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Thyatis

by Christopher Richard Davies

Dawn of the Emperors was probably the most important product of the Gazetteer era. Not only did it develop the two mighty empires of Thyatis and Alphatia, described vaguely in the Companion- and Master-level adventures, it began to explore the planet on which those adventures took place, beyond the tiny corner of one continent which had been the focus of all efforts so far. It also tied together almost all the historical information about Thyatis (in particular) published to date in one mostly coherent package.

While I do have issues with some of the decisions that were made -- surely it would have made more sense for the Thyatian empire to have evolved out of an earlier empire centred in what's now modern Darokin -- changing them to suit me would require too many other changes. So I'm leaving it alone. What follows are notes that tie certain things together, and explain certain anomalies.

[*] First of all, despite what you may have heard, Thincol I Torion, Emperor of Thyatis, is not also the Duke of Thyatis. The title first appears in CM1 as the leader of a major army sent against Norwold -- but Thincol is described as commanding a different army altogether. So, much like the title Duke of Edinburgh is bestowed on the second in line for the British throne, nominal rule over the Duchy of Thyatis is likewise bestowed on the immediate heir to the Imperial throne of Thyatis, when the Emperor feels that said heir is ready for that level of responsibility. In Eusebius Torion's case, that came in 991 AC.

Eusebius is also not the Count of Lucinius, as his entry in Dawn of the Emperors proclaims. That title is actually borne by Count Baldasarre Patrizio, a former admiral of the fleet and a cleric of Protius. As he has no children of his own -- something that he has had in common with every Count of Lucinius since the County was established in the reign of Gabronius IV -- it will become vacant upon his death, and be bestowed on the next admiral who retires. The dominion is basically the ultimate reward for officers of the Thyatian navy, specifically those who dedicate themselves to its service to the exclusion of all else, including a family. (This has included the prospect of ever having a family, in some cases; the first Count was a eunuch from Ochalea, noted for many voyages of exploration on the Emperor's behalf.)

[*] It needs to be emphasised -- despite what one might expect of an Empire born in rebellion against a magocracy and dedicated to eternal opposition to that magocracy, the Thyatians do not have a problem with magic. Quite the contrary -- as something that can be quite effectively used in warfare, the Thyatians have devoted quite a lot of effort to studying the arcane arts and developing them in ways that the Alphatians have never bothered to do.[1] Magic is also colourful, exotic, and efficient, all things that appeal deeply to most Thyatians.

However. That only applies to wizardry, and to different degrees sorcery, artificery and bardcraft. Where these are seen as "efficient", the pact magic of warlocks is seen as the ultimate in inefficiency. Regardless of whether one is making pacts with the forces of hell, creatures of the Fey, or strange things beyond mortal comprehension, the warlock is seen as risking the safety of the world -- and more specifically of the Empire -- for self-serving power that can only ever have horrific consequences. Pact magic is technically illegal in Thyatis, although the laws calling for the death by slow torture of any apprehended warlock aren't often enforced these days.

This isn't to say that there are no warlocks in Thyatis. Quite the contrary -- there are practitioners in every dominion and in the city, but they operate very quietly. There are no famous Thyatian warlocks, only infamous, notorious and usually quite dead ones. However, given that the greatest heroes of Thyatian popular thought are those who "preserve the Thyatian state but also do not give in to that state when choosing how to live their lives," it is not impossible that a Thyatian warlock might come to be seen in that way ...

[*] A quick note on Hattian names. Someone with the name "von Whatever" is a descendant of the oldest Hattian aristocracy, that which was in place at the time of the Hattian revolt. (Or the Civil War, as it's also called.) However, the fact that people of that distinction have retained noble titles hints at something that most people in Hattias don't want to admit -- the revolt was not universal, and many Hattian aristocrats fought against their kinsmen on behalf of the Emperor in Thyatis. Their motives for doing so may have been selfless or entirely selfish, but those who survived retained their titles (and lives) where those who fought for Hattias ended up with neither.

New aristocrats were raised from other loyal servants of the Empire, and these form the other branch of the Hattian aristocracy, those without a "von" in their names, such as the Oesterhaus counts of Hattias. In one of the ironies of history, the descendants of many of these arriviste nobles came to embrace the philosophies that their ancestors had nominally fought against. In some cases this was a purely pragmatic course of action, while in others it may have been a matter of religious revelation.[2]

Many of the original aristocrats found themselves unwelcome in the land they'd fought against, and so sought out the challenge of establishing new colonies of the Empire in Ylaruam and elsewhere. When those colonies were abandoned, these Hattian-descendant adventurers followed the banner of Von Gallantri into the north, where some of them, at least, dropped the von from their names. (Others have held onto it for much longer.) Many of the very few that remained in their original homeland have since sought challenges elsewhere, such as Karameikos or the conquests of the Heldannic Freeholds.

[*] One point of confusion resolved: According to Dawn of the Emperors, the Thyatian Empress Valentia, who was secretly the half-sister of Lucinius, eventually won Immortality and became known as Tarastia, under which name she is honoured to this day in Thyatis. On the other hand, according to The Hollow World, however, the woman who would become Tarastia was born among the Jennites sometime around 2000 BC and only adopted the identity of that Empress for inscrutable reasons of her own. The truth is that while Tarastia is really that ancient, she also adopted the identity of a half-sister of Lucinius (born to a different mother by the same father) who died in her youth.

The fact that Valentia became Tarastia is one of the secrets of her mystery cult, not to be revealed to anyone outside of it. It's revealed to her followers as part of their initiation. Only at a higher degree of initiation are those followers informed that the truth is that it was actually the other way around. What none of them has ever thought to ask, and what puzzles some of the other Immortals, is how Tarastia knew that Lucinius would become as important as he did, since she took the identity of Valentia nearly three decades before Lucinius and Gabronius began their revolt, and that she was as powerless as any other mortal for all that time ...

[*] Thyatian foresters should be rangers (usually of the archer or beast-master variety) who multiclass as wizards under elven tutelage. (It is whispered that not a few of them actually conclude pacts with creatures of the Feywild under that tutelage, becoming multiclass warlocks.) Thyatian rakes are rogues who cross over the word "Thievery" on their character sheets and refer to the skill as "Deftness" instead.

[*] The future of Thyatis is a mixture of good and bad. While the Empire stays out of the Desert Nomad war, aside from defending its borders against Ylaruam, it focuses on its struggles in Norwold, managing to hold onto certain territories there but never quite managing to conquer those of Alphatia. They're drawn into a great war with Alphatia in nominal support of Glantri, that sees the sudden and unexpected end of their rival and leaves the Empire unbalanced.

Roughly ten years from now, Thincol will die on the throne, whether from a curse by an angry spurned Immortal or a plot by his son. Eusebius takes the throne and generally rules well, though even more heartlessly than his father did. He is eventually succeeded by his grandson Thincol II (Coltius' son, the father having predeceased the Emperor) ... the first monster of the family line, ruling for only a few years but wreaking a great deal of havoc before he's killed by a palace conspiracy, leading to the rise of the Emperor no one was expecting - old uncle Ga-ga-ga-bronious. Mid century sees the rot in the Empire temporarily arrested, though who can say how long that will last?

Footnotes

[1] Advanced students of the College of Lucinius might follow the War Wizard of Thyatis paragon path (identical to the War Wizard of Cormyr path described in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide.)

[2] Or in some cases it might be something that people are taught to believe to keep them from realising that something has been eating their family members for generations and walking around inside their skins.

[3] And given that Aaron Allston wrote both books, one wonders why he thought he could get away with this.