“Good slaves come from Essad,” -Anonymous saying



North of Dorlan, along the coast of the Sea of Clouds, is the land of Essad. The men of this land are notorious slavers, more so than any other region in the North. The wealth of Essad (which is great), is built upon its vast slave trade, both with other nations and with the Moon Goblins beyond the Straights of the Moon. Good slaves come from Essad is a common saying in the North.

Essad’s time of greatest power was in the Seventh Age when it strode the northerly portions of the world, commanding slave-tribute from regions as distant as Umbrinol and as southerly as Golnia. For this reason, the population of Essad is quite diverse.

Essad is ruled by the Slaver-Kings and has been since the Sixth Age. These imperial personages are assisted by the Council of Three, which is a three-seat council who’s members serve for life but must buy admission from the Slaver-King’s household. Thus, these three men tend to be the wealthiest or most powerful three in Essad. The use of the Council for self-aggrandizement is common, though since there are THREE lords they tend to balance one another out. Another, more recent, prohibition prevents the same familial name from holding two seats (together or consecutively) which allows other families to vie for those fallen seats.

Essad and Thyrnesse have never gotten along well and have clashed in large spectacular wars a number of times. Additionally, the Order of the Sword Militant refuses to accept contracts laid down by Essad and will gladly TAKE contracts to fight them for great discounts.

-Askar the Scholar

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History of Essad

Essad has its foundation in the Second Milean Empire. North of the Protectorate of Dorlinum, the region known as Durea extended from the Cloud Sea shores of the Thurian Littoral to the borders of the pinebarrens. This region was conquered by the Archgeneral Durius Wyrmcrown at the invitation of the giants of Pernag who originally ruled the region but abandoned it after the coming of the Wyrms in the mid Fifth Age.

With Durius’ conquests, Esdirus became an attractive region for settlers from the Desert of Sorrows (where, in the 10th Age, the Free Cities grew), Aellonia, the Trident Isles, Ishtar, and even, some claim, the lost island of Sintarra. These peoples settled along the Littoral and mostly learned to speak Ancient Varan.

After the fall of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Fifth Age, the giants of Pernag had been badly decimated. They retreated to certain mountain fastnesses. The now leaderless cities of the Durean landscape battled for dominance for centuries. Slavery became a common practice in Durea; Free men were known as Essedureans – “those who were born in Durea.” The Essadurean language changed, fracturing from its southern cousins and shifting towards what we now know as Aluran (which is spoken in modern-day Essad, Soloth, and in some parts of the Three Kingdoms). Durea therefore became known as Essad.

It wasn’t until the late Fifth Age that Essad was united into a true kingdom beneath the banners of Askaroth, the most populous city and the winner in the slave-wars fought between the cities of Essadurea.

Around the turn of the Sixth Age, the ruler of Askaroth, until that time known as the Dux or simply RULER, took the title of Rex Exactor. Thus began the rule of the Empire of Essad; it expanded its borders, conquering the unprotected territory to the west and exacting the slave-tribute on its subsidiary states.

Of course, this has little relation to the Essad of today! This is our glorious past, as the Third Empire of Miles is not truly related to the ancient Two which came before it. The old empire was destroyed by the Protectorate of Dorlinum; the sorcerers of Dorl razed the city of Askaroth and buried it beneath a twisting layer of sand.

It was not until the coming of the hero Magron Thur that Essad was truly made anew. He began to reconquer the ruins of Essad in X.46 and completed his conquest in X.50; Then, he established the city of Thurayn as his new capital both to prove his own power to do so and to construct a palace impervious to assault.

It was in his time that the Fire Giants of Old Pernag were made into allies of the Essadi people. For in the Ages previous, their holdouts had been deadly to the Essadi; there were gigantine raids and sometimes entire cities would disappear overnight (as in the case of Lost Elaz) due to gigantine action. But Magron Thur went to the Giants and struck a compact such as not been seen in many Ages of men. In the modern age, Fire Giants fight alongside Essadi mercenaries, are free to walk in Essadi cities and purchase slaves, and fight in Essadi arenas. While there had been short-lived alliances and mercenary arrangements with the Phlegomai, it was not until Thur’s treaty that they became members of Essadi society in full.

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The Essadi

The people of Essad are a combination of Avar, Aellon, Free Cities, and Ishtrian blood. We are an almond-skinned race that retains many of the Avarine features of the First Men, such as dark hair and dark eyes. Essadi culture dictates that freemen and Masters wear expensive togas to denote their status, while slaves are confined to tunics such as those the Avars wear.

The people of Essad are divided amongst free farmers, artisans, and the Masters. The divide between the lower class freemen and the Masters is a huge one, and the stop-gaps between them are generally filled by slaves. This had fostered an attitude of hatred between the lower classes and the slaves who do similar (or better) work.

The Essadi find pleasure in lyre and dulcimer music as well as in food. Literacy within Essad is quite low amongst the lower classes but prevalent among Masters and their clerks. Reading is an uncommon entertainment; even Masters are generally only literate in numerals and must rely on their clerks for more complex aspects.

