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Ethengar Khanatesby Christopher Richard Davies
GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar is in many ways an exemplary product, perhaps the best of the later Gazetteers. It connected well with references to the Ethengarians in previous products (particularly GAZ3). Its one real weakness is that it tried too hard to make one particular aspect of the Ethengarian culture palatable ... but we'll get to that shortly. Unfortunately, just like every other product that touches on the Heldannic Freeholds, some elements have to be revised to deal with the new reality of the Knightly invasion of that region.
[*] Reports that the Khan of the Bortu tribe is Batu Khan are mistaken. In fact, he is known as Chanai Khan, but his goals are exactly those described for the fictional Batu Khan. The primary difference is that his pursuit of power, he has made alliance with the servants of the Master of the Desert Nomads. The Master's servants pose as ambassadors to the Golden Khan, ostensibly seeking an alliance with him. However, Moglai believes that the time has not yet come for the Ethengarians to sweep out and devastate the known world, and does not put any trust in the promises of aid from the Master.
The ambassadors realise that, of course, and so are (covertly) aiding Chanai Khan in his schemes to seize power. Their plan involves murdering Manghai (the son of the Golden Khan), preferably after Jaku the Render has seized possession of the young man's body -- thus eliminating a rival. Then, depending on circumstances, they will either allow Chanai to take the full blame for the death, framing him as a pawn of Darokin and Glantri and so forcing the Golden Khan to go to war, or assist Chanai to seize power and rule the Ethengarians through him -- with a declaration of war against Darokin immediately afterward.
[*] Of the three Immortals who receive the most worship by the Ethengarians, Yamuga is an alias of Djaea, Tubak is an alias of Rathanos, and Cretia is an alias of Asmodeus. While the Ethengarian clerics and shamans believe that these Immortals were originally creatures of the spirit world, this is not the case. This is not to say that there are no Immortals who were not originally spirits, but those three are not of that kind.
It should be noted that while Cretia is the patron of "mischief", the Ethengarian definition of mischief includes casual slaughter, looting and rape. These are all acceptable practices when committed against Outsiders, or against other Ethengarians who've made themselves enemies of one's clan ... or against other Ethengarians of one's clan whom one just doesn't like. The image in which he appears to his followers is well-described as grotesque: a scowling human face upon the torso of a gorilla, with four bear-like feet. Cretia's followers are known for seeking power above all else, for cultivating followings of their own, and encouraging their followers to engage in terrific destruction.
Jaku the Render serves Cretia, but has no intention of subordinating his own ambitions to those of the Master of the Desert Nomads. So he has acted against the servants of Hule in the past, and earned their enmity. Despite this, they would unite against a common enemy, but so far they don't have one.
[*] The conquest of the Heldannic Freeholds by the Knights of Vanya, a few months ago, has startled the Golden Khan. During his years of exile, Moglai Khan chanced to see a flying ship of Alphatian make captured by the Thyatians, and was awestruck by what he witnessed. The notion of going to war with a group that has a large number of flying ships in much better shape than that damaged ship gives him considerable pause. Unfortunately, most of the other khans have never seen such a wonder, and either don't believe the reports of their use in the conquest or are inclined to minimise their importance. (And of course, Jaku the Render doesn't give a damn.)
[*] PC Ethengarian horse warriors should be rangers, specialising in the archer fighting style, and take Mounted Combat as one of their first feats; as soon as possible, they should acquire a horse! (Extraordinarily generous DMs might allow a 1st level Ethengar character to start with a horse as long as he or she purchases only leather armour and agrees to fork over all remaining gold.) PC hakomon should probably just be wizards, though the forthcoming sorcerer class may be more appropriate. PC shamans will probably be druids of some sort.
[*] Barring Pc involvement, it is almost inevitable that the Ethengar Khanates will be drawn into the war of the Desert Nomads on the side of the Desert Nomads. One way or another, this will probably be the end of Moglai's dream of a more permanent Ethengarian empire, but it's likely that his children and his grandchildren will inherit it. But this will delay its rise for at least a few more generations, and result in chaos on the steppes and neighbouring nations for all that time.