Taking up a great portion of the eastern area of the continent of Paradigm, the ancient Eastern Dynasty is the oldest nation in Paradigm, second only to the mythical Mer culture. The Dynasty rests between 38° and 58° east longitude, 10° north to 15° south latitude on Zoka. It is bordered to the east by the Fanai Ocean, to the north by the Great Salt Wastes, to the west by the Pradamir Savannah, and to the south by the Liafez Ocean.
The Easterlings are fond of stating that they were eating from bowls and using utensils whilst other people were squatting in caves, and historical evidence suggests that they are right. What cannot be argued is that the Dynasty was the first nation to have an organized government, establishing a codex of laws and civilized behavior. The Dynasty was the nation that invented the means to transform iron into steel, invented calendars, devise a formal and strong unified military, and invented gunpowder.
The climate in the Eastern Dynasty varies from region to region because the nation is so massive. Speaking in terms of generalization, in the northeast the summers are hot and dry, with an average temperature of 90 degrees with little to no humidity. The winters are bitterly cold, with an average snowfall of three feet and night time temperatures dropping on average to 10 degrees below.
The north and central regions have heavy rainfall in the autumn coupled with summer temperatures of eighty degrees and winter temperatures of twenty degrees with about a foot of snow annually.
In the southeast there is plenty of rainfall, averaging six inches annually, with semi-tropical summers and cool winters.
Flooding can occur in the central, southern, and western regions and the country in general has experienced earthquakes.
Flora & FaunaEdit
The Eastern Dynasty is one of the countries with the greatest diversity of wildlife in the world. There are more than 6,000 species of vertebrates, 10 percent of the world's total. Among them 2,000 are terrestrials and 3,000 are aquatic.
Wild animals peculiar to the Eastern Dynasty include such rare known animals at the tiger-gorilla, Giant sloth-panda, Southeastern tiger-dillo, Golden Haired Monkey-cat, Red-Tailed Dragon-Hawk, the White Gator-dolphin, and the Eastern Crocodillo.
The Eastern Dynasty is also one of the nations with the most abundant plant life in the world. There are more that 32,000 species of higher order plants and almost all the major plants that grow in the norther hemisphere's frigid, temperate and tropical zones are represented in the Eastern Dynasty.
In addition there are more than 7,000 species of woody plants, including 2,000 tree species. The metasequoia, Dynastic cypress, silver fir, Eastern fir, golden larch, dove-tree, eucommia, and acuminata are found only in the Eastern Dynasty.
The Eastern Dynasty is home to more than 2,000 species of edible plants and over 3,000 species species of medicinal plants. Ginseng, safflower, wolfberry, and notolemon are particularly well-known Eastern herbal medicines.
An Excerpt from Tiny Feet Around the World by Perimi Meadowflower.
How beautiful is the architecture of the Eastern Dynasty! With the sole exception of Elvish cities, the cities and towns of the Eastern Dynasty can only be summed up bu the word breathtaking. Historically, the Dynasty developed gradually formed from simple mud and wood huts to a style which features timber work combining stone carving, rammed earth construction, bucket arch buildings and many more techniques the whole of which would take an entire book on it's own to record.
The most significant characteristic is the use of timber framework. Wooden posts, beams, lintels, and joists make up the structure of everything from a home to a civic center. Walls serve as the separation of rolls without bearing the weight of the whole house, which is unique to the Dynasty. Wide porches and doors that slice into niches in the wall rather than open inward or outward predominate. Colored glazed roofs, windows with absolutely exquisite applique design and beautiful flower patterns on wooden pillars clearly demonstrate the craftsman's craft, skill, and rich imagination.
In larger houses, especially those of the wealthy, the main courtyard in situated on a central axis of a court while less important structures are located to the left and to the right. The entire layout is perfectly symmetrical, which seems to be extremely important to the Easterlings. Compared to other nations which have a fairly open and shut architectural style, the Easterling courtyard is like a painting which is unfolded little by little. The scenery is different in each courtyard, always depicting scenes of nature of mythology.
The long Easterling feudal society before the advent of the Damiyo saw the construction of numerous palaces and strongholds, built to satisfy not only the wealth peoples' extravagant lifestyle but also to protect their reign. Such styles are still used by the Easterlings today. The general layout of a place always follows certain architectural rules: temples must be situated at the front left of the main residence while the front right is reserved for socialization and matters of law. Decoration is very important. Common features are crouching stone lions, ornamental columns, and floral designs.
