This is a work in progress and I personally welcome any thoughts or opinions in the comments below.
History - Prior to the Zakarese Invasion, The Draemorthan people were focused almost exclusively on the dominion of their own world. While they could communicate with other worlds and over great distances, they lacked the means to physically leave their planet or fight a war against advanced weaponry possessed by the likes of the Zakar Imperium. The Draemorthan Union (DU) more or less began when the Draemorthan Rebels declared their independence from the Imperium of Zakar. This was a declaration in name alone as they did not have the manpower or technology to backup their defiance. These Rebels attempted to get the other worlds in their universe to join their cause in overthrowing the tyranny of Zakar, but without the ability to travel off-world and visit with the leaders of these other worlds in person, those foreign generals and dignitaries were not eager to enter into a war where their best experts’ calculations predicted would see their own cities burned and leveled to the ground like all previous rebel incursions had. So time after time they declined to get involved.
As Zakar's 1252nd Legion arrived and began a devastating orbital bombardment of Draemorth, things began to look bleak for the rebels. In desperation, one of the rebel leaders by the name of Galowyn Alcanzar ordered the kidnapping of thousands of Draemorthan citizens and their ritual sacrifice was the largest to date. Galowyn Alcanzar was a high ranking member in a particularly twisted cult and it was to their patron demon Yeknekhoth, whom they worshipped as a Dark God, that these thousands of sacrifices were made in a vain and desperate hope that the deity would deliver the rebels from their impending doom.
And to the surprise of many, Yeknekhoth answered; the cultists were given knowledge of vile magics that could be used to fight back against the Zakarese Army. Even so, the ground forces of the 1252nd Legion initially cut down the rebel militants with ease and a quick victory looked assured for the Zakar. However, the Draemorthan dead littering the battlefield would not stay dead and began to rise time and time again. The undying hordes of revenant DU began to overwhelm divisions of the 1252nd and eventually what was left of the Zakarese Legion surrendered or were destroyed. Even having miraculously survived the ground war, the rebels still had no means of taking out Zakar's Space Fleet which continued to mercilessly bombard Draemorth while they awaited reinforcements. Alcanzar then ordered all of the captured legionaries to be sacrificed in a blood ritual that created a massive (and quite gruesome) portal and directed many of the remaining revenants and their cultist handlers into the portal which teleported the zombies onto the Zakarese ships in orbit. The ships were quickly cleared of Zakar troops and personnel and the cultists landed the few whose controls they managed to grasp while leaving small infestations of zombie revenants onboard the rest of the hobbled ships still lingering in orbit.
Had the Zakar Fleet left Draemorth alone or fallen back and removed their ships from orbit after their loss of the 1252nd Legion, Galowyn Alcanzar would not have been able to commandeer their ships and use them for further expansion. The Zakar forces may very well have prevailed against the remaining factions had the Draemorth remained isolated on their home planet. After the events surrounding the 1252nd Legion that all changed. Once Galowyn Alcanzar had a taste for victory and ships at his disposal his quest for power was in full motion and things began to turn quite sour for the Imperium of Zakar.
Alcanzar was able to use the shock and awe of his victory as well as his new found power to quickly take control of the rebellion. The remaining leaders either joined his cult or were destroyed and sacrificed to Yeknekhoth, who continued to grow in strength. Those leaders that jumped on board Alcanzar's crazy train were taught the terrible magics that Alcanzar and his cult used to defeat the 1252nd Legion. When the demon Yeknekhoth bestowed or unlocked the magic behind the blood portals the DU were able to bring the fight to their enemies and set their eyes on a larger target than just their own world. Alcanzar then reached out to the other worlds in his vicinity to form an alliance. Most of them refused, but those that didn't were provided with Alcanzar's deadly secrets. The Draemorth rebellion and her allies then initiated a bloody military campaign to bring the rest of their system into the fold. The DU has since won countless battles against Zakarese incursions and has retaliated by using Blood Magic portals to travel to and conquer other universes under control of the Zakar Imperium. Once the universe was his, Alcanzar was declared the Intercessor of Yeknekhoth and the Supreme Leader of the newly formed Draemorthan Union. At present their blood magic remains a formidable power against which technology is only able to hold its own, but not overcome. The Zakarese occupation of the DU’s home world has been squashed and Galowyn Alcanzar has taken the DU on the offensive.
