The Melnisians are a fantasy race, drawing on the stories of Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock, the Drow and various evil immortal stories that have graced fantasy since the early days of published media and before.
Power corrupts and immortality corrupts absolutely.
The Melnisians come from a place called “Melnisia”, a harsh and intemperate land that is waste and desert except where the Melnisians force it to change to their will. It is rumoured that it was a green and verdant place before the Melnisian’s constant tampering broke it.
Melnisians commune (to say “worship” underestimates the huge
ego of the Melnisians) a series of chaos Gods, some small and weak, others
(like the Shadow Behind the Sun) massively powerful. They also keep a variety
of human or human-looking slave stocks or are served by Undead or Elemental minions
through old pacts.
Races: Melnisians (who look like Melbonians, or if you are unaware: elves or inhuman features), Elementals, Slaves (Humans), other monsters and bestial peoples.
Costume Requirements: high fantasy, elven, inspired by Elric of Melnobone
There are three very important social strata within Melnisia: True Bloods, who are born of two true blood houses, can inherit and are considered the rightful heirs to power. The Half Bloods who are half True Blood, half slave kin, they are definitely slaves, but often hold positions of authority or trust. Slavekin. anyone, at all, who doesn't fall into either of the two categories above, they have no rights, except those their masters give them and their life style (often brutish and short) relies on their masters whims.
Bound into “Houses” with individuals who have held their position for centuries. Casually murdering those that oppose them. Families rise and fall on the backs of their most successful relative with intermarriage being rare. Positions of authority are held only by the strongest and slaves or power are the only measuring stick they respect.
At the time of writing this, the Melnisians have been
aggressive in their expansion, seeing the Forest and the worlds attached to it
as new territory to conquer and new peoples to enslave.
However, recent events have rocked the Melnisian world. There was a successful slave revolt within a minor house that the Emperor was forced to destroy utterly.
Worse still a Melnisian has dared to declare themselves Emperor in direct conflict with the Emperor of Melnisia. So far this has remained a small issue but one that has indicated a strange new ripple in the stagnant Melnisian society.
Important People and Geography
House of Glass & Nails (As in the Tower of Glass & Nails): This is a large house that has been very aggressive; they have manipulated smaller houses and the slave houses who work as mercenaries to try the strength of the new worlds.
Most recently they have dispatched a Sorcerer by the name of Racatesh to study the other worlds and attempt to build a bridge between them; how successful he has been is still in question.
Several years later that question has been answered: Racatesh is dead and the house has suffered a number of set backs that mean they have lost the Emperors approval and are now struggling to remain relevant.
The Doctor: Is a torture and creature building sorcerous expert. She was dispatched to Gate at one point with limited success. There is a rumour that she lost her foot during the fray and now walks on a living stone one.
The Screaming Sands: This is a large expanse of Desert that consistently shifts and makes noise, humming and screaming. There are a number of lesser houses that keep towers with early warning beacons around it. The rumour is that the sand is actually the remains of the only Melnisians to manage true immortality. Thus they are not dead, despite being naught but dust and sand, still shifting and in constant torment as they are alive but unable to reform themselves. .
The House of Vines: Considered strange, even by the standards of Melnisian Houses. The House of Vines concerns themselves with growing things. They number many Alchemists and thrive on trading their services to the other Houses. Whilst they are known for not using many slaves in their endeavours they do seem to view most living creatures as nothing but a potential source of compost for their treasured plants.
The House of the Beast: A “third tier” house – not on a par with the true Great Houses of Melnisia. The members of this house have proven more approachable than many. Whilst still aggressive and willing to spill the blood of those who stand against them, the House of Beasts seem open to the possibility of strengthening their own standing through alliance rather than all out conquest.
Update: The House of the Beast has been destroyed utterly, their holding scattered between the House of the Vine, the House of the Purloined Penny and the House of the Barrow Born.
The House of the Brass Heart: A once powerful house that dealt with inventions and the binding of demons to metal monsters, they since the soul of their leader was captured they have become nothing but the pawns of other houses as their entire house is traded for power as it follows their Lords bound soul. Bitter and brutal they are currently rumoured to have have passed from the ownership of the House of the BarrowBorn to that of the Unchained: a conclave of demons freed from one of the Abbeys.