The government of the Eastern Dynasty does not allow for a king or emperor, nor does it consolidate power into the hands of one individual. The national leader, the Damiyo, is required by law to serve the best interests of the people and may be elected to his position by popular public vote. Under the Damiyo is a Shogun from each of the Dynasty's Shogunates, duty bound to provide the best for their constituants. Laws are created and passed by the Shoguns, but cannot proceed until the Damiyo agrees to the law or vetoes it. In this way the Dynasty is unique in Paradigm: A government for the people, and by the people.The current ruling Damiyo, Gaisuke, is the one hundred eighty-seventh Damiyo and the first one in nearly 500 years to ignore the law.
Society in the Dynasty is clearly divided between the Nobility and the Peasantry, The nobility, powerful as they are, make up just twelve percent of the total population, The titles of nobility are always hereditary, there is no concept within the Dynasty to allow for peasantry to be Entitled. Above any title of nobility stands the might Shogun, the lord and master of his Shogunate and absolute ruler of what happens within his borders. The Easterling Nobility understand that as a matter of honour they must provide for the welfare and well-being of their constituents and very few nobles become mad with power. Each Shogun has a retinue of exactly 31 samurai, which make up the body of law enforcement within each Shogunate.
Clothing is used as a marker for one's social status. The lowest caste, the peasantry, wear simple tunics and breeches of cotton in a single colour, and often go barefoot. Minor nobles cover their tunics with colourful quen, ankle length jackets that close in the front and are often multicolored. The richest Easterlings can afford attire of silk and satin, the latter being used for every day wear whilst the latter is used in coats and cloaks for warmth.
The Eastern Dynasty follows the currency pattern established by the Western Empire. The lowest denomination on coin is the Tua, made of stamped copper in square shapes. The main currency of the Dynasty is the Tiyang, a round silver coin with a square whole punched through the center. Gold in the Dynasty is fairly rare and thus highly prized as the greatest symbol of wealth and social status. The gold coin, the Yau, is a solid circle stamped with the face of the Damiyo.
The Peasantry are divided into several sub-classes. The highest ranking of the peasants are farmers. Farmers who own their own land rank higher than farmers who do not. Craftsmen, or artisans, are the second highest ranking after the farmers. Merchants are the lowest ranking because it is felt they make their living off of other people's work.
Women have a unique place in Eastern society that exists nowhere else in Paradigm. Women are allowed to participate in the voting process, may own land and businesses, create and enforce contracts, and take part in occupations that in other nations are considered male only. Women whom belong to the aristocracy are also allowed to become Shoguns. Currently there are three sitting female Shoguns.
Religiously, the Easterlings are a very deeply spiritual people. Though sometimes individuals may adopt the worship of a foreign god, most Easterlings believe in the concepts of Anima, which states that everything, animate and inanimate alike, possesses a life force and is therefore entitled to respect. It is this belief that allowed Easterlings to develop and utilize the fundamental principles of Qi. Likewise, Easterlings tend to believe in reincarnation and Karma, that those actions one takes in a lifetime will come back to him in the next, allowing him to either become human again if the lifetime was spent in goodness, or a beast or, worse, a monster race if their actions were evil. Because of their beliefs, the Dynasty has a rich tradition of ghosts, demons, and monsters ( collectively called Yokai) that exist nowhere else in the world.
Marriages are often arranged early in life, with the eldest male of each family making the decision based on mutual beneficence to each family tree. Easterlings have no difficulty with this concept, though as of this century some women have begun questioning the value of the arranged marriage as opposed to being able to select one's own spouse. It is a minor controversy, but one that is slowly growing. Families are often large, with extended family units: Grandparents, parents, children, aunts and uncles, and cousins living in the same household.
Dynastic cuisine is often praised as elegant, refined, and exceptionally tasty. Cultural tradition dictates that only the freshest of ingredients be used, quickly cooked so they do not lose their essential flavors. Heavy sauces, creams, and butters are not used in the cuisine. Roughly half of the Easterling population is vegetarian, and the nation likewise produces some of the most sought after vegetarian cuisine on the continent. Easterling cuisine is especially favored by Faydakeen and some Mattimeo with a gourmet bent.