Significant Ideologies - The Draemorth practice their own style of magic, but their language does not include words like witch or vampire because these concepts are viewed and discussed in an entirely different light. Instead of being taboo or pushed to the fringes of society, the magic users in Draemorthan society are exalted above all but the nobility. They do not divide their magic into trees or classes based on the spells and methods used to perform the magic. Instead they judge magic as good or bad based only on its intended purpose. So raising your dead mother from the grave to have one last conversation with her is a completely acceptable display of power and quite a sought after gift. Raising an army from the dead to defend your way of life is an honorable display of power and most are thankful for it having been done. When magic is deemed dark or vile it is because of its application. Returning someone to life in a zombie state is fine and well so long as you have their permission or blessing. Of course, this would have to be given prior to death and there are entire rituals involving witnesses and rights of passage to the underworld. What Galowyn Alcanzar did in his defense against Zakar's 1252nd Legion went against all protocol and involved those who gave no consent. This was a major violation of the rules and was made worse by the wave of additional vile magic carried out by his hand and upon his orders. The fact that innocents were slaughtered in the blood sacrifices had absolutely nothing to do with it. The rules of Draemorthan society can be strange to outsiders.
Under Draemorthan custom all are free to practice magic and attempt any spell they can think of or duplicate from another. Each spell and work of magic is comprised of pieces much like a puzzle. These pieces can include physical artifacts or ingredients, spoken words and ritualistic ceremonies, but more often than not the proverbial pieces refer to coveted knowledge, blood sacrifices or inalterable covenants with horrendous demonic powers. The strength and difficulty of the spell determines its complexity; the variety and number of pieces to that magical puzzle. Those pieces can be eased and forced into any interpretation the castor can devise, but the true spell most certainly has a specific order and arrangement. The closer a castor shapes their technique to this final masterpiece the closer they are to achieving perfect results. The further their assemblage of the magical pieces deviates the more likely they are to be cursed, immolated or worse. Every casting brings either immediate reward or immediate punishment. Unfortunately the only way to learn was to practice, but practice was extremely dangerous and deadly to most. Still it did not keep most from trying their hands at magic at least once.
Despite the current movement pushed by Galowyn Alcanzar, Blood magic is not the only form of magic known to the DU. It is, however, readily accessible and relatively easy to supercharge the spells and incantations by simply offering additional sacrifices. Kasmia sees this as an unsustainable power source and a rape of the DU’s most potent natural resource, themselves.
The people living, serving and functioning in and under the DU technically must undergo indoctrination into the Cult of Yeknekhoth, although less zealous DU commanders don't always enforce that particular rule. However, all citizens living under the DU that do not join the Cult of Yeknekhoth are liable to become sacrifices for one of the numerous blood rituals the cult performs to appease Yeknekhoth and acquire his blessings. Suffice it to say, the typical person in the Draemorthan Union finds it a rather scary place to be, as they either have to join a blood-thirsty cult and do terrible things or try to live a normal life and hope they don't get selected for sacrificial butchery.
Galowyn Alcanzar wishes to take control of the existing Zakar slave trade and use those slaves as sacrificial fuel for his ongoing campaign, but this would require a major commitment of militant manpower and lives. The Zakarese would likely fight to the last man to keep those slave routes under the Imperium’s control so there are no guarantees such a campaign to rest them from Zakar would be successful. If successful though, it would deal a terrible blow to the Zakar Imperium’s economy and most likely topple their way of life. This would also appease a growing portion of the DU population who wish to cut down on the number of Draemorthan citizens used as blood sacrifices. There have been virtually no talks of doing away with DU sacrifices all together. For most this is mere a matter of resource conservation.
