There are numerous factions in Balzu. The most prominent faction is, of course, the Imperial faction, composed of senators, generals, etc. The second most prominent faction is the Church. In many ways, it is even more powerful than the Imperial faction, though it lacks the military power.

Political Factions

The Empire

The Imperial faction is a huge, diverse organization of politicians, bureaucrats, administrators, legislators, judicial officials, clerks, tax collectors, and diplomats. They are led by the Regate, the nominally appointed ruler of the Empire who has been ruling Inarhti for over 140 years. The Imperial faction can be further subdivided into smaller sub-factions, but most members of the faction agree on the essentials. Note that the vast majority of the business of empire is still conducted by the Great Houses, the descendants of the original ruling nobility (kings and queens) of the conquered territories. The activities of the Great Houses are monitored by Imperial administrators who collect taxes, recruit soldiers, advise the Regate on the possibility of military threats, and ensure that Imperial decrees are being adhered to. Although many of the Great Houses have grown comfortable with the arrangement after centuries of occupation, rebellions are not unheard of and many of the Great House rulers are not above skimming on taxes or exploiting the Empire in numberless other ways.

The Great Houses

Each House is its own faction responsible for overseeing a certain territory or kingdom. Although subject to the dictates of the Regate, the Great Houses are allowed to maintain their own military forces (the 'house guard') for putting down civil unrest and for protecting a territory in the absence of the availability of Imperial forces. House guard numbers are strictly controlled by the Empire though it is not unusual for powerful houses to employ unofficial mercenary organizations to extend their reach beyond the bounds imposed by Empire. The Great Houses represent a very diverse range of political sentiments and personal ambitions. Some are fiercely imperial and consider themselves an extension of the Empire. Others consider themselves protectors of their people and serve to moderate, or 'buffer', the influence of the Empire. Others consider themselves staunch (but publicly silent) opponents of the empire and plot its demise. Many members of the Shroud are luminaries of the Great Houses of Paret.

The Shroud

The Shroud is a Paretzi political activist group focused on overthrowing the Inarhti Empire. The Shroud is highly secretive and gets its name from the way its members adorn themselves in the burial shrouds of executed Paretzi nationalists. Shroud members never see each others faces, and never speak to one another, communicating only through encrypted writing. Shroud members come from all walks of life, from the highest to the lowest and, although Paretzi in origin, do not exclude other races from becoming members. The Shroud organizes political assassinations, assists other anti-Imperial organizations in their endeavors, and promulgates anti-Imperial propaganda, which sometimes includes the execution of elaborate 'stunts' designed to make the Empire look foolish or corrupt or to strike terror into the masses. The Shroud is not an easy faction for players to join as its operatives are hand-picked after an extended period of evaluation.

Military Factions

Dogtooth Gang

The Dogtooth Gang is not a criminal organization per se, but a mercenary guild that is not above engaging in 'dirty, underhanded' activity. The members of the Dogtooth Gang are all veteran soldiers from a wide variety of backgrounds. They work in groups, or individually, depending on the contract. Dogteeth (plural, or dogtooth, singular, as their members are sometimes called) are frequently employed to guard caravans and merchant shops, exterminate 'pests', and provide muscle for illegal skirmishes. The Dogtooth Gang has connections with the Spits, Muddyboys, Gulls, and Planks among other unsavory organizations.

Imperial Army

The Imperial Army is an enormous and tremendously effective military organization and the key source of the Empire's power. The Imperial Army is divided into several divisions (Infantry, Cavalry, Navy, Sorcery, etc.) and all divisions follow very strict and minutely detailed protocols. Although a sizable portion of the army is engaged in combat initiatives on a more or less permanent basis, there is still a very large standing army stationed in bases all over the empire prepared to put down revolutions, invasions, etc., at a moment's notice. Imperial army wages are good, but the work is difficult and extremely dangerous, and the contracts are strict and long lasting.

Religious Factions

Daughters of Rhana

The Daughters of Rhana are nuns devoted to healing the sick, feeding the poor, and protecting orphans and elderly people. They run hospitals, schools, orphanages, and hostels all over the empire and are very popular with the masses. Almost every citizen of the empire has, at some point, required the services of the Daughters, either for themselves or for someone close to them. The Daughters are an exclusively female organization and they receive much of their financial support from female sponsors. While the majority of the Daughters work in one of their institutions, many new Daughters are required to service rural areas, a task involving constant travel from homestead to homestead and community to community. Although popular, the work that they do is expensive and donations do not typically cover even minimum requirements. Daughters do not typically possess even a mule to call their own, so they typically travel on foot. In particularly dangerous areas, they may be accompanied by a Son. Sons are typically (though not exclusively) male bodyguards with combat experience bearing arms. Most Sons are drawn from penitents who choose to spend one or more years in religious service to make amends for their sins. Most are ex-soldiers or mercenaries, though it is not unheard of for reforming criminals to take up the task.

