- The Crown: The Crowndom of Ilbarych is a monarchy ruled by a royal house and a group of noble houses. Its capital is Crownhold. The title of "Crown" is gender-neutral, and has been held by many women over the history of Ilbarych.
- Artistry: The nobility of Ilbarych places enormous importance on art and beauty. So much so, that houses gain great prestige in their patronage of great artists. Even more so if the artist is a member of their own house. All forms of artistry are prized, from permanent works such as sculpture, painting, or crafting arms and armor, to the more ephemeral works, such as flower arranging, dance performance, or the artistic expression of Martial prowess. While these works are prized by all, some houses take it to the extreme. More than one house has ruined themselves in the pursuit of beauty.
- Arcadae: Derived from an archaic term for a gallery, the arcadae is a space unique to Imperial estates. The high value placed on the arts necessitated a dedicated space to protect and preserve a house's most precious collections. This need gave rise to the arcadae, a gallery space that is provided with its own security and resources to preserve the art pieces held within. The arcadae may be a part of the house's castle or fortress, or sometimes is its own structure within the protected grounds of the estate. An arcadae traditionally includes living quarters and studio space for any artists in residence with the house, sometimes quite lavish in their accoutrements.
- Often, a given house's arcadae is customized to provide space for their other artistic pursuits or entertainments, doubling as a dance or fest hall, a study or library, a lecture hall or amphitheater, or even protected garden space, all of which is enhanced by the precious arts on display.
- Traditionally, a knight-sophiste will have charge of the protection and management of the arcadae and is sometimes even one of the artists in residence there. Depending on how trusted the knight-sopshiste is with the house and their competency in such things, this role can be largely ceremonial, as the actual work of maintaining the arcadae is always done by trained and trusted household staff.
- Sworn Companion: To be a Sworn Companion is a formal relationship to the nobility of Ilbarych. Not all nobles have a sworn companion. But, for those that do, the sworn companion is a member of their family. They will sit at table with the noble, and the noble's spouse. They may greet guests or act on the noble's behalf. When acting in this capacity, however, they are expected to reflect well upon the noble they are representing. Their children are treated as cousins of the noble's own. Occasionally, if the noble is unfortunate enough to not produce an heir, the sworn companion's child may be adopted formally by the noble. The sworn companion is usually, but not always, the same gender as the noble and may be either commoner or noble themselves. The children of a sworn companion, unless adopted, have the status conveyed to them by their parent.
- Knight-sophiste: A particular path of knighthood is the knight-sophiste, who trains in a narrower selection of the traditional knightly skills to allow the pursuit of an education specializing in an area of the arts or sciences. An education in the arts is considered a virtue in the noble houses, so many knights-sophiste come from their ranks, an option attractive to the later-born children who are less likely to inherit the lordship of their house. An education in a more practical area, such as one of the sciences, is less in vogue among the nobility but still seen as a worthy pursuit.
- Knights-sophiste are usually lightly itinerant in their younger years, hosted by a house in order to share their specialty as a tutor, instructor, or consultant for a year or two and then moving to another house that is desirous of their knowledge. The itinerancy often ends when the knight-sophiste becomes engaged for marriage or is offered a landed position with an appreciative house. Hosting knights-sophiste is considered a matter of prestige, and they are often a means of strengthening ties between houses, up to and including establishing marriage bonds between them.
- The knight-sophiste is expected as a matter of honor to also observe their regular knightly duties in service to their host house even in their itinerant years, but some unscrupulous knights-sophiste have taken advantage of their role to act as a saboteur, seducer, or spy.
- Lustre: A type of lily, lustre's gorgeous flowers produce a crystalline pollen that coats their petals, giving them a jewel-like appearance. The pollen is also toxic. Simply breathing in lustre's fragrance is not a danger to most, though some have significant allergic reactions to it. However, the pollen can be processed into a deadly poison.
- Lustre is highly valued because bees can produce honey made primarily from lustre pollen that is truly golden, delightful, and perfectly safe to eat. Raising fields of lustre and restricting the bees to them is an finicky process, adding to the value of lustre honey. Lustre honey is also distilled with apples to produce a coveted, strongly alcoholic brandy. Certain secret processes exist to distill the brandy in a way that returns the lustre's poisonous property, making the acceptance of a snifter of the brandy in certain situations either a very bold or foolhardy proposition.
- The wrightfolk have many negative superstitions regarding lustre and generally refuse to have anything to do with it, though some are coerced to do so under the direction of the Imperials.
The Crowndom of Ilbarych is made up of the following regions and landmarks.