Significant Institutions - The government of Draemorth is primarily a dictatorship, but there are feudal elements with localized tributes being paid in coin, food and manpower. A form of indentured servitude exists among the largest portion of the population (consisting of the poor and criminal alike) and while it more closely resembles slavery, it’s not viewed as such by the Draemorthan people. There are systems in place to help the lower classes exceed their lowly beginnings, but in practice these are nothing more than free labor apprenticeships that rarely benefit the recipient in any meaningful manner. The real power remains in the hands and families who were born with it or vanquished their opposition.
There is a vast consortium of demons ranging in power across the spectrum. Most within the DU are free to choose their preferred demon or try their luck with them all. As a vassal of Yeknekhoth’s power and cravings, Kasmia’s prayers to any other demon would go unanswered and anger her patron demon beyond repair. She is locked to Yeknekhoth and her wellbeing very much depends on his remaining a power player among the multitude of demons.
-Faction that wants to cease expansion and return to old magics
-Gas experts who tap wells (more often than not create well over natural fissure) and maintain lanterns
-Name of some demons and what they specialized in
Major Technologies and Magics - The technology level of the Draemorthan Union is relatively low when you consider their adversaries’. They know what electricity is and a few lab experiments have harnessed naturally occuring lightning without completely destroying themselves, but they don’t have the means to generate electricity themselves. Lighting and heating are facilitated through natural gas, which is abundant planetwide.
The DU have access to three of the Zakar ships, but no idea how to backwards engineer them. They’re still functional with long lasting power supplies, but at this time DU has no means to refuel them when the need eventually arises. These ships are used for long distance travel, not zipping around the planet. There are no cars or motorized propulsion systems among the native DU and the planet has been devoid of large beasts of burden for hundreds of years. Most within the DU never travel far from their birthplace so stories of those who have journeyed through the blood portals to other worlds have captured the imaginations of all. These portals resemble vertically suspended rings of molten lava with the sound and smell of dripping blood sizzling and churning along the ring. While the portals are active there is a localized visual disturbance rippling through the air; those near the portal can see the otherside’s destination as if looking through a dirty grimy window that’s bubbling under its own weight and heat.
-Weapons are elaborate blades, barbs & crude projectiles (think slings and darts, not crossbow and guns)
-Demons come in varying type, size and power. Power gain and loss determined (prayer) by the number of active followers/worshippers.
-The DU armies are comprised of legions of undead, bound revenants, summoned demons, animated constructs and other monstrosities. Armed with foul blood magics, the DU are occasionally able to use captured Zakarese weaponry.
Additional Comments -
*A dark land full of spooky sightings and creepy rituals, some of its the stuff of nightmares and some is just misunderstood cultural differences. The DU aren't immune to fear of their surroundings but they aren't superstitious. There fear is based on known threats.
*The land is very rocky with only a few grasslands. There are few remaining forests, those that took in the rocky soil have mostly burned up in disaster.
*Artificial structures are built of stone shaped and seamed together with application of various acids. The natural gas that seeps from the ground is so prevalent that open flames are discouraged and rarely seen. Fire and explosion are common natural disasters on the planet and efforts are made to minimize the danger. Instead of volcanoes with explosive outpourings they have mountains and hills permanently lit like torches or localized, contained burns. The gasses in atmosphere scatter sunlight, making surface darker than Earth’s daylight and the sky can look red, green or blue depending on gas buildups. They occasionally do a controlled burn of the sky to keep the gas levels from building up too high and they coincide this with rituals for great dramatic effect.
*Many of the climates and weather patterns around the planet are magically induced and/or partially sustained.
*Animals - #1 source of meat is a horned vermin similar in shape and size to Armadillo. #GoodEats!