Achaemian Empire

The Achaemian Empire is possibly the most active country in all of Aatos. The past two kings of the empire have led an expansionist agenda that has tripled the amount of land the country controls in less than half a century. This accomplishment is due in many ways to the exemplary generals (their official title is Judge) that the kingdom seems to produce. The country is leading the world in technological and strategic innovations that have contributed to its success in the theater of war. However, troubles have begun to spring up throughout the empire, and some believe that the Achaemian Empire is at its prime, and can only fall from here. However, that hasn't stopped the Empire from gearing up for their next major invasion, and King Cyrus II has all but announced that he will be invading a country soon. From the looks of things, it seems that his eyes are on his neighbors to the East: Elba, which will not be a fight easily won.

Regional History: For quite a long while, the Achaemian empire was relatively peaceful. It engage in occasional skirmishes or short border wars with its neighbors, but mostly kept to itself. Then, 57 years ago, King Cyrus took the throne. Under his reign, Achaemians flourished. He built the capital city, Persepolis, in the grandest fashion he was able to. He greatly improved living conditions throughout his empire with his innovations including roads, a messenger system, standardized measurements and currencies, and improved access to schools and medical facilities. It was, and continues to be, known as the Golden Age of the Empire. Gradually, Cyrus expanded the country's infrastructure to include an improved military with a specialty air division. This new military was led by four handpicked Judges. They were all accomplished tacticians, strategists and warriors handpicked from among the country's finest soldiers and generals. With Cyrus's blessing, the four Judges began to eat away at their neighbors territories and annexing them. When Cyrus died 17 years ago, the Achaemian Empire had taken over Drell, Scandia, and half of Iskander. The new king, King Cyrus II was even more aggressive, and launched two major campaigns. These ended three years ago, and the Achaemian Empire became the largest continuous empire Iussus had seen in several centuries. He was then forced to turn his attentions to internal affairs, as he was facing several potential rebellions.

Finally beginning to suffer the first real backlashes in response to its actions, the Empire took a break from conquering territories. While rebels have been common over the past fifty years, they now have the support of many common folks and are gathering political and militant power more quickly than the government would like to see. Foreign countries have begun to preemptively establish clear cut defenses against the Empire, and alliances against it have been forming among some of its neighbors. However, King Cyrus II has been able to push down all but one particularly stubborn and powerful group of rebels and has been gathering forces for a fresh expedition, and he has been recruiting appropriately, even hiring several large merchant companies (notably the Blades of Time from Elba) to join his ranks. He has split his forces in two: half to capture his next target (which is still unknown to all but those in the highest positions), and half to quench this rebellion once and for all.

Culture: Culturally, the Achaemian Empire is quite diverse. One unusual thing about the Empire is that they allow their conquered subjects to keep their customs, religions, and traditions, so the various parts of the Achaemian Empire can look very different. The Achaemian people, those who were not annexed after a military invasion, generally worship Mew as their creator and have a love of pokemon battles that is obvious to any who care to look. They favor embroidered white clothes and large earrings. They also have a large patriotic spirit, and anybody who says negative things about Cyrus are quickly shouted down. This mindset has dwindled in recent years due to the large number of Achaemian deaths in wartime, but even those who lost loved ones believe the war is part of the Empire's destiny. There is a sense among the native Achaemians that it is their divine right to unify Iussus under one flag. These native Achaemians or converts can be quite arrogant (and rightly so; they do belong to the political superpower of Aatos after all). They believe that their people will rule the world, and that their actions are divinely sanctioned by a mandate of fate. Those who are less enamored with the image of the Empire tend to be run-down individuals, tired from constant war, and unable to voice their displeasure in the face of the rest of the country.

Among those who are not originally Achaemian, there is a split in ideology. Among some, especially the new generation who has known nothing else, the Achaemian Empire is a way for them to participate in something powerful and influential, a way for them to contribute to ruling the world. These are almost more fervent in their support of the King than the natural Achaemians themselves if possible. The other half are bitter, often forced into military service, and not at all happy with their lot in life. However, their rebellions were put down violently, and most value their own survival over their national identity.

The land of the Achaemian Empire is rather ideal. There are a wealth of fertile fields tilled by farmers and forests abound to provide resources. The southernmost portion of the Empire is largely desert, and very little of the population lives in this portion of the nation. Two large geographical features dominate the terrain of the Achaemian Empire: the Iskander Mountains and the Tibris River. The Iskander Mountains served as a serious detriment to the expansionist ideals of the ruling Achaemiads, but they overcame it, and made it an effective tool in their campaigns. It also serves as a valuable source of resources to the indebted nation. The Tibris river is the seat of the golden Persepolis, and allows large amounts of trade goods pass through the Empire, providing a boost to its economy that fuels the high costs of wartime. It also serves as a vital way of transporting troops and materials during wartime. Recently, road networks have been added throughout the Empire to facilitate better travel for the armies, and have, as a side-effect, created perhaps the most effective product distribution infrastructure in the world. Merchants love working in the Empire for this very reason: their job is rather easy.