A dry, cold swathe of hills and canyons along the central western reaches of the kingdom, the Barrowhills are home to small clan-groups of wrightfolk who live the way their people did before the coming of the imperials, mining iron ore and tending to flocks of goats. The nobles of these lands learned long ago to allow the wrightfolk to live as they have always done in order to harvest the ore wealth of these lands.
- Houses of the Barrowhills: The Barrowhills houses are wealthy, benefitting as they do from the ubiquitous mines of these lands, and their defensive structures are strong, to defend those resources. The Crown has long watched the nobles of these lands carefully, however, fearful that they might try and turn that wealth against the throne. As such, the masters of these lands do not dare to raise large armies, even if they had the population to do so.
- House Modifiers: Defense +10 • Influence – • Lands – • Law +5 • Population -5 • Power -10 • Wealth +10
The Bay of Lances
The open ocean is separated from the southern coastline of the Crowndom by the Bay of Lances, a massive body of salt water that features treacherous spires of rock rising high above the waves. Worse still, for every such spire above the surface, there are many more lurking beneath the waters. Only the Habersi traders have the cunning and skill to traverse these deadly waters, and even then only in their lightest coastal trading vessels. Otherwise, only small fishing vessels can safely pass over these waters. On clear days, it is possible to look down and see the remnants of many vessels who tried and failed to navigate the Bay of Lances – but such days do not come often, for these waters are tempestuous, gray and unwelcoming throughout the winter, and stormy and restless in summer.
Once a large trading hub of the wrightfolk, Crownhold has been turned into a city. Notable for the river that runs through it, which harbors a spur of rock upon which stands the Thronespire, the keep of the Ilbarych kings. It is surrounded by a double-wall which hosts small estate-keeps allotted to the various Ilbarychan noble houses, ostensibly to force them to contribute to the defense of the city. Crownhold is located at the terminus of the Steel Road, along the Crown River which serves as the boundary between Steelvale and the Greensward.
The grasslands of the Greensward are the shield against the wild wealdfolk. Lumber camps dot the edges of the Wildweald here, and the noble houses provide soldiers to protect these encampments against the fury of the wealdfolk, who strive to stop the harvesting of the great forest's edge.
- Houses of the Greensward: The Greensward Houses command large tracts of land, much of which was secured in living memory. As a result, the armies of the Greensward are frequently large to help defend those lands, and the houses thereof benefit greatly from the wealth that comes of them. Its upstart nobility are still taming these lands, however, and both bandits and wealdfolk raiders are a common problem.
- House Modifiers: Defense – • Influence -5 • Lands +10 • Law -10 • Population – • Power +10 • Wealth +5
The cold coastal waters of Northshore were, until very recently, a haven of bandit and populations of rebellious wrightfolk driven out of the northern hills. For generations, those northern hills were considered the wall that protected the Crowndom from the savagery of those desperate souls. Ninety years ago, however, Crown Arfandal dispatched the Crown Wardens, his elite peacekeeping force led by the Knights of the Crown, to these lands to see them pacified and settled by upstart houses. Now, though these lands provide only sparse crops, coastal settlements fish these cold waters and mines in its western reaches produce iron, tin, and copper.
- Houses of Northshore: Nearly every house of Northshore is small, recently-founded, and nowhere near as prosperous as the nobles of other parts of the Crowndom. Despite this, their lands are ample and well-guarded by both plentiful house troops and the Crown Wardens sent to pacify it.
- House Modifiers: Defense – • Influence -10 • Lands +5 • Law +10 • Population - • Power +10 • Wealth -5
The Steel Mountains
The Steel Mountains are the wall which defends the Crowndom of Ilbarych from the dangerous lands that were once the Empire. They are tall and imposing, with very few passes among them. There are a good many alpine valleys and meadows sequestered between the tall peaks here, tiny pockets of rich plant life and the native cliff goats, cave bears, and mountain wolves often seek out these sanctuaries.
- Houses of the Steel Mountains: The Houses of the Steel Mountains are hardy folk who are used to doing a great deal of up-close fighting themselves. The valleys of the Steel Mountains do not have large populations, so the houses here do not have the luxury of raising large armies. Instead, the nobility are all doughty warriors and mountaineers themselves, defending tall cliffside spires and keeps.
- House Modifiers: Defense +10 • Influence – • Lands -5 • Law +10 • Population -10 • Power – • Wealth –
- The Steel Road: Winding westward out of Crownhold, the Steel Road is an ancient imperial road. The keep Steelgate stands at the point where the Steel Road enters Ilbarych, defended by the Knights of Steelgate.
