Arkhosia

Last 3 Edits

PLEASE NOTE: All text in white boxes is from Christopher Perkins' blog posts on the Wizards of the Coast website. Archive link.

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Arkhosia was once the name of Iomandra’s largest continent. All that remains of Arkhosia today is a vast chain of mostly populated islands under the control of the dragonborn Dragovar dynasty. There aren’t enough Dragovar soldiers or warships to protect all of the nation’s islands, and many of the outlying islands are left to fend for themselves. Arkhosia is considered the centre of civilisation on Iomandra.

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COMMON KNOWLEDGE

The royal family of Dragovar has ruled the new Arkhosia for centuries, beneath the ruling dragon overlords of course. It appoints magistrates to govern their islands—one magistrate per island. Magistrates serve for life, and magistrates who perform their duties poorly often meet a terrible end. A magistrate is responsible for enforcing imperial law, keeping an accurate census, paying off the island’s dragon overlord, taxing the locals, and ensuring that tax money is delivered safely to the royal coffers in the Dragovar capital of Io’calioth. Because Dragovar soldiers are spread so thin, magistrates often resort to using mercenaries and cutthroats to fulfil their obligations to the imperial throne.
Most islands of Arkhosia have a dragon overlord. Dragovar citizens pay tribute to the dragon overlords that rule their islands. These dragons do not answer to the emperor, and they are not bound by imperial law (nor are their dragonspawn and kobold minions). They do as they please, although many of them are quite old and content to sleep for months on end.

A dragonborn citizen of Arkhosia is born into one of six castes: noble, divine, martial, arcane, expert, or commoner. A seventh caste—the slave caste—was officially abolished in 345 DY. A dragonborn can petition to join another caste, but it’s expensive (5,000 gp) and requires the written approval of an imperial vizier or magistrate.

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REGIONAL FEATURES

Arkhosian settlements are often crowded and cramped because of the limited land. As a point of fact, all Arkhosian land belongs to the Dragovar royal family, and the standard punishment for anyone who breaks the law or defies a royal decree is torture, branding, and exile. (Exiled citizens are forbidden to set foot on Arkhosian soil, on penalty of death).


Ardynrise

Ardynrise is the name of Ardyn’s secret refuge. Here she meets with her knights to plot the downfall of the Dragovar dynasty. The location of Ardynrise is the most closely guarded secret of the knighthood, and getting there is difficult to say the least.


Io’calioth (City of Jewels)

Referred to as the City of Jewels or the City of Corruption (depending on one’s point of view), Io’calioth is the last of the great draconic fortress-cities, as well as the home of Emperor Azunkhan IX. The crescent-shaped island upon which the city is built is actually a flooded caldera with buildings built into the inside walls and floating citadels suspended by magic above it. The city’s great harbor lies within the sunken caldera itself and is accessible through a narrow fissure in the caldera’s western wall.
Ancient warships defend the city of Io’calioth from sea-dwelling threats. The imperial fleet also ensures that conflicts among the Sea Kings (see below) don’t hinder trade vessels entering and leaving the harbor.

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Io'drecaroth

This citadel and falls of the same name are situated at the convergence of several important rivers.

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Io’galaroth (City of Caves)

The island of Castanamir is home to a city built inside an underground labyrinth of basalt grottos. The city is almost entirely subterranean except for some gigantic fumaroles that break the island’s surface and allow light to filter into the city streets. Io’galaroth is a grim place, but nearly anything can be bought or sold here. The gold dragon Castanamir is known to wander the city disguised in humanoid form; visitors would be wise to speak well of him.
Io’galaroth boasts an impressive harbor, as well as shipbuilding facilities. Dragovar warships protect the harbor and keep a watchful eye on the neighboring island of Mheletros, carved into which is the haunting fortress-prison of Zardkarath. The adamantine dragon Mheletros lives somewhere deep inside the fortress and has been known to eat prisoners who misbehave.


Io’zargoth (City of Fear)

This shattered stronghold of the Dragovar is now a haunted, ruin-covered island ruled by the dracolich overlord Tao Feng. The dracolich can sense the presence of living creatures within several leagues of the island and delights in slaying all living souls who traverse its domain.

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Mragvar

The Witches of the Weird claim the island of Mragvar as their refuge—a place where they can gather in secret and share information. Jagged rocks and sheer black cliffs discourage seafaring vessels from landing on its shores.

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PEOPLE OF ARKHOSIA

The surviving nation of Arkhosia is home to many races, not just the dragonborn. These races strive to coexist peacefully under difficult circumstances.