Though the Dynasty has 31 different spoken dialects, the most commonly used one is the Dynastic language called Iho. Every citizen of the Dynasty is required to learn Iho as a child so that communication throughout the Dynasty is not hindered. Education is extremely important to the Easterlings, and every child is schooled for thirteen years and taught literacy, mathematics, and sciences.
As a people, the Easterlings are usually unfailingly polite, thoughtful, and introspective. Almost all of them have a fiercely unbending sense of national pride and loyalty; and because they consider themselves more cultured than other nations they can often come across as boorish, patronizing, and treating other races as overgrown children.
The Eastern Dynasty is divided into 31 provincial-level divisions, called shogunates. Each of the regions is ruled by a secular shogun, whom in turn answers and reports to the Damiyo.
- The Eastern region of the Dynasty contains the Fan, Shiang, Fuhiji, Shen, Shando, Ping, and Angxi shogunates. The East is heavily forested, producing great volumes of lumber that are exported to other nations.
- The North are the shogunates of Dongchen, Heping, Dizujiang, Taiyuan, and Hohot. It contains a large savanna area used to produce what, rice, soybeans, and corn.
- The Northeast is the shogunates of Harbin, Changchung, and Shenyang. The Wan Fu arts originated in this region, which because of it's cold climate produces sheep and oxen and the byproducts thereof.
- The Northwest shogunates are Gansu, Quinghai, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Xingjang. It is a cold and mountainous region, where the people earn a living mostly by rearing yaks and sheep.
- Southcentral shogunates are Guangdong, Hianan, Haibei, Hunan, Guangshi, Nongai, Macau, and Fenweng. The South-central region is the seat of Dynastic government, where the Damiyo holds court. The region is warm and sunny most of the year, which allows for an abundance of cattle and hog rearing, fruit crops, grains, and rice. It is an extremely wealthy region, where the poor eat almost as well as the rich.
- Southwest shogunates are Chongking, Gizhu, Wonkan, Yuunan, and Tubeh. It provides a great amount of subsistence farming, commercial farming, and sea farming. The Southwest is a haven for international foodies, as the cuisine of the region is varied, spectacular, and delicious.
The Easterling MilitaryEdit
The military force of the Eastern Dynasty is considered the finest in the world. Soldiers are very disciplined and filled with a national pride that makes them ferocious in combat.
When engaged, the troops always open with a barrage of arrows from the Archery unit. The arrows are immediately chased by the foot soldiers, so that the enemy finds themselves trying to defend against arrows from above and weapons from the front. Horsemen attempt to flank the enemy from both sides, often using arrows or spears at range before closing in. As all of this is happening, military Elmentalists are bending the very environment itself against the enemy force. But the military tactics is not what makes a Dynastic military force so especially deadly. The Yu-Dian is.
Meaning "advantage", Yu-Dian is an unarmed fighting style taught to every man, woman, or child that serves in the military. Originally invented by Easterling monks as a means of exercise, the motions and forms of these activities were developed into hand and foot strikes. Each style or school of Yu-Dian is recognizable from where in the Dynasty it originates.
Southern Yu-Dian styles are marked by low stances and direct linear strikes, emphasizing power and speed, low stances, and relatively few kicks. While there are many Southern styles, there are four in particular that are extremely well known.
- Eight Palm style places emphasis on open handed strikes with few kicks. Practitioners are taught not to evade attacks but to walk right into them, striking the foe at exactly the same moment.Eight Palm stylists spend a lot of time building up tremendous physical endurance and resilience.
- Cotton Fist emphasizes swift strikes at very close range. Cotton Fist styles enter combat aggressively, deflecting blows before lashing out with jabs, punches to vital spots, and strikes with the elbow.
- Gar is recognizable for it's deep, low stances and snapping, direct strikes. The fists are normally kept closed and all parts of the hand are used as a striking surface. Gar also has several kicks, which are usually aimed at the feet and legs.
- Dragon style mimics the attacks and movements of a dragon. Practitioners strike with claw-like fist strikes ( the Teeth), powerful roundhouse kicks (the Tail), and double palm strikes or running drop kicks. (The Breath). Dragon style is the only Southern form that offers a variety of aerial maneuvers such as leaping kicks and back flips.
Central Yu-Dian styles mimic and emulate the attack behaviors of animals. To date there are 35 different Central styles, but six of them have become popular and recognizable.
- Bear style emulates the attack movements and patterns of a bear. It's a very aggressive style. Stylists usually either gracefully 'stalk' their opponent or charge straight in, holding their ground and striking with a mixture of circular and linear hand strikes. Unexpected charges are the hallmark of this style. It has no kick attacks.