Demographics The original Achaemian Empire was found around the Tibris river. Most Achaemians live in that area, though they are beginning to disperse throughout the larger empire. The Iskandians live north of the mountain range, and they have a disconcerting habit of using the teeth of pokemon as earrings. The people of Drell and Scandia have a very similar culture to the Achaemians, and the two cultures have been slowly morphing as citizens intermarry and traditions are traded. That being said, there remains a large divide between those of native Achaemian blood, and those of a lineage of lesser countries. While this can often lead to animosity between groups, the clear hierarchy tends to keep order. Additionally, as time passes these cultural lines will begin to blur and die - all part of the Empire's master plan towards creating a grand civilization the likes of which Aatos hasn't seen in a millenia.

Economy: War is one of the greatest boons to an economy. Due to the long amounts of war, the vast majority of Achaemians have work. Many are farmers, but there are also a large number of magicians in the cities who create top notch pokeballs, weapons, and armor for the troops. Many masters of the fighting arts have been recruited to train new recruits for the chaos that is the battlefield. Both Cyruses have supplied ample domestic work for their subjects in the building of dams, roads, and cities to employ their citizens. However, the Empire is in debt, and they are looking for ways to dig themselves out of it. Taxes recently were raised, and an increased number of mining operations have been launched to accommodate the growing needs of the Empire.

Politics and Government: The Achaemian Empire is an ancient monarchy that has survived for generations. A series of governors serves under the King, managing large landmasses and reporting directly to the king. Since King Cyrus's coronation however, the Governors no longer are the second most powerful group of people. The first Cyrus instated four Judges as advisers and leaders in the kingdom in both civil and military matters that have authority over all but the King himself. These four travel, often leaving the country for military expeditions to annex countries. The newly annexed territories of the Empire are led by governors of traditional Achaemian blood that proved their worth through exemplary leadership during the war. This shift to focus on military accomplishment over noble blood has agitated many noble families, but none dare argue against it. Additionally, it has the added incentive of encouraging skilled individuals to perform exemplary in order to obtain a high spot in the government. All other positions come from the local populace: a move designed to encourage the people to accept the change of nations as a good one and discourage rebellion. This change has been instituted by the current King, and has been instrumental in quelling the rebellions in the past three years.

Recently, Cyrus II has been subtly pushing for another invasion. Many assume that his target is Chandra, a country to the south. However, his actual target is Elba to the East. He and his generals believe a conflict with Elba is inevitable and that catching the nation by surprise will be their best chance for victory. As such, he's been planting seeds that the country will invade Chandra while mobilizing troops for the opposite. However, Cyrus II has been meeting resistance from many of his past supporters who would rather see an increased stability and era of peace than another long and drawn out war for a land that is mostly desert. The silent power struggle has begun in a dance of politics: Cyrus and the Judges vs the many local nobles who can sway the local populace. However, nobles who have proved too vocal against him have found themselves replaced by military officers, and Cyrus just recently decided to launch his invasion within the year now that many of the nobles have reluctantly agreed to his proposition. He has already begun making subtle moves in preparation for the first strike and is doing his best to keep these plans secret.

Pokemon: Pokemon are bred and sold in droves throughout the Achaemian Empire. Pokemon battling is one of the national pastimes, and even small towns have some sort of central arena to have public battles in. Persians are seen as a symbol of power, and only nobles are allowed to posses them. Spearows are used as messenger birds as opposed to the standard pidgey, and fearow carry riders who deliver important messages to various locals around the Empire. Preferred pokemon and battle tactics differ from region to region, as the country still views itself, in part, as the remnants of several different nations. Everywhere in the nation however, dragon type pokemon are sought after. A part of this is due to Judge Gerald, who is famous for flying fleets of Dragonite over cities during his spare time.

Important People:
Judge Minerva: Being the only female Judge - indeed the only high ranking female military officer in a highly patriarchal society - Minerva is a slight oddity. Her team of pokemon is incredibly powerful, but she has never been seen battling herself. People have often speculated on what she is capable of doing on the battlefield, but nobody knows for certain. That said, she is undoubtedly the most powerful Judge, able to defeat the other three without contributing anything to the battle herself. At the age of 63, she is by far the oldest general, and was one of the original four judges that Cyrus picked. As she had no military history before her appointment there, some say that King Cyrus formed the four judges because of Minerva. She remains undefeated on the battlefield and, as a genius strategist, has been the single most important asset to the Empire.

Judge Gerald: A dragon master who left the Reilia clan for life outside the mountains, Judge Gerald leads the sky legion: the airforce of the Empire. He rides into battle on the back of a giant salamence while wielding a sword larger than he is. His personal regiment are all mounted on dragons that he had stolen from the clans or bred from those dragons. This airforce is a powerful force that has contributed to the Empire's success in wiping out many of the rebellions. However, having only been a judge for five years, Gerald has yet to wage war outside of Achaemia's borders as a Judge. Minerva plans to take Gerald with her as she leads the oncoming war against Elba. Outside of battle, Judge Gerald is a bit of a show off. He makes the most public appearances out of any high ranking government official, and is quite famous for visiting towns and giving free sword fighting lessons to stick-wielding children.

