|Images of Razmiran|
The realm known as Razmiran (pronounced RAZZ-meer-ann) was once just another turbulent, violent River Kingdom, the Arch-Duchy of Melcat, where leadership changed as often as the years. This ended in 4661 AR when the land was conquered by Razmir, a petty tyrant masquerading as a god.
Razmiran is a realm devoted to its tyrannical ruler, Razmir, who claims he is a living god. He asserts that he achieved his divinity by passing the Test of the Starstone and now claims Razmiran as his own. Unbeknownst to many of the inhabitants of his deific realm, this is a lie. Razmir is little more than a powerful arcanist who feels no remorse in tricking an entire population into venerating him as an all-powerful god with the help of his chief lieutenants, colloquially called the Visions.
Gold-masked priests who have achieved the rank of Vision of the Fifteenth Step perform the day-to-day running of the country. These priests come from all walks of life: some are fierce warriors, while others are powerful wizards. As they are all dressed identically, most citizens obey them without question; many are vicious sadists with a lust for power, looking for an excuse to victimize the downtrodden. The rank of Mask of the Twelfth Step is the second-highest rank in the Razmiri priesthood and wear silver masks.
Despite having little to do with the country's daily operation, Razmir's erratic proclamations are always enforced. Razmir issues these commands from a thirty-one-stepped throne, with each step supposedly representing one of the stages Razmir went through to achieve divinity. Atop this throne he hides his ageing form behind an ornate ivory mask, and grows more power-hungry every year.
Razmiran has poor relations with all three of the nations that border it. To the north lies haunted Ustalav, to the south the elven haven of Kyonin, and to the east the River Kingdoms to which Razmiran once belonged.
The River Kingdom of Lambreth lies very close to the theocracy of Razmiran, and this proximity has brought about a particularly violent history between the two nations as Razmiran seeks to expand its land and influence in the River Kingdoms through conversion. The Razmiri also launch raids into Kyonin in an attempt to punish perceived elven heresy and remain a constant thorn in the elves' side. The faith of Razmir is not welcome within Ustalav's borders and was made illegal in Ustalav soon after the nation's formation. Despite later claiming hundreds of acres of land in southern Varno, Razmiri missionaries soon became the victims of numerous unexplained disappearances among their numbers. Discovery of bloodless corpses followed soon after, deterring future immigration and making the Razimiran's understandably nervous of their northern neighbour.
Before its fall, the rulers of Lastwall kept a close eye on Razmir and his clergy, not wanting its citizens to become distracted from their primary mission of watching the Hold of Belkzen and the prison of the Whispering Tyrant. After Lastwall's collapse, an agreement was made with Tar-Baphon guaranteeing respect for their mutual territories. It is rumoured that corpses of the nation are given over to the undead lord as part of this arrangement.
The history of Razmiran is brief, as it is the youngest nation on the face of Avistan. Razmir first arrived in 4661 AR, stopping in the city of Xer. He then visited a part of the Arch-Duchy of Melcat to set about imposing his rule. He began by ousting the local magistrate and the parasitic trade guilds. Little did the people know that he murdered the magistrate and incorporated the thieving trade guilds into the priesthood of his new religion.
Razmir's popularity and religion slowly grew until he controlled much of Melcat. Soon, the only part of the old duchy that was not under his control was its capital, Aerduin. Razmir went to Aerduin himself on 17 Erastus and made three requests of fealty to the Duke of Melcat, all of which were rebuked. That night Razmir conjured a terrible cloud of burning fire and obscuring smoke that descended upon the city. The screams of the dying echoed all night long, and by morning the city was naught but ash and ruin. Since then, the nation of Razmiran has expanded its border on five separate occasions, each time at the expense of a neighbouring River Kingdom or the country of Ustalav.
Situated between the eastern shore of the Lake Encarthan and the western-most of the River Kingdoms, Razmiran is not a particularly large country when compared to the great nations of the Inner Sea region like Andoran or Taldor. It is, however, a huge country when compared to the River Kingdoms to the east. Considering that Razmiran began as a small River Kingdom, its current size—after only fifty years of existence—is considerable, and few would deny that Razmir's conquests are impressive. The biggest geographical feature of Razmiran is the Exalted Woods in the center of the country. A secret fortress devoted to the worship of Razmir lies at the center of the woods, giving the place a fell reputation.
The inhabitants of Razmiran live much like any other peasants slaving beneath a tyrant's harsh rule. The only difference is that those who speak ill of Razmir are not executed as traitors, but instead burned as heretics and heathens. Religion plays a larger role in daily life than it does in most states, as it is the state's main tool of control. The worship of any god other than Razmir is banned, and few dare to tempt the wrath of his faithful by criticizing this policy.
A small colony of shackleborn tieflings live in Razmiran, trained from youth to serve the will of the clergy. It is believed that these are the offspring of velstrac torturers, employed to persuade doubtful acolytes. However, the Razmiran priests have never confirmed any such dealings with the evil outsiders.
Church of Razmir
Religion plays a large, often detrimental part in every aspect of Razmiri citizens' lives. The priests of Razmir overlook no part of society, and even the lowliest laborer has a portion of his meager income taken by the priests in what is called the Tithing Step. While everyone else is forced to pay extortionate taxes to them, the priests of Razmir live lives of luxury and comfort. This lifestyle leads many of Razmiran's people to aspire to join the priesthood—regardless of their religious beliefs or their doubts about Razmir's divinity—as it seems to be the easiest path to wealth. Every year, hundreds of doubters are sent to the heart of the Exalted Wood to be indoctrinated into Razmir's faith. Those who return come back changed; they seem to lose their niggling doubts and return with a new-found faith, and many return with unexplained burns and scars. Some never return at all. Whispers of the foul rituals that may take place in the depths of the Exalted Woods spread rumors of magic that can bend people's minds or warp their souls.
Razmir's temples are located throughout Razmiran, but also have spread into several nearby River Kingdoms, Molthune, Nirmathas, and Ustalav. The governments of Druma, Kyonin, and Lastwall have banned his worship and forbid his clergy from proselytizing. Most are quite simple affairs with a large central worship chamber arranged around a set of steps that lead up to a gold or silver mask.
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