Thursday, January 5, 2017

From the Archives - Mara Imperium

The following is a behind-the-scenes look at a bit of Avremier setting development.

When creating some primordial gods for the setting, my mind settled upon serpents for their forms. Snakes are very primitive animals, in structure. They figure in many myths and folklore tales. And so on. The first such god was a gigantic “world serpent” named Erebus — after the earliest darkness of Creation. I had the idea to break my world in half by the actions of a titanic serpent that was imprisoned within, until it won free. Kind of a Midgard Serpent in reverse. I do things like that. Well, this proto-serpent-deity spawned three offspring in the process. The three were named Naga, Coua, and Mara. I decided they would form a small, but influential, pantheon.

Erebus was known as the God-Eater. Erebus hunted and devoured deities of all kinds. Erebus represented the all-encompassing darkness of the void, swallowing everything — even light. Naga would be the serpent of earth and fire. A violent and volcanic force of destruction. Coua would be Naga’s opposite — a deity of air and water, as well as the patron of couatls (coua…couatls…so clever). Mara was the only female of the group. She had more of her father in her, being an entity of darkness and desire. Where Naga was evil, and Coua was good — Mara was neither…like their father.

Erebus quickly abandoned its former prison, and its offspring. Left to fend for themselves, the fledgling deities immediately descended to the broken world below to learn what they could. Upon discovering they were gods, the three set about dominating and developing nations under their influence. Centuries later, these three realms are Matrupaj, Temruzael, and the Mara Imperium.

Matrupaj started out as a typical “evil serpent kingdom” kind of place. Over years of development, that has changed. Temruzael is a rather mythic realm influenced by Mesoamerican culture and religion. The Mara Imperium has always been the largest and most influential of the three. So, of course, it has enjoyed the most detail and development. Once I decided the Imperium would be ruled by some of the classic female monsters of Greek myth, the rest just sort of fell into place.

The Mara Imperium is beloved of Mara, the only female deity of the serpent pantheon. Thus, the Imperium is a matriarchy. Being older than human habitation of Avremier, the Imperium developed entirely without human influence. This allowed me to make the place as alien as I wanted. Government is organized into groups of three — three groups of three, to be exact. Those who rule from the throne are the gorgons. The gorgons come from three distinct bloodlines, modeled after the three gorgon sisters of myth: Medusa, Euryale, and Stheno. As Medusa was known as “the Queen,” her bloodline is “most royal.” Therefore, most Empresses have been of the “Medusan” bloodline. Members of this bloodline are noticeable by their “golden locks.” Those of true descent will have gold-colored snakes for hair. Those of the Euryale line have black locks, while Stheno’s descendants have red snakes for hair. Most of these features are adapted directly from the myths.

Other than gorgons, the other two bloodlines that form the upper castes of the Imperium are those of Empusa and Mormo. While less important, these two lineages have their own distinct traits. Suffice to say, the Imperium is almost always ruled by gorgons. Their capital city is even named Gorgosa. The middle and lower castes are made up of serpentfolk and other mutated humanoids. Those humans that now inhabit the Imperium are prisoners and slaves. Mammalian races are seen as inferior to the other citizens of the Imperium.

After the “core five” booklets for Avremier are finished, there are many more supplements already outlined for future production. Mara Imperium is one. It will focus mostly on the Imperium itself, with some details of Matrupaj and Temruzael as space permits. Hopefully, in 2018.

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