Jade: The leader of the secret police, Jade rules a large web of spies that are dedicated to keeping the Achaemian Empire stable. This is a large job, and it is made much more difficult when people like Scar are raising trouble. Nobody is sure who Jade is, but it is obvious that she is a powerful bodysnatcher. She has worked closely with the Judges in the past, but has designed a plan to contain any rebellions during the Judge's absence in the coming war. She would like to have killed Scar by the time the war starts, but she knows that prospect to be unlikely.

Scar: The leader of the budding rebellion, and the only possible internal threat to the Achaemid Empire, Scar is just as secretive as Jade is. Its clear that he is a powerful illusionist with strong nationalist tendencies. However, he wishes for the Empire to return to the peaceful state that it was in the past as he remembered it so many years ago. He and Jade are mortal enemies and have been for decades, constantly working against each other. Its said that the two were childhood friends, some say lovers, who separated over their visions for the Empire. Currently he is based out of Port Straish, although he has established a rebellion presence in Raish as well.

Important Areas:
Iskander Tunnel: Built during the reign of Cyrus I, this tunnel was the genius idea of Judge Minerva. This monumental project tunneled through the mountains and allowed troops to pass through it to attack Iskander's relatively undefended southern edge. This surprise attack left the nation ripe for conquering. It is now used as a trade route through the mountains, with a well maintained road pushing through the tunnel, with regular guard patrols to prevent the wild roggenrolla families from bothering travelers, although these guards have been weaned off recently to be moved into larger garrisons.

Persepolis: The capital city of the Achaemian Empire, Persepolis is a grand city. It was created by Cyrus I to be the symbol for everything that the Achaeminan Empire should be, and it represents the height of Achaemia's golden age that continues through this day. The architecture soars high with tall spires carved in ornate swirls. Paved roads, plumbing, and an aqueduct make life in Persepolis a relatively easy one compared to many other cities. The palace is giant, a behemoth of wealth filled with marble, gold, and jewels. A famous statue of a magikarp fountain that spews wine is a good symbol of the rich city. A large coliseum forms the center of town and is a popular form of entertainment. It is a heaven for merchants of all kinds, though it has developed a rather large assortment of thieves guilds.

Port Straish: This city serves as the connection between Harena and the Achaemian Empire. Ships often travel to and from Carthak and Kush to trade their agricultural surplus for their excellent craftsmanship and fine metals. The city is full of sailors that come in and out, as well as a large number of rebellion members. It is rumored that Scar and Jade hailed from port Straish, but nobody has confirmed that. In recent months the rebellions has been especially active, and Jade fears that the rebellion will attempt to 'liberate' the Port from Achaemian rule. In fact, she is covertly searching for a competent party of individuals to discreetly stop this from happening and provide valuable information on the rebellion's operations in the city (asking only that Scar be left alive). As of now it is a tranquil place, though it could soon become a battlefield as intense as any the Empire has seen.

Raish: Raish is the naval stronghold of the Achaemian Empire. Four years ago, an probing attack on Sarn was tentatively launched from the docks of Raish, and the military there has been scaled back since then. It also serves as the nerve center of trade with the countries bordering Lake Lyra, including Serrin. Many large marketplaces dot the neighborhoods of Raish, and a large pokemon arena is situated in the middle of the city. However, the city has been on the decline recently, both from the removal of military forces and its hindered trade pacts with Sarn, which local nobles are frantically trying to reinstate by any means necessary, including searching for precious treasure to send Sarran merchants.

The Achaemian Empire in you Campaign
The Achaemian Empire is rife with opportunities for adventures and campaigns. Perhaps the most obvious example is that it would be suited to a war campaign, as the PCs use their abilities as a specialized strike force to turn the tide in favor of the Empire (or in Elba's favor, depending on whose side they are on). They could fulfill this function either as natives of the Empire or as sellswords that the Empire has hired. Alternatively the PCs might be focused inside the Empire, trying either to quash out the Rebellion or overthrow the Empire. Becoming a Judge or government employee is a powerful lure, and it could be a delicious apple to dangle in front of PCs interested in joining the political realm themselves. Also, nearly every nation has spies inside the Empire, especially since they developed their expansionist tendencies, and a PC could fit the bill.

However, characters do not have to engage with the government to have an interesting campaign in Aatos. As an old part of the Vardamir Empire, there are plenty of unexplored ruins to be found and, with most of the military going to Port Said and the Elban borders, there will soon be a shortage of guards to rein in aggressive wild pokemon and fight in the colliseums, providing PCs with a plethora of work. They can be hired by caravans as guards, or they could even be merchants themselves, navigating the trade routes during times of war, perhaps even running newly hatched eggs to training facilities near the front lines that will soon be established.

Thus, the Empire can fit pretty much every role of a high fantasy genre, and it hosts a wealth of options for players. However, it does offer perhaps the most epic wartime campaign opportunities as one of the world's most influential Empires and Elba, the country with potentially the strongest military, collide in epic battles.

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