Sunset Province
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"Is it not enough that the people of the Desert of Thunder have been subjugated by cruel and tyrannical beasts? The answer, I am afraid, is no - as can be seen in how golden-hued snakes have overrun the once proud country of Gorchov not so long ago.
At least the blues dragons have not attempted to expand their domain beyond their desert home. The thirst for power of the golden dragons on the other hand seems unquenched, and their puppet emperor gives them free reign. Certainly, at the moment they are still occupied with rooting out the last, valiant rebels of Gorchov, but once that task is done they will surely turn their slitted eyes to our lands. Men of the West, unite against this menace before it is too late!"
- "The Golden Peril'', anti-Tsan Empire pamphlet signed by "Veritas"

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The Sunset Province used to be the Kingdom of Gorchov until 50 years ago, when the local king humiliated a visiting prince of the eastern Tsan Empire. In retaliation, the Tsan Empire invaded, executed the king, and incorporated Gorchov as its westernmost territory, now renamed Sunset Province. It is now ruled by provincial governors, who are usually appointed to this barbarian frontier of the Empire as a punishment and are thus less than enthusiastic about their duties. The conquered people themselves resent this occupation, and thus small-scale uprisings are common despite bloody reprisals.

Spies and diplomats from western regions have found the Tsan Empire to be an old and powerful civilization, though one bound by myriads of ancient customs and habits. While its military and magical powers are probably enough to crush any of the western powers if the need should arise - including the League of Armach and the Hobgoblin Dominions - it has grown self-absorbed and corrupt over the centuries, and some observers expect a civil war when the current Emperor dies. Some factions in the League of Armach see this as an opportunity and are supplying resistance cells throughout the region, and plan to seize power once the opportunity arrives.

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Regional History

While cities blossomed in other parts of the world, the vast northern lands of Gorchov were dominated by various clans of horse nomads. Neither the Atalan Empire nor any other nation ever bothered to conquer these lands - they were too remote, to inhospitable, and too poor. Only after the fall of the Atalan Empire did the first permanent settlements spring into existence, and with them developed a feudal system based on agriculture that gradually pushed the Khazad Nomads to the fringes. Eventually, a succession of czars laid claim to to most of these northern lands, with the significant exception of the cursed Forest of Tuvareen in which no human dared to set foot.

The czars were all too keenly aware that they were seen as mere "country bumpkins" by the more sophisticated aristocracy of southern and western lands, and frequently looked down on the very peasants that supported them for being primitive. Instead, they concentrated on building vast and beautiful cities in the (vain) hope that this would give them the respect of their peers in other lands.

But their focus on the Western lands proved to be their undoing, as they regarded the lands further to the East more primitive still - including the Tsan Empire. In 1347 NA, the czar Boris III (also later known as Boris the Mad) came to power at the age of four upon the death of his father. While regents administered the kingdom while he was young, he grew up with having the power of life and death over those around him - a power which would prove to unhinge him as he displayed a talent for inventive cruelty even early in life.

Matters came to a head in 1371. The crown prince of the Tsan Empire visited the capital of Gorchov on a diplomatic mission, and instead of being a gracious host (as his advisors had hoped), Boris insulted the prince and the Empire as “primitive barbarians”. When the prince protested, Boris threw a crystal goblet at him, injuring his face. The princes bodyguards attempted to attack Boris for this outrage, but were killed by Boris' troops, and the prince himself was whipped and sent home in sack cloth.

Outraged by this affront, the Tsan Emperor declared war on Gorchov and defeated the kingdom in a single year thanks to his superior forces (which were supported by several gold dragons). Most of the nobility of Gorchov were killed in reprisal, with only a few escaping to other lands, and the kingdom was included in the Empire as the "Sunset Province".

Fifty years have passed since then. The cities of the Sunset Province have seen a steady influx of immigrants from the East, who hold most of the positions of power - though more and more natives go to the East to get educated in the ways of the Empire and are given posts of authority upon their return. The population in the cities is divided between those who have accommodated themselves with the new rulers and those who wish to see them gone. The rural peasants care little either way as long as they aren't taxed too heavily and left alone, while the Khazad Nomads have waged a steady campaign of guerrilla warfare against the intruders.

It is likely that the Tsan Empire will soon go through a succession crisis - a situation that is likely to affect the Sunset Province tremendously. The rebels sense that their chance to strike and regain independence comes soon, and are stepping up their attacks, while the authorities struggle to maintain order.

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources

The Urbis equivalent of Russia… if it had been conquered by China.

In our history, China went into decline just as Europe was ascendant. I wanted to try out something different here…

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