People of the Empire.
Over the centuries the Empire has absorbed many different races and cultures, but in the heartland the humans of the Empire stem from four basic racial stocks: Nekuu, Ashara, Anhui and Dron (see sidebar). There is considerable admixture of these races, but roughly one fifth of the overall population show full characteristics of their race. These divisions are based more on appearance than culture - the Nekuu can be found from Ut'Bharma to Oksa for example.
Less than one percent of the Imperial population belong to other races, human and non-human. There are some Moa-Ruaki, a few Vaartans, and scattered Salsham'ai. The predominant non-human citizens are the Durdrn of Vorsheeva.
The majority of the Empire's citizens are farmers, growing rice, wheat, tea, fruit and husbanding many kinds of animals. Others fish the rich rivers that flow through the Empire, or the Sea of Deep Wisdom. Clothing is cotton for everyday use or silk for finery, and fashions have been adapted from all across the Empire.
The average citizen is at least partially literate and is a free man although rising land prices have recently given rise to a form of thralldom where poorer citizens who cannot afford to buy land outright lease it from rich landowners. Society is stratified, with social status defined by one's occupation and reinforced in dress and speech.
Festivals are common throughout the Empire. The never-ending travels of the Emperor to holy spots throughout the nation means that a religious festival is always going on somewhere. These are bright and brash affairs, with colourful costumes, parades and plenty of noise. Secular festivals are common too, from the Day of Flight in Dronistor to the Festival of the Seven Angry Stree held outside the capital. Music and drama are popular entertainments, but like most other aspects of Imperial life they are governed by strict rules as to what is permissible.
Imperial cities are constructed following the rules of Imperial Geomancy, a semi-mystical philosophy that divides the quarters of the world into different influences. The western part of the city is given over to education and learning due to the influence of "Ruby Horse". Most large cities have a library and a college, usually more than one. Also found in the west of most cities is the bathhouse, a focal point for any Imperial city.
The centre of the city is the government sector, where the Magisters conduct their business. Here can be found the temple to the Emperor where the Imperial Flame is kept alight continually.
This neat design tends to fall apart under human influences, where continued rebuilding and redesign blur the lines between designated sectors, but it is an underlying factor in all Imperial cities.
The army of the Empire is a paid volunteer force, with veterans receiving a land grant as a pension. Many farms are owned by ex-soldiers, or their descendants. The Imperial College of War designates and approves tactics and weapons use, but its conservatism has become a hindrance to the Imperial Army as innovations are banned or ignored.
Outside of the army, however, a wide variety of fighting styles are taught to the Empire's citizenry, such as the Crane Style staff-fighting or the Butterfly Style unarmed school.
Magic in the Empire
Magicians in the Empire are carefully controlled by the Bureaucracy. They are required to enter their details in the central register of magicians, and from this they get travelling papers that declares them as wizards. When travelling, they are required to log their details with the local Magister who will stamp their papers and note their whereabouts. Failure to do this can bring harsh penalties, even death for repeat offenders.
The Concordant nature of the Imperial heartlands means that the magical energies are "crystallised" and can only be unleashed by complex rituals. Nevertheless, a powerful Imperial magician can wield just as powerful magic as those in more Chaotic regions (more).