Heroes of Ûne
The Sung Empire
Far to the east, beyond the wasteland, lies the ancient and vast Sung Empire. Cut off from easy trade to the west by ork infested wasteland and the Wyrmtail mountails, the vast majority of trade with the Sung empire comes either by ship or by dangerous trade routes through the wasteland to Khazan.
The industrious people of the Sung empire are proud though somewhat insular and the entire western face of their empire is protected by a wall which extends for many hundreds of miles and is a marvel of Sung architecture and engineering.
Physical Description: Sungese tend to slightly shorter than the peoples of the west. Men rarely grow taller than 5.5 feet, while women often barely break 5 feet in height. Typically Sungese possess round faces with narrow almost almond shaped eyes and squat, muscular bodies. Most have straight black hair and a somewhat sallow complexion.
Society: The Sung empire is an ancient and advanced civlization, it is also highly regimented and almost xenophobic in its views on the world beyond the great wall (they consider everyone born outside their empire to be little more than barbarians). Many thousdands of years ago, the empire was a number of contanatly warring states, after a number of particularly bloody wars these states were unifed by Sun Jian Sung the king of Tsien, and the warring states became provinces in his empire. Legend has it that the first emperor Sun Jian Sung was chosen by the gold dragons to end the contant bloodshed and suffering and bring peace by uniting the warring states into a single harmonious empire and had draconic blood himself. Emperors since that time have painted their faces with powdered gold when appearing at court to symbolise their authority coming from the golden dragons.
The Sung empire is a place of administrative sophistication and complex social organization. Some of the largest cities in the world are found in the Sung empire (the imperial city of Kai-fang has a population of over a million). The empires government is truly vast and consists of many tens of thousands of bureaucrats, ministers, sub-ministers, commitees and secretaries, it also supports a widespread postal service to provide swift communication throughout the vast empire. In rural areas, farming peasants either owned their own plots of land, paid rents as tenant farmers, or were serfs on large estates.
The Sung empires judicial system consisted of a complex and ancient legal code. Roving sheriffs maintain law and order in the municipal jurisdictions and occasionally venture into the countryside. Official magistrates oversee court cases and are expected to be well-versed in written law but also to promote morality in society. Sungese judges specify the guilty person or party in a criminal act and meted out punishments accordingly, which can range from caning, imprisonment and beheading. Due to costly court expenses and frequently immediate jailing of those accused of a crime, many people in the Sung empire prefer to settle disputes and quarrels privately, without the court’s interference. The economy of the Sung empire is one of the most prosperous and advanced economies in the world. The wealthy citizens of the empire invest their funds in joint stock companies and prominent merchant families and private businesses were allowed to occupy industries that were not already government-operated monopolies. Artisans and merchants form guilds which the state had to deal with when assessing taxes, requisitioning goods, and setting standard worker’s wages and prices on goods.
Generally speaking, the people of the Sung empire consider the family of great importance. Geneology and lineage is an important matter among the nobles and civil servants. The current Emperor can trace his family line back 96 generations to the gold dragon king. Less extreme examples also exist, of course, but many nobles and most Sung nobles can trace their lines back at least a few dozen generations. The peoples dress favors loose clothing, regardless of the wearer’s wealth or social standing. Women are on a lower social tier than men, but enjoy many social and legal privileges and wielded considerable power at home and in their own small businesses. There were many notable and well-educated women and it was a common practice for women to educate their sons during their earliest youth.
The populace engages in a vibrant social and domestic life, enjoying such public festivals as the Lantern Festival or the Qing Festival. Most large cities have entertainment quarters which provide a constant array of amusements such as puppeteers, acrobats, theater actors, storytellers, singers and musicians, and places to relax including tea houses, restaurants, and organized banquets. There were also notable domestic pastimes, as people at home enjoyed activities such as the board games Mu-Jang and a form of chess called Xiangqi. The wealthy wear robe-like garments they call a hanfu, while peasants and laborers wear simple kilts or trousers with linen wraps, leather jackets, or nothing at all on their upper bodies. Most clothing worn by Sungese is colorful, and only the poorest peasants wear undyed cloth. Those who can afford it decorate their clothing with elaborate embroidery, often of scenes from nature or of powerful creatures like dragons and phoenixes. For those who don’t labor, silk is the most popular choice of material, but most clothing is made from cotton or flax. The desperately poor wear canvas and the truly destitute make simple smocks from discarded canvas rice bags. The gentry elite engage in the arts as accepted pastimes of the cultured scholar-official, including painting, composing poetry, and writing calligraphy as well as the martial arts. The written word is widespread as the sung empire has had for over a century a form of movable type printing which disseminate works throughout the empire from enormous encyclopedic volumes to poetry and philosophical treatises.
Lands: The Sung empire covers a truly vast area and as a result some regions are more densely populated than others. The empire itself is split into a number of provinces which were independant nation-states before the first emperor unified them through brilliant military strategy and sorcerous might. The empires great area means that nearly all kinds of terrain exist within boundaries, there are deserts to the south-west, mountains in the north which seclude a number of ancient monasteries and temples, the is jungle in the south, as well as bamboo forests and rice paddies.
As a highly regimented and complex society the responsibility of governing is split between a vast hierarchy of beaurocrats which oversee all aspects of life within the empire. There are numerous large sprawling cities, and countless small villages which eke out a living in what ever geological niche they can, from mining communities in the north to fishing village on the eastern coast.