The gently rolling plains that unfurl out of the Steel Mountains are among the longest-settled of the domains of Ilbarych, and home to some of its most established nobility. Steelvale is the bread-basket of the Crowndom, with a great many wide agricultural fields, broken up by orchards, vineyards, and the famous lakes of Steelvale.
- Houses of Steelvale: The oldest of the Ilbarychan nobility hail from these long-settled, populous lands rich in the resources that have kept the Crowndom prosperous for generations. Because of this age, many of the keeps of the Steelvale are smaller and less grandiose than in some other places, and the need for large armies is significantly less.
- House Modifiers: Defense -5 • Influence +10 • Lands – • Law – • Population +10 • Power -10 • Wealth +5
The lands of Three-Rivers are home to a significant majority of the Crowndom's populace, noble and otherwise. Tucked away into the lowlands south of the Barrowhills, the wealth of waterways and moderately balmy climate provides long growing seasons and rich agriculture of all sorts, notably the wines of the region.
- Houses of Three-Rivers: The nobles of Three-Rivers are known for their riches and extravagant castles built to defend the same. Though their domains tend to be more modest, they more than make up for that in the size of their populace. Because of how tightly clustered noble domains are here, houses require much smaller militaries to defend their holdings.
- House Modifiers: Defense +10 • Influence – • Lands -10 • Law – • Population +10 • Power -5 • Wealth +5
A massive primeval forest that forms the eastern and part of the northern borders of Ilbarych, the Wildweald is home to wealdfolk, nomadic people who are related to the wrightfolk (though culturally at odds with them).
- Year 0: The remnants of the Wolfen Lance, fleeing the collapse of their home empire, arrive along the Steel Road. They conquer the trade hub that comes to be called Crownhold.
- The native wrightfolk push back against the invasion, but they cannot stand against the heavy cavalry and support units of the Wolfen Lance.
- Late that year, General Ilbarych is anointed as the Crown of the newly won lands. He appoints a number of his commanders and important retainers as nobles, charging them with the pacification and defense of their new lands.
Crowns of House Ilbarych
During this era, Ilbarych settled into its conquered lands of the Steel Mountains and Steelvale, and began fortifying Crownhold as a defensive security against the dangers of the Wildweald (which at this time stretched to the eastern shore of the Crown River).
- Reign of Crown Ilbarych (0 - 9 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Sperya Ilbarych (9 - 14 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Luciunn Ilbarych (14 - 21 Crown Reckoning): x
Crowns of House Ceolfrey
The Ceolfrey Crowns expanded the Crowndom into the Barrowhills and across the Crown River, beginning to eat into the Wildweald, pacifying and settling those lands, forming the Greensward. They also expanded along the western banks of the Crown River, making the first forays into what is now Three-Rivers.
- Reign of Crown Caminaeus Ceolfrey (21 - 21 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Letinne Ceolfrey (21 - 49 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Vinusynt Ceolfrey (49 - 98 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Manea Ceolfrey (98 - 121 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Aurinda Ceolfrey (121 - 144 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Serydia Ceolfrey (144 - 171 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Ortholus Ceolfrey (171 - 221 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Sonyelus Ceolfrey (221 - 254 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Hosentia Ceolfrey (254 - 292 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Domerr Ceolfrey (292 - 296 Crown Reckoning): x
Crowns of House Arret
The Arret Crowns continued to expand the Greensward as well as implemented settlement of Three-Rivers.
- Reign of Crown Marken Arret (296 - 304 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Wynna Arret (304 - 328 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Phulyr Arret (328 - 351 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Brabinn Arret (351 - 377 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Aupellia Arret (377 - 405 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Tyrtannus Arret (405 - 448 Crown Reckoning): x
Crowns of House Ylrath
Under the Ylrath Crowns, Ilbarych has continued to push the Greensward east, and has undertaken the settlement of Northshore.
- Reign of Crown Aethet Ylrath (448 - 473 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Byrfand Ylrath (473 - 500 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Javatus Ylrath (500 - 506 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Persym Ylrath (506 - 512 Crown Reckoning): x
- Reign of Crown Evginda Ylrath (512 - 519 Crown Reckoning): The current Crown of Ilbarych, Evginda is in the seventh year of her rule, having been anointed to the Crown after the death of her uncle Persym. A serious woman with little interest in things she considers frivolous, Evginda listens much and speaks little. Though she is said to appreciate fine art, she rarely gives compliments or praise for such things, leading to her court's reputation as a difficult place to be an artist in. Evginda's consort is a high-ranked soldier from House Vyranthal named Markov, and her Sworn Companion is the sorceress Orilantha.