Humans and dragonspawn make a majority of the population after the dragonborn. Numbers of elves, half-elves, halflings, dwarves, earth gnomes, and orc-blooded are also found in the realm.
A typical inhabitant is dour or outright dreary. There are very few festivals, other than those honouring the Dragovar Dynasty.
A dragonborn citizen of Arkhosia is born into one of the six castes below:

Dragonborn Castes

Noble Caste: Dragonborn of the noble caste enjoy great privilege and prestige, and they are allowed to stay with their families and retain their family names. Dragonborn nobles live in luxury, leaving the day-to-day chores and business to others. A few ambitious nobles become politicians, magistrates, or viziers.
Divine Caste: Dragonborn of the divine caste are taken from their homes at age 3, raised by priests in a temple chosen by their parents, and forbidden to keep their family names. The temples of Bahamut and Tiamat are strongly favored, although the churches of Bane, Erathis, Pelor, and Melora are growing in favor and popularity. Before becoming a cleric, a dragonborn must pass a test of devotion, as determined by the high priest of the temple.
Martial Caste: Initiates of the martial caste are taken from their homes at age 3, stripped of their family names, and subjected to twelve years of basic martial training followed by three years of gladiator training. Many dragonborn do not survive the training, let alone the gladiatorial trials-by-combat. Those who survive become soldiers of the Arkhosian empire.
Arcane Caste: Dragonborn of the arcane caste are separated from their families at age 3, stripped of their family names, and assigned to Arkhosian mages as pupils. After several years of study and magical testing, they become apprentices. The exact number of years depends on the ability of the individual, but the average period of study is twelve years. Apprentices are pitted against one another in arcane duels; those who prevail become wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers in the service of the empire.
Expert Caste: Members of the expert caste are taken from their homes at age 3 and assigned to master artisans as resident apprentices. During their apprenticeship, they are not denied access to their families or stripped of their family names. After twelve years of study and service, if they receive their master’s blessing, they are entitled to pursue their skill independently and take on apprentices of their own. A dragonborn of the expert caste who fails her master may pursue another profession, but the investment of time is the same.
Commoner Caste: Commoners are not entitled to special training and cannot become soldiers, spellcasters, or artisans. Their options are usually limited to family-run businesses and menial labor.


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ADVENTURERS

Heroes would most likely run afoul of the government, especially the many dragonspawn that have no qualms abusing their powers. Kobolds are a common nuisance in wild areas, especially if one nears a dragon overlord’s lair. Large scale resistance is non-existent. Races have either become part of the empire or have been wiped out.
There are many dragonborn ruins carved into the mountains and canyons to explore.

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GROUPS & ORGANISATIONS

Brotherhood of the Broken Chain

Members of this brotherhood still fight for maintenance of the legislation abolishing slavery. At least one emperor has thought of reintroducing slaves and if the dragonspawn have their way it would be done. The brotherhood are still very active to this day.
(See Other Groups & NPCs Page for full details).


The Dragovar Dynasty

The ruling dragonborn government that has been in charge for over 1400 years. Current Emperor is Azunkhan IX (the Seeker).

Iomandra has seen many empires rise and fall. The only one surviving to the present day is the Dragovar dynasty, a relatively young dragonborn empire with a rich history punctuated by periods of brutal tyranny and treachery. The Dragovar dynasty arose out of the marriage of two ancient rivals—the Arkhoran and the Myrthok. Neither dynasty proposed this alliance through marriage. It was imposed upon them by dragon prophets who believed that the union of these two enemies would put an end to their history of warmongering, ushering in a new era of peace. Instead, it led to a seething age of political backstabbing.
The Dragovar are the sworn servitors of Io and dragonkind. They are primarily dragonborn who worship Io’s surviving children, the godlings Bahamut and Tiamat. This decadent, tarnished empire conquered and annexed its rivals long ago, but many citizens fear for its future. Corruption plagues the government, disputes are still resolved by gladiatorial combat, and ancient Arkhoran–Myrthok blood feuds persist to this day. The current emperor is Azunkhan IX (a.k.a. Azunkhan the Seeker). His Exalted Highness would rather explore the Dragon Sea than sit on his throne in Io’calioth, which leaves his unscrupulous sister, Kalavai, to rule in his absence. The royal siblings are served by a coterie of bickering Grand Viziers and Viziers and defended by an honor guard of Arkhoran and Myrthok death knights who have served the imperial family since the dynasty’s founding.
For the first 257 years of its existence, the Dragovar dynasty supported slavery. Imperial law made it legal for dragonborn citizens to capture, keep, and sell slaves of other races. In 345 DY, Azunkhan III (a.k.a. Azunkhan the Mad) declared an end to slavery. He also gave credence to his former slaves’ claims that there were more gods in the heavens than Bahamut and Tiamat, and he legitimized the churches of Corellon, Erathis, Melora, Moradin, Vecna, Zehir, and numerous other deities. Following a deluge of revolutionary proclamations and civic upheaval, the emperor’s corrupt viziers brutally assassinated Azunkhan III in 348 DY and installed his estranged son, Azunkhan IV (a.k.a. Azunkhan the Usurper), as the new emperor. Since then, leadership of the Dragovar dynasty has passed from father to son in the traditional fashion. The current emperor has no legitimate heirs, fueling concerns that the last dragonborn dynasty is nearing its end.
Emperors of the Dragovar Dynasty