The people of Essad do not generally find entertainment in poems or ballads; their primary forms of entertainment are food, nonlyrical music, and arena fighting. The arena is central to Essadi life; every town and city has at least one arena for dealing with criminals.

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Life in Essad

Life in the Slaver-Empire can be very hard; but then again, if you are a Master or a high Master, life can be much easier than that of the stuffy nobles in the Milean lands. Not only that, but membership in the ranks of the Masters is not limited to the so-called “great bloodlines” or those elevated to that rank by some third party. Masters make themselves through sweat and blood.

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The Three and the Exactor

Rex Exactor. Slaver-king. This position was reinstated by Magron Thur nearly five hundred years ago, signalling the rebirth of the ancient Essadi empire. Since that time, the fortunes of that office have waxed and waned, leading us to the precarious pass where we sit today.

Traditionally, none could gainsay the Exactor. However, to consolidate the disparate powers of a decaying political system, Magron Thur established the tradition of the Three; three Masters who sit beneath the Exactor to act as his counsel and, if need be, his executioners. The tradition of the Three is ironclad: no family made hold two or more seats concurrently or in sequence. A member of the Three is a member for life. When a seat is vacated, the Rex Exactor sells it to the highest bidder (or to the person he trusts most), often charging unbelievable sums for it.

The Three, unless charged by the Exactor with treason against him, are immune to all prosecution and complaints by other Houses. This makes their positions incredibly powerful. In addition to whatever mercenary or house-troops they may raise, the Three may also command all ships with Essadi loyalty, the Iron Guard, and all garrisons in all fortress and cities.

Of course, this has not always been a perfect arrangement. Under Exactor Muros in X.358 then-member of the Three, Ajenx Hortus, usurped the Exactors power and tore Essad in two with rebellion. After his victory, Exactor Ajenx became one of the best statesmen ever to sit the helm of Essad, piloting her to victory after victory against both the Solothans and the Dorls.

The Rex Exactor owns all “government” slaves, and murder (of anyone) is a crime against not the murdered but the Exactor himself. The Exactor may extract a fee relative to the station of the deceased man from the murderer – this price is based on the ancient tables established by none other than Ajenx himself in X.379.

The Iron Guard serve the Exactor with fanatical loyalty; they are willing to lay down their lives to save his. As though this weren’t enough, the Exactor also wields the traditional weapons of his station, saved from the ruin of Askaroth: the Horn of Fear, the Scepter of Essad, and the axe Blinding Fury.

The Three: Elayn the Reaver, Kaesan Noroz, Wa’khar One-eye

The Rex Exactor: Hyrek Thur

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The High Masters

The Masters, as they are called, are amongst the foremost citizens of Essad. They were, in the days prior to Magron Thur, the ultimate power in the shattered kingdom. Come the new Empire of Thur, the Masters were transformed: they stood not as judges and governors (positions now granted as gifts from the Exactor) but rather as the leading men within the slave trade.

Mastership is not an official rank; anyone who is free can be called a Master as long as they are affluent enough to win the respect of other Masters. They are a patrician class, and all Masters are great landowners and slave-owners. Few of them have zero interest in the importing or exporting of slaves; most maintain at least a casual investment in that trade.

The Mastership is divided, generally, into two groups: lesser and greater or high masters. The High Masters make up the leading political power blocs in the kingdom, generally opposed to the policy and control of the Exactor (as are nobility everywhere of every stripe). The blocs are divided as follows:

The Aseth Masters. The House of Aseth is in command of the taxes of most of the Thurian Littoral and maintains a small fleet, supplemented by the fleets of the lesser houses. While not large enough to challenge the rule of Wa’khar One-eye‘s corsair fleet, the Aseth ships control a substantial portion of oceangoing trade in Essad. The Pater of the House of Aseth is Gonlen Aseth, a wicked old man who’s schemes often encompass the entire kingdom.

The Endreth Masters. The Endreth Masters rule more land in the Agricon than any other great house and more than all the lesser houses combined. Their slave-hunters and slave-catchers are peerlessly bold and often range into Fegondé, Dorlan, and the Vales to capture slaves. Their Pater Juros Endreth, has a standing relationship with the elf-reavers of the sea, and often purchases slaves from them as well.

The Noroz Masters. Led by their Pater and one of the Three, Kaesan Noroz, this family destroyed and absorbed the Pyre Masters and the Ogus Masters in their ascent, greatly simplifying Essadi politics. They no longer represent a political base (or so Kaesan Noroz claims) as they are tied directly to the fortunes of Hyrek Thur, the Rex Exactor.

The Ironblade Masters. The Ironblades made their money not through slaving but through weaponscraft. It is said that they tortured hundreds of iron dwarves to learn their smithcraft and it is worthy of note that few Ironblade weapons break under stress. This House made its money by selling weapons to the Iron Guard as well as the border garrisons. Of all the Houses, only Pater Thorsas Ironblade supports the Slaver-King Hyrek Thur.

The Seftere Masters. The Seftere Masters, led by their Mater Yuria Seftere, are responsible for the slave trade with Soloth, and as such have many Solothan mannerisms and manners. The other High Masters generally look upon them with disdain as being strange and alien to the Essadi way of life.

