Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Luminous Caliphate

Aside from the evil Scourge of the Stars, the second largest force in the solar system is the Luminous Caliphate.  This massive organization is ruled from the elemental planet Pandemonium by the Luminous Caliph Mual-Tar.

The Luminous Caliphate was formed ages ago, as a result of the planet Pandemonium's proximity to Limbo and the Tetrahedron.  As the demonic forces of the Tetrahedron began to invade and conquer Pandemonium, the leader and most powerful of the Nine Immortals, Archomen, claimed stewardship over the tempestuous planet.  Even with his assistance, the massive planet continued to fall bit by bit into the hands of the demons.  When all seemed lost, Archomen divided himself into seven elemental lords that would protect the vast and various lands of that planet.  Each of the elemental lords claimed rulership of a different aspect of Pandemonium.  This division of his power into multiple forms turned the tide of the war, and drove most of the surviving demons into hiding or retreat.  Unfortunately, the process of splitting himself into component beings caused radical flaws in the new elemental lords.  These new beings are not as noble, humble, or selfless as Archomen.  Over time, the powerful elemental lords began to make war with each other, until the armies of the storm lord Mual-Tar proved victorious.  He established an interplanetary Caliphate, naming himself the Luminous Caliph. His subordinate lords on Pandemonium he named the Elemental Sultanate.  He proceeded to enact a plan to unite the solar system under his banner, in the name of defeating once and for all the various invading forces of the Tetrahedron and the Scourge of the Stars.

The Elemental Sultanate, which rules Pandemonium in the name of the Caliph, is made up of six elemental lords.  These are:

Ogremoch, lord of earth
Olhydra, lord of acid
Imix, lord of fire
Yan-C-Bin, lord of air
Solkara, lord of water
Cryonax, lord of frost

The Luminous Caliphate expanded into the solar system, taking control of much of the planets Elysium and Theta.  When Sigil was being invaded by Lolth and the drow, the Luminous Caliphate came to the assistance of that city.  When Sigil ultimately fell, many of the fleeing residents became citizens of the Caliphate.

It is commonly considered by citizens of the Noble State of Alam that the Caliphate is authoritarian at best, if not tyrannical.  In my travels I have found that they are simply ruthlessly pragmatic, and dogmatic in their adherence to the forces of law.  The Luminous Caliphate provides stability and safety to its members, and does much to hold the Scourge of the Stars at bay.

On the surface of Pandemonium, the Elemental Sultanate reigns supreme.  Just subordinate to them are the genies and powerful giants, while the genasi make up the rank and file members.

Outside of Pandemonium, the sultans have much less power.  They command a few ships of loyal spelljamming djinn, but have little authority over other subject races such as humans, deva, dwarves, and halflings.  The off-world Caliphate is divided into various factions that grew from the remnants of the fallen city of Sigil.  These factions are each headed by a figure known as a factol who reports directly to the Caliph. Each faction has a fairly specific set of beliefs, and any citizen of the Luminous Caliphate can decide for him- or herself which faction they prefer to belong to.

The Doomguard, or 'sinkers', believe in the sanctity and inevitability of entropy.  The Doomguard is not trusted by many in the Caliphate, as most sinkers believe that the decay and destruction of the universe are necessary; for once it is destroyed all imperfections will be gone with it, paving the way for a perfect new world.  There are radical sinkers that form cells of terrorists and cultists throughout the Caliphate.  The mindset of the Doomguard is generally considered depraved by many outside the Caliphate.  Nonetheless, most sinkers are sent to the front lines of the fight against the Scourge of the Stars, where they can put their aptitude for destruction to good use.

The Mercykillers believe that justice is the most powerful force in the universe.  They believe that all evil is rooted in injustice, and seek to serve justice to all evil forces in the solar system.  The engage in constant war with the Scourge of the Stars.  The Mercykillers clash ideologically with the Doomguard, and the two factions generally perform separate military actions.