  • 1–155 DY Azunkhan I (the Great)
  • 155–257 DY Azunkhan II (the Ravager)
  • 257–348 DY Azunkhan III (the Mad)
  • 348–499 DY Azunkhan IV (the Usurper)
  • 499–753 DY Azunkhan V (the Conqueror)
  • 753–901 DY Azunkhan VI (the Dragonking)
  • 901–1138 DY Azunkhan VII (the Prophet)
  • 1138–1345 DY Azunkhan VIII (the Wise)
  • 1345–1474 DY Azunkhan IX (the Seeker)

Golden Helm Guild

(See 3E D&D Player's Handbook 2 p174).
Gnomes always know of this guild. If they aren’t working for it already, it is a good place to look for employment, as its members are always seeking ores and special ingredients for their crafts.
A network of master crafters that spans dozens of gnome communities throughout Arkhosia, making armor, weapons, gadgets and other gear for the greatest heroes of the gnomes.


The Knights of Ardyn

An order in hiding that seeks to remove the Dragovar.

Ardyn is a silver dragon that seeks to destroy the Dragovar dynasty. She has nothing against dragonborn, but she believes wholeheartedly that the Dragovar bloodline and the Grand Viziers have forsaken Bahamut and become corrupt beyond salvation. Ardyn seeks to depose the tyrannical monarchy, and this desire makes her very popular with enemies of the royal bloodline. She is served by scores of loyal knights from all walks of life. These Knights of Ardyn are always on the lookout for others who share their aims, but for the moment there are too few of them to challenge the Dragovar openly.
The Dragovar want to crush Ardyn’s knighthood but cannot act against Ardyn directly because she’s a true dragon. Her knights, however, are fair game.

GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • High Knight of Ardyn - as Steelsky Liberator paragon path (4E Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p48).

Platinum Dragon Knights

A growing number of honourable dragonborn are joining the Platinum Dragons in order to counter all the bad views of the Dragovar government.
They are an ancient order that aims to promote actions of honor and dedication in the name of Bahamut. Despite what others may say about the corruption of the Dragovar government the Platinum Dragons seek to more than counter this by doing good deeds. They promote dragonborn as capable and proud leaders and the ideal behind Dragovar as honourable. Actions are their words.
The highest ranking knights count metallic dragons as their mounts, high knights dragonsteeds, and lower ranks ride trihorn or spikefrill behemoths.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Champion of Order - paladin paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p100).
  • Justicar - paladin paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p102).
  • Platinum Dragon Knight - as Purple Dragon Knight paragon class (4E D&D Forgotten Realms Player's Guide p60); Stalwart Cavalier paragon class (4E D&D Advanced Player's Guide p95); Platinum Knight prestige class (3E D&D Draconomicon p133).
  • Platinum Warlord - warlord paragon class (4E D&D Martial Power p127) OR as Stalwart Cavalier paragon class (4E D&D Advanced Player's Guide p95).

Scaled Vanguard

The army of Arkhosia. Each legion wears the same coloured armor as the dragon overlord that rules their island. They are paid well and are duty-bound to the Dragovar Empire. A majority of the soldiers are dragonborn, with more and more dragonspawn making the ranks these days. Others face harsh initiation trials and some prejudice, but all races are allowed to serve in the Empire’s Army.
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Scaled Vanguard Commander - as Iron Vanguard fighter paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p86); as Combat Veteran warlord paragon path (4E D&D Player's Handbook p154).
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The Sea Kings

A powerful and widespread group of independent warlords who govern trade on the Dragon Sea. Though taxation is harsh and they are watched closely, the Sea Kings cannot afford not to conduct trade within Arkhosia.
(See the Dragon Sea Region Page for full details).


The Stormseekers

An elite order of powerful spellcasters that have mastered power of storms and possibly the secrets of the perpetual storms of Iomandra.
A cabal of powerful individuals based in Arkhosia that seek to unravel the mysteries of the many regions of Iomandra that have been ravaged or are still being ravaged by storms of epic proportions. The Demonmaw Sargasso and Eye of Io are clearly their focus. Only those with storm and weather controlling powers are permitted to join this elite group. They have not brought the ire of the Dragovar upon themselves, as they are considered too esoteric to worry about. Some say the Stormseekers and the Thunder Lords are in alliance (or even different arms of the same faction).
GAME MECHANICS
Classes & Concepts

  • Stormcaster - prestige class (3E D&D Stormwrack p73).
  • Stormwalker - nature priest paragon path (4E D&D Advanced Player's Guide p47).

Witches of the Weird

Gaunt, human-like beings with sunken black eyes, ornate apparel, and dour dispositions, who serve the Dragovar with their strange mind powers.
(See the Other Groups & NPCs Page for full details).

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