A Time for Heroes
The Emerald Empire
The Emerald Empire is the largest, oldest realm in the land. Dwarfing its competitors, it is a calcified regime – geographically stagnant and slow to change. Its urban people pride themselves on their refined culture and artistic sensibilities, and nearly all imperial citizens believe no other kingdom can compare.
The dominance of the Emerald Empire can be attributed to its 'industrialisation' of magic. The Empire produces devices called cyphers. The design of new cyphers is considered important, and the Empire patronises numerous colleges of magic where learned mages are encouraged to design them – after which they can be produced by the royal artificers to be disseminated throughout the realm.
Having faced no serious, military threat in quite some time, much of the Empire's ruling class are concerned with their own squabbles, and petty power-plays. Prestige, the latest fashion, grand displays of largess, never before seen entertainment and little acts of sabotage (aimed at their rivals) are the names of their game.
The civil administration of the Empire is excessively bureaucratic: passing extensive, civil tests is required to hold any (non-noble) position of importance. Theoretically, these tests are open to anyone and offer the chance for social mobility. In practice, while education is cherished and even small villages invariably have some kind of schooling available, the richer members of society have more freedom to learn, and are more able to pass the selection exams.