The Harmonium is made up of zealous supporters of the Caliphate.  Its members believe that law, order and unity of purpose are the tools that will allow the Caliphate to overcome the Scourge.  Any elements that threaten the Caliphate must be eliminated.  It is responsible for internal policing, intelligence, the defense of Luminous Caliphate outposts, and rooting out spies, cultists and terrorists.

The Fraternal Order shares the beliefs of the Harmonium, but is more concerned with managing the day-to-day affairs of the Caliphate, and promoting peace and prosperity among caliphate members.  It is the organization that facilitates communication and coordination between factions, and establishes laws for all caliphate members.

The Athar is a controversial faction that denies the divinity of the Celestial Emperor and the Nine Immortals.  Many outside the order take that belief to mean that the Luminous Caliph and the Elemental Sultanate do not deserve to rule.  This in indeed the perspective of a few of the Athar, but most believe that the authority of Mual-Tar comes not from divinity but from the strength to enforce his will upon others.  The Athar is responsible for construction and engineering for the caliphate.

The Godsmen are the most religious of the caliphate members.  They believe that mortals can be reincarnated as divine immortals through spiritual growth and a personal relationship with Io, the Celestial Emperor.  This group has the most respect for the nine immortals, and is made up of many templars that operate the pagodas of the Crucible Ordeal, the religion founded by deva of Elysium.  Other divine classes are popular, such as the invokers of the Nine Rung Ladder Study, and the avengers of the Way of the Dragon.  They are responsible for all social services, caring for the downtrodden and poverty-stricken among the Caliphate.

The Bleak Cabal believes that there is no deeper meaning in the universe, and that each person should therefore believe whatever they wish to believe, and pursue whatever ends they desire, as it is all equally meaningless.  Yet, they recognize that the natural laws of the universe such as physics and arcana remain reliable, and therefore many bleakers feel that these are the only subjects worth studying.  The members of the Bleak Cabal are notorious for being emotionally unstable.  They are responsible for magical research, and often frighten other members of the Caliphate.  The Bleak Cabal have secret hidden research facilities spread across the solar system.

The Sign of One are a strange lot.  They believe that everyone is the center of their own universe.  They are responsible for psionic advancement of the Luminous Caliphate.  This is not a large faction, and psionics are not a major part of the Caliphate.

The Dustmen believe that both life and death are false states of existence, that there is an as yet unrealized state of lucid undeath which can only be accomplished by denying one's emotions and physical wants and needs.  The Dustmen are the common laborers of the Caliphate.  They generally spend many hours meditating when not working.  This is a fairly common faction.

The Society of Sensation believes that any true knowledge about the nature of the universe must be found personally through sensation and experience.  This is a common faction, and sensates are often warriors, nomads, and entertainers.  The Society of Sensation is another faction responsible for providing common laborers for Caliphate projects; many of them are migrant workers making their way across the solar system.

The Fated believe that might makes right, and that every force in power is in that position because it is their right to do so.  Thus, the Fated believe wholeheartedly in the utter annihilation of the Scourge of the Stars, as only its complete destruction can invalidate its right to exist, while its continued existence only serves to illustrate its strength and therefore its right to attempt domination of the Pyrax System.  The Fated are responsible for all mercantile activity in the Caliphate, but many of them opt to engage on the front lines of the battles in space.

The Transcendent Order is another large faction.  Its members believe that only through the elimination of deliberation in favor of learned instinct can enlightenment occur.  Agriculture is officially the domain of the 'ciphers', as members of this order are called, but members of many other factions generally work together to operate farms and settlements.  Many members of the Transcendent Order are primalists.

There were three other factions in Sigil that did not merge into the Luminous Caliphate when that city fell to the drow.  The Free League and the Revolutionary League were not interested in the Caliphate, and the feeling was mutual.  These factions both fractured into a multitude of sects with varying interests.  The third faction, the Xaositects, simply dissolved as a faction.  Strangely, their tenets continue, and there are many individuals across the solar system who identify as Xaositects even in the absence of any organizational structure.

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