Kharzan Imperium, usually just called "The Empire" by its citizens, is a sparsely populated nation in the <direction> mountains and hills. It is led by Emperor Kharzan and the Council of Elements, a group of powerful .
Major Races of the Empire
Kharzan is populated primarily by the dwarves (40%), gnomes (35%), and androids (15%), along with a sizable population of humans (5%) who long ago immigrated to the area. There are scattered pockets of various other races (5%), primarily planetouched variants of the four primary races.
The dwarves of the region are short, stocky humanoids with normally brown skin, like humans, which blackens after being in deep tunnels or living past around the 150 year mark. Their diet requires both fungus and alcohol, and as such their mastery of brewing is unmatched (roughly like any other races’ ability in the entire cooking arts condensed into a single area). They don’t get drunk on alcohol without near-lethal doses, and are likewise resistant to hallucinogens. The dwarven subculture tends toward extremes of pragmatism, and respects martial prowess and elemental magic above most other paths to power.
Gnomes are small humanoids with long, dexterous fingers and fingernails that are a lot like claws. Their faces look rodentish to most other races, with beady eyes and noticeably longer incisors than the rest of their teeth. Gnomes have extensive tufts of facial hair, and though they may grow bald they will almost always have moustaches (for males) or sparse whiskers (for females). They live primarily in the hills and sparse forests of the area. Culturally, gnomes are known for their excellence with mechanical devices and magical theory, and also for excellence with Illusion magic. Gnomish culture tends towards perfectionism in work, which leads to both a passion for excellence and a reticence to actually demonstrate work that still has flaws to work out, no matter how small those flaws actually are.
The Khazdan android population were modeled after a modification of base Human physiology – it is believed that this was originally to supplement Gnomish ingenuity with the physical force of the larger races before the Empire’s formation, but they have since become a self-sustaining population since they were granted citizenship in the Empire . Androids have adopted and merged both the gnomish inclination toward deception and the dwarven disciplines and philosophy, and many of the best assassins come from their ranks.
Humans in Khazdan have adapted a combination of the dwarven martial tradition and gnomish drive for innovation – many eclectic styles of armed and unarmed combat have been invented by the humans of this region, and they often have debates about minutiae of combat technique and theory that would almost certainly bore the warriors of most other nations, and also the Dwarves. Recently some of their "expertise" has been directed towards fighting styles that could be used more effectively by smaller-sized races, which has attracted quite a bit of interest from martially-oriented Gnomes.
Languages of the Empire
The lingua franca of the Empire is Khazad, or Dwarven, which is based heavily off Terran. Usually local areas will speak either a local language among themselves and a pidgin of Dwarven, Gnomish, and Common when speaking to people from other areas in the Empire. Some areas have instead expanded the merged vocabularies and speak in a creole of Dwarven, Gnomish, and Common, especially in areas with a disproportionately large human and android population. This speech sounds very strange to people with basic proficiency or fluency in the three languages separately, since those populations are stringing together sentences in complex, recursive combinations that just don't exist in the pidgin form.
The Gnomes, at least those in highly ethnic Gnomish areas, are popularly believed to be insane, because their language has multiple words for every single device they've ever created - even if it was created just a few seconds ago - and some words which are ridiculously long, going on for weeks in some cases. They're also considered extremely rude to each other, as they will often spontaneously interrupt each other even before a word is finished.
This is essentially a misconception; the Gnomes have a word for everything primarily due to how they describe things. When most English-speakers - and indeed speakers of most languages in the Empire - want to describe something, they add adjectives to it, usually in prefix - like "big", "red", or "gelatinous". Proper Gnomish, on the other hand, is generated by cramming adjectives and even adverbs right on the end of the basic noun or verb which needs the most detail, and going from more general or more important descriptors to more specific or unimportant ones. Because of this, a Gnomish-speaker who was able to describe anything in great detail could do so simply by stringing on more and more details until they had conveyed everything they knew about the object. And they could name anything they understand in great detail just by making that description the name. This is usually interrupted by the listener indicating they have enough information - so while Gnomes are likely to interrupt you in the middle of a sentence, they genuinely expect you do the same and are perplexed if you don't.
When used in the Empire's common-speech, most Gnomish terms are either very simple nouns or descriptors of elaborate things which don't actually have specific names in other languages.
Most cities and towns in the Imperium have access to the Storm Tunnels, a collection of energy conduits hich distribute low-intensity electrical energy throughout the land. The Storm Conduits are not actually a single network, but rather a standardized construction feature - any Metal vortices within a kilometer (horizontally or vertically) are harnessed, and that energy is distributed over the Empire's holdings within that distance. This allows both unusual types of industry and gadgetry, and somewhat reduces the food pressure by supplying the Android population with power.
The leader of each holding is the Citymaster, who coordinates and delegates the authority in the city, and is himself in charge of the civil engineering corps for that city. The Captain of the Guard reports directly to the Citymaster, but is traditionally given a significant amount of leeway in how he goes about his business. The Empire itself is divided into Provinces, and each Province has a governor who lives in the largest or most historically important city, and sends a representative to the Council meetings in Mount Charon. Government officials are appointed primarily by merit, as they are required to actively perform some particular work and reviews come often.
Newer and Dwarf-founded cities are typically constructed with stone walls and buildings, reinforced by elemental magic in more dangerous or strategically important locations. Establishing a new holding typically involves sending elementalist, wizard, and non-deific cleric members of the Province's Engineering Corps to summon the city's materials via wall of stone.
Some predominantly Dwarven cities, and many locations held for strategic purposes, are located underground; the difference in construction is essentially that disintegrate is used for construction as well.
Resources, Imports, and Exports
The Empire's primary exports are processed materials such as alloys, machinery and designs, and quality alcohols. Imperial expertise is primarily in the areas of elemental magic, including shaping of materials, and logistics; its military and civilian organizations are incredibly efficient.
Lumber is one of their primary imports, being relatively scarce in the mountains and plains that make up the majority of the Empire, and agricultural products are also highly valued - especially exotic fruits and other agricultural products, which are important both to the human subpopulation and in the production of quality liquors. Fossil fuels and more exotic metals are also imported for experimentation on more advanced machines.
Raw and processed iron is in ready supply in the Empire, with its connection to the Elemental Plane of Metal. Rarer metals are also available enough that they don't require imported material for basic operations, although inventors tend to drive up the demand.
Defenses and Military
The Empire's defenses are accomplished mainly by their martial prowess, elemental magic, and proficiency with stealth and deception. They're augmented by a "domain" effect of potent elemental magic, powered by and focused on the extinct volcano Mount Charon. This domain effect is mostly subtle, empowering elementalists and warriors who can tap into the energy by enough to grant an edge over roughly equal competition, and was established by a group of geomancers. Rumor has it that many of the original geomancers are still alive and influencing Kharzan from the shadows, or are even members of the Council. Ultimately, in the case of a full-force foreign invasion from one of the other major nations, the Empire's security would be enforced by the Emperor and Council actually going out and bashing some heads in Iron Age-style.