Relations: The sung empire consider all other nation and peoples to be hopelessly backward if not downright barbaric. Elven traders and explorers from Lunirien have had some limited contact but the Sung empire is more dismissive of outsiders than even the aloof high elves. Westerners (anyone who lives west of the Wyrmtail mountains) are considered uncouth savages and rarely receive a warm welcome in the Sung empire. Dwarves are treated with revulsion as stunted and mishapen monsters, though the results of their crafts are often considered valuable (and rare in the east). The casual xenophobia of the sungese is typically limited to those with no experience of life beyond the great wall, or people from lands beyond the empire. Sungese travellers who have seen more of the world or mix frequently with those who have often quickly lose their intolerance and form their own opinions based on actual experience of foreigners and their lands.
Religion and Philosophy: The attitude of the sung empire to religion is very different from that of the western nations. Many of the common people in the Sung empire have their own personal creeds which include elements which they pick and choose aspects from among the Sung empires several religions and philosophies. It is not uncommon for a typical Sungese farmer to use the rites of one religion for births, another for funerals, and mix several for ethical or moral guidance.
Underpinning many Sungese religious and philsophical tradtitions is the belief in three worlds, the heavens (which is the abode of gods and the enlightened dead), the material world (the abode of living mortal beings), and the spirit world (the abode of the dead, as well as other spirits). One strongly held belief common to most Sungese teachings is that some people are reincarned when they die, and others go to the spiritworld, where afterlife is much like this one, and that things which are cause for concern in the material world are also cause for concern in the spirit world (such as the need to make a living). Most Sungese retain a form of ancestor worship and have a strong sense of “filial piety” (or devotion to their parents), this is unsurprising given the importance of family to people in the Sung empire. Most homes have at least a small shrine dedicated to departed relatives and ancestors and there are several holy days throughout the year where offerings of food, flowers and even money are made to the departed loved ones in the hope that they will recieve these things in the spirit world. The official religion of the empire is the celestial court which venerates the gods and spirits which dwell in the heavens and oversee all aspects of the worlds, the celestial court is headed by the celestial emperor Yu, the ruler of the universe who presides of 54 gods each of which oversees a different aspect of the cosmos (Though most only call upon a small number of those with the four gods of luck and happiness being most most common). In many ways the celestial court mirrors that of the Sung empire itself. Other popular philosophies include the teachings of Gao Tam, a long dead ascetic who teaches that all mortals are trapped in a cycle of reincarnation and suffering and that the only escape from this fate is an austere life filled with abstinence, contemplation and meditation. Another is the fatalistic and mystical philophy known as Laoism whose origins lie with the ancient wizard-philosopher Kang-Lao, which stresses constant self improvement and seeking a harmonious existence with nature.
Names: Sungese names are reminiscent of chinese names.
Male: Bao-tian, Bei, Biao, Ch’ang-chieh, Chang, Chang-wei, Chao, Cheng-hao, Cheng-ji, Cheng-qian, Cheung, Chien-shih, Chong-xian, Chung, Dao-zi, Fa-hsien, Fei-hsien, Feng, Feng-xiang, Fu-Kang, Fu-quan, Gang-sheng, Gao, Ghi-cheng, Guang, Gui-fan, Hai-feng, Hai-liang, Han, Han-wu, Hao-hing, Hou, Hou-kang, Hsiao-lou, Hsi-chuen, Hsien-feng, Hsui-chen, Jang-lu, Jian, Jian-cheng, Jian-zhang, Kai-xi, Kang, Kao-chu, Kuang, Lao, Lao-che, Lao-sheng, Lu-fang, Mao, Pao-tzu, Qian, Qian-fu, Shan, Shan-bo, Shao-zu, Sheng, Sun-wei, Tan, Wu, Wu-han, Wu-jiang, Yang, Yao-qing, Yuan, Yuan-zhang, Yu-bao, Zhang, Zhang-sung.
Female Names: An-mei, Cai, Cai-yun, Chin-chih, Chuhua, Chun-hsiang, Chun-lan, Fei, Gui-fei, Hai-ying, Jing-mei, Jing-wei, Kwan, Lan, Li-li, Li-min, Li-ming, Lin, Mae-wan, May-ling, Mei,
Mei-chu, Mei-li, Mei-lian, Mei-lin, Mei-shio, Mei-su, Mei-xing, Nai-jian, Pei-hsi, Pei-pei, Shan-lee, Song-lian, Su-chen, Su-chu, Su-yin, Su-yuan, Tsao-lin, Wan, Wei, Wei-li, Wei-min, Wei-yan, Wen-jing, Xiang, Xiao-jie, Xiao-lan, Xiao-li, Xiao-mei, Yuan, Yue-feng, Yu-ling, Yu-mei, Zhen-li.
- +2 to One Ability Score: Sungese characters get a +2 bonus to one ability score of their choice at creation to represent their varied nature.
* Medium: as humans are Medium creatures they have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
* Normal Speed: Humans have a base speed of 30 feet.
* Bonus Feat: Sungese select one extra feat at 1st level.
* Skilled: Sungese Humans gain an additional skill rank at first level and one additional rank whenever they gain a level.
* Languages: The people of the Sung empire begin play speaking Sungese and Common. Sungese characters with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
* Favoured Class: Any.