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The saga of humans in Dema stretches across all regions and Eras. No telling of that story would be complete without understanding the rise and rule of The Solar Hegemony. The Hegemony is negatively-aligned Aether run amok. As the mightiest nation in Dema’s history, the Hegemony holds millions in its iron grip. It is a zealous government focused on power and expansion in the name of light, order, and the greater good.
The Solar Hegemony was forged just after the Dayraid of the Light Plains. The first founder Emperor Remus launched a coup against the corrupt old human kings and nobles who had failed to protect commoners from the invading Nightrider horde. His forces had just recaptured all of the Light Plains and Mundi, and the desire to protect all humans from another war with nonhumans burned within him.
Daily life in the Hegemony’s culture is based around a theocratic and classless society. A spirit of unity idolizing the great deeds of heroes fighting the forces of darkness and evil, within and without, defines countless denizens. A person is judged by their loyalty to the state, faith, and contributions to humanity, be it in art, engineering, trade, warfare, or exploration. No moral human is greater or lesser than any other, with the Emperor governing as the First Among Equals and head of the state religion which enforces these norms.
In practice, there is a vast slave population of 'criminal' and ‘nonbeliever’ menial laborers, mostly human, Featherfolk, or Nightrider, that is propping up the more ‘worthy’ efforts of the free. The government discriminates horribly against members of the other five species within their territory. Most free humans must rely on knowing powerful public officials to gain more prestigious work or learn a trade beyond farming. Hope for escaping these conditions is in short supply no matter what Era. The Hegemony’s secret police enforcers known as the Krypteia make sure of that.
The Solar Hegemony's cruel treatment of the very downtrodden it was founded to protect is justified through its state religion, the Church of Sola, whose followers are commonly known as Solasii. Originally an obscure sect in the old human kingdoms, the Solasii clergy exerts control second only to the Emperor’s commands.
The clergy preaches that all labor and suffering serves the goal of a Final Victory. This great struggle against evil nonhumans and traitors to the nation must be won at any cost. The sun goddess Sola will favorably judge those who help Her unite all lands and peoples beneath the eternal light of Her gaze. Finding all seven Orbs of Abragon to power the Solar Network – a world-spanning array that casts light over hundreds of miles instantly – will usher in paradise for the devout, and enlighten the dark half of Dema forever.
(As one can imagine, the Overseers are equally fascinated and regretful that this doomsday doctrine has been formed around a series of lighting towers made with no particular purpose besides to see what people in Dema's cycle would think of them.)
Remus's coronation as the first Solar Emperor marks a calendar division between the time of darkness, the Epoko de Mallumo (EM), and the so-called rise of Sola, or Levigo de Sola (LS). Since the Solar Hegemony's founding in 0 LS, its fortunes have varied wildly. A wave of wars saw the capture and loss and recapture of dozens of towns and cities in the Uprising, Exodus, and Redsky Eras.
The wealth in loot and Eldertech gained from each battle and every new human colony fuels an engine of ruthlessly efficient industry and continuous strife. Mapmakers struggle to accurately track how far their rule beyond the Light Plains spans from one decade to the next. At various points, the Hegemony laid claim to almost all of the Moon Realms, with later holdings in the Midlands, Gilded Sea, and Athenaeum. It has fragmented and been reforged anew multiple times, with changing laws, fashions, and customs in each Era.
The twenty semi-autonomous legions tasked with the Solar Hegemony's sacred conquest of the world are ideally filled by 10,000 legionnaires each. Their actual manpower and readiness ranges wildly depending on the Era and edict their commanding general holds. At least half have rotated deployment solely within the Light Plains or the colonies, ready to suppress any revolts. The rest are hardened by continuous battle on the front-lines.
At the height of the Moon Realms Conflicts, General Gawain Cang was made Praetor Commander and governor of a new tributary state called the Hominid Dominion, and given command of ten legions to face The Queen of the Night’s rebellion between 17-19 LS. These deeds would be legend to the young prodigy Emperor Sicarius by the Redsky Era in 102 LS. His legions were the last defenders of a battered human remnant as the apocalypse bore down on their burning cities, crushing them just after the nation reached a high mark in culture and territory.
Whether you love or loathe the idea of a group that’s twisted the tropes of heroes, goodness, and light into this brutal form, know that the only limits to the Hegemony’s power are the characters who will stand behind or against it in your own stories to come. A Game Master’s plot involving humans can reflect what is going on with the Solar Hegemony and Dema at any given year. As a rule of thumb, if one is not with the ‘Hegs, it is assumed one is against them as part of the dozens of groups living on the fringes of the nation’s control.
What if you’re one of the oppressed commoners in Scintilla planning the original fall of the old nobility in the Heroic Era? Or maybe a commander of the 9th Legion Invicta on the frigid front lines of a skirmish with the Athenaeum's Archivists. And it’s not always about grand battles between species. What could happen on smaller scale adventures? Try running a gang of Eldertech smugglers dodging one of the three Imperial Fleets. Trek with holy emissaries searching for the Orbs of Abragon in the labyrinth caverns of the Thalkast, or in the shadows of the Walls At the End of the World. The thoughts of a Krypteia agent tasked with running the political prisoner camps of Asphodel who is having a change of heart are just as compelling as a Deonan prisoner planning to escape and join The Uprising in her home city. What is life like for the hero, the heretic, the merchant, the rebel, the empress and the slave?
This is one entry of multiple lore posts covering some of the cultures and locations of Dema. Even more lore on each featured topic will be in the 5E Conversion Book. Check out our previous spotlight on Clan Hiremai here.
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