The House of Wax: Once known as the House of a Thousand Stings. This House, long ago, was engaged in House War. On the edge of defeat they did the unthinkable: Rather than standing and dying with pride, they fled. No sign of the House has been seen for centuries. The name of the House has become synonymous with cowardice and is used as an insult.
The House of the BarrowBorn: Deep underground the BarrowBorn trade souls and invest in investigating the dead. They have little care for the living world except as a source of souls or bodies for their experiments.
The House of the Purloined Penny: Often mocked, but they don't care, they are a minor house rising in power. They trade, scavenge and raid with little care to their losses if they get something they need. They are not averse to even trading with the "slavekin" from other worlds.
The Unchained: These are not True Bloods, they are demons that the Melnisians imprisoned as to dangerous to be free. In a series of unfortunate events they and their demonic overlord were released and now run free, making deals and preparing their revenge.
Scattered through the Melnisian lands are places of study and learning, known as Abbeys.
The Abbeys provide instruction in various arts ~ ritualism, scholarship, alchemy, tactics etc.
In theory every Abbey is staffed by Melnisians who have ritualistically foresworn their ties to the House which birthed them and, therefore, the Abbeys are considered Neutral territory – under the control of no House.
Supposedly the Abbeys are sacrosanct and stand apart from the constant turmoil of Melnisian Politics. Reality however is quite different: Many Abbeys have fallen to attacks from Houses that sought advantage from territory or resources held. Some are known to be partisan, and to almost openly serve a House. Others engage in politics to advance their own standing and influence.
The Abbey of Marrows Deep: stands at the site of a great battlefield where the armies of Seven Great Houses once fought a war that lasted for 3 months and where alliances were constantly shifting and betrayal was rife. The Abbey of Marrows Deep was constructed by order of the Emperor and originally staffed by 21 Melnisians, 3 taken from each of the 7 Houses involved in the war. The Brothers and Sisters of the Abbey care for the souls of those who fell upon the battlefield ~ their ritual arts hold the souls, whose bodies have long since rotted and crumbled to dust, in thrall. The Souls serve as instructors in the arts of battle: Some sit within suits of armour and wield weapons to drill young soldiers. Others whisper in the ears of trainee officers, providing tuition about subjects such as supply lines or siege engineering.
Many Houses are willing to pay highly for Mamlucks (slave-warriors) who have been trained at the Abbey of Marrows Deep.
The Abbey at Rainbow Vale: is famous for being a place where no slaves are permitted. The Abbey at Rainbow Vale provides instruction in ritualism and philosophy to those who attend. But there are very few who do, for only pure blooded Melnisians who agree to the Abbey’s ban on slaves are permitted. This strange stance has led to the Abbey at Rainbow Vale being considered “odd” by Melnisian society. Over the years the Abbey has been attacked many times, though never successfully. Attackers have generally been defeated by strange happenstance ~ a seemingly freak storm, a landslide in a previously stable part of the mountain range in which the Abbey is situated and the like. Then, almost inevitably, Houses who have attacked the Vale have suffered other setbacks. Unusually for Melnisians the Abbots of the Abbey have never claimed any hand in these events, stating that their Neutrality is sacrosanct. Very few believe these statements. The Rainbow Vale itself is said to be a place of great beauty. A mountain valley bathed in continual spring. Within the Abbey is said to be a great clock which, just before midnight every night, spins backward so that the same day repeats over and over again within the valley. No one knows why this is, though the most popular rumour is that a prophecy says the Abbey will fall on a specific day, and that this prevents that day from ever arriving.
Politeness, Social Norms, etc.
Bow when you meet someone and you are unsure of their status, or you are sure they are more powerful than you. The depth of the bow shows the level of respect.
It is an act of defiance to meet the eye of a person that considers themselves of higher status to you, if you want to show true respect drop your head.
If you want to show a challenge then put your hands behind you and meet their eye. Head on side, birdlike. You are saying the person is so beneath you that you don’t need to avert your eyes; threaten and feel confident to show your throat.
Never say something directly unless actively giving instruction or asking.
Avoid conversation with underlings unless they are amusing.
Torture is fun! Both social and physical.
Betrayal can come at any time; there is no culture of safe haven or hospitality among the Melnisians.
The battle bride is a Melnissian custom that the House of the Beast particularly make use of: what it consists of is a Bride or Husband who has been given as part of the spoils of war to another group to tie the houses together, as the marriage is based on martial strength, if the marriage partner is defeated in combat, the battle bride moves on to the victor, a sign of the houses esteem.