Occult Factions

Alabaster Society

The Alabaster Society is a secret society of necromancers. Although outlawed by the empire, necromancy is not always punishable by death. Many 'traditional' cultures practice various forms of necromancy (ancestor worship, speaking with the dead, etc.). These practices are discouraged, but generally ignored as primitive superstition by imperial inquisitors. Certain offenses, however, such as human sacrifice, conjuring evil spirits, or raising the dead, are capitol crimes carrying a penalty of death. The Alabaster Society is a somewhat fashionable society for upper class citizens, and many members of the Great Houses are members. The prestigious membership accounts somewhat for the more lenient attitude the empire takes toward minor infractions (like the sort of 'table tapping' encountered at fashionable parties).

The Fraternity

The Fraternity is a brotherhood of alchemists and financiers whose primary concern is the creation of wealth. Sometimes referred to as the Order of Prospos (the God of wealth). Most of their business is conducted in secrecy. They have strong political and criminal ties and its members control much of the wealth of the Empire. The Fraternity is not strongly hierarchical: there is no leader; prominent members take turns as 'speakers' for meetings and conventions and anyone may voice their ideas or concerns at any time. The Fraternity is not an illegal operation and is instead considered more of a business club.

Order of Hyarx

The Order of Hyarx is the official, occult branch of the Imperial army. Battle mages, or 'warwitches', are recruited, trained, and deployed by the order. They follow strict rules that closely mimic the other branches of the military so a battle mage's life is essentially no different from any other soldier's. Although they are most often used as 'shock troops' in military campaigns, they may also be found engaging in sensitive security work, or abroad enforcing the Empire's strict occult laws.

Red Hand

The Red Hand is a secret society of diabolists that practice human sacrifice. Red Hand cultists make offerings of blood, flesh, organs or bones to summon different types of demonic entities. Red Hand members hold extremely effective vows of secrecy: revealing that you are a member of this faction will instantly summon a demon whose sole objective is your utter destruction. The only time the identify of a Red Hand member may be revealed is during the rite of initiation in which a new member is admitted into the cult. Red Hand members often employ slaves or mercenaries to find and retrieve fresh meat for their rituals.

Tinoxi Council

The Tinoxi Council is a small council of diviners serving as advisers to the Regate. The Council is typically made up of about twelve to fifteen specialists with extensive experience and extremely high credentials. The Tinoxi Council, though separate from the Diviners' Guild, may, by order of the Regate, pass rulings on Guild activities, including but not limited to the acquisition of new members, the divestiture of existing members, the legality of practicing specific divinatory arts, and other more mundane matters. In practice, the Council does not usually interfere with the activities of the guild though its members frequently engage in spirited debates.

Criminal Factions

Cage Gang

The Cage Gang is a slaver organization with ties to all of the major ports in the Empire and beyond. The Cage Gang is divided into 'chain gangs' that kidnap people of little or no intrinsic worth and sell them to others. Targets include peasants in remote villages, immigrants, and people living in foreign lands. These captives are sold privately or to gangs like the Spits to work as prostitutes. The Cage Gang is not a member of the Oyster Gang, being a truly international organization, but does engage in business with their member gangs (eg. the Gulls or the Spits).


The Gulls are a large, extensive piracy gang involved in the capture of goods and persons on the high seas. Although they work primarily Imperial waters, they are not above raiding the coasts beyond the borders. Their chief source of wealth comes from stolen merchandise, captured vessels (resold or scrapped for parts), and ransoms for wealthy captives. Persons of little or no social stature are often traded to the Cage Gang and other slaver gangs with better contacts in the interior and in remote lands.


The Muddyboys started as a gang of disgruntled miners who were forced to work in dangerous and inhospitable conditions and were originally formed with the noble aim of protecting their own from rapacious employers. Since that time, they have become rapacious employers themselves and broadened their reach to other labor groups, like city and agricultural workers. They use violence and intimidation to coerce other workers to pay for protection. The Muddyboys are frequently used as a 'strong arm' for the Oyster gang when they need a quick army of cheap, brutal labor. They are also used to assist in the building of underground tunnels and hideouts, or to break into protected locations like castles and banks.

Oyster Gang

The Oyster Gang is actually four gangs in one: the Planks, the Gulls, the Muddyboys, and the Spits. The leaders of each of these gangs collectively form the Oyster gang. The name is derived from their seminal first meeting in which they resolved to settle their differences and work together to better deal with the growing interference of Imperial powers. The main dish served at the meeting was, of course, oysters. Although disputes are still a common occurrence and faction in-fighting is not unheard of, for the most part, the four gangs cooperate to better orchestrate their criminal activities.


The Planks are a large smuggling gang based in the Imperial City with extensive ties to all of the major cities and many smaller communities across the Empire. The Planks get their name from their ubiquitous presence on the planks of docks and piers where they conduct much of their business. Although they engage in some small, coastal piracy, they are primarily involved in the distribution of stolen and illegal goods from the coast to the interior and vice versa. The Planks acquire stolen goods from the Gulls and resell them on land to organizations like the Spits and the Muddyboys.


The Spits are the Imperial city's largest urban criminal gang focused on collection rackets, theft, prostitution, gambling, and drug and alcohol distribution. The Spits get their name from a particularly nasty tactic of spitting their enemies and roasting them over a fire, often leaving the charred remains in a public location. The Spits are dangerous and controlling and not to be trifled with.

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