Wild Elf and other barbarian incursions, Shang Fa has often acted as a shield for the empire against a barbaric outside world. Unfortunately, its sacrifice for the empire as exacerbated by a long string of incompetent governors who have left the magnificent, ancient cities and once famous roads and aqueducts as little more than crumbling stone.
Nevertheless, Shang Fa has endured and still holds a third of the empire’s population. It’s hardy, proud, and primarily agrarian people have endured countless trials. Indeed, the people have a fatalistic outlook on life and the empire. The empire, to them, is eternal. It always is and always will be. However, this outlook could be equated more to a “life goes on” sort of mentality than any grand, patriotic notion of Imperial dominance. For them, the empire is not a set of ideals or a political structure. Instead, it is a more of a way of life. The Empire will be there tomorrow in the same way the sun will rise, and though it may set, it will surely rise again. It would, however, be wrong to mistake this for disloyalty or disinterest in the Empire. That is not true. The people of Shang Fa are just as devoted to the Empire and the Emperor as any of his other citizens. In fact, they would argue that the hundreds of generations who have died protecting the Empire prove that they are the most loyal of all Imperial subjects.
As the Emperor’s influence has waned, Shang Fa has been among the hardest hit regions. As with much of the Empire, the region was devastated by famine, corruption, rebellion, and banditry, but unlike the rest of the Empire, Shang Fa quickly found its very fabric of its society tearing under the stress. The freedom that peasants and commoners had enjoyed under before quickly disappeared as starving families, unable to pay for seed or raise enough crops to feed their family, were forced to sell their land to more powerful families. With no central authority, these powerful Humans and Dragonborn quickly amassed huge estates and effectively ruled their tenant farmers as slaves. The situation devolved as petty power struggles broke out in a situation that resembled a civil war. Distressed, the Imperial Court dispatched a new, fast rising governor who eagerly accepted a role that few others would. Backed by a small Imperial army, Tao Fang quickly and dramatically changed the state of affairs in Shang Fa. Striking out, he quickly established his position by crushing an entire clan of Dragonborn and their bandit allies that had refused to recognize his authority.
This act of slaughter, which saw every single member of that clan killed and strung up alongside the road, ensured him a position of power in Shang Fa. Though many resisted, in a few short years he managed to establish Imperial authority over the province and bring the petty warlords and nobles to heel. His methods were brutal, often wiping out entire clans or villages that resisted, but the return to peace was eagerly accepted. The people could care less about how it came; only that it did.
In the years following his victories, Tao Fang has brought about revitalization to Shang Fa that the region has not seen before. Though the scars of war and famine remain, the province is abuzz with change and growth. Laborers can be seen all over the province building roads, canals, and granaries. The once crumbling walls of the ancient cities are being rebuilt, and merchants can be seen commonly for the first time in decades. Peasants still work as virtual slaves, but no longer do they worry about starvation, and their life has certainly improved. Soldiers are everywhere, and the hanging bodies of those who have violated the new found order hang in every town and village, but these sacrifices are happily accepted by a people eager to accept a life of peace and order after a miserable age of chaos.
By: Christian Winfield