- Monkey is an unusual, acrobatic style meant to throw the opponent into confusion and keep him off balance. Stylists launch into a series of barrel rolls, flips, and handstands until an opening presents itself, and then they last out with crippling hand and foot strikes. Joint locks and body throws are a hallmark of this style.
- Mantis style involves deep low stances, hallmarked by the extension of both index fingers. Mantis stylists often sway rhythmically side to side to distract the foe, lashing out with brutal grabs and strikes to vital areas. Mantis is a style designed to kill, and it's one weakness is that it's not very good against multiple opponents.
- Tiger style mimics that fighting style of it's namesake. It's an extremely aggressive and merciless style. Tiger stylist advance into combat rapidly, attempting to crowd and intimidate the opponent. The style is hallmarked by the hands held in grabbing positions and many attacks against vital areas. It's one of the most famous Central region styles, preferred by high ranking Dynasty officers. It teaches a perfect balance between bare hands, weapons, and is superb against multiple foes. There are very few female tiger stylists, as the style has evolved over the centuries to be seen as a 'male' art.
- Leopard style is a style designed almost purely for taking on many enemies at once. They hallmark of the style is constant movement, leopard stylists always ducking, dodging, and weaving. The hands are kept flat, with only the palms of the hands used for striking and parrying attacks. It has an equal balance of hand and foot strikes, and is a favorite among women.
- Mongoose style mimics the straightforward, aggressive attacks of it's namesake. Stylists leap aggressively into combat, lash out with a flurry of blows, and then leap out of range again. The hallmark of the style is the Mongoose Bite, wherein one foe is grabbed and pummeled while a second is kicked at the same time. Mongoose excels against multiple enemies, and is a good style for women.
Northen Yu-Dian styles exhibit a distinctly different flavor from those practiced in the South or Central Dynasty. In general, Northern styles focus on legwork, kicks, and acrobatics. Attacks and defenses are circular rather than linear. Like other parts of the Dynasty there are dozens for Northern styles but five in particular have become famous throughout the continent.
- Yazang style is hallmarked by it's practice of evasive footwork. Practitioners prefer to avoid attacks, turning and spinning to "flow" out of the way of attacks. Yazang is an extremely defensive style, focusing less on strikes and more on throws and joint locks to incapacitate the foe. The style was invited by the monks of the Serenity order and is, of course, a favorite among the sect.
- Kai is a style that features explosive, short-range power and is famous for it's characteristic elbow strikes. Practitioners open the opponent's defenses and mount attacks at high to mid lvl. It's extremely useful at close combat, focusing on knee, elbow, and hip attacks.
- Yingpai is a style famous for it's gripping techniques. Stylists rely on joint-locks, take downs, and pressure point strikes. It's an aggressive and high flying style, making good use of acrobatic evasions, high kicks, and aggressive leaps to close distances.
- Futyin style is considered by most experts to be the best Northern style against multiple opponents. It's hallmark technique is constant motion. Practitioners leap, flip, and dodge incoming attacks before launching out with long and short range punches, kicks, sweeps and take downs, and grappling. Futyin is the most popular Northern style and is the art of choice for Northern military forces.
- Northern Dragon has long been the subject of debate as to whether or not is outshines the South's Dragon style. Unlike the direct, snapping attacks of Dragon Style, Northern Dragon relies on supple movements and assisting the enemy in defeating himself by using his own momentum against him. Practitioners use sinewy body movements, focusing on throws, sweeps, and take downs above direct strikes.
There are many factions and orders within the Dynasty. Easterlings take philosophy very seriously, and those men and women that choose to join an order and become a monk follow the order's dogma and precepts to the letter.
It must not be assumed that all factions and all monks are religious in mindset. While religion can play a factor in some orders, most are philosophical in bent; meant to teach the monk how to achieve the perfection of himself and harmony with the universe.
Heaven and Earth
Of all the factions operating within the dynasty, heaven and Earth is the most feared. Though it is the smallest faction in the region, consisting of only 30 members, each of those members is an experienced and deadly assassin.
