Distant Horizons of Lands Long Forgotten and Tales Untold
An isolationist nation in the arctic historically ruled by demigods but currently in a decades-long cold war for the throne.
Geography and Climate
The geography of Iodi is characterized primarily by its forests, tundra, coastlines, and low mountains. The northwestern and southeastern coasts (the peninsula juts off of the Antorian mainland in a roughly northeastern direction) are predominantly jagged cliffs riddled with inlets and bays, and lined with thousands of tiny islands.
Both the landscape and wildlife of the region are heavily affected by its unique climate. While it is still well within arctic standards, Iodi is surrounded on all sides by much colder regions. Its comparative warmth is due to the immense amount of geothermal activity here. All springs in Iodi are hot springs, often near boiling at their exit from the ground. A handful of lakes have hot vents in their deepest reaches, and a few rare bays are similarly blessed. At the lowest elevations in Iodi, the ground itself is quite warm to the touch. Iodian scholars established long ago that this phenomena is caused by the goddess IODI (always denoted in all caps when referring to the deity) herself who permeates the land, but is more concentrated deeper underground (see below for more details on the religion of the region). This prevalence of hot water creates large areas of heavy mist near such locations, and as a result the vast majority of Iodian settlements have extremely low visibility.
Despite the geothermal activity, Iodi is still quite cold and in the winter temperatures range from thirty to seventy degrees below zero, with settlements being around twenty to thirty degrees warmer than the wild. The height of summer is the only time you'll see it get into the positive double digits.
History and Religion
Iodi has easily the longest uninterrupted record of its history, dating all the way back to its origins over sixty thousand years ago. These records are kept in painstaking detail by the Teras Vin in Iodi's capital, Ael Gilliurst. History in Iodi begins at precisely the same time that sentient humanoids showed up here. This event of genesis occurred when IODI descended from the heavens and merged with the land, making it habitable and imbuing a great number of its beasts (some humanoid, some not) with intelligence and sentience.
IODI does not have an organized church worshipping her, though nearly Iodians show her respect in various ways in their day to day life. It's not a religion and showing this respect is not seen as a matter of faith. She does however empower many divine casters who channel her power in a variety of forms. They do not generally share any philosophical common ground or preach any dogma, but it does seem that the longer one practices divine magic in Iodi the more one tends to gravitate to a particular mindset. Many Iodian divine casters are unaligned and over time tend to slide away from extremes.
Who is worshipped in Iodi is IODI's incarnation, the Caliph. This imperial cult is something of a secret society however (or more accurately, a society with secrets), and the majority of Iodians have no interest in it.
Brief Summaries of Major Events:
- 62,089 YA – IODI creates life on Calithi.
- 47,810 YA – Caliph Istaria Iodi establishes the Razgauth to combat any and all outsiders. She is one of only a handful of deceased Caliphs who are still venerated.
- 68 YA – ShiKaen Invasion begins.
- 67 YA – Shi'Kaen forces retreat from Iodi.
- 21 YA – Caliph Nevester Iodi is assassinated. Shi'Kaen agents are assumed to be responsible. Several of his children manifest the Ael Abarsh, the divine flame associated with Iodi's Caliphs. More than one person manifesting IODI's divine authority is extremely rare, and has only happened three times in recorded history.
- 21 YA – Khan [[Yrios Iodi]], the only child of Nevester actually in Ael Gilliurst at the time of his death, seizes the throne and declares himself Caliph.
- 21 YA – Khagan Aarne Iodi, eldest child of Nevester, sparks civil unrest in Ael Gilliurst and after a few bloody months of guerilla action takes his soldiers and roughly two thirds of the city's citizens with him out into the wilderness. He maintains the claim that both as the eldest ( by far, at the time) and as a proven military commander, the throne is his by right.
- 20 YA – Khan [[Kalena Iodi]], studying at Nidavagar at the time of her father's death, gains the unanimous support of the Razgauthen, seizes the Razors, oversees construction of Narvi and the triplet lighthouses. Also writes the Narvi Protocols, a 4,726-page document primarily regarding foreign policy and trade but also covering numerous other governmental issues. She declares Iodi a secular state, herself the Padishah (but not Caliph, as she considers the position invalid), and her tower-lighthouse the imperial throne. Narvi is opened as a port available to foreigners.
For the vast majority of history, with only a few exceptions, Iodi has been a direct theocracy. The throne has historically been held by incarnations of IODI herself. The rare occasions this has been confused have been times when multiple individuals manifested the Ael Abarsh (the divine power that comes from being an incarnation of IODI) and times when someone unexpected manifested it (someone not the child of a Padishah). Combined, these incidents have only come up five times in over sixty thousand years.
The title of the one who sits on the throne is often misunderstood. Technically, the one who sits on the throne is the Padishah. It just so happens that there is a sort of two throne system where generally, the same person holds both positions. The other (more often referred to) title is Caliph. The Caliph is whomever leads the imperial cult which worships the Padishah. While the Padishah has to be an incarnation of IODI and possess the Ael Abarsh, the Caliph can be whomever the Padishah wants. Historically, this has been the same person.
How an individual Padishah decides to rule varies wildly but given that these demigods tend to live for a thousand years or more, the denizens of Iodi tend not to notice. There are many moving pieces in Iodian society and it can be a daunting task to balance them all. The main ones a Padishah has to think about are the fey courts, the dwarves, the giants, and the three holy orders. The fey courts, dwarves, and giants all have their own individual power structures and kingdoms that fall under the purview of the Padishah's throne, but they also seem to do best when left alone. Historically, the Padishah has let these groups self-govern. The only things in Iodi the Padishah does not necessarily have absolute power over are the holy orders. One of the holy orders, the imperial cult, is led by the Caliph but the other two (the Razgauth and the [[Teras Vin]] ) are entirely autonomous and self-governing.
The imperial cult. The imperial cult is loosely organized and has little power or agenda. It's made up of missionaries, scholars, and common laypeople. It's less an organization and more just a name given to the people who devote active worship to the Caliph. In Ael Gilliurst, there is a significantly greater following.
The Razgauth. The Razgauth were formed over 47 thousand years ago by the still well-known Caliph Istaria Iodi. Only the most studied of historians are familiar with the exact details of their founding, but they were created as a holy order to defend Iodi from external threats. Historically, they've been the primary force that keeps outsiders out of Iodi. They are generally neutral in internal conflicts, aside from defending settlements that tend to form at their fortress walls.
The Teras Vin. An order of scribes and librarians, the Teras Vin are based exclusively out of Ael Gilliurst where their massive and ancient library resides. They are independent from the throne and aside from maintaining the imperial records, they also manage most administrative matters including taxation. Every year, a given scribe spends 3 months on the road traveling to settlements big and small updating birth records, agricultural records, collecting taxes, and various other administrative tasks.
The Kinslayers. Aarne Iodi leads a horde of nearly half a million fighters which controls the Iodian midlands, and the Kinslayers are the finest among them. Formed about 21 years ago, the Kinslayers are Aarne's personal cadre of winter wolf riders.