The Archipelago Lands of Xin
The lands of Xin are an archipelago of 8 large islands and over 1,000 smaller ones.
Before the Civil War (name and details to be worked out later) politically Xin was a federation of several major culturally distinct clan-nations (shogunates, khaganates, etc.) and their vassal/protectorate clans.
Shen Long Clan
Sigil – Golden Dragon with red eyes
Previous holders of the Xin Imperial Seat. Ancient, proud, incredibly rich and just as bureaucratic. Their lands hold the rich ore mines and tea forests of Xin. Their politics are based on meritocracy, scholarship and standardized testing, though the Shen Long King rules supreme. In legend, their royal lineage can be traced back to the children of a noble lord of the ancient Shen clan who unknowingly wed a golden dragon in human form. She promised the lord that if he remained faithful to her, their progeny would grow an endless empire of unimaginable wealth. Their language and ideographs have been adopted as the official legal and trade tongue in Xin, though each nation has its own local speech. Culturally, Socially, and technologically, they are refined and elegant and conform to many elaborate rituals that dictate all undergoings and seasons of their life.
Sigil – Silver Sea Serpent
The Shogunate of Zhao takes its name from the Zhao clan, a powerful, conservative shogunate that has its strongest holdings on 熠蜃岛 Yi’Shen (Gleaming-Serpent) Island (3rd largest in Xin), so called because of its serpentine shape and gleaming snow peaks. They are a martial nation with many mountain holdfasts, and the most disciplined army and navy in Xin. Incredibly stoic and Spartan compared to the Shen Long. Their resources are limited, and because of this they have learned to make do with less, but have also excelled in skill in many areas. They are excellent fishermen, though not as skilled at sailing as the Khamdo, fine poets, and unsurpassed in metallurgy and the crafting of arms and armor.
Khamdo Sea Nomads
Sigil – Wrathful Deity riding a Windhorse
In their legends, they came from vast flat lands far to the west that flooded. For years they fled the flood, but it pursued them to the Eastern mountains. It was said that the fastest of their horses were so swift their hooves hovered above the ground, and if not for the mountains they could have continued forever outrunning the waves of the great flood. In the end they had to leave their herds to drown, and learned to sail. They are still nomads, but now seafaring. They have one major city on land, Khamdo, which spirals up the highest mountain island of the archipelago. The greater part of their people are out at sea, following the migrating fish schools. They revere intelligent sea creatures such as dolphins and whales and believe that they are the spirits of their lost herds reincarnate. Because of this, whale and dolphin pods frequently migrate with them, the two following and sharing the migrating schools together. They are generally a peaceful nation, though will go to battle to defend themselves and others, tending to see themselves as guardians. They are especially skilled with spears and bows. Some have learned to ride sea mammals.
The Jeogi Sijog
Sigil – A Kumiho (nine-taled fox)
Northern end of the Great Southern Isle
Enigmatic, secretive mountain and jungle dwelling people. Very refined, very proud. Few in number. Ravaged during the War of Masks.
Sigil – a three-headed peacock with tailfeathers the colors of their 5 elements (earth – yellow, water – white, air – green, fire – red, and space/emptiness – indigo)
Southern end of the Great Southern Islands
Simple, spiritual folk. Jungle and coastal dwellers. Very skilled in “empty fist” combat. A large portion of their population is monastic, as everyone is expected/required to spend at least 10 years living, studying, training in a monastery. Of all the clans, they are the only ones who do not wear masks. Through some secret discipline, they have learned immunity to the Jian and Ghostface. Many, though, tattoo their faces and heads.
Sigil – Wrathful Deity on a Windhorse
Several of the ancient prominent Horse Lord families of the Khamdo Nomads. Split off with the last remaining horses and sailing east after the Great Flood sought dry land in hopes of returning to their old ways of life. Consider living at sea a continuation of their exodus. Granted great swaths of prairie land on the Xin island continent by one of the Shen Long Emperors in return for a yearly tribute of war horses. They are often found in conflict with the other clans, even the Shen Long.
These ideas run concurrent through all the subcultures of XinZhao, though the names, symbols, myths and philosophies may vary regionally.
4 elements, 2 polar aspects and Spirit
Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Light (Yang) (aka fullness/present/matter) and Dark (Yin) (aka emptiness/void/absence/form). Spirit is the negotiator. The active force of life and growth in the world.
Balance is crucial in all things. When something goes wrong, medically, politically, psychically, it is because something is out of balance. The elements and aspects run through the political philosophy and medical etiology and treatment of the nation clans.
Many forms of ghosts and demons exist. Ghosts are a result of some form of imbalance/spiritual turbulence that hasn’t been solved. Hungry spirits, ghosts are by nature evil or at least sorrowful/pitiable and often very dangerous. Demons are manifestations of spiritual forces in the material/elemental plane. They are not necessarily evil, but are can be tricky and dangerous to deal with, often toying with mortals for mere amusement. They frequently take the forms of animals, plants, and men or strange hybrids. Some are revered as deities
Immortals are humans who through mastery over themselves have gained power over elements, spirits, life and death. They are by nature good, wise, kindhearted, and sometimes mischievous. They live in and roam the lands, usually disguised, performing good deeds, teaching and enlightening, protecting those with good hearts and occasionally playing pranks on the greedy and ignoble.
A Ghostface is similar to a wraith. Not living, not dead, but existing simultaneously in both realms. They are the result of mortals whose faces have been stolen by or traded to a Jian, the “ghost” of a ghost. They are the reason that the people of Xin wear elaborate masks – to protect their faces, and spirits from Jian and their agents.
The Great Flood and Dark Ages
- many kingdoms fighting over land and resources
The War of the Masks and the Founding of the Elder Council and Xin Federation
- Several Immortals and Dragons came together to unite the clans and kingdoms after the First Reaping
The Dissolution of the Council
The Civil War