Heaven and Earth was founded by two men, the monks Cheng Po and Lu Taising, whom took the names of Heaven and Earth. Po is one of the greatest practitioners of Cotton Fist in recent history, while Taising is a master earth Elementalist. Using coercion, persuasion, and outrageous charges for their particular talents the two men managed to secure the services and loyalty of some of the greatest assassins in the Dynasty. Heaven and Earth is far too expensive for the common man to afford, and so they are always set in motions by wealthy nobles. Woe to their targets, for the faction is known to pursue relentlessly and complete the contract. All of the members take code names that reflect their personal philosophies or hobbies, favorite weapons, or to inspire terror. Thus when one learns they are being hunted by Miss Butterfly, Dual Saber, Demonseed, or The Poet among others they know at once their situation is dire. The Blades of Paradigm have become famous for ( and earned the wrath of the order by) killing two Heaven and Earth assassins.
The White Lotus faction are the guardians of culture and tradition in the Eastern Dynasty. The monks are of a heavy zealot bent, believing that the Dynasty is the center of the universe and the land from which everything else sprung. They are a very xenophobic group, constantly on guard for incursions by other nations espousing ideas or philosophies that could "infect" and threaten Dynastic ways of life. When such threats appear, the White Lotus reacts immediately. Though White Lotus is sometimes seen as a faction of thugs and bullies by outsiders, it is often heralded as heroes and given great respect for its dedication to maintaining the Easterling way of life. White Lotus monks can be recognized by the pure white sarongs they wear.
The Iron Palm believes that enlightenment is achieved by mastering the body. Palmists devote themselves to the fighting arts, learning a variety of Yu-Dian. They are the classic warrior monks, honing their bodies to become living weapons while learning to master their own desires, needs, wants, and even bodily functions such as hunger and thirst. Palmists are easily recognizable as a devotee, male or female, shaves themselves bald and wear colours of red and yellow.
The Order of the Pristine Please see Factions for full details.
Serenity monks believe that enlightenment is achieved through pacifism. Serenes believe that all things-people, plants, and even insects-are connected to each other. Only absolute harmony with other people will assist a monk in achieving harmony within himself. Once one attains peace with himself and defeats his own demons and is able to exist in peace with others he will then be at peace with the universe and become one with it, understanding his place and his role within it. Violence causes discord, which causes a disconnect with the pure energy of the universe. Many mistakenly believe that pacifism eschews violence entirely; the truth is that pacifists will defend themselves, aggressively if necessary, but never go looking for a fight. Serenes are vegetarian. They are recognizable by the white and light blue robes they wear.
Notable EasterlingsEditDamiyo Gaisuke is probably the most well-known of the Easterlings currently. Universally hated by every other nation, the seventy year old Gaisuke stands poised to decimate the entire nation of Paradigm and reshape it into his image, his legacy, his vast Empire. Armed with elite forces wielding strange and terrifying powers and the 'New Death' which can kill hundreds at once, the only thing standing between Gaisuke and utter domination is the Blades of Paradigm. With the advances in his mission that Gaisuke has made to rule the entire continent, it's not even certain that the more powerful Western Empire could stop him now.
Gaisuke is known to be a very strong Earth elelentalist, a master of at least 18 Eastern weapons, and the Futyin Yu-Dain fighting form. In addition to that he weilds a personal contingent of extremely powerful bodyguards, and rules the shudder-inducing 13th Hour.
Chin Sing Mei has earned the reputation of the most famous, most honrable, and most noble of the Shih. Once the highest ranking general of the Easterling armies, Chin Sing Mei left everything behind--incuding his wife and children--to fight the Damiyo when Gaisuke began his war of conquest. Today, the name of Chin Sing Meh inspires heroes and peasants alike in the Dynasty and he has become a figure of myth and folklore.
Wan Sui-Dao is the Eastern Dynasty's greatest contribution to the arts. This strikingly beautiful porcelain beauty is gifted with an angelic voice, and her performances can cost hundreds of coins to see. She is an immensely wealthy patron of the arts as well as being an artist herself.
Hi Dao's name is famous across the Eastern Dynasty. He is the right hand man of the Damiyo but rather than torture himself sitting at a desk doing paperwork Hi Dao travels the length and breadth of the Dynasty bringing justice where justice is needed. He is undisputedly the greatest Detective in the region, with an almost encyclopediac knowledge of traps mundane and magical and how to disarm them. He is a man of unshakable scruples and high moral principles, always doing what is right even if the law demands otherwise; and he gets away with it. He is known to be aimiable, exceedingly friendly, always in high spirits and always... drunk. He drinks wine like a fish, and does his best work after imbibing a bottle.