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The Freemen

The freeman is an important brick in the foundation of Essad. All High Houses began as nameless freemen holdings that accrued wealth and power through the years. Freemen work in all positions and all walks of life; there are freemen farmers, smiths, and scholars. Yet, they are marginalized by the ever-increasing use of slaves by the High Masters. No High Master would think of employing freemen tenants, thus the great villas and latifundia are farmed by slaves, the smithies are manned by slaves, and even most scholarly works are penned by clerical slaves.

What, then, is the position of the free man in Essad? Our ruler, Hyrek Thur, has said that more employment must be found for freemen lest the kingdom crumble. The High Houses, ignorant as they are, have ignored him. They believe his sole intention is to erode their considerable power-base in slave holdings. Fools! Riots have become common in Essad: freemen demanding food, lodgings, and slaves of their own.

The paths most open to freemen are those of slave-hunting, catching, and training. There is a large gap in wealth between the marginalized freeman of the farms or the potter’s wheel and the well-paid freemen who work in the slave pits or as merchants. In the Agricon, several major rebellions have been put down in the past three years alone, leaving many free-farms to be absorbed by the Masters. As an ultimate insult, slaves till their soil.

The stirrings of larger rebellion have so far been ferreted out and crushed by Elayn the Reaver. This keeps her from her duties in Thurayn, giving the other two of the Three freer rule over their actions.

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The one constant about the kingdom of Essad over its many incarnations has been its slave trade. Begun in the early Fourth Age after the departure of the Milean garrison at the Durian Fortress, the slave trade flourished with the ascension of the cities of Askarotus Turava and the first Thurian Overlords. In that age, Dorlinum represented a lone border-region of the crumbling Empire and it was relatively easy for the Dureans to cross the border and make large raids for slaves; these supplemented the dwindling manpower in the region, lost due to Gigantine action and Imperial withdrawal.

Early in our history, the Thurs of Askaroth and Turava struck a bargain with the Elf Reavers of the high seas. They would not be accosted, and

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Regions of Essad

Essad can be roughly divided into seven geographic reasons. These are:

The Thurian Littoral – comprising the rocky hills between the Whip mountains and the sea, the Thurian Littoral is the most settled region of Essad. The classical-era cities of Durea are all located along the sea, though all trade now goes first through the capital of Thurayn.

The Embattled Border – the border-region between Essad and Dorlan, this area is scattered with fortresses that guard the passes. The Rex Exactor Hyrek Thur has reinforced these with additional garrisons and appears to be playing some major aggression directed towards Dorlan.

The Tributary Gap – the gap between the mountains and the hills which leads towards Fegondé, the Tributary Gap was were slave-tribute was brought during the days when Essad was a mighty empire spanning the north.

The Essadi Pine Barren – the interior of Essad is all pine barrens, dry and watered only by the meandering streams that wander over the rocky earth. There are heavily settled regions (for example, near the former capital of Askaroth)

The Soldier Hills – those hills that form the northern barrier with fallen Caruel and Fegondé, the Soldiers are filled with unpleasant demihumans. Thankfully, the Masters often raid them to bring the creatures to the arenas of the cities were they can be safely disposed of: pitted against beasts, or battle-hardened gladiators.

The Agricon – Across the Great Channel, the Agricon supplies the rest of Essad with food. It is the most peaceful region in the Slaver-Empire, and where most Masters own land.

The Fields of Blood – the oft-embattled border with Soloth. In recent years, it has been less deadly but one must never forget that though they are our “allies,” much Essadi blood waters these fields.

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Characters from Essad

New Equipment

Barbed Swords

The Dureans prefer weapons that look cruel as well as effective. They generally add barbs or serrations to one or both edges on all their swords. This modification causes the weapon to deal 1 point of damage at a trade-off of being slightly unbalanced (1 to initiative and an increased -1 to-hit penalty for those not trained with the weapon).

The Sleeping Poison (karbasus, karbash).


New Spells

Level One

Range: Sight
Components: V,S,M
Duration: 1d4 rounds + 1rnd/level
Casting Time: 3
Area of Effect: One creature
Saving Throw: Neg

This spell, a favorite amongst arena wizards, encircles its target’s wrists with black iron manacles that are linked together. They make it extremely difficult to do anything using the hands; spells can be cast, but have their speed adjusted by +5; attacks that require use of the hands suffer a -4 penalty for as long as the shackles remain on. Bows cannot be drawn, as the length of the chain is too short. No benefit can be drawn from the one-handed fighting style while the target is shackled. It should be noted that two-handed weapons can be used normally.

The shackles can be broken by any means a mundane pair might be. They are, for all intents and purposes, mundane shackles. However, if they ever leave the target’s wrists, they disintegrate into mist. They have no space for a key, and thus cannot be “unlocked.”

This spell can only be used on man-sized creatures; the shackles will size themselves to fit anything from the size of a leprechaun to the size of a large man, but nothing larger or smaller.

When the spell expires, the manacles evaporate back into the air as though they never were.

The spell requires a handful of